101 Best Pizzas in America

“You’ve tried all the rest, now try the best.”
Clinton Hill's Emily Pizza

Emily and Matt Hyland, owners of Emily Pizza in Brooklyn (No. 40), prepare their ‘Emily pizza.’

101 Best Pizzas in America 2016

Kimberly Williams

Which pizzerias truly serve pies to seek out, return for, and be in awe of? It’s more difficult than ever to answer that question.

For the past four years, The Daily Meal has ranked America’s best pizzas, and every year the same pizzeria — the legendary Frank Pepe’s in New Haven, Connecticut — has claimed the title. While technically it might be correct to say that the emperor has no cheese (Pepe’s signature pizza is a clam pie with “no muzz” [mozzarella]), there’s nothing wrong at all with the reigning champ. Its quality hasn’t declined; the lines to get in are just as long as ever. But this year, it’s been upset by another legendary pizzeria, one New York pizza fanatics will be happy to know brings the crown to where they’ve been saying for years that it rightly belongs.  

101 Best Pizzas in America (Slideshow)

If you’re as passionate about pizza as we are, you know our bona fides and you know the drill. We’ve been at this for a while. We’ve obsessively cast as wide a net as possible across the country to search for the best pizzas. All year, once each annual list appears, we research new spots ourselves and follow up on the discoveries of others wherever they are across the country. We tap friends for recommendations, pore over reader tips, argue, seek out experts to help us rank responsibly — and eat as much pizza as we can.

We know that no list is perfect, least of all one involving a subject people feel as strongly about as pizza. Unlike many arbitrary lists, though — rankings diversified for the purpose of geographical engagement, “expert” listicles chosen by a handful of New York’s food writers — these rankings were approached methodically and comprehensively, and bring a great deal of pizza expertise to bear. (Last year, we even got “America's foremost authority on pizzaology,” Blondie’s Dagwood Bumstead, to weigh in.)

We start by defining the perfect pie. What are the essentials? Considering the varied pizza styles (Neapolitan, Sicilian, New York, Connecticut, California, Detroit, St. Louis, bar pie, deep-dish, Grandma…we’ll stop ourselves there), that’s a loaded question. Suffice it to say, no matter your pizza denomination, we believe the following qualities are basic to the platonic pie: a nuanced sauce, neither too sweet nor salty (assuming that it has sauce); good-quality, well-distributed cheese (assuming that it has cheese); good-quality and sensibly combined toppings; a flavorful, savory crust; and perhaps most important, other than the overall quality of the ingredients, a judicious, well-balanced, and pleasing ratio of sauce, cheese, toppings, and crust that maintains a structural integrity no matter the style.

(Speaking of crust, what is this fancy-pants term “cornicione” that figures in many of our captions? Cornicione, pronounced "cor-nee-CHO-neh," is Italian for cornice or moulding, and in pizza terms means the edge, crust, or rim on a pizza.)

From defining the perfect pizza we went big, considering more than 800 spots in every corner of the country — slightly more than last year. How did we narrow this number down to just 101? To begin with, we ate at as many pizzerias as possible ourselves. This editor has personally visited 50 places that made the list this year. The Daily Meal’s in-house pizza experts — including eight-time James Beard Award winner and Daily Meal editorial director Colman Andrews and the site’s senior eat/dine editor Dan Myers, along with our city editors, Daily Meal Council experts, and Culinary Content Network bloggers — pitched in.We called upon a blue-chip, geographically diverse list of pizza panelists — chefs, restaurant critics, bloggers, writers, and just plain pizza authorities — asking them to share their considerable pizza experience with us.

But we also called upon a blue-chip, geographically diverse list of pizza panelists — chefs, restaurant critics, bloggers, writers, and just plain pizza authorities — asking them to share their considerable pizza experience with us, but to vote only for places where they’ve actually eaten. (If you’re in food media or are a recognized pizza expert and you disagree with this list and didn’t vote for it, send us an email with your pizza cred and we'll consider you for our panel in 2017.) All told, 55 qualified experts weighed in this year.

So who says the 101 pizzas on this list are the country’s best? A sampling of our panelists includes Former longtime “Best New Restaurants” columnist for Esquire and author of Mariani’s Virtual Gourmet Newsletter John Mariani, Scott’s Pizza Tours’ Scott Weiner, I Dream of Pizza’s Jason Feirman, Worst Pizza’s Craig Agranoff, Best Pizza Book’s Liz Barrett, PizzaQuest.com’s Peter Reinhart, Real Food, Fake Food’s Larry Olmsted, and Pizza Therapy’s Albert Grande. Obviously, when pizza is the topic at hand, these folks know what they’re talking about.

This year, the experts finalized a list that spanned 23 states. The top 11 states for pizza included New York (29); California (10); Connecticut (9); Illinois (9); New Jersey (5), Pennsylvania (5); Massachusetts (4); Oregon (4); Georgia (3); Rhode Island (3); and South Carolina (3). For the fourth year, the birthplace of American pizza, New York, featured the most pizzas. It was a resurgent year all-around for the Empire State, adding two pizzerias to its 27 spots in 2015. In 2016, Brooklyn reigned once again, but it and Manhattan both dropped two spots, falling to 11 and 9 respectively. Queens (3) and Staten Island (1) both dropped spots since last year, and the Bronx held strong with the one and only Louie and Ernie’s. One fewer state was represented this year (so long, Missouri), which enabled Illinois to gain ground on Connecticut as one of the top four states for pizza. 

So who made the list? You can click into the slideshow to dive into the captions, or if you’d prefer to get your blood pressure going, go directly to the full ranking. We don’t want to give too much away here, but suffice it to say, as much as we love all the new places that have been opening up to great acclaim, pizza joints operated by people dedicated to tending and advancing pizza heritage, tradition, and quality, as well as those pushing the envelope, we’re happy to see this classic Brooklyn spot top this year’s list.
So let’s raise a slice, pizza fanatics: to hot pizzas and warm cardboard boxes; to pans, peels, cheese, sauce, and crust; to the folks who craft their ingredients into something magical; to pizza greats A.J. Pappalardo of Rubirosa in New York (No. 10) and George Germon of Al Forno in Providence (No. 31), both of whom we lost in 2015; and to New York, home of the nation’s best pizza — this year, at least. 

Click here for the 101 best pizzas in America.

For the complete ranking, head to page two.

#101 Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, New York City (Artichoke Slice: artichoke hearts, spinach, cream sauce, mozzarella, pecorino romano)

#100 Area Four, Cambridge, Mass. (Clam & Bacon: clam sauce, pecorino, hot pepper, parsley)

#99 Reservoir Tavern, Boonton, N.J. (Gatto Di Potato: sliced potatoes, bacon, tomatoes, garlic, sliced tomato, mozzarella)

#98 L&B Spumoni Gardens, Brooklyn (Grandma Slice: thin-crust Sicilian pie with mozzarella and tomato sauce)

#97 EVO, Charleston, S.C. (Pork Trifecta: marinara, house-made sausage, pepperoni, bacon, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano)

#96 O4W Pizza, Duluth, Ga. (Grandma Pie)

#95 Loui's Pizza, Hazel Park, Mich. (cheese and tomato sauce)

#94 Lovely's Fifty Fifty, Portland, Ore. (cherry tomatoes with summer squash, basil, bacon, goat gouda)

#93 Harry’s Pizzeria, Miami (Short-rib: caramelized onion, Gruyère, arugula)

#92 Pizzeria Locale, Denver (Funghi Pie: mozzarella, pecorino, fontina, porcini, roasted white mushrooms, garlic, shallots)

#91 Monza Pizza, Charleston, S.C. (Ciccio: mozzarella, ricotta, pecorino romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, garlic)

#90 Providence Coal Fired Pizza, Providence, R.I. (Rocket: Margherita pizza — tomato, mozzarella, fresh basil — topped with arugula and pecorino)

#89 Fat Lorenzo's, Minneapolis (Fat's: Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and black and green olives)

#88 Hog & Hominy, Memphis (The Prewitt: fontina, tomato sauce, boudin, scrambled eggs)

#87 Pizzetteria Brunetti, Westhampton Beach, N.Y. (Vongole Bianca)

#86 Micucci Grocery Store, Portland, Maine (Sicilian Slab: San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, mozzarella)

#85 Emmy Squared, Brooklyn (Roni Supreme: sauce, mozzarella, lots of pepperoni, Calabrian chile)

#84 Pizza Brain, Philadelphia (Forbes Waggensense: mozzarella, fontina, grana padano, basil, smoked pepperoni, tomato sauce)

#83 King Umberto Ristorante & Pizzeria, Elmont, N.Y. (Vodka: onions, prosciutto, and a creamy pink vodka sauce)

#82 Gino’s of Long Beach, Long Beach, N.Y. (Special Pizza: sausage, meatballs, pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, onion, mozzarella, tomato sauce)

#81 J&V Pizzeria, Brooklyn (Cheese)

#80 Papa’s Tomato Pies, Robbinsville, N.J. (Sausage)

#79 Galleria Umberto, Boston (Cheese Pie)

#78 The Cheese Board, Berkeley, Calif. (Changes daily)

#77 Pizzaiolo, Oakland, Calif. (Rapini and house-made sausage)

#76 Capo’s, San Francisco (The Dillinger: sharp Cheddar, mozzarella, provolone, smoked Hangar 1 vodka cream sauce, marinated chicken, bacon, broccolini, artichoke hearts, red bell peppers, garlic, crushed red pepper, fresh lemon)

#75 Nostrana, Portland, Ore. (Margherita)

#74 Via 313, Austin (The Detroiter: mozzarella, white Cheddar, tomato sauce, double pepperoni)

#73 The Backspace, Austin (Pepperoni Americano: picante salame, tomato, mozzarella, basil)

#72 Pizza Delicious, New Orleans (Cheese)

#71 Scuola Vecchia Pizza E Vino, Delray Beach, Fla. (Regina Margherita: bufala mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, light marinara, olive oil, basil)

#70 Pizzeria Paradiso, Washington, D.C. (Bottarga: paradiso tomato, minced garlic, parsley, Parmesan, egg, bottarga)

#69 Caserta Pizzeria, Providence, R.I. (Pepperoni Pie)

#68 Pizza Domenica, New Orleans (Calabrese: tomato, spicy salami, mozzarella, capers, olives)

#67 Lou Malnati's Pizzeria, Chicago (Chicago Classic: deep dish with sausage, crust made with butter, mozzarella)

#66 Osteria, Philadelphia (Parma: mozzarella, fontina, arugula, prosciutto di Parma)

#65 Santucci's Square Pizza, Philadelphia (Original Plain Pie: mozzarella and pizza sauce)

#64 Umberto's Pizzeria & Restaurant, New Hyde Park, N.Y. (Grandma Pie: 16-inch-by-16-inch square, 12 slices, thin-crust pie topped with mozzarella and plum marinara sauce)

#63 Williamsburg Pizza, Brooklyn (Grandma: fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, pecorino, basil, Parmigiano, olive oil, garlic)

#62 Delorenzo's Tomato Pies, Robbinsville, N.J. (Tomato Pie: mozzarella and tomato sauce)

#61 Zuppardi’s, West Haven, Conn. (Special: mozzarella, mushroom, sausage, marinara)

#60 Bru Room at Bar, New Haven, Conn. (Mashed potato and bacon)

#59 Pizza Rock, Las Vegas (Margherita: dough mixed by hand using San Felice flour then proofed in Napoletana wood boxes, San Marzano tomatoes D.O.P., sea salt, mozzarella fior di latte, fresh basil, extra-virgin olive oil)

#58 Gjelina, Los Angeles (Lamb Sausage: confit tomato, rapini, Pecorino, Asiago, no sauce)

#57 Ken’s Artisan Pizza, Portland, Ore. (Margherita)

#56 Zaffiro’s Pizza, Milwaukee (EBF "Everything But Fish": cheese, sausage, mushrooms, pepperoni, onions, green pepper, black olives)

#55 Vito & Nick’s, Chicago (Sausage)

#54 Pizano’s, Chicago (Rudy's Special: mozzarella, sausage, mushroom, onion, green pepper)

#53 2Amys, Washington, D.C. (2Amys: tomato sauce and mozzarella)

#52 Amore Pizzeria, Flushing, N.Y. (Plain Cheese Pie)

#51 Star Tavern Pizzeria, Orange, N.J. (Thin Crust)

#50 Santillo's Brick Oven Pizza, Elizabeth, N.J. (Sicilian: pepperoni, mozzarella, pizza sauce)

#49 Roseland Apizza, Derby, Conn. (Plain Pie: tomato sauce, no cheese)

#48 Mike’s Apizza & Restaurant, West Haven, Conn. (Plain Pie)

#47 Ernie’s Pizzeria, New Haven, Conn. (Plain Pie)

#46 Metro Pizza, Las Vegas (Milano: no sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, Romano, garlic olive oil, basil)

#45 Tony's Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco (Margherita: dough mixed by hand using San Felice flour then proofed in Napoletana wood boxes, San Marzano tomatoes D.O.P., sea salt, mozzarella fior di latte, fresh basil, extra-virgin olive oil)

#44 Pizzeria Delfina, San Francisco (Salsiccia Pizza: house-made fennel sausage, tomato, bell pepper, onion, mozzarella)

#43 Giordano's Pizza, Chicago (Classic Deep Dish: mushroom, green peppers, onions)

#42 Antico Pizza Napoletana, Atlanta (Sophia: bufala, cipollini, roasted mushrooms, white truffle oil)

#41 Nick's Pizza, Forest Hills, N.Y. (Mushroom and sausage)

#40 Emily, Brooklyn (The Classic – Sauce, mozzarella, basil)

#39 Colony Pizza, Stamford, Conn. (Sausage Pie)

#38 Regina Pizzeria, Boston (Giambatta: pepperoni, Regina sausage, salami, mushrooms, peppers, onions, mozzarella)

#37 Una Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco (Margherita)

#36 Flour + Water, San Francisco (Margherita)

#35 Sotto, Los Angeles (Margherita)

#34 Piece, Chicago (Pepperoni and banana peppers)

#33 Gino’s East, Chicago (Cheese Deep Dish)

#32 Lombardi’s, New York City (Pepperoni)

#31 Al Forno, Providence, R.I. (Margherita)

#30 Denino’s, Staten Island, N.Y. (Sausage)

#29 Speedy Romeo, Brooklyn (The Saint Louie: Provolone, Italian sausage, pepperoni, pickled chiles)

#28 Coalfire Pizza, Chicago (Margherita)

#27 Varasano’s Pizzeria, Atlanta (Nana: San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, herbs and spices)

#26 New Park Pizza, Howard Beach, N.Y. (Cheese)

#25 Santarpio’s, Boston (Mozzarella, sausage, garlic)

#24 Pequod's, Chicago (Deep-dish with sausage and pepperoni)

#23 Prince St. Pizza, New York City (Prince Perfection: fresh mozzarella and "our secret sauce")

#22 Patsy’s, New York City (Cheese)

#21 Paulie Gee’s, Brooklyn (Regina: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil, fresh basil)

#20 Apizza Scholls, Portland, Ore. (Apizza Amore: marinara, fresh and aged mozzarella, pecorino, grana, olive oil, cured pork shoulder, basil)

#19 Buddy’s Pizza, Detroit (Detroit Zoo: Motor City cheese blend, roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, pine nuts, tomato basil sauce)

#18 Kesté Pizza & Vino, New York City (Kesté: tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma, arugula, gran cru olive oil)

#17 Grimaldi’s, Brooklyn (Pepperoni)

#16 Pizzeria Vetri, Philadelphia (Tonno: Sicilian tuna, onion, mozzarella, tomato sauce, peperoncino)

#15 Modern Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Italian Bomb: bacon, sausage, pepperoni, garlic, mushroom, onion, pepper, tomato, mozzarella)

#14 Joe’s Pizza, New York City (Cheese)

#13 Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles (Squash blossoms, tomato, burrata mozzarella, tomato sauce)

#12 Pizzeria Beddia, Philadelphia (Tomato, mozzarella, Old Gold aged cheese, extra-virgin olive oil)

#11 Louie and Ernie's, Bronx, N.Y. (Sausage Pie: sausage, tomato sauce, mozzarella)

#10 Rubirosa Ristorante, New York City (Vodka: vodka sauce and mozzarella)

#9 Lucali, Brooklyn (Pepperoni)

#8 Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix (Margherita: tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil)

#7 Sally’s Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Tomato Pie: tomato sauce, no cheese)

#6 Motorino, New York (Brussels Sprout: fior di latte, garlic, pecorino, smoked pancetta, olive oil)

#5 Totonno’s, Brooklyn (Margherita)

#4 Roberta’s, Brooklyn (Margherita)

#3 Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, New Haven, Conn. (White Clam: clams, grated Parmesan, olive oil, garlic, and oregano)

#2 John’s of Bleecker Street, New York City (“The Boom Pie”: oven-roasted tomato, garlic, and basil)

#1 Di Fara, Brooklyn (Classic Round Pie: mozzarella, Parmesan, plum tomato sauce, basil, olive oil, sausage, peppers, mushroom, onion)

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