Pizza is arguably America’s most varied and beloved dish, one whose devotees are some of the most opinionated, and yet it remains one of the most accessible foods there is. Even the country’s most expensive and esteemed pizza temple is within reach of the average person’s budget. Every red-blooded American grew up with his or her preferred regional style of this national fascination, knowing it as the definitive best. Today, there’s better pizza, more knowledge about it, and interest in it everywhere. That accessibility and loyalty makes for some tremendously spirited debate.
Considering the passion pizza inspires, responsibly declaring America’s Best Pizza can be challenging. But The Daily Meal doesn't shy away from the challenge. For our third annual pizza ranking, we again sought the nation's best pies and slices, considering more places than ever in our quest for the best. We researched and added 275 more pizzas and recruited a group of 30 more experts to weigh in than for our 2013 list. Some 700 pizza spots were considered by 78 panelists, comprising The Daily Meal’s in-house pizza experts and city editors, American chefs, restaurant critics, bloggers, writers, and pizza authorities. We compiled the data, and although there could only be one winner, there is plenty of seriously good pizza being made across America, including in New Orleans.
Would you expect a Mississippi-born, Louisiana-bred, former Marine Corps reservist to be serving one of America’s best pizzas? Probably not, but chef John Besh does just that at his New Orleans restaurant Domenica (Italian for "Sunday") in the renovated and historic Roosevelt Hotel. You’ll have a hard time choosing between the 17 pizzas made in the Pavesi pecan-wood-fired oven. Just look at the photos — the slightly imperfect circles ringed with light, puffy, and black-blistered crusts, the center of the pie sauce-speckled and beautifully topped with stellar (and fun) ingredients like cotechino (sausage made from pork, fatback, and pork rind), bacon and eggs, apple and pecans, mortadella, spicy lamb meatball, roast pork shoulder, and duck with sweet potato — ordering just one pizza is a tough call. So don’t. Order Domenica’s most popular pie, the Margherita (tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella), then wild-card your second and third choices with the Calabrese (tomato, spicy salami, mozzarella, capers, and olives), the Roasted Carrot (with goat cheese, red onion, Brussels sprouts, beets, and hazelnuts), or give the clam pie a shot. It may not beat Pepe’s, but whose does?
It did beat the prosciutto, gorgonzola, and arugula pie at neighboring Slice, however. Domenica’s Calabrese ranked #72 on our list, while Slice’s pie came in at #93. So, while Slice serves an excellent example, Domenica gets the title of the housing the best pizza in NOLA.