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 Washington, D.C.
Once upon a time in our nation’s capital, the word “pizza” held very little meaning. Twenty, even 10 years ago, you really couldn’t say that the city even knew what the word really meant. It was like talking pretzels to a New Yorker who’d never been to Philadelphia or a hot dog expert who’d never been to Chicago: wasted breath. Sure, there was something ridiculous and fun about the Jumbo slice, but when people use Ledo as a benchmark… Well, let’s move on. Times have changed many things in D.C., and pizza is a big one.
#3 Pizzeria Paradiso’s Bottarga Pizza
Bottarga isn’t the first ingredient you’d expect on a self-described signature pie, but that’s what you get at Pizzeria Paradiso’s three D.C.-area locations, and you’ll be glad you sampled the pie that came in at #84 on our list. Salty accents to the slightly sweet tomato, a nice garlic edge, and light herb touch, Paradiso’s Bottarga pie might just be showing off by adding its egg finish, but you probably won’t mind.
#2 Matchbox’s Fire & Smoke Pizza
Matchbox numbers among the D.C. pizzerias that have helped start putting the city on the map when it comes to seriously discussing the nation’s best pizza. And now there are five additional locations besides the flagship pizza joint in Chinatown that launched in 2002 where you can find the pie that snagged the #67 spot on our compilations: the seriously singed signature Fire & Smoke pie with fire-roasted red peppers, Spanish onions, chipotle pepper, tomato sauce, garlic purée, smoked Gouda, and fresh basil.
#1 2Amys’s Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella Pie
Once upon a time, the District of Columbia was a pizza desert, a land where khaki-wearers bided their time until the fortunes tied to two-, four-, or six-year cycles became clear, resigning themselves to late-night calls to Domino’s and hoping Manny & Olga’s wouldn’t turn them off eating pizza ever again. They suffered locals’ love for Ledo’s and watched with frustration as Adams Morgan’s jumbo slices edged increasingly closer to the half-smoke as becoming synonymous with one of the city’s signature dishes. Thankfully, those days are over; and 2Amy’s is part of the reason.
2Amy’s’ membership in the D.O.C (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) means its pizzaiolos adhere to the guidelines of what the Italian government deems a pizza should be. When you bite into one of their pizzas, you know that you are getting a quintessential traditional pie. Their menu is broken up into D.O.C pizza offerings, stuffed pizzas, and more traditional, but uncertified options, but panelists voted the namesake pie (tomato sauce and mozzarella) number 47 on the list of the 101 best pizzas, higher than a good number of pizzerias in New York.