It’s a fantastic time for pizza in this country. The classic Neapolitan style with its puffy crust and slightly soupy interior is now widespread, while Roman pizza al taglio, which is baked on long rectangular trays, has landed and is quickly proliferating. While pizza has always been a popular food, there’s more fascination with pizza than ever, and diners are increasingly seeking out America’s own regional styles. Some are now claiming that that Chicago is not just a deep-dish cliché but rather America's greatest pizza town. Buffalo has seen increased attention for its own thick, airy and cheesy style; thin-and-crispy bar pies and the chewy, oblong New Haven style have spread; Detroit, with its thick, rectangular pan pizzas, continues to motor its way onto menus nationwide; and a few determined, energetic joints are even powering a renaissance in New York City slice culture. Meanwhile, classic old school pizzerias are still going strong and beloved pizza chains continue to expand while redefining fast food.
This has all contributed to making it even more difficult than ever to rank the country’s best pizzas, but once again we’ve accepted the challenge and rounded up the 101 best pizzas in America.
To come up with the best pizzas in America, we research the newest, best places, then build a survey of great pizzas from around the country — nearly 1,000 pizzas in total were considered in 2019.
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 essential: a nuanced sauce, neither too sweet nor too salty (assuming that the pie has sauce); quality, well-distributed cheese (assuming that it has cheese); quality, sensibly combined toppings; a flavorful, savory crust; and, perhaps most importantly, a judicious, well-balanced and pleasing ratio of sauce, cheese, toppings and crust that maintains a structural integrity no matter the style.
We then called upon a blue-chip, geographically diverse list of pizza panelists — chefs, restaurant critics, bloggers, writers and other pizza authorities — asking them to take our survey and vote only for places where they’ve actually eaten.
All told, 30 states are included in our ranking, as well as Washington, D.C., with entrants popping up in locales as unexpected as Hot Springs, Arkansas; Bloomington, Indiana; Anchorage, Alaska; and Addison, Texas. The states with the most entrants on our list are New York (28), Illinois (9), California (7), Connecticut (6) Pennsylvania (6) and New Jersey (6), but Texas, Michigan and Massachusetts all had good showings as well. The ranking proves that there’s good pizza to be found all across the country, and it’s only getting better.
You have to credit a town that calls itself the "Pizza Capital of the World," especially if no one would have heard of it otherwise. Not Naples, Italy. Not New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles or New Haven. Nope: Old Forge, Pennsylvania, claims this distinction. This pizza capital even has its own pizza language — you order by the color, the cut and the tray. The slices (“cuts”) are rectangular, the cheese is a super-melty processed blend, and the sauce is sweet and onion-heavy. There are two primary pies: white, with a crust on both the top and bottom; and red, which is like a fluffier Sicilian. About a dozen restaurants in town serve this style of pizza, and all are worthy of attention, but it’s best to start your journey at the fabulously old-school Arcaro & Genell, which opened in 1962 and hasn’t changed much since then.
Settebello really goes above and beyond in its efforts to bring authentic Italian pizzas to Salt Lake City, Utah. This spot specially curates its ingredients. Flour, tomatoes, prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano are imported from Italy; pancetta and Finnochiona come from Seattle’s renowned Salumi; and salame comes from Berkeley’s Fra’Mani. The pies then cook in less than a minute in a 1,000-degree wood-burning oven that was handmade in Naples. The menu doesn’t get too inventive, but that’s a good thing. Keep your order simple with a Margherita DOC or the popular pizza carbonara with crushed tomatoes, pancetta, egg, mozzarella, pepper and extra-virgin olive oil.
Mother Bear’s Pizza Campus/Yelp
Going strong on the campus of Indiana University since 1973, Mother Bear’s looks like a rustic cabin and has earned legions of fans. The pizza here is available in a few varieties, all nodding to Chicago: deep-dish, pan and thin and crispy, all made with additive-free spring wheat. More than 20 pies are available, ranging from The Monet (white sauce, mozzarella, chicken sausage, onions and peppers) to The Divine Swine (pepperoni, ground sausage, local ham and bacon), but you can’t go wrong with The Deluxe, which is topped with pepperoni, sausage, onions, mushrooms and peppers.
The slightly imperfect circles served at New Orleans, Louisiana, classic Pizza Domenica are ringed with light, puffy and black-blistered crusts. The centers of the pies are sauce-speckled and beautifully topped with both classic and fun ingredients like salami, mortadella, eggs, mascarpone, Brussels sprouts and even traditional muffuletta components. You’ll have a hard time choosing between the offerings, all made in a Pavesi pecan-wood-fired oven.
Scuola Vecchia brings a host of traditional Italian pizzas to Delray Beach, Florida, with options for every pizza lover. Guests can choose from 24 different pizzas, from the traditional Margherita to more complex pies like the capricciosa with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, Italian ham, artichokes, mushrooms and extra-virgin olive oil. But if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, there’s the option to build your own pie.
Of all the places to open an artisanal pizzeria, Brooklyn native Anthony Valinoti settled on Hot Springs, Arkansas, and the decision turned out to be a wise one. At DeLuca’s, he’s making fresh dough daily and turning out 18-inch, high-end New York-style pies with a bubbly and sturdy crust cooked in a 725-degree custom-built brick oven. You can top your pie with housemade sweet or hot Italian sausage, Prosciutto di Parma, homemade meatballs or spicy sopressata, but we suggest you opt for a pie simply topped with housemade tomato sauce and high-end buffalo mozzarella. This place is so popular that it’s wise to call ahead and order your pizza in advance.
Ask anyone where to go for pizza in Anchorage, Alaska, and you’ll likely be directed to the renowned midtown Anchorage nightlife spot Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria. This pizza place has been locals’ go-to since the late 1990s, when rock climbers Rod Hancock and Matt Jones opened a 30-table restaurant serving draft beer and stone-baked pizzas despite having virtually no restaurant experience. These days, the menu features almost 40 pizzas with names just as creative as its topping combinations. But its most well-known creation is the Avalanche featuring barbecue sauce, mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, red onions, blackened chicken and bacon — which happens to pair perfectly with the house-brewed, assertively hopped Broken Tooth Fairweather IPA.
Photo Courtesy Peyton Smith
North Carolina’s first Neapolitan pizzeria, Mission Pizza Napoletana, is indeed on a mission: to spread the gospel of Naples. Owner and Winston-Salem native Peyton Smith has pulled out all the stops on his quest: He’s imported a wood-fired Stefano Ferrara oven from Italy, he makes his dough daily from Italian flour and ages it for up to 72 hours, he’s created his own canned tomato blend for his sauce, and he tends to the pies as they char and bubble — never for more than 90 seconds — in an 850-degree oven. This place is the real deal.
The no-reservations, family-owned Sardis, Mississippi, neighborhood gem TriBecca Allie Cafe is the little pizzeria that could — its brick-oven pies won second place in the 2010 American Pizza Championship in Orlando. You should definitely order the pizza that won them the prize: the Magnolia Rosa with red onion, mozzarella and Mississippi pecans. However, you really can’t go wrong with any other pie, such as the Patate, which is topped with olive oil, thin-sliced potato, mozzarella, cheddar, bacon, chives and sour cream.
Washington, D.C. — long a pizza wasteland characterized by over-the-top jumbo slices — has been bootstrapping itself into relevance in recent years thanks to spots like Timber Pizza Company. Its artisanal-looking pizzas have the kind of gray and ashy, crispy corniciones (the edge crust, or ring around the pizza) you don’t see on the ever-popular Neapolitan pizzas across America. This spot’s most famous pie may perhaps be the Green Monster, topped with pesto, fresh mozzarella, feta, zucchini and kale. But you can't go wrong with the essentials, and it's hard to be more beautiful than Pretty in Pepperoni, its take on a classic with tomato sauce, a provolone-and-mozz blend, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni and basil.
Cloverleaf Pizza is a Michigan institution that can trace its roots back to 1946 when Gus Guerra and his wife, Anna, introduced Detroit to a unique style of pizza — a thick-crusted, square pie topped first with a layer of cheese followed with tomato sauce, cooked in a stone oven until crispy. They sold their first restaurant, Buddy’s Rendezvous, in 1953 (look for it further down this list) and purchased a bar in East Detroit, now called Eastpointe, where they continued serving their signature pizzas, which soon became known as “Detroit-style” pies. Today, there are seven locations around town, and their classic “Motor City Squares” are still made according to Guerra’s original recipes.
In 2010, Ann Kim opened Minneapolis’ Pizzeria Lola, a Neapolitan-style pizza shop named for her Weimaraner dog. Her wood-fired pies are cooked in a copper-clad oven. There are 14 pies on the menu, most of which feature combos you’re familiar with, along with less common toppings like Peppadew red peppers and guanciale, a cured Italian meat. Two pies of particular interest highlight Korean flavors. There’s the signature Korean barbecue pie as well as the Lady ZaZa, which features Italian red sauce, housemade kimchi, Korean sausage, serranos, scallions, sesame seeds and a soy-chile glaze.
Jay Langfelder ran one of Buffalo’s most popular food trucks before opening Jay's Artisan Pizza in 2017. There are nine 12-inch pies on the menu made with imported Italian mozzarella and cooked in a 900-degree wood-fired oven. There’s the obligatory marinara and Margherita pizzas as well as and the quattro formaggio and the Amanda (fontal, gorgonzola, chile flakes and homemade chile honey), which are holdover favorites from the truck. But the Nduja with garlic, basil, fresh mozzarella, fontina, red onion, Berkshire ‘nduja (a spicy spreadable salami) and Calabrian chile honey is the must-order. These aren’t strict Neapolitan pizzas — Jay uses ingredients like California tomatoes instead of San Marzanos — but if you’re looking to trade Buffalo’s signature “cup-and-char” pepperonis for some nice “leopard spotting,” you won’t find anything more legit.
Monza in Charleston, South Carolina, feeds off the history of its namesake city to offer handcrafted pies. Monza uses imported San Felice wheat flour, Neapolitan yeast and filtered, pH-balanced water to develop its version of the most traditional-style pizza possible. The pies are baked in a wood oven at a sweltering 1,000 degrees, creating a thin and crispy crust, and are then topped with mozzarella plus fresh and regional ingredients.
Micucci Grocery was opened in 1949 and has been family-operated ever since. Today, it's a Portland, Maine, icon, serving “slabs” of American-interpreted Sicilian-style pizza that are baked and set on shelves. The word “slabs” doesn’t do these slices justice — a curious hybrid for sure, they’re nowhere as heavy as the gut-bombs most descriptions convey. Bigger than the conventional Sicilian and just as thick but wetter and more doughy, Micucci’s slabs may not be authentic Italian, but they feel like an idealized iteration of the focaccia style. It’s not pizza in any other traditional regional American sense, nor can you say it’s precisely Italian. But there’s something intensely right and satisfying about it.
Going strong on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri, since 1956, Frank & Helen’s was founded by Frank Seitz, his wife, Betty and his sister, Helen, and it hasn’t changed much in the intervening years. Step under the hand-lettered vintage sign and through the welcoming red front door, and you’ll find yourself back in time in a restaurant with wood-paneled walls, a drop ceiling, old wood booths and plenty of hanging faux-Tiffany lamps. The pizza is among the best classic St. Louis style (loaded with Provel cheese and cut into squares) in the city But also make sure you order the “broasted” chicken, which is pressure-fried.
Ohio-born Jeff Krupman has been making a name for himself for years, first hacking a Weber grill and operating a mobile pizza oven along the boundaries of legal street-vending before moving into a brick-and-mortar spot appropriately dubbed Pizza Hacker on the Mission. Krupman’s 12-inch pizzas feature beautiful, almost soupy-looking centers and char bubbles, but they aren't quite Neapolitan. Eight pies are featured on the menu: three classics — Margherita, "Top-Shelf" Margherita and marinara — three "Favorites" featuring ingredients like house-made hot Italian sausage — and two "Ohio" pies, one with pepperoni and pepperoncini and the other with soppressata, house sausage, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, oregano and grana padano cheese. Start with a baseline Margherita (or top-shelf it), and don’t shortchange Krupman’s native Ohio.
“Slab” is a curious word to describe the pillowy slices served at Slab, located in the old Portland Public Market building. Each inch-thick rectangle is a moist, fluffy focaccia topped with just-melted cheese distributed in a way that brings tectonic plates to mind. They’re so airy that it’s hard to believe a “hand slab” weighs a full pound (a “half slab” weighs 4 pounds and a “full slab” weighs 8 pounds). If this is your first time, opt for Steve’s Original Sicilian-Style Pie, topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, provolone, oregano and olive oil. Also, you can add pepperoni for $2 per slice — and you really should.
The menu at Zoli's in Addison, Texas, has a spirit of experimentation and commitment to quality that you don’t find everywhere. It offers 15 pies with playful names that are part inside joke, part homage and part good-natured ribbing. Options include the CBR, with mozzarella, roasted chicken, bacon, pickled jalapeños, parsley, ranch and an everything bagel crust; and the Meat Fight, with brisket, jalapeños, caramelized onions, pepperoni and homemade barbecue sauce. If all of that sounds like too much to handle, start with the Spangler: mozzarella, sauce, basil and extra-virgin olive oil.
Chef Tony Conte honed his chops as executive chef of D.C.’s Oval Room and executive sous chef at New York’s Jean-Georges before decamping to the D.C. suburbs of Darnestown, Maryland, to open Inferno, his vision of an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria. The centerpiece of the casual restaurant is a custom-tiled wood-burning oven, and it’s turning out a roster of pies that changes seasonally based on what’s fresh and local. If you want to hug the baseline, stick with the classic D.O.C. Margherita, simply topped with San Marzano tomato sauce, fior di latte cheese, olive oil and basil. Be sure to order at least one other pie; we recommend the naan-like pizza with ember-roasted potatoes, roasted onions and smoked mozzarella. Inferno is closed Mondays and Tuesdays and only stays open until they run out of dough, so plan your time in Darnestown accordingly.
Michael Sohocki had already achieved a level of recognition in San Antonio with Gwendolyn and Kimura before deciding to build his own brick pizza oven and open Il Forno in 2016. It’s been hailed as the best pizzeria in town, with added perks like an in-house charcuterie program and mozzarella made from local milk. The best way to experience what’s been accomplished here is to order the Intero, a bubbly, lightly charred crust topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, house-made pepperoni, coppa and sausage. If you like spicy stuff, kick things up a notch with homemade Chinese pepper-infused oil.
Young Joni opened its doors in November 2016 and was immediately hailed as one of the country’s top new restaurants. Chef-owner Ann Kim’s pizza journey began after college, when she read book after book on pizza-making. In 2009, she took a course with pizza master Tony Gemignani, who became her mentor. At Young Joni, she’s turning out what she calls “neo-Neapolitan pizza” cooked in a copper Le Panyol oven. Establish a baseline with the Old Reliable (house red sauce, mozzarella and pecorino cheese) and then branch out into the One Potato, Two (Yukon Gold and sweet potatoes, gruyere, cream, caramelized onions and rosemary), the popular YOLO (fennel sausage, Nueske’s bacon and pepperoni) or the already-legendary Korean BBQ (short ribs, mozzarella, scallion, arugula, sesame and soy chili vinaigrette). One bite and you’ll understand why Kim won the 2019 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest.
Mark D./ Yelp
The Roman pizza invasion has landed in America. In Rome, pizza al taglio (literally “pizza by the cut”) has long been a thing. This lengthy, doughy pizza gets cut with scissors and sold in rectangular slices by weight and reheated. The style has made a few inroads in the U.S. from time to time but never truly resonated the way it has over the past few years. That may largely be due to Gabriele Bonci, who chose Chicago’s Fulton Market for his first U.S. spot, the eponymous Bonci. This spot is a must-visit, but don’t go with a plan for any particular slice in mind; the menu changes hourly based on what fresh ingredients crop up. The pizzas have balloon-light crusts that are contrasted by ultra-crispy edges and covered in a myriad of inventive and fresh toppings both beautiful and delicious.
Emmy Squared Brooklyn/ Yelp
Building on the success of their super-popular Brooklyn pizzeria Emily, Matt and Emily Hyland opened a second pizzeria called Emmy Squared, which is focused on Detroit-style pies in a metropolis notorious for pizza pride and skepticism for Midwestern pizza styles. They doubled down and have already inspired a handful of imitators in New York. The pizzas are thick but fluffy with cheese-edged, crispy crusts. There are seven red pies and six white ones, including a playful take on Hawaiian style and another that features homemade ranch dressing. But the pie to not miss is the Roni Supreme which has mozzarella, lots of pepperoni and Calabrian chile. The pepperoni curls up so that it’s crispy and salty amid the cheese and pools of tangy-sweet sauce dribbled on top.
By now, most pizza lovers know what a grandma pie is, but for the uninitiated, it has a square crust that is thinner and denser than Sicilian style, with a crisp chewiness. It might seem simple, but not everyone knows how to make a fantastic grandma pie. Those looking to establish a baseline still need to visit Long Island and try it at its birthplace, King Umberto. You have them to thank for this light, thin, crispy-chewy pie with a crushed tomato sauce and a scattering of mozzarella. Every pizza-proud Long Islander knows this is better than many pizzas you’ll find in Manhattan.
Michelle C./ Yelp
When pizza-maker and co-owner Scarr Pimentel opened the retro-looking Scarr’s on the Lower East Side just a few blocks from the Manhattan Bridge, the area was still no-man’s-land and passersby could’ve easily mistaken it for an old-school pizza holdout from the ‘70s. Thankfully, Scarr's doesn't live in the past. Pimentel has pizza cred and experience working at three of the city’s most storied and well-known spots — Joe’s, Lombardi’s, and Artichoke. He doubles down on quality, milling his own flour in his basement daily and proudly declaring that he uses no canned products. The result? A beautiful, nuanced, plain cheese slice that’s a heartening example of a return to the city’s pizza slice glory days.
Scotty C./ Yelp
EVO, which stands for "extra virgin oven," offers fresh, wood-fired Neapolitan pizza made with seasonal and local ingredients like produce from South Carolina farmers. The menu has expanded beyond its original five pizzas to include Margherita, pistachio pesto, pancetta and Brussels sprouts, speck and pumpkin, potato and corn, mushrooms and eggplant, sausage and peppers, and the Pork Trifecta, which has marinara, house-made sausage, pepperoni, bacon, mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano. The 25 extra topping choices and five types of cheese also allow customers to construct a towering feast of their own.
Nathan R./ Yelp
Pizza Delicious was founded by a couple of New York-native Tulane grads who couldn’t find a proper New York-style slice shop in The Big Easy. Their Sunday-only pop-up was so popular that a full-time pizzeria soon followed. The pizza here would be right at home at one of Brooklyn’s top slice shops: It has a crisp-yet-chewy crust, a well-balanced sauce and just the right amount of cheese. There are nearly 30 toppings, including Peppadews, Sriracha pineapple and spinach ricotta and well as daily specials like rosemary potato with red onion and spicy bechamel and eggplant Parmesan.
John M./ Yelp
What started as an extremely successful food truck is now a Nob Hill must-visit with a Bib Gourmand nod from Michelin. The brainchild of Jonathan Darsky, the former pizzaiolo of the acclaimed Flour + Water in San Francisco, Del Popolo offers eight pizzas, all made with expert precision. The white pie with mozzarella, ricotta, basil and garlic is a standout, but the Margherita di bufala, made with crushed tomato, basil and buffalo mozzarella, is a masterpiece.
Audrica B./ Yelp
Anthony Spina made waves in 2015 when he opened O4W in Atlanta, Georgia, a shop specializing in “Jersey-style” pizzas. Jersey-style generally refers to a Trenton-style tomato pizza with cheese put down first followed by a sauce heavy on tomato flavor. However, the can’t-miss pizza here is the award-winning grandma pie cooked in cast iron pan. O4W even calls itself “Home of the Grandma Pie.” And while you might chuckle at a Georgia pizzeria doing Jersey-style pizzas and being known for a pizza that originated in New York, there’s nothing funny about how good this pizza tastes.
Kao S./ Yelp
Ken Forkish and chef Alan Maniscalco co-founded Ken’s Artisan Pizza in 2006, and there’s been a cultish love for it in Portland, Oregon, ever since. The thin-crust pies, baked in about two minutes and inspired by the co-founders’ visits to Europe, are known for their tangy, orange-red sauce, featuring heat and savory notes as well as a style that, as the name of the restaurant states, is more artisanal than traditional.
Jon C./ Yelp
First-generation Italian-American brothers Bobby and John Zaffiro opened Zaffiro’s in its present location in 1956, and the restaurant is still family-owned, run today by Bobby’s son. The tradition of a thin-crust Milwaukee pie topped with about three to four times more cheese than crust lives on at this Wisconsin icon. Among the 11 classic pies on the menu, you’ll find two menu items with one difference between them: the E has everything (toppings-wise at least), and the EBF has everything but the delicious (yet divisive) anchovies. If you’re not an anchovy devotee, opt for the latter and appreciate one of Wisconsin’s pizza gifts to the nation.
J.P. D./ Yelp
Started in 1938 by Ludovico Barbati, an immigrant from Torella dei Lombardi (an hour east of Naples), L&B Spumoni began with Barbati learning how to make pizza in a garage, then peddling it in a horse and wagon until setting up at the current spot on 86th Street in Brooklyn. L&B Spumoni Gardens is now in its fourth generation, still serving its signature thick-crust Sicilian-style square pies with a light coating of mozzarella beneath a hefty layer of tomato sauce and a sprinkle of pecorino. Sit outside and enjoy the patio and your slice, but don’t leave without having some spumoni for dessert. Some say this frozen treat is even better than the pizza.
Chicago might be more closely associated with deep-dish, but the Windy City’s thin-crust game is strong: Just look to Pizzeria Bebu for all the evidence you need. Bebu doesn’t channel Midwestern tavern-style thin crust. Its 14-inch pies are darker, crackle-crunchy rimmed affairs with a wide range of toppings and a more New York-meets-Neapolitan look. Indeed, among its 14 classics, you’ll find an "Ode to Rubirosa" (vodka sauce, nutless pesto and fresh mozzarella), an homage to the modern classic New York pizzeria in Nolita, and the New Haven-inspired White Squall (garlic, littleneck clams, bacon, parsley, lemon and Crystal hot sauce). If you’re feeling adventurous, opt for one of the 11 pies under the "Shhhhhh..." header on Bebu’s menu. Pies range from plain cheese to topping combinations like potato and rosemary or chimichurri and vodka sauce.
Kathy N./ Yelp
Malnati is a name synonymous with Chicago pizza history. Rudy Malnati Sr. opened his first restaurant, Pizzeria Uno, in 1943. Uno (and Rudy’s son’s shop, Lou Malnati’s) went on to storied success. But Rudy’s other son, Rudy Jr., has been just as successful since he opened Pizano’s in 1991. There are now six Pizano’s locations, all known for serving equally good thin and deep-dish pizzas. You have a choice between buttery and flaky “world famous, gourmet, deep-dish pizza” (don’t forget to allow a half-hour for it to cook) or the thin-crust 12-inch or 14-inch pies.
Ashlyn D./ Yelp
If there’s Long Island pizza royalty, then Umberto’s Pizzeria would take the crown. You can thank Italian-born founder Umberto Corteo (from Monte di Procida near Naples) and his brother Joe, who opened Umberto’s of New Hyde Park in 1965. Umberto’s slings superior pizzas. Most notably, the grandma: a square, 12-slice, 16-by-16-inch thin-crust pie topped with mozzarella and plum tomato marinara. Haven’t experienced this thin, crispy-crust style before? Start here. It’s generally regarded as the originator of the grandma slice.
Edgar M./ Yelp
Going strong since 1946, Bocce Club was founded by Dino Pacciotti shortly after he returned from World War II. Today it’s run by his son, Jim. The pizza recipe hasn’t changed much: Dough is made from scratch and hand-stretched daily, sauce is made fresh, and the cheese is 100% whole milk mozzarella. The place has kept up with the times, though. It was the first Buffalo pizzeria to offer takeout in corrugated boxes in 1955, and the first to offer half-baked pies to finish cooking at home, which it now ships nationwide. As for the pizza, it’s beyond reproach and sets the standard for Buffalo pies against which all others are judged. We suggest you stick with the Original Bocce Pizza with just sauce and cheese, topped with high-quality pepperoni that curls up into little “cups” and chars slightly as it cooks.
Victoria K./ Yelp
On South Main Street in the heart of Providence, Rhode Island, Al Forno offers quintessential Italian dining for those who can’t afford the flight overseas. Husband-and-wife owner-chefs George Germon (who passed away a few years ago) and Johanne Killeen received the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano, a certification of an authentic Italian restaurant from the Italian government, a rare honor for Americans, attributable to their informed passion for pasta along with their invention of the grilled pizza. The restaurant bakes six pies in wood-burning ovens and on grills over hardwood charcoal fire. Their most notable grilled pizza? The Margarita. It’s served with fresh herbs, pomodoro, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil.
David C./ Yelp
La Nova is a Buffalo legend that is celebrating more than 50 years in business. There are at least 21 toppings to choose from and 19 set specialty pies, including square pies, thin-crust pizzas, and “The Big Joe” 30-inchers, but stick to the classic round pie, which, in typical Buffalo fashion, is loaded with more sauce and cheese than you might think necessary as well as an ample amount of “cup and char” pepperoni. Consider leveling-up your crust for free with sesame seeds, onion, garlic, Cajun spice or Parmigiano-Reggiano. And order the barbecue wings (which La Nova popularized in the region) too.
Pizzeria Vetri/ Yelp
The thin-crust pies that chef Marc Vetri was serving at his casual Philadelphia Italian restaurant Osteria took on a success of their own, and thus Pizzeria Vetri, which today has two Philadelphia locations and a third in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, was born. Be sure to check off the Speck (smoky cured speck, pistachio pesto, balsamic, mozzarella, roasted cippolini onions and Parmigiano); the Gambaretto (rock shrimp, salsa verde, scallions and Parmigiano); and the Salciccia (fennel sausage, roasted fennel, tomato sauce and mozzarella). But don’t leave without trying the Rotolo, a crispy pizza dough pinwheel stuffed with house-made mortadella sausage and ricotta crowned with pistachio pesto.
Sara L./ Yelp
Pizza Shackamaxon has commanded lines out the door since it opened its doors in 2018, and with good reason: These slices are essentially perfect. Chefs Ryan Ellis and Kevin Schofield are turning out big, gorgeous slices, slightly thicker than their New York cousins, topped with First Field tomatoes, mozzarella, fontina, Pecorino Romano and a drizzle of California olive oil (and some pepperoni from Salumeria Bielliese if you like). A weekly special pie that highlights local ingredients is also available. Shackamaxon is proof that high-quality ingredients really do make a difference.
Gabriela N./ Yelp
It shouldn’t be surprising that the folks behind Boulder’s Frasca, one of America’s best restaurants, launched an offshoot that serves some of America’s best pizza. Pizzeria Locale offers 12 “Classics,” (eight red, four white), but you’re probably going to want to build your own from a selection of more than 25 toppings including eggplant, Calabrian chiles, corn, smoked mozzarella, pork meatballs and prosciutto.
Geeyoung L./ Yelp
Pizza Rock is one of the 14 pizzerias California pizza king Tony Gemignani owns (four of which are in Nevada), and it doesn’t skimp on pizza preparation. There are at least four ovens (a 900-degree wood-fired Cirigliano Forni oven, a Rotoflex gas brick oven, a Marsal gas brick oven and a Cuppone Italian electric brick oven) the pizza champ uses to send out his signature pie styles: Napoletana, classic Italian, classic American, Sicilian and Romano. However, you should keep your eyes on the prize when dining here. Try to score one of the only 73 Margherita pies made daily using Tony’s award-winning recipe.
Truc T./ Yelp
You’d expect no less than pizza greatness from Seattle, Washington, star chef and James Beard Award-winner Tom Douglas, and at his two Serious Pie spots in Seattle, that’s exactly what you get. These are thin-crust, oblong pizzas about a foot long, light but with structure, cooked in a 600-degree applewood-burning stone oven and imbued with serious soul. The menu features seven pies with toppings like Yukon Gold potatoes, soft-cooked free-range eggs, smoked prosciutto, truffle cheese and house-made bacon, but you’ll want to try the sweet fennel sausage, roasted pepper and provolone pie.
Annie K./ Yelp
The Cheese Board opened as a small cheese store in 1967, and four years later, the two owners sold it to employees, creating a 100% worker-owned business. The restaurant's pizza program started in 1985. During shifts, employees "started making pizzas for [them]selves by cutting off hunks of extra sourdough baguette dough, grabbing favorite cheeses from the counter, and throwing on vegetables from the market next door," according to the company. After regular hours on Fridays, they began serving one vegetarian pizza, placing fresh ingredients and unusual cheeses atop a thin, sourdough crust.
What’s the pie to get? Whatever they’re serving. Only one type of pizza is available daily, and the toppings change every day.
Michael P./ Yelp
Loui’s started serving squares in 1977, when longtime Buddy’s chef Louis Tourtois branched out on his own. And it doesn’t look like much has changed since. There are checkered tablecloths, plastic and Formica tables, and empty, straw-wrapped Chianti bottles hanging all over the place. The third-generation, family-owned Hazel Park spot serves quartered, Detroit “red top”-style pies that are said to each have a pound of cheese on each of them. There are some eight charred-side pies on the menu — mostly variations on pepperoni pies featuring mushrooms, onions, green peppers and ham. The restaurant’s signature is the classic cheese and tomato sauce, but two popular favorites are the Hawaiian pie and the option to get extra meat such as ground beef, ham, bacon and pepperoni.
Elaine W./ Yelp
Rick Easton is one of the country’s most meticulous and renowned bakers, and he first gained recognition back in 2015 for a stone-milled, high-extraction wheat flour “local bread” sold at his shop in Pittsburgh. So it goes without saying that the pizza dough he’s turning out at the Jersey City location of Bread and Salt is going to be equally fussed-over. The end result? Roman-style pizza al taglio sliced to order, with a crisp, airy and chewy crust topped with a changing selection of fresh ingredients from New York’s Union Square Greenmarket. The Rossa (simply topped with tomato sauce) and the Margherita (with high-end mozzarella) are always available, though, and both are must-orders. And if there’s a doughnut on the menu, get that for dessert.
Sarah N./ Yelp
Although this San Francisco restaurant claims to specialize in house-made pastas, its pizza is formidable. Baked in a wood-fired oven, the thin-crust pizza at Flour + Water blends Old World tradition with modern refinement. The menu is limited and typically features just four pies. The toppings vary depending on what’s in season, making dining experiences unique. Recent examples include one topped with Adriatic fig speck, gorgonzola, cipollini onions, arugula and balsamic. But Flour + Water’s textbook Margherita is amazing. San Marzano tomatoes, basil, fior di latte cheese and extra-virgin olive oil.
Ian K./ Yelp
Tacconelli's is one of Philadelphia’s most celebrated pizzerias, in business since 1946. It’s so popular that lines are long and customers are advised to call ahead to reserve a pie, but most who taste it say it’s worth the effort. There are four pies: Tomato (no cheese), regular (a little cheese and sauce), white (salt, pepper, cheese and garlic), and the Margerita (fresh basil and mozz). These are wide crust pies, liberally sauced and topped and not uniform. You can customize with spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, pepperoni, sausage, sweet peppers, anchovies, onions, prosciutto, basil and extra cheese — just know there’s a three-topping max per pie. However, the move at Tacconelli's may be the "Signature," which is often unlisted. It’s a delectable white pizza with spinach and chunks of tomato and garlic.
Charles F./ Yelp
Papa’s Tomato Pies, established in 1912, is America’s oldest continuously owned, family-owned pizzeria. And the family behind this operation is key: Their recipe has been passed down through generations and survived a 2013 move from Trenton to Robbinsville.
The Azzaro family cooks made-to-order pies customizable in a variety of ways. You can choose everything from garlic to mushrooms and pepperoni to meatballs, or add anchovies for a salty kick. But it’s tradition that makes Papa’s special, so order the signature tomato pie. If you’re feeling adventurous, order a Papa’s tangy original: a mustard pie with a thin layer of spicy brown mustard between the crust and cheese with tomato sauce on top. Yes, it sounds crazy, but it’s an unexpected, nuanced creation that shouldn’t work, but does — a brilliant pizza you’ll crave and won’t find anywhere else.
Tom P./ Yelp
New Haven pizza (or as the locals call it, “apizza,” pronounced “ah-BEETZ”) fans should feel right at home at Roseland Apizza — the décor echoes that of the famous Sally’s of Wooster Street. It’s been in business since 1935. Frank Pepe opened just eight years before Roseland and Sally’s opened three years later. If this is your first time, start with a plain tomato pie (no cheese). You’ll want the Roseland Special (sausage and mushrooms), the fresh-shucked clam pie and one of the special shrimp pizzas topped with 2 pounds of shrimp. If you really feel like splashing out, there’s Roseland’s “most elite pie,” the Ponsinella, which is loaded with lobster, shrimp and scallops and can cost $65 at market price.
James S./ Yelp
Pizza legend Gennaro Lombardi’s influence is such that his New York City shop almost directly resulted in what’s generally accepted as one of the best pizzas — if not the best pizza — in Las Vegas. Metro Pizza founders John Arena and Sam Facchini’s grandparents settled 50 yards from Lombardi’s in NYC, and their parents’ first jobs were feeding coal into the bakery ovens where Sicilian pizzas were made for the neighborhood’s immigrant families. Metro Pizza has maintained that same tradition of handcrafted pies with dough made fresh daily and superior ingredients since 1980. Among the specialty pies, the Milano (mozzarella, ricotta, pecorino Romano and garlic) is a white pie worth noting. Of course, you’ll want to give a nod to at least one of the six “East Side Pizzas” named for Manhattan streets like Mulberry, Mott and Bleecker.
Lolit B./ Yelp
Renowned baker and chef Nancy Silverton runs Osteria Mozza, a Los Angeles hot spot where the famous clientele isn’t as interesting as the innovative, creative fare. Pizzeria Mozza, attached to the main restaurant, offers a variety of Italian specialties from antipasti to bruschetta, but the Neapolitan pizzas steal the show. Its list of 18 pies ranges from $18 for a simple pie of tomato, Sicilian oregano and extra-virgin olive oil to $25 for a more unique pie with squash blossoms, tomato and burrata cheese — a delicious and simple pizza that transports through the quality and nuance of its ingredients.
Triphena W./ Yelp
The family-owned Vito & Nick’s has been serving up thin-crust pizzas to Chicago residents since 1946 when they added them to their family’s tavern menu. Vito & Nick’s doesn’t believe in delivery; its co-founder has gone as far as to say they’ll never do it. It’s a philosophy that seems to work for them — the restaurant is essentially the standard-bearer for thin-crust pies in Chicago. When you go, order the one with housemade sausage. The thin crust, tasty sausage and generous covering of cheese and sauce is legendary.
Stuart T./ Yelp
Al Santillo’s grandfather opened Santillo’s in 1950, and the massive, cathedral-like brick oven, which requires a 20-foot-long peel to retrieve the pizzas, was built in 1957. This New Jersey pizzeria is really something you have to experience for yourself. Be prepared to order by the year — Al preserves every pizza style he can for posterity. They range from the 1940 Genuine Tomato Pie (no cheese) to the 2011 San Marzano “Tomatoes Over the Cheese” Pizza. But there are other intriguing options like Lasagna Pizza, thin-pan, Roman-style and Italian bread. Start out with a 1957-Style Pizza Extra Thin (14-inch round), or the popular Sicilian pizza — or just ask Al to make you his own spontaneous creation.
Frank Pepe, Sally's Apizza, Modern Apizza and Bar and the Bru Room round out New Haven’s big four pizza names, but there are great, lesser-known pizzerias. One on the other side of I-95 in West Haven, there is Zuppardi's, which has been open since 1934. Zuppardi's has its own take on Connecticut's renowned thin-crust style. It’s as thin as but less crisp than New Haven's other pies, with a crust that's lighter and airier than the ones you'll find in New York. The difference is in the edge, which is charred in places and thicker all around. The signature pie here is the Special: mozzarella, mushroom, sausage and marinara. But there are two other pizzas worth noting: a freshly shucked littleneck clam pie or the escarole and bean white pie with garlic.
Mandi W./ Yelp
It’s an understatement to say that Grimaldi’s and Juliana’s have history. These two Brooklyn pizza shops have a deep-seated pizza saga that is best understood by going to both places, preferably one after another on the same day, when there’s plenty of time to explain the New York pizza genealogy behind the two intertwined spots and taste the history yourself. In short, after learning from his uncle Pasquale (Patsy) Lancieri, who in turn had learned from Gennaro Lombardi, Patsy Grimaldi opened his own place, retired and sold the name, then came out of retirement to open Juliana’s, serving the same pizza he started the place with. These days, the lines may be longer up the block at Grimaldi’s, but ironically, those looking for the authentic Grimaldi’s experience really should be hitting up Juliana’s, where the crust has gained a reputation for being more crisp and airy with more complex flavor.
Robert B./ Yelp
This thin-crust bar pie institution in Stamford, Connecticut, is notorious for its no-frills demeanor, its no-special-options policy and for not making exceptions. There are signs, though, that this reputation may be thawing. Consider the special corned beef and cabbage pizza for St. Patrick’s Day, which makes sense when you consider “Colony” was the nickname of the Irish neighborhood in Stamford where Colony Grill was established by Irish owners in 1935. Unless you’re here on March 17, you’re going to want to order the hot oil bar pie with sausage and a “stinger” pie topped with hot peppers. There’s almost the same amount of tasty sauce and cheese as there is crisp cracker crust. And the “sting” of the oil brings you right back to the sip of beer you’ll want while savoring each bite.
The slice at Rubirosa, which was founded by the late A.J. Pappalardo with inspiration from his parents’ 57 year-old family recipe, is simply awe-inspiring. There are 10 standards on the menu that you’ll want to rotate through, including the classic, supreme, and "tie-dye" (vodka, tomato, pesto and fresh mozzarella), but the best one is the vodka pie with fresh mozzarella.
Thadd J./ Yelp
Cane Rosso owner Jay Jerrier is serving bar-raising Vera Pizza Napoletana-certified pizza in Dallas. And it’s so popular that there are now additional locations in Fort Worth, Austin and Houston. Great pizza can be all about simplicity too, as Jerrier’s menu declares by highlighting just four ingredients: sea salt, water, yeast and imported double-zero flour. Consider ordering the Zoli, with sausage, hot soppressata salami, hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes, house-made mozzarella and basil. Just don’t ask for ranch dressing on the side; they once famously kept a bottle behind a glass case with a whopping $1,000 price tag.
Bernard L./ Yelp
Joe & Pat’s has been the home of Staten Island’s thin, crispy-crust pizza since it opened in 1960. This spot has sweet sauce and pizza that is so thin you can eat seven slices without feeling stuffed. It’s lighter-than-air but still has a great crust and a weighty enough bottom that the slices don’t get floppy. The vodka pie (vodka sauce, mozzarella and basil) is a customer favorite, but it also serves killer veggie, pesto and buffalo chicken pies as well. You can also add on ingredients like scungilli mollusks, clams, shrimp, artichoke hearts and fried calamari. That’s not the end of customizations. They will make your pizza 14-inch, 15-inch, Sicilian, grandma-style, gluten-free, individual-sized or even heart-shaped.
You don’t expect restraint in a city known for deep dish, but that’s what owners Bill Carroll and Dave Bonomi advise at their coal-oven Neapolitan pizzeria, CoalFire. They make a note on the menu that no more than two or three toppings are recommended. Crowds have heeded that advice for more than a decade, enjoying the bubbly, slightly charred thin crust that emerges from CoalFire’s 800-degree clean-burning coal oven.
There are a lot of mediocre slices of pizza in New York. The ones served at Mama’s Too on the Upper West Side don’t fit into that category. The “house” slices that chef-owner Frank Tottolomondo serves are essentially perfect with dollops of flavorful sauce atop the cheese instead of the other way around. Even better, though, are his squares, which are airy and chewy and cooked until the cheese begins to caramelize. The square pepperoni slice, topped with crisp, concave “roni cups,” are one of the city’s great bites of food.
Chris T./ Yelp
Louie and Ernie’s is up to the task of making the Bronx the pizza destination it deserves to be recognized as. The sausage and onion pie, for example, is that can’t-wait-for-it-to-cool, burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth-it’s-worth-it good. The sausage (made with an 80-year-old recipe) comes from the S&D Pork Store four blocks down Crosby Avenue and is applied in generous, juicy, fennel-spiked chunks barely held in place by copious amounts of melted cheese.
The only thing stopping this place from becoming a national destination is its location in the deep Bronx. No matter. Louie & Ernie’s keeps turning out amazing pies to the locals who know they have a good thing.
Shaun L./ Yelp
DeLorenzo’s serves 70 years’ worth of tradition with its pizza. It was launched in Trenton in 1947 by southern Italian immigrant Alexander "Chick" De Lorenzo; today, Delorenzo’s tradition is upheld by his grandson Sam Amico at the new location in Robbinsville, opened in 2007. DeLorenzo’s makes a clam pie, albeit with tomato sauce (New Haven pizza purists, beware!). Customers can add to small or large tomato pies by selecting from a range of toppings including anchovies, artichokes, basil, spinach, black olives, broccoli, garlic, hot peppers, mushrooms, onions, sausage, roasted peppers, sweet peppers, pepperoni and even tuna.
Brendan T./ Yelp
Old-school pizza slices are having a moment in New York City, and no place best exemplifies the trend more than Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop, a spinoff of the venerable Paulie Gee’s. Pizza master Paul Giannone isn’t reinventing the wheel here; he’s just using quality ingredients and a whole lot of skill to turn out pizza slices that taste exactly how you want them to, the perfect fusion of crust, sauce and cheese. Making a perfect slice of traditional New York pizza is a lot harder than it looks, but Slice Shop is pulling it off.
Marie W./ Yelp
When you’re craving great pizza in Philly, go no further than a 19th-century brick building in Kensington. You’ll find thin-crust pizza cooked in a double-decker gas-fired oven at the cash-only joint opened in 2012 by four friends with money raised on Kickstarter. As you wait for the crew to cook your pie, bask in Pizza Brain’s unique ambience, peruse the pizza memorabilia museum (featuring what Guinness World Records called the world’s largest collection of pizza memorabilia) or rummage through its pizza tattoo book for laughs. Pizza Brain’s “Jane” is its version of a Margherita — a cheesy trifecta of mozzarella, aged provolone and grana padano cheese blended with basil — and it’s a good place to begin. The salty and satisfying Forbes Waggensense (don’t ask us how they got the name) is a true stunner though with mozzarella, fontina cheese, grana padano, basil, smoked pepperoni and tomato sauce.
Sara S./ Yelp
With a love for pizza and little formal training, Paulie Giannone struck out into Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and opened Paulie Gee’s long before the neighborhood became hip. It’s a pizza-lover’s haven, a clean, rustic space that resembles a barn but puts out a pie to rival Naples’ finest. With add-on combos, vegan options and “secret pizzas,” there are practically too many pizzas to count, all featuring clever names and great topping combinations. There’s Ricotta Be Kiddin’ Me, Feel Like Bacon Love (“there is no bacon on this pizza!”) and the Orange You Paulie Gee?, but the Regina (mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino Romano olive oil and fresh basil) is the one to order. This pizzeria is so popular, it’s spawned additional locations in Ohio, Baltimore and Chicago as well as Giannone’s new old-school Slice Shop, which is turning out a completely different style of pizza with an equal level of mastery and has also earned a spot on our list.
Shawn H./ Yelp
Since 2015, Florence native Massimo Laveglia has been stretching out 14- and 18-inch rounds in South Williamsburg at L'industrie Pizzeria and has been sending hearts aflutter ever since. These picture-perfect slices are unique in their own right: a honeycomb cornicione edge with ample bubbling, that dusty Roman marble statue finish on the edge and a mottle of cheese and sauce that almost seems painted onto the surface. This place far exceeds what’s to be expected at your standard slice joint. Get yours with some fresh basil and a couple dollops of fresh ricotta on top.
Nicole C./ Yelp
In the history of all things pizza, the bar pie is perhaps one of the most underrated styles. It’s a shame, save that it makes bar pie bastions like Colony, Eddie’s and Star Tavern in Orange, New Jersey, easier to enjoy without battling crowds. Owned and operated by the Vayianos family since 1980, “The Star” is run by former attorney Gary Vayianos, whose kitchen turns out super-thin, crispy crusts with a sauce-to-cheese ratio that delivers as much as you need and not more than the structural integrity can handle. And as the name might imply, it pairs perfectly with an ice-cold beer.
Wendy D./ Yelp
Opening in Boston’s North End in 1926, Regina Pizzeria has some serious cred. The pizza is made using dough from a 90-year-old family recipe, sauce, whole-milk mozzarella and toppings with no preservatives or additives, and it’s all cooked in a brick oven. There are nearly 20 different pies, some made traditionally, while others — like the St. Anthony’s, a white pie with sausage, sausage links, roasted peppers and garlic sauce — are unique. There are 14 locations across the Boston, Massachusetts, area, but the original, with its Old World charm, yellow walls, old wooden booths and cramped coziness, is the one to visit.
Mackenzie M./ Yelp
At pizza master Tony Gemignani’s legendary San Francisco flagship Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, the signature pie is the award-winning Neapolitan. It’s hand-mixed dough made with San Felice flour and proofed in Napoletana wood boxes, then topped with San Marzano tomatoes, sea salt, mozzarella fior di latte, fresh basil and extra-virgin olive oil. Just keep in mind that only 73 of these champion pizzas are made each day, so get there early. If you do miss that pie, don’t worry. The menu also offers critically acclaimed versions of pizza in the styles of California, St. Louis, Italy, Sicily, New York, Rome and even Detroit.
Nina J./ Yelp
Giovanni Di Palma’s Antico Pizza Napoletana opened in 2009 and has since established itself among most Atlantans as the city’s best pizza. There are 11 pizzas on the menu: five red, five white and one special: the Sophia, with buffalo mozzarella, cippolini onions, roasted mushrooms and white truffle oil. In the red category, opt for the classic Margherita D.O.P (with San Marzano tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, basil and garlic) or the San Genarro (sausage, spicy peppers, buffalo mozzarella and cippolini onions). And as for the white pizzas, go for the Bianca, topped with both cow’s milk and buffalo mozzarella, ricotta and pecorino. The menu notes that “all pizzas come well done and slightly charred,” which in this instance is a very good thing.
Alek I./ Yelp
Apizza Scholls serves some of the best pizza in Portland. But there are rules for those who want to assemble their own pie: only three ingredients and no more than two meats per pie. So choose wisely from a list of toppings that includes classics like anchovies, red onions, garlic, pepperoni, house-made sausage and basil as well as more interesting options such as house-cured Canadian bacon, cotto salami, arugula, pepperoncini and truffle oil. If you aren't up to building your own pie, there are 14 classics to choose from with names like "Pig & Pineapple," "Bacon Bianca," and "Sausage & Mama." Among them, you’ll find the signature Apizza Amore: a Margherita pie with capicollo (cured pork shoulder) that has a spicy kick offset by the somewhat sweet mozzarella and balanced sauce.
FoodWanderer A./ Yelp
The name Burt Katz is just about as synonymous with pizza as you can get in Chicago. He got into the game of opening pizzerias with literature references for names in 1963 when he got involved with Inferno (since closed). Then there was Gulliver’s, which opened in 1965, where he stayed until 1971, and Pequod’s (named for Captain Ahab’s ship in “Moby Dick”), which he opened in 1971 and sold in 1986. The years have been kind to his legacy at his former spots, but his success has been enshrined at Burt’s Place, which launched in 1989. Burt’s is a more restrained Chicago deep dish — a thinner base, a sensible use of cheese and sauce and that iconic Katz caramelized crust. An ownership change after Burt’s passing in 2016 resulted in a full renovation, and even though the pizzeria may have lost some of its old-school charm, loyalists will tell you that the pizza is still as good as ever.
Sandra M./ Yelp
Galleria Umberto may very well be one of America’s best cheap slice places. A cash-only throwback in Boston’s North End, it started as a bakery in 1965 and took on its current form in 1974. In the 40-some years since, it’s become an institution. Expect a line outside the door for these thick, cheesy, saucy, completely over-the-top Sicilian slices. That’s right, the Sicilian is the only pizza option (the other menu items include paninis, panzarottis, arancinis and calzones). The shop isn’t open long — it opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 2:30 p.m. (or whenever the dough is gone), so don’t delay. If you’re wondering if the hassle is worth it, this place is one of America’s top restaurants worth waiting in line for.
Marcella K./ Yelp
Roberta’s opened in January 2008 when its Bushwick, Brooklyn, environs were an industrial no-man’s land. Nowadays, however, it’s almost difficult to remember there was once a time when getting to this great pizza joint was considered a trek. Even if it’s not part of the city’s pizza old guard, Roberta’s is without question a member of New York’s pizza icons, one that has inspired other great pizzerias, among them another one on this list, Paulie Gee’s. No matter what you order, you’re guaranteed a chewy cornicione and an exemplary neo-Neapolitan pie.
Masa T./ Yelp
When Anthony Mangieri shuttered Una Pizza Napoletana, left New York City and headed west, Mathieu Palombino took over the lease and renamed the tiny space Motorino, and the East Village pizza scene hardly skipped a beat. Palombino’s Neapolitan-style pies proved to be so popular that he’s since opened two additional New York locations, five in Asia and one coming soon to Dubai. In NYC, Motorino offers 15 spirited pies, including one with cherrystone clams, another with stracciatella cheese and Gaeta olives, and one with cremini mushrooms, fior di latte cheese, sweet sausage and garlic. But contrary to every last fiber of childhood biases you hold, the one to order is the Brussels sprout pie. The oft-maligned vegetable is joined by fior di latte, garlic, pecorino, smoked pancetta, and olive oil. In late spring, this shop also offers a special seasonal ramp pie.
Catherine N./ Yelp
Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty serves generously topped pies marked by thick puffy crusts and extreme devotion to seasonality. As its "market-to-table" philosophy means the same pies won't always be on the menu, a recommendation can’t be guaranteed, but you can rest assured that just by walking in the door, you’re going to be settling into one great pizza, whether it's topped with summer squash, chanterelles, kale or roasted potatoes.
Seema K./ Yelp
San Francisco’s Mission District has changed over the past decade, but Mission visionaries and Pizzeria Delfina owners Craig and Anne Stoll haven’t lost a step, even as they’ve expanded to five restaurants. The menu is inspired by Craig’s memories of the New York-style pies from his youth and pizza from Naples’ best pizzerias. The menu features 13 “Neapolitan-inspired” thin-crust pizzas. You’ll be intrigued by options like the Panna (tomato sauce, cream, basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano) and a cherrystone clam pie with tomato, oregano and hot peppers. But your first move should be the Salsiccia with house-made fennel sausage, tomato, bell pepper, onion and mozzarella.
Thin, New Haven-style, counter-stretched pies are served at Wicker Park pizzeria Piece. All pies are topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano, oregano and olive oil, and you have the choice of going red (traditional tomato sauce and mozzarella pizza), plain (red sauce garlic, Parmigiano and olive oil, but no mozzarella) or white (plain crust brushed with olive oil, diced garlic and mozzarella). In addition to traditional toppings, you can top pies with spinach, jalapeños and banana peppers or pick from a list of premium toppings that include mashed potatoes, artichoke hearts, bacon and clams. Continue to customize by swapping in goat cheese or feta instead of mozzarella or go with a barbeque sauce base instead of tomato sauce.
Joel M./ Yelp
Established in 1934 as State Street Pizza, Modern is known for its oil-fueled brick oven (one of the last in the country) that still puts out pizza in the same thin-crust style. It’s usually mentioned in the same breath is New Haven legends Pepe’s and Sally’s, but these pies are quite different — heavier, wetter, cornmeal-bottomed and not quite as crisp — and the space is far more modern than its Wooster Street counterparts. Modern's pies are slightly topping-heavy, so given the topping focus, opt for fried eggplant or the Italian Bomb, which comes with bacon, sausage, pepperoni, garlic, mushroom, onion and peppers.
Aaron H./ Yelp
Anybody interested in tracing America’s love affair with pizza to its origins will find their way to Lombardi’s. Gennaro Lombardi opened a grocery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1897, and in 1905, he started selling tomato pies wrapped in paper to Italian Immigrant workers. The pizzeria was run by the Lombardi family — first by Gennaro’s son, John, then his grandson, Jerry — until it closed in 1984. It was reopened 10 years later a block from the original location by Jerry Lombardi and John Brescio, a childhood friend. These days, Lombardi’s is almost always packed. The thin crust has a cornicione without much bubble and a thorough sauce layering that’s tangy and not overly sweet or salty. There’s no shredded mozzarella layering but the fresh stuff is spread out. Is it New York City’s absolute best pizza? No, but Lombardi's is a touchstone and a place you need to visit.
April H./ Yelp
We’ve already gone over the long, labyrinthine history of Grimaldi’s (see #45), but all you really need to know is this: It’s been tucked away near the base of the Brooklyn Bridge since 1990, it moved into a new space next door in 2011, it was purchased by owner Frank Ciolli’s son (who also runs a chain of the same name) in early 2019, and the pizza is every bit as delicious as it’s always been. So after your wait in line is over, sit down and order something simple: a Margherita made in a coal-fired oven that heats up to about 1,200 degrees and requires about 100 pounds of coal a day. The result is crispy, smoky, tangy, cheesy and delicious, making Grimaldi’s a rare tourist trap that’s actually really good. Just remember: No credit cards, no reservations, no slices, and no delivery.
Luis R./ Yelp
Even though Chris Bianco no longer personally makes every pie that Pizzeria Bianco turns out, the pizzas at this legendary Phoenix, Arizona, restaurant gave the chef his initial claim to fame. This is another case where any pie will likely be better than most you’ve had in your life. The Rosa, with red onions, rosemary and pistachios, is especially noteworthy, but the signature Margherita will recalibrate your pizza baseline forever with its simple tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil.
Marco H./ Yelp
Domenico DeMarco is a local celebrity in Brooklyn, having owned and operated Di Fara since 1964. Dom cooks both New York- and Sicilian-style pizza for hungry New Yorkers and tourists willing to wait in long lines and brave the free-for-all that is the Di Fara counter experience. When he’s on, Di Fara can make a very strong case for being America’s best pizza (both the squares and round pies are equally spectacular). And if you stand at the counter and watch Dom make your pizza by hand, pull it from the ripping-hot oven with his bare hands and snip some fresh basil over it with a pair of scissors, you just might have America’s best pizza experience as well. Dom is oftentimes replaced behind the counter by his (well-trained) children nowadays, and the restaurant has been plagued by tax issues, so there’s no time like the present to pay homage.
Angela H./ Yelp
When Pizzeria Beddia first opened in 2013, it was a two-man operation – just Joe Beddia and his friend John Walker serving just 40 pies a night, four nights a week, in a cash-only, no-phone, no-bathroom space, with Beddia making every pie. After being named America’s Best Pizza by Bon Appetit in 2015, crowds began lining up hours in advance for a chance to snag one of the four available styles of pizza. But sadly, Joe finally tired out and closed up shop in 2018. The second coming of Beddia opened in Fishtown about a year later. This is a far more standard operation, with a full staff, a horseshoe-shaped bar, wine, kombucha on tap and a selection of small plates. Two things remain unchanged, however: the crowds and the pizza. There are still just four pizzas on the menu, and Joe is still using super high-quality ingredients and organic flour to turn out crisp, savory pies with uncooked sauce lending a bright zing.
Janice H./ Yelp
Prince Street Pizza started serving “SoHo Squares” in 2012, and since then, it’s gone down as one of New York’s finest pizzerias. Owner Frank Morano, who uses his family’s Sicilian recipes, installed a new gas-fired, brick-lined Marsal & Sons oven to fire up seven signature Neapolitan pies and five styles of square slices. Start with the simple mozzarella and sauce signature square, but don’t leave without trying the Spicy Spring. It’s topped with tangy-sweet fra diavolo sauce, fresh mozzarella and spicy soppressata salami that turns into crispy circles that cradle shimmering pools of oil. Make sure you get a fresh slice and ask for a corner (and for any pepperoni that falls off in the pan).
Julia K./ Yelp
Legendary pizzaiolo Anthony Mangieri first opened Una Pizza Napoletana in New York in 2004, but in 2008, he closed it down and decamped to San Francisco. In May 2018, however, he decided to come back to Manhattan, and the city welcomed him with open arms (and stomachs, and wallets). The pizza scene in New York has grown by leaps and bounds since Una Pizza last graced its shores, but the consensus is that Mangieri’s classic Neapolitan-style pizzas are just as good as they’ve always been — especially the Margherita, with its puffy cornicione, bright and acidic sauce and creamy high-quality buffalo mozzarella.
Van N./ Yelp
Santarpio's, which opened in 1903, sticks to its traditional roots when it comes to its famously chewy and satisfyingly wet slices. The menu consists of a variety of options but includes spectacular combos like a pie that pairs sausage with garlic, ground beef and onions. There’s also "The Works" with mushrooms, onions, peppers, garlic, sausage, pepperoni, extra cheese, and anchovies. First-timer? Order Santarpio’s most popular pie — mozzarella, sausage and garlic — to establish a baseline.
Joe’s Pizza/ Yelp
Since 1975, Joe’s Pizza has served fresh, hot, cheesy slices to tourists and residents alike, making it a truly iconic New York City landmark. Everyone has a favorite slice joint, but if the city were to have just one, this legendary hole-in-the-wall would be it. It’s made every conceivable best-of list (many of them tacked on the walls and in the windows), and for good reason. The key to Joe's success is its traditional New York City-style pizza with thin crust, great sauce and just the right ratio of cheese, sauce and crust.
Richard H./ Yelp
Yes, John’s of Bleecker is on the tourist rotation, but there’s a reason it’s become a New York City institution. Pizza is cooked in a coal-fired brick oven the same way it's been done there since 1929. Choose from the available toppings (sliced meatball, pepperoni, ground sausage, sliced tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, basil, ricotta, mushrooms, onions, peppers, anchovies, black olives and garlic), and you can scratch your name into the walls like the droves before you.
Cher’on A./ Yelp
The first Lou Malnati's Pizzeria opened in 1971 to much acclaim, and it’s now a true Chicago institution. Lou died of cancer just seven years later, but his family kept his dream alive. The Lou Malnati’s deep-dish comes in four sizes: 6-inch individual (serves one), 9-inch small (serves two), 12-inch medium (serves three) and 14-inch large (serves four). No matter the size, make sure one of your picks is the Malnati Chicago Classic: a casserole-like pizza made with Lou's lean sausage, some extra mozzarella and vine-ripened tomato sauce on buttercrust.
Janet J./ Yelp
Some would say this is the only existing place where you can get a proper and authentic coal-oven slice in the universe, given that its founder Pasquale "Patsy" Lancieri supposedly opened Patsy's after working with the godfather of New York City pizza, Gennaro Lombardi.
True or not, this 1933 East Harlem original can claim pizza heritage most only dream of and was reportedly one of Frank Sinatra and Joe DiMaggio’s favorites. Still, the original is one of the most underrated and under-hyped pizza classics in the city. It’s a curious thing given the history and quality. Patsy’s pizza is so thin, and relatively short, that you can scarf down six slices at the counter.
Dan O./ Yelp
Sally's Apizza is New Haven royalty, operating from the same location where it opened in the late 1930s in Wooster Square. Its pizza is traditionally thin crust, chewy, lightly charred and slightly oblong topped with tomato sauce, garlic and "mozz." The pies at Sally’s look pretty similar to what you'll find down the street at Frank Pepe, because the man who opened Sally's, Salvatore Consiglio, was Pepe's nephew. When you visit, keep in mind that while Sally's staff have been known to admit that Pepe’s clam pie is better, the tomato pie here (tomato sauce, no cheese) has the original beat. The pie topped with mozz and thinly sliced potato and onion is also a masterpiece.
JohnnyPrime C. C./Yelp
Opened in Coney Island in 1924 and still going strong through fire, flood and urban blight, Totonno’s serves as a perfect representation of the bridge between the Neapolitan style brought over from the Old World and today’s omnipresent New York slices. The coal-fired blistered edges, the spotty mozzarella laced over that beautiful red sauce… These pies are works of art, and the restaurant, with its black-and-white tile floors, tin ceilings and no-nonsense waitstaff, is as much a time capsule as the pizza.
Steve T./ Yelp
Detroit’s signature square pizza style is like a Sicilian slice on steroids. The crisp, thick, deep-dish crust is formed from the process of twice-baking in square pans that have been brushed with oil or butter. Then a liberal ladling of sauce is spread across the cheese surface. It supposedly all started in 1946 at Buddy’s, a neighborhood tavern that’s since become a Michigan institution. Try the signature Detroit Zoo pie with a Motor City Cheese blend, roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, pine nuts and tomato basil sauce.
Jessica M./ Yelp
Pequod’s originator, the late Burt Katz, is a Chicago pizza legend, and one bite of its deep-dish will give you great respect for the man. Known for its “caramelized crust,” Pequod’s pies earn points for their chewy, quasi-burnt cheese crust that forms the outer edge of this cheesy casserole, adding a welcome degree of texture that probably wouldn’t be necessary if it weren’t nearly an inch thick. But it is necessary. And beautiful. You can thank the fact that they spread a thin layer of cheese along the outer part of the crust where it darkens against the side of the pan.
Jose E./ Yelp
Razza opened just across the Hudson River from New York in Jersey City, New Jersey, in late 2012, and it quietly became locally renowned for its wood-fired pizzas prepared by chef-owner Dan Richer, who was a semifinalist for the James Beard Rising Star Award. Not only has Richer perfected his crust — it’s crisp from end to end and its inside is soft with a complex flavor — but he’s also meticulous about his toppings, which he sources locally. The mozzarella on his Bufala pie, for example, comes from water buffalo in New Jersey’s Sussex County. He had to wait years for the herd to grow large enough to ensure a steady supply of the notoriously difficult-to-perfect cheese. And as for the sauce, Richer told The New York Times that he waits for the latest vintages of tomatoes from California, New Jersey and Italy to be canned each January before blind-tasting and grading them all, then blending them like fine wine. When assembled, the pizza is as close to perfection as possible.
Connie Y./ Yelp
Include a pinch of Di Fara, stretch Totonno's crust a bit wider, add a few intangibles, and you’re close to the pizza experience Mark Iacono has made famous at his Carroll Gardens pizzeria Lucali, which opened in 2006. There’s that classic New York thin-crust style and old-school execution praised at New York’s storied and beloved institutions. Eating pizza in Lucali’s warm, softly lit environs, you wonder how Iacono seems to have inherited Gennaro Lombardi’s pizza magic. The wait for a table can last for hours, but this is one restaurant that’s worth waiting in line for.
Damien S./ Yelp
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana retains its crown as America’s finest pizzeria. This is a bucket list destination, one you’ll have to make a pilgrimage to if you want to discuss the topic of America's best pizza with any authority. The New Haven icon opened in Wooster Square in 1925 and shortly thereafter moved into its current space, which at the time was the largest pizzeria in America. The pizzas here are quintessential New Haven: oblong, just a little charred, thin-crusted, chewy, coal-fired and irresistibly delicious. There are 11 locations in the region, and at each one, the original coal oven has been faithfully replicated, brick-by-brick. If you visit, make sure you try the clam pie. This is a Northeastern pizza genre unto its own, and Pepe’s is the best of all. Freshly shucked, briny littleneck clams, an intense dose of garlic, olive oil, oregano and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano sit atop a charcoal-colored crust. It’s a combination that makes this pie one of the 101 most iconic dishes in America.
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