Now more than ever, no food is immune to excess. Doughnuts have been turned into burger buns, lobster rolls are adorned with with caviar, and hot dogs get topped with foie gras. Pizza, of course, is no exception. Read on to learn about the most outrageous pizza toppings in America.
When you get down to it, you can technically call any flat bread with stuff on it “pizza.” But for today’s purposes, we’re narrowing that definition a bit, culling from our list of the recently-announced 101 Best Pizzas in America. These are real pizzas, not just gimmicks meant to attract tourists or the especially gluttonous. Sure, these pizzas are outrageous, but they’ve been constructed with an eye for balance and harmony. They’re not just outrageous for the sake of it, they’re also delicious. They work.
So what exactly makes a pizza outrageous? First, it needs to deviate from the norm. There was once a time when chicken was considered an outrageous pizza topping, but today it’s available at just about every New York slice joint. But being different isn’t synonymous with being outrageous, which is more difficult than it appears. You can open up a can of tuna and dump it onto a plain pie, but nobody’s going to want to eat that. At the end of the day, an outrageous pizza needs to be different, unexpected, creative, a little outlandish, and so tasty that when a customer goes out on a limb and orders it they’re rewarded with a flavor combination they’ve never experienced before, one they want to return to again and again.
So if you’re looking for a cheese pizza with caviar and gold leaf on it, you won’t find it here. These pizzas weren’t slapped together for publicity; they were created by chefs who were looking to redefine what a pizza could be, all while keeping an eye on balance and deliciousness. At the same time, there’s no denying that there’s a sense of fun here, too, because at the end of the day, eating an outrageous pizza should be a really good time.
Café Bottega, Birmingham, Ala. (Farm Egg: Mushrooms, Guanciale, Taleggio, Porcini Oil)
Over the past 30 years, chef Frank Stitt has been credited for significantly raising the bar in Alabama’s culinary scene. As if the success of his restaurant Highlands Bar and Grill and the roster of culinary talents that have launched their own successful careers after spending time in his kitchen weren’t impressive enough, he’s now going ahead and doing the same thing for the state’s pizza scene. While devoted regulars may have trouble steering themselves away from Stitt’s classic dishes at Café Bottega, like the seared beef carpaccio, Niçoise salad, and chicken scaloppini, they’ll find themselves particularly rewarded by any of the eight pizzas on the menu. There’s a white pie with fennel sausage, a grilled chicken and pesto combination, even a pizza with okra and corn. But the restaurant’s signature pie and biggest crowd-pleaser is the “Farm Egg,” which is topped with mushrooms, guanciale, Taleggio, and porcini oil.
Gusto Pizza Co., Des Moines, Iowa (The Deburgo: Garlic-Herb Cream Sauce, Sliced Sirloin, Mozzarella, Smoked Gouda, Cremini, Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette, Romano, Fresh Basil)
You can practically envision the folks behind Gusto Pizza Co. — Friends Josh Holderness, Joe McConville, and Tony Lemmo — sitting down over a few beers before opening their imaginative Des Moines pizza shop in 2011, and coming up with their menu as an hours-long snort-inducing punfest. “Thai Kwon Dough” with peanut sauce and chicken? “Seoul Food” pizza with Korean-style marinated skirt steak and sriracha mayo? “Vincent Van Goat” with goat cheese and fried sweet peppers? “Fromage-A-Trois”? Very fun. But don’t mistake the levity for anything less than a serious approach to some delicious pizzas featuring perfectly balanced crispy-chewy thin crusts.