For the past four years, we’ve cast a wide net and released our ranking of the 101 best pizzas in America. From Sicilian to salciccia, these pizzas run the gamut across nearly every regional style out there. But today we’re sharing the top 10 pizzas that made the list that contain America’s favorite pizza topping: pepperoni.
We’ll start by defining the perfect pie. We believe the following qualities are basic to the platonic plain pie: a nuanced sauce, neither too sweet nor salty; good-quality, well-distributed cheese; 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, and crust that maintains a structural integrity no matter the style. And as for the pepperoni, it needs to be of a high quality (if it forms that small “cup” shape when it’s cooked, that’s a good indicator), and it needs to be evenly distributed and properly cooked.
(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.)
So who says the pizzas on this list are the country’s best? A sampling of panelists that took our survey of more than 800 pizzerias 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, Pizza: A Slice of American History’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.
Read on to learn about the top 10 pepperoni pizzas in America. Try some of these and you’ll understand why pepperoni is the default pizza topping: It because no topping is better.