25 Best Sausage Pizzas in America
October 9, 2015
Pepperoni is great, but is sausage even better?
25 Best Sausage Pizzas in America
When it comes to pizza, sausage isn’t the most obvious topping choice, generally taking a backseat to pepperoni. But we think sausage is even better as a topping than pepperoni, and these 25 places are serving the best sausage pizzas in America.
#25 Rocky Slims, New York, NY (Sausage)
Yelp / Mike C
This modern Italian restaurant also operates as a New York slice shop through its side entrance, and chef Angelo Romano (who’s also manned the pizza oven at Brooklyn landmark Roberta’s) focuses on using the finest ingredients possible to create his pizzas, including organic flour. The small pies emerge from the pizza oven slightly charred and bubbling; The sausage pie, topped with tomato sauce, pickled cherry peppers, mozzarella, pecorino, and big chunks of fresh house-made sausage, is the one to order.
#24 Pizano’s, Chicago, Ill. (Rudy's Special: Mozzarella, sausage, mushroom, onion, green pepper)
Yelp / Kathy N
With six locations and another one on the way, you know that Pizano's has a loyal fan following among Chicago's intense deep-dish market (The owner’ father, Rudy Malnati, Sr., was one of the founders of Pizzeria Uno). But Pizano's offers both deep-dish pizza and a thin-crust version that could make most New Yorkers happy.
For the deep-dish crowd, the restaurant offers the Rudy's Special, a pie that the restaurant requests guests' patience for in advance. This monstrous concoction, topped with cheese, sausage, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers, takes up to 30 minutes to cook all the way through.
#23 &pizza, Washington, D.C. (Farmer's Daughter)
Yelp / Stephanie C
&pizza, with 13 locations in the Washington, D.C. area and one more in the works, is DC’s smoking-hot Italian answer to Chipotle: Customers can create their own pizzas choosing from three doughs, eight sauces, three cheeses, any combination of meat and/or vegetables, and toppings like capers and red pepper chile oil. But if you prefer to place your pizza in their (very capable) hands, we suggest you opt for the Farmer’s Daughter, which is made with spicy tomato sauce, spinach, fresh mozzarella, classic fennel Italian sausage, local farm eggs, red pepper chile oil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s a beauty.
#22 Johnny’s, Mt. Vernon, NY (Sausage)
Yelp / Alison H
One of Westchester County’s oldest pizzerias (in business since 1942), Johnny’s is about as old-school as it gets, cash-only and no slices, although the crust on these pies is so thin and crisp that two people can eat a large pie with no trouble. It’s similar to a bar pie, slightly chewy, and crisp while still remaining pliable. Sausage is the topping to go for here; evenly distributed thin-sliced coins lend a heft and savoriness to a truly unique pie.
#21 Vito & Nick’s, Chicago (Sausage)
Yelp / Triphena W
In a city dedicated to deep-dish pies, this family-owned restaurant has been serving up thin-crust pizzas to Chicago residents for decades, and as the note on their website demonstrates ("If you don’t know about us, you will"), the owners are fairly confident in their popularity. The thin-crust, tasty sausage, and generous cheese and sauce covering will likely leave you in agreement.
#20 Tomasso’s, San Francisco (Mushrooms and Sliced Italian Sausage)
Tomasso’s has been a San Francisco institution in North Beach since, well, forever. It was opened as Lupo’s in 1935 by the Cantolupo family, immigrants from Naples, with what it claims was the first wood-fired brick pizza oven on the West Coast. It changed hands when the family retired in 1971 and gave Lupo’s to longtime chef Tommy Chin, who started working there the year after it opened. Chin may have preserved the restaurant’s traditions, but he changed the name, and though he stayed on to teach them the restaurant’s classic recipes, he sold it two years later to the Crotti family. Tomasso’s has been a family-owned and operated joint ever since. These days, the pizzeria has been accused of serving a very cheesy pie. So if that’s not your thing, be forewarned, but you’ll find few people who will argue the strength of the sauce, or that Tomasso’s is a worth the visit to sample one of their almost 20 pies, among them their self-proclaimed most popular, the mushroom and sliced Italian sausage pie.
#19 Falco's Pizza & Pasta, Chicago, Ill. (Sausage Thin Crust)
Yelp / Christopher V
“In 1956, Vito and Anna Falco came to America with only their family and a dream” notes the restaurant’s website. “By 1964 their dream became reality when they opened the original Falco’s Pizzeria on the south side at 87th and Washtenau.” Heartwarming, right? But also delicious. At Falco’s, the pizza is made with the restaurant’s unique sauce and hand-rolled crust and loaded with cheese and toppings. While the pizza place is known for its thin crust sausage pizza, customers can mix and match with crusts of double dough and Garlic Italiano Crust and toppings including pineapple, garlic, jalapeno, and anchovies to name just a few.
#18 Spacca Napoli, Chicago (Salsiccia)
Spacca Napoli stands out from the rest of the Chicago pizza pack due to its unique take on Neapolitan-style pizza. The restaurant has garnered a laundry list of accolades, from the 2012 Michelin Bib Gourmand Award to a 95 percent "like" rating on Zagat.
The pizza is consistently applauded for its authenticity, as owner Jon Goldsmith travels to and from Naples regularly to study the flavors of the region. The menu differentiates pizze rosse (made with traditional red sauce, tomatoes, and topped with olive oil) from the pizze bianche (made without red sauce and topped with olive oil). The Salsiccia is made with fresh fior di latte, and the locally-made sausage is peppery and rich.
#17 Imo’s St. Louis, Mo. (Deluxe: Sausage, Mushroom, Onion, Green Pepper, Bacon, Provel)
There are styles of pizza so particular to the area they’re from that many outsiders will forever struggle to comprehend the reason for their existence. For New Yorkers that’s Chicago deep-dish, for late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, apparently that’s St. Louis-style. Not long ago he had St. Louis native and Mad Men star Jon Hamm on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, during which he told Hamm that Imo's was terrible, a "terrible, terrible pizza place." Hamm defended the pizza, noting that the middle slice is the best one, and saying you could "taste the Gateway Arch" and its 11 World Series titles in an Imo’s slice (square cut, of course) and going so far as to say he’d take Imo’s over Kimmel’s own. If you haven’t tasted it for yourself, you’ll need to before weighing in. While its thin and unleavened crackery crust is almost like one you’ll find in a bar pie, it’s generally known to be a bit sweeter than typical bar pies, and meant more than anything else to act as a vehicle for the unique cheese topping that makes St. Louis style unlike any other slice you’ll have ever tried.
#16 Pelham Pizza, Pelham, N.Y. (Sausage)
Where is Pelham Pizza? In Pelham, of course, a town in Westchester not far from Mount Vernon where you’ll find another local pizzeria that local experts obsess over: Lincoln Lounge. Pelham Pizza was opened in 1978 by two brothers from Italy, Luigi "Gino" and Ettore "John" Ruffolo. Gino ran the pizzeria after John passed away in 1988 until his own death just a few years ago. Since 2009, Gino's son John and son-in-law Pino Mancini have kept up the tradition of soul-satisfying, thin-crust, family-pleasing New York-style pies that deliver without the fuss.
#15 Colony Pizza, Stamford, Conn. (Sausage Pie)
This thin crust bar pie institution in Stamford, Conn., has long been notorious for its no-frills demeanor, no-special-options policy, and for not making exceptions. There are signs, though, that this reputation may be thawing. Consider first the special Corned Beef and Cabbage Pizza for St. Patrick's Day. That 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. But now there are three locations, and they’re even doing a salad pizza. Go figure. What you’re going to want to do though is order the sausage pie with hot oil (chile-pepper infused oil) and a “stinger” pie (they’re thin so you’re going to need two). That signature hot oil is a must — if you don’t do it, don’t bother going. There’s almost the same amount of tasty sauce and cheese as there is crisp cracker crust. There’s something really special about the equal amounts of ingredients you likely won’t have had before, the pockmarked surface resembles some crazy dream where cheese covers the surface of the moon (all melty like you remember from the orange-oil covered slice at the favorite pizza place from your youth), and the sting of the oil brings you right back to the beer you’ll want to sip while savoring each bite.
#14 Nick's Pizza, Forest Hills, Queens, N.Y. (Mushroom and Sausage)
Yelp / Kathy H
The same family that brought you Adrienne's Pizza Bar on Wall Street, Angelo's in Midtown, and all of the Patsy's licensees in Manhattan first conquered pizza in Queens. Owner Nick Angelis serves some of the freshest mozzarella around with a wide variety of other great toppings including scallions, feta, hot cherry peppers, capers, and sun-dried tomatoes (though they’ll tell you to go with the mushroom and sausage pie), on Neapolitan-style pizza that, from the look of the charred crust edges, you would not believe came out of a gas oven. Don't miss the calzones at Nick's either.
#13 Cane Rosso, Dallas, Texas (Zoli)
Good pizza in Dallas? Are you kidding? Nope. Cane Rosso owner Jay Jerrier is serving some bar-raising Vera Pizza Napoletana-certified stuff. As the menu declares, by highlighting just four ingredients — sea salt, water, yeast, and imported double-zero flour — great pizza can be all about simplicity.
You’ll want to order the Zoli with sausage, hot soppressata, hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes, house-made mozzarella, and basil, and you’ll enjoy it for sure. Just mind your wallet. Cane Rosso will serve vegan cheese, but they draw the line at topping your pizza with ranch dressing — you can incur a $1,000 charge for demanding a side of it (it’s a joke… but don’t try it anyway, just in case, OK?).
#12 Pizzaiolo, Oakland, Calif. (Rapini and housemade sausage)
Pizzaiolo founder Charlie Hallowell was raised in suburban Connecticut on a modest diet of TV dinners and Chef Boyardee. As Pizzaiolo’s website explains, through some completely unexplainable, miraculous twist of fate, he found himself working in the Chez Panisse kitchen, where, for the first time, he felt engaged and enlivened by his job, and the intellectual life that permeated the culture there.
After eight years, Hallowell set out on his own, determined to make sure that about 98 percent of the time he would buy only locally grown, organic, seasonal meat and produce (he uses organic flour milled in Oakland), sourced from small farmers and ranchers he trusts.
Pizzaiolo changes the menu daily to reflect what they’re getting, so nailing down a signature pie is tough (the Margherita is one of their most popular, and there’s a marinara), but with ingredients like potato, pancetta, summer squash, rapini, wild nettles, and gremolata, and add-ons like house-made sausage, Calabrian peppers, and farm egg, you can be sure any of the seven other pies will feature interesting combos. Pro tip: Swing by in the morning and you may be able to score one of the city’s most underrated doughnuts.
#11 Zuppardi’s, West Haven, Conn. (Special: Mozzarella, mushroom, sausage, marinara)
Yelp / Keep S
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 that has been around almost as long: Zuppardi's, open since 1934 (though they may be ahead of the others in terms of entering the twenty-first century in one way at least: they launched a food truck this year). The origins? Domenico and Angelina Zuppardi’s bakery, which was passed down to Tony and Frances Zuppardi, and in the 1940s was turned into a pizzeria by Tony (who was a baker in the Navy) when Domenico became ill.
Zuppardi's has its own take on Connecticut's renowned thin-crust style (they call it “a Napolitano-style pie”) and a philosophy handed down to co-owner Lori Zuppardi (read the full interview) from her father that goes like this: “The last bite has to be as good as the first when people eat our pizza." It’s as thin as, but less crisp than, New Haven's other pies, with a New York City crust that's lighter and airier than the ones you'll find in Gotham. The difference is in the edge, which is charred in places, and is thicker all around.
The signature is the Special: mozzarella, mushroom, sausage, and marinara. But there are two other pies worth noting: the market price, freshly shucked littleneck clam pie (there’s a cheaper and quicker clam pie, but why would you want that?) and a wet and juicy escarole and bean white pie, with garlic and bites of crisp and wet escarole and soft bean interspersed. All good Italians know that escarole and bean soup is a great winter savior. Here, you’ll find it on a pie. Prego!
#10 Coppa, Boston, Mass. (Salsiccia: Tomato, spicy pork sausage, ricotta, red onion)
Yelp / Keep S
Even if you’re just a casual food TV watcher, you may be familiar with Coppa’s James Beard Award-nominated chef Jamie Bissonnette. The stocky, affable, tattooed chef was a Chopped champion in 2011, the same year he became the winner of the Food & Wine People’s Best New Chef award.
Coppa, his South End enoteca in Boston with Beantown’s über-chef Ken Oringer, is one of the city’s pizza darlings, having been named Boston’s best upscale pizza in 2010 by Boston Magazine, which noted that it has some of the most magnificent pizza crust around: "crunchy, chewy, smoky, and soft all at once."
There are six pies, all tough choices. Coppa cites the Salsiccia, with tomato, spicy pork sausage, ricotta, roasted red onion, and fennel pollen, as its most popular, but just as exciting are the 'nduja (with tomato, spicy Calabrian pork sausage, burrata, and oregano) and the bone marrow (white pie with smoked bone marrow, beef tongue, and horseradish).
#9 Serious Pie, Seattle, Wash. (Sweet fennel sausage, roasted pepper, provolone)
You’d expect no less than pizza greatness from Seattle star chef and James Beard Award winner Tom Douglas, and at his three Serious Pie spots in Seattle (Virginia, Westlake, Pike) that’s exactly what you get. These are thin-crust, oblong pizzas about a foot long and imbued with serious soul (there are also huge corniciones).
Consider the pizza mission statement that greets you when visiting their website: “Serious Pie: a pizzeria with a bread baker's soul, serves up pies with blistered crusts, light textured but with just enough structure and bite. Our attentiveness to each pizza in the 600°F stone-encased applewood burning oven preserves the character of housemade charcuterie and artisan cheeses from around the world.”
The menu features seven pies with toppings like Yukon gold potato, soft-cooked free-range eggs, smoked prosciutto, truffle cheese, snap peas, StraCapra (a washed-rind semi-soft goat cheese), and clams, but you’ll want to try the sweet fennel sausage, roasted pepper, and provolone pie that was voted one of the top 50 pizzas in the country this year.
#8 Gjelina, Los Angeles, Calif. (Lamb Sausage: Confit tomato, rapini, Pecorino, Asiago, no sauce)
This Venice neighborhood spot serves Italian favorites to diners hanging out on the trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard. The menu ranges from charcuterie and cheese to oysters, and includes an impressive wine list, but the pizza is the draw. Gjelina offers a roster of crispy, thin-crust pies (15 at last count) as well as thoughtfully conceived dishes prepared using market-fresh ingredients. There are enticing pies like the squash blossom pizza with burrata, the cherrystone clam with tomato cream and pecorino, and guanciale with green olives, and Fresno chiles, but when you see house-made sausage, you know what you have to do: order the un-sauced lamb sausage pie featuring confit tomato, rapini, pecorino, and asiago.
#7 Santarpio’s, Boston, Mass. (Mozzarella, Sausage, Garlic)
Yelp / Michael U
The local favorite (Usher’s too, apparently) has already seen its fair share of fame after winning various best-of-Boston pizza lists over the years. Santarpio's, which opened in 1903, sticks to their traditional roots when it comes to the infamous slightly chewy and satisfyingly wet slices. Their menu consists of a variety of options, but includes a list of customers' favorite combos, like a pie that pairs sausage with garlic, ground beef, and onions, and even "The Works": 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.
#6 Denino’s, Staten Island, N.Y. (Sausage)
Yelp / Mike K
Residents of the Forgotten Borough have long known what the rest of New York City, and more recently the country, are beginning to understand: When it comes to pizza, Staten Island doesn’t play. And Denino’s has led the charge since 1951, when Carlo Denino took over the tavern his Sicilian father John Giovanni opened in 1937. After John died, Carlo introduced pizza at the tavern, and locals have been ordering bar pies and downing them with pitchers ever since. A third generation of Denino’s runs the operation now (and opened a second spot, in New Jersey), and they keep pulling regulars in for their sweet Italian sausage pie, tossed in crumbles over a light, pliant crust.
#5 Pizzeria Delfina, San Francisco, Calif. (Salsiccia Pizza)
Yelp / Lisa D
San Francisco’s Mission 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. 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 eight "Neapolitan-inspired" thin-crust pies and two daily-changing specials. You’ll be intrigued by options like the Panna (tomato sauce, cream, basil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano), and look out! A cherrystone clam pie with tomato, oregano, and hot peppers. But your first move should be the Salsiccia: house-made fennel sausage, tomato, bell pepper, onion, and mozzarella.
#4 Lou Malnati's Pizzeria Chicago, Ill. (Chicago Classic)
The first Lou Malnati's Pizzeria opened in 1971 to much acclaim, and it’s now a Chicago — and national — institution. Lou died of cancer just seven years later, but his family kept his dream alive, expanding his chain to 42 locations at last count.
The Lou Malnati’s deep-dish experience comes in four sizes: six-inch individual (serves one), nine-inch small (serves two), 12-inch medium (serves three), and 14-inch large (serves four). So you most likely will just be ordering one or two if you plan to finish them, even with a few friends (unless you’re not planning to eat anything else that day).
They do actually make a thin-crust pie, but what’s the matter with you? You’re not visiting for thin-crust, so make sure one of those picks is the Malnati Chicago Classic: a casserole (remember, deep dish isn’t technically pizza) made with Lou's lean sausage, some extra mozzarella, and vine-ripened tomato sauce on buttercrust. "It's authentic Chicago!"
#3 Pequod's Chicago, Ill. (Deep Dish with sausage and pepperoni)
Pequod’s originator Burt Katz moved on from this endeavor after few years to take a break before opening a new pizza stalwart in 1989: Burt’s Place (now closed) in Morton Grove, just north ofChicago. But the years have been kind to his legacy. Pequod’s deep dish, known for its “caramelized crust,” earns points for its chewy, crusty, 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. And it does add that texture. And 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.
#2 Papa’s Tomato Pies, Robbinsville, N.J. (Sausage)
Lombardi's may be responsible for "America's first pizza," but as Nick Azzaro, owner of Papa's Tomato Pies, isn't shy about saying, Papa's — established in 1912 — is America's oldest continuously owned, family-owned pizzeria. With more than 100 years under its belt, no wonder Papa’s again made this list of America’s best pies. And the family behind them is key. Why? The recipe has been passed 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 between everything from garlic to mushrooms and pepperoni to meatballs, or add anchovies for a salty kick. It’s the tradition that makes this restaurant unique, so you’ll be ordering their signature tomato pie. But make sure that at least half of it is topped with sausage; the thick chunks or Italian sausage are of a much higher quality than necessary.
#1 Louie and Ernie's, Bronx, N.Y. (Sausage Pie: sausage, tomato sauce, mozzarella)
Yelp / William D
You hear people’s tales of outer-borough travels to Di Fara in Brooklyn, but the Bronx deserves its own pizza paean, and Louie and Ernie’s is up to the task of making this borough the pizza destination it deserves to be recognized as (according to The New York Times, it actually started out in East Harlem in 1947 but moved to its current location in 1959).
Consider that just a few years ago, Adam Kuban wrote on the pizza blog, Slice, that the sausage and onion pie at Louie and Ernie’s is “the pizza to haunt your dreams.” He was right. It’s that can’t-wait-for-it-to-cool, burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth-it's-worth-it good. The sausage (made with 80-year-old recipes) 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. Thanks to Cosimo and Johnny Tiso, who bought the place from Ernie Ottuso in 1987 (and who sell restaurant T-shirts for $5 a pop — when was the last time you saw that?) Louie & Ernie’s keeps turning out amazing pies to the locals who know they have a good thing.