The Best Pizza in Every State
April 29, 2019
A great pizza is never too far away
There’s a long-running misconception that it’s simply impossible to find truly great pizza in America outside of cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Well, it’s time to put that notion to bed once and for all. There’s great pizza to be found in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, and we’ve tracked down the best of the best.
Every year since 2013, we’ve set out to identify the 101 best pizzas in America using a process that’s decidedly scientific. We start by identifying more than 800 great pizzerias from across the country, and then ask a panel of culinary authorities to weigh in and vote for their favorites. This was the jumping-off point for our listing of the best pizza in every state, but there are plenty of states with pizzerias that have never found their way into the ranking, including Delaware, Kansas, South Dakota and Wyoming. Today, those states are finally getting the credit they deserve.
In order to be considered the best in its state, a pizzeria needs to have a menu that, if not entirely pizza-focused, at least has a section dedicated to it. It could be an old-school slice joint or an upscale Neapolitan restaurant with a custom-made oven, but at the end of the day, these restaurants are nothing short of renowned in their home towns (and for some, across the country). From local standbys that have been turning out dependable slices for generations to newfangled hotspots crafting creations that would make even a native-born Napoletano proud, these pizzerias are the best in their state.
Alabama: Bottega Café (Birmingham)
While devoted regulars may have trouble steering themselves away from legendary Birmingham, Alabama, chef Frank Stitt’s classic dishes at Café Bottega like the seared beef carpaccio, nicoise salad and chicken scaloppini, they’ll find themselves particularly rewarded by any of the pizzas on the menu. For example, there’s a white pie with fennel sausage, a grilled chicken and pesto combination, and even a pizza with smoked salmon and dill mascarpone.
Alaska: Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria (Anchorage)
Yelp/ Chris S.
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 — the pizza place that has been locals’ go-to since the late 1990s when rock climbers Rod Hancock and Matt Jones, despite having virtually no restaurant experience, launched a 30-table restaurant serving draft beer and stone-baked pizzas. These days, the menu features almost 40 pizzas with names just as creative as their topping combinations, but the Avalanche is their most well-known, featuring barbecue sauce, mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, red onions, blackened chicken and bacon — a pizza that will need a similarly signature beverage, say the house-brewed and assertively hopped Fairweather IPA.
Arizona: Pizzeria Bianco (Phoenix)
Photo by Anthony N. via 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 (that rosa with red onions and pistachios!), but the signature Margherita will recalibrate your pizza baseline forever: tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil. It's a pizza worth waiting in line for.
Arkansas: Wood Stone Craft Pizza & Bar (Fayetteville)
Yelp/ Kent A.
Wood Stone has been bringing top notch pizza to South Fayetteville, Arkansas’ Mill District since summer 2014. Owners Clayton Suttle and Jerrmy Gawthorp are crafting some unique and high-quality pizzas made with impeccably sourced ingredients (local when possible) and firing them in a custom-built wood-burning oven. Standouts include the Bloomington (caramelized onion and rosemary marmalade, Gorgonzola, house-made Italian sausage and rosemary) and the Late Harvest (local butternut squash puree, uncured ham, bacon, house-made ricotta, sage, Parmesan, roasted Brussels sprouts and honey gastrique). Dip the “bones” in your choice of five sauces, and wash it down with a local beer.
California: Tony’s Pizza Napoletana (San Francisco)
Photo by Travis I. via Yelp
At pizza master Tony Gemignani’s legendary San Francisco flagship Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, the signature pie is the award-winning Neapolitan: 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. But the menu also offers critically acclaimed versions of pizza in the styles of California, St. Louis, Italy, Sicily, New York, Rome, classic American and even Detroit.
Colorado: Pizzeria Locale (Denver)
It shouldn’t be surprising that the folks behind Boulder, Colorado’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.
Connecticut: Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (New Haven)
Yelp/ Sheena N.
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is an absolute must-visit if you want to discuss the topic of America’s best pizza with any authority. The New Haven, Connecticut, 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. 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 atop a charcoal-colored crust. It’s a combination that makes this pie one of the most iconic dishes in America.
Delaware: The Wood Fired Pizza Shop (Newark)
Yelp/ Laura M.
What got its start as a traveling wood-burning oven in the back of an old, red Ford pickup making stops at farmers markets and private parties is now a brick-and-mortar restaurant serving the best pizzas in Delaware. Dough at The Wood Fired Pizza Shop is made from scratch using unbleached, unbromated flour; toppings are organic and locally sourced whenever possible; and ingredients including sausage and pickles are made in house. Twelve-inch pizzas are separated into three menu sections: Classic (Margherita, pepperoni, just cheese, and el blanco); All-Stars (including the spicy Italian, with hot Italian sausage, pepperoni, fresh jalapeños, tomato sauce and mozzarella); and Seasonal (which “may change frequently depending on the length of the specialty season”).
Florida: Scuola Vecchia Pizza e Vino (Delray Beach)
Photo by Will G. via Yelp
Scuola Vecchia brings a host of traditional Italian pizzas to Delray Beach, Florida, with a ton of different options for every pizza lover. Guests can choose from 25 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, starting with the foundation of either a marinara or Margherita.
Georgia: O4W Pizza (Duluth)
Yelp/ Audrica B.
Anthony Spina made waves in 2015 when he opened O4W in Atlanta, Georgia, specializing in “Jersey-style” pizzas. Jersey-style generally refers to a Trenton-style tomato pizza, on which the cheese goes down first and is then topped by a sauce heavy on tomato flavor, but the move here is the award-winning grandma pie, cooked in cast iron. O4W even calls itself “Home of the Grandma Pie.” And while you have to raise an eyebrow and have a little chuckle about a Georgia pizzeria doing Jersey-style pizzas and being known for a pizza that originated in Long Island, New York, there’s nothing funny about how good this pizza tastes.
Hawaii: J.J. Dolan’s (Honolulu)
Yelp/ Chuco T.
An Irish pub, serving New York-style pizza, in Hawaii? You better believe it. And not only that, the pizza at J.J. Dolan’s is really good. The state’s best, in fact, with legions of devoted fans. You can buy cheese or pepperoni pizzas by the slice; choose from more than 20 toppings (including Spam, because Hawaii); choose from five “Classics” including Margherita, white pie and spinach and garlic; or “Signature” pies including Boardwalk (Italian sausage, roasted peppers, onion and garlic), Scampi (shrimp or chicken, mushrooms and house-made scampi sauce) and Molto Formaggio, with six cheeses. But no matter what you order, you really can’t go wrong.
Idaho: Guido’s Original New York Style Pizza (Boise)
Yelp/ Hilary W.
Thanks to Guido’s, there’s a legit New York-style pizzeria in Boise, Idaho, turning out some spectacular pies. Like all New York slice shops, this one is straight ahead and no-frills. You can get your pizza by the slice or in an 18- or 20-inch pie, and top it with a wide variety of meats and vegetables. Sausage rolls, Stromboli and fresh baked garlic bread are also on the menu.
Illinois: Pequod’s (Chicago)
Yelp/ Dan B.
Pequod’s originator, the late Burt Katz, is a Chicago, Illinois, 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, 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.
Indiana: Diavola (Indianapolis)
Yelp/ Kaitlin S.
This upscale pizzeria and wine bar has been keeping the Indianapolis, Indiana, locals happy with some spectacular wood-fired pizzas since 2015. Just like in Naples, the pizzas at Diavola cook in an 800-degree oven and come out bubbling and blistered after 90 seconds. The oven is also turning out some excellent pita bread, as one of the owners is Egyptian. There are 20 different pizza styles on offer, but the best one to sample is the Margherita, with simple tomato sauce, high-quality mozzarella (make it burrata for an extra $2.75) and basil; two different crust styles (original and thin crust) are also available.
Iowa: Gusto Pizza Co. (Des Moines)
Yelp/ Andrea T.
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 fresh and imaginative Des Moines, Iowa, pizza shop in 2011, and coming up with their menu as an hourslong punfest. For example: “Thai Kwon Dough” with peanut sauce and chicken, and “Vincent Van Goat” with goat cheese and fried sweet peppers. But don’t mistake the levity for anything less than a serious approach to some delicious pizzas featuring some crispy-chewy thin crusts.
Kansas: AJ’s NY Pizzeria (Topeka)
Yelp/ Julius D.
Though they’re in Kansas, the Topeka-based AJ’s isn’t kidding around when they call their pizza New York-style; the recipe is the same one that’s been used at a Brooklyn pizzeria for more than 50 years, and the owners consulted with the American Institute of Baking on their dough recipe. You can top your pizza with your choice of four sauces, seven cheeses, 12 meats and 15 vegetables/fruits, or you can choose from their 17 available options; if you really want a taste of New York (or as close as you’re going to get in these parts, at least), go for The Big Apple: sausage, pepperoni, ground beef, homemade meatballs, Canadian bacon, ham, mushrooms, onions, black olives, green peppers, mozzarella and Parmesan.
Kentucky: Garage Bar (Louisville)
Yelp/ Mona T.
Housed in a former auto service garage in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, Garage Bar features Chef Michael Paley’s wood-fired pizzas that emphasize local ingredients. Highlighting the region’s specialties and tastes, Paley serves brick oven pizzas with toppings that include house-made pepperoni and pancetta, local Prayer Mountain mushrooms, shaved country ham and Broadbent bacon.
Louisiana: Pizza Domenica (New Orleans)
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 sauce-speckled and beautifully topped with stellar (and fun) ingredients like salami and mortadella, provolone and eggs, mascarpone and Brussels sprouts, and traditional muffuletta components — you’ll have a hard time choosing between the pizzas made in the Pavesi pecan-wood-fired oven.
Maine: Micucci Grocery Store (Portland)
Photo by Scott H. via Yelp
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. Half-again bigger than the conventional Sicilian, and just as thick if wetter and more doughy, Micucci’s slabs may not be authentic Italian, but they feel like an idealized iteration of the focaccia style you’ve always sought but never experienced. 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.
Maryland: Inferno (Darnestown)
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, olive oil and basil, but be sure to order at least one other pie: the pizza with ember-roasted potatoes, roasted onions and smoked mozzarella. There’s almost a pizza-as-naan thing that happens, and it’s really something special. Inferno is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and stays open only until they run out of dough.
Massachusetts: Area Four (Cambridge)
Photo by Greg W. via Yelp
Area Four’s owners, Michael Krupp and Jeff Pond, are dedicated to providing local and sustainable ingredients. Factor in dough made from a 30-plus-hour-fermented, 16-year-old starter (flour, water and salt) by chef Pond plus homemade cheese and a wood-fired oven, and you get Massachusetts’ best pie, a pizza whose style is kind of like a neo-Neapolitan with a super-charred cornicione on steroids. The signature pizza is the clam and bacon, but other highlights include the mushroom and fontina (mushroom sauce, pecorino and gremolata) and the Carnivore (mozzarella, tomato, soppressata, sausage and bacon) — his order from a couple years ago. From all reports, the man knows good food.
Michigan: Buddy’s Pizza (Detroit)
Yelp/ Steve T.
Detroit’s signature square pizza style is like a Sicilian slice on steroids. There’s crisp, thick, deep-dish crust action, often formed from the process of twice-baking in square pans that have been brushed with oil or butter, and a liberal ladling of sauce 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: Motor City Cheese blend, roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, pine nuts and tomato basil sauce.
Minnesota: Pizzeria Lola (Minneapolis)
Photo by Sara W. via Yelp
Onetime stage actress Ann Kim opened Pizzeria Lola, where she serves Neapolitan-style pizzas named for her Weimaraner, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2010. They’re wood-fired pies cooked out of a copper-clad oven. There are 14 pies, most of which feature combos you’re familiar with, along with less common toppings like peppadew peppers and guanciale, and add-on toppings you don’t see everywhere, like boquerones (white anchovies, likely to make converts out of anti-anchovy pizza purists) and garlic confit. Two pies of particular interest highlight Korean flavors. There’s the signature Korean barbecue pie and the Lady ZaZa (Italian red sauce, housemade kimchi, Korean sausage, serranos, scallions, sesame and soy-chile glaze).
Mississippi: TriBecca Allie Café (Sardis)
Yelp/ Kim T.
The no-reservations, family-owned Sardis, Mississippi, neighborhood gem TriBecca Allie Café is the little pizzeria that could; it actually won second place in a recent 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), but you really can’t go wrong, especially if you also order the Patate, with olive oil, thin-sliced potato, mozzarella, cheddar, bacon, chives and sour cream. Yes, they went there.
Missouri: Imo’s (St. Louis)
Yelp/ Kathy L.
The thin and unleavened crackery crust Imo’s is known for is meant more than anything else to act as a vehicle for the unique cheese topping that makes St. Louis-style pie unlike any other slice you’ll have ever tried: Provel, a white processed cheese said to be a combination of cheddar, Swiss and provolone invented in the city’s Italian neighborhood shortly after World War II. No matter how you feel about Provel, you can’t deny one thing: Imo’s, with its more than 90 stores, has popularized a unique, love-it-or-hate-it regional Missouri pie you have to try at least once.
Montana: Eugene’s (Glasgow)
Yelp/ Rob R.
Founded by Eugene Barger in 1962 and sold to Arlie and Mary Sue Knodel in 1967, Eugene’s is today run by the Knodels’ two sons, Jeff and Sam. To give you an idea of how popular Eugene’s is in Montana, they sell a full line of branded merchandise, they’ll ship half-cooked frozen pies anywhere in the country, and they go through an average of 1,3333 pounds of cheese per month. You can choose from one of their “time-proven combinations” (Arlie’s Special, with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, and homemade sausage is a popular favorite), or take your pick from 22 different toppings, including hot or cold tomatoes, sauerkraut and even mandarin oranges.
Nebraska: Zio’s (Omaha)
Yelp/ Sam C.
Opened in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1985 by Daniel and Usha Sherman, Zio’s serves New York-style, hand-stretched, thin-crust pizzas made from scratch each day. Over the years, it’s opened new locations and expanded to accommodate the crowds that keep coming to fill up the family-friendly restaurants. (It’s the kind of place where they give dough to the kids to play with at the table.) And along with the crowds come the accolades.
Nevada: Pizza Rock (Las Vegas)
Photo by Stephanie T. via Yelp
Pizza Rock, one of the some 14 pizzerias California pizza king Tony Gemignani owns (four of which are in Nevada), doesn’t skimp on pizza preparation. There are at least four ovens (a 900-degree-F 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) of which there are many impressive iterations in each category. Your goal? Try to score one of the only 73 Margherita pies made daily using Tony’s award-winning recipe.
New Hampshire: Tilton House of Pizza (Tilton)
Yelp/ Nick S.
Run by the Katsigiannis family for the last 20-odd years, the 35-year-old Tilton, New Hampshire, favorite Tilton House of Pizza has been turning out top-notch pies made with fresh dough (made up to four times per day) and fresh vegetables. The welcoming, old-school spot is making thick-crusted pies loaded with cheese, homemade sauce and a massive variety of toppings ranging from sliced tomato and anchovy to chicken fingers, eggplant, pastrami and banana peppers. The steak and cheese calzone is also a major winner.
New Jersey: Razza (Jersey City)
Photo by Carol C. via Yelp
Razza opened just across the Hudson River from New York in Jersey City, New Jersey, in late 2012, and it quietly became renowned locally 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 — 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 damn near perfect.
New Mexico: Il Vicino Wood Oven Pizza (Albuquerque)
Il Vicino has four New Mexico locations and has been going strong in Albuquerque (the original location) since 1992. Pizzas here are baked hot and fast in a wood-fired oven, made with fresh, high-quality ingredients, and inspired by chef Tom White’s trips to Italy. You can build your own pizza using creative ingredients such as balsamic onions, green chile, capicola, white anchovies, portobello mushrooms and fiery shrimp, or choose from a gourmet selection including Motorino (Alfredo sauce, spinach, artichoke hearts, roasted tomatoes, balsamic onions and pesto); Prosciutto e Rucola (prosciutto, San Marzano tomato sauce, olive oil, fresh mozzarella, arugula, cherry tomatoes); and Tartufo (truffle mushroom cream, mozzarella, portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions and chopped parsley).
New York: John’s of Bleecker Street (New York City)
Photo by Stacey T. via 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 their 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.
North Carolina: Pizzeria Omaggio (Charlotte)
Yelp/ Pizzeria Omaggio
“Omaggio” is Italian for “homage,” and everything this Charlotte, North Carolina, restaurant does is an homage to its Italian roots. The restaurant itself is modeled after authentic Italian pizza restaurants, the ingredients are as fresh as can be, and pizzas are cooked in a blazing-hot oven. There’s a massive variety of pizzas on offer, including 13 “classic” pizzas (for example, the Calabrese, with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, homemade Italian sausage, pepperoni, pecorino Romano and olive oil) and eight white pizzas (including the Pera Gorgonzola: whole milk mozzarella, Gorgonzola and sliced pears). If you’d prefer to decorate your own pie, you can choose from 30 different toppings, including homemade Italian sausage or meatballs, San Daniele prosciutto, basil pesto and goat cheese.
North Dakota: Blackbird Woodfire (Fargo)
Yelp/ Nisa T.
“Prairie made. Hell fired.” That’s the motto of Blackbird, which got its start slinging artisan pizza pies from a mobile truck that would cater events on weekends. Its success was largely dependent on the quality of the ingredients used — flour from North Dakota wheat, seasonal local produce and herbs — as well as the years of trial and error that went into perfecting the dough and technique. Today Blackbird is one of Fargo’s most popular restaurants, serving some truly outstanding pizza with creative toppings such as béchamel, house-made sausage, Granny Smith apple and fresh sage; roasted chicken, housemade sweet chili and peanut sauces, fresh peppers, red onion, snap peas and cilantro; and béchamel, mozzarella, Canadian bacon, smoked bacon, maple syrup and a sunny-side-up egg.
Ohio: Crust (Cleveland)
Yelp/ Nishant S.
Crust, which has two Cleveland, Ohio, locations, may look like your standard slice joint, but it’s anything but. The care put into these pizzas starts with the dough, which is handmade every day and allowed to slowly ferment and rise, and everything is made from scratch daily. You can top your pizza with more than 30 toppings, but we suggest you order the Finocchiona specialty pie: fennel salami, red onion, red sauce, smoked mozzarella, pecorino and rosemary.
Oklahoma: Empire Slice House (Oklahoma City)
Yelp/ Burns T.
This super-hip Oklahoma City pizza spot and beer garden is a fun time through and through; it’s always a party at Empire Slice House, and the pizzas are made with care and precision but are also so creative as to be ingenious. Look past the silly names like Notorious P.I.G. (bacon, pepperoni, sausage, capicola and Canadian bacon) and The Midnight Cowboy (barbecue marinara, mozzarella, cheddar, feta, brisket, roasted poblano, red onion and barbecue sriracha) and you’ll discover that these pies (several of which are available by the slice) are downright awesome. Make sure you try the Figgy Stardust, with basil pesto, fresh mozzarella, figs, chicken and prosciutto.
Oregon: Ken’s Artisan Pizza (Portland)
Photo by Mike C. via 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 and a style that, as the name of the restaurant states, is more artisanal than Neapolitan.
Pennsylvania: Pizzeria Vetri (Philadelphia)
Photo by Laura M. via Yelp
The thin-crust pies that chef Marc Vetri was serving at his casual Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 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, was born. Be sure to check off the Speck (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 and ricotta, crowned with pistachio pesto.
Rhode Island: Al Forno (Providence)
Photo by Victoria K. via 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. Husband-and-wife owner-chefs George Germon (who passed away a few years ago) and Johanne Killeen received the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano 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 [sic]. It’s served with fresh herbs, pomodoro, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil.
South Carolina: Monza Pizza (Charleston)
Photo by Caroline N. via Yelp
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 and pH-balanced water to develop their version of the most traditional-style pizza possible. The pies are baked in the wood oven at a sweltering 1,000 degrees F, allowing for a thin and crispy crust, and are topped with mozzarella plus fresh and usually regional ingredients.
South Dakota: Thatzza Pizza (Aberdeen)
Yelp/ James P.
Aberdeen, South Dakota, gem Thatzza Pizza is turning out some truly fantastic slices, custom pies in four sizes, and creative pre-designed pizzas. Choose from a wide variety of toppings or take your pick from super-creative styles including Spaghetti Pie (spaghetti, sausage, tomato sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella); Hot Ham and Cheese (Canadian bacon, white cheddar, mozzarella); Chili (chili, onions and jalapeños); Taco (chicken or ground beef, refried beans, hot sauce, olives, tomatoes, white cheddar, mozzarella and crushed tortilla chips); and even Pot Roast (shredded roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, red onions and black pepper).
Tennessee: Hog & Hominy (Memphis)
Yelp/ Barry S.
The pizzas at the very Southern-inspired Memphis, Tennessee, legend Hog & Hominy are tended to in a painstakingly monitored oven (built using bricks from the original building’s chimney) on the side of the restaurant. There’s the enticing Red Eye (pork belly, egg, fontina, celery leaf and sugo); Space Oddity (heirloom tomatoes, stracciatella, olive oil, lemon and Parmesan; and All Up ‘Nduja (‘nduja, stracciatella, Kalamata olives, speck and Parmesan). But the signature is the Prewitt, with fontina, tomato sauce, boudin and scrambled eggs.
Texas: Home Slice Pizza (Austin)
Photo by Joe R. via Yelp
What do you get when you combine a former food editor of the Austin Chronicle with a passion for pizza? One of the most heralded pizza spots in Texas. Jen Strickland must have had to forget everything she’d learned about the pitfalls and craziness of opening a restaurant during the decade she spent covering them for the Chronicle and Texas Monthly in order to take a leap of faith and try to open one with her husband Joseph Strickland and partner Terri Hannifin. Or maybe she just knew the New York City slices she ate while attending NYU would inspire her own pizzeria to greatness (there is a certain invincibility those slices can make you feel while eating one walking down the street “Saturday Night Fever” style). The end result at Home Slice Pizza has been a South Austin smash hit: New York-style Neapolitan thin-crust slices and pies (try the pepperoni and mushroom) that just might inspire a South Congress strut, Tony Manero-style.
Utah: Settebello (Salt Lake City)
Yelp/ Lala P.
Settebello really goes above and beyond in its efforts to bring pizzas that are as close as possible to what you’ll find in Naples to Salt Lake City, Utah. Flour, tomatoes, prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano are imported from Italy; pancetta and Finnochiona come from Seattle’s renowned Salumi; salame comes from Berkeley’s Fra’Mani; and pies cook in a 1,000-degree wood-burning oven (handmade in Naples) in less than a minute. The menu doesn’t get too crazy (no pot roast pizza here!) but that’s a good thing; keep it simple with a Margherita DOC or the popular pizza carbonara, with crushed tomatoes, pancetta, egg, mozzarella, pepper and extra virgin olive oil.
Vermont: Pizzeria Verita (Burlington)
Yelp/ Pizzeria Verita
At Vermont’s best pizzeria, pizzas are made in the traditional Neapolitan style, cooked in a 900-degree Acunto oven. The owners of Verita, which has been in business for six years, have built relationships with some of Vermont’s finest local farmers and food producers, and the end result is a product that combines the best of Italy with the best of Vermont. Try the Margherita for simple perfection, try the Salsiccia e Rapini (with house-made sausage, tomato, fior di latte, broccoli rabe, Grana Padano and fresh basil) to see how skilled the kitchen is, and try the Burrata (with local Maplebrook burrata, pecorino Romano, grape tomatoes and fresh basil) to sample great local artisan cheese. And make sure you finish with a pizza alla Nutella!
Virginia: Pupatella Neapolitan Pizza (Arlington)
Yelp/ Ken E.
Pupatella originated as a food truck in 2007 and went brick-and-mortar three years later. This two-room storefront with the sign out front that warns “Pizza Addicts Only” is the Virginia culmination of Enzo Algarme’s experience hanging around the some 200 or so pizzerias in Naples where he was born. The oven’s bricks were built using volcanic ash from Vesuvius — hard to get more authentic than that outside Naples. They offer red and white pies — mostly the former — with accoutrements such as ham and mushroom, prosciutto and arugula, chorizo, sausage and onion, eggplant and red pepper on top. But Pupatella’s most popular pie is the Capricciosa (featuring sautéed mushrooms, marinated artichokes, prosciutto cotto and fresh mozzarella).
Washington, D.C.: 2Amys
Photo by Jason S. via Yelp
Once upon a time, the District of Columbia was a pizza desert, with Adams Morgan’s jumbo slices edging increasingly close to the half-smoke as one of the city’s signature dishes. Thankfully, those days are over. Thanks, 2Amys. 2Amys’ membership in the D.O.C (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) means its pizzaiolos adhere to the guidelines of what the Italian government deems a pizza should be. When you take a bite, you know you are getting a quintessential, traditional pie. Their menu is broken into D.O.C pizza offerings, stuffed pizzas, and more traditional but uncertified options, but we suggest you keep it simple with just tomato sauce and mozzarella.
Washington: Serious Pie (Seattle)
Yelp/ Victorious W.
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 the city, 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-degree stone-encased applewood-burning oven preserves the character of house-made 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.
West Virginia: Lola’s (Charleston)
Yelp/ Rich M.
This eclectic and adorable little restaurant is located inside an old house in the heart of quaint Charleston, West Virginia, and New England Culinary Institute-trained chef-owner Cary Charbonniez has cultivated a laid-back and welcoming environment while serving artisan pizzas from a stone hearth oven that are just about perfect. You can create your own pizza at Lola’s, but we suggest you sample some of Charbonniez’s suggestions, which aren’t exactly traditional. The Steak & Cheese pie is topped with flank steak from Swift Level Farm, white cheddar, red onions, jalapeños and fresh garlic; Fig Jam & Rosemary is topped with fig jam, Gorgonzola and fresh rosemary; and the Spicy Shrimp & Sausage has ground Italian sausage, shrimp, roasted tomatoes and goat cheese. You can go half-and-half on large pizzas, and if you want to eat it at home they’ll even cook it halfway for you so you can finish it in your own oven. Did we mention that this place is low-key?
Wisconsin: Zaffiro’s Pizza (Milwaukee)
Photo by Steve S. via Yelp
First-generation Italian-American brothers Bobby and John Zaffiro opened Zaffiro’s in 1956 to make a go of it full-time, 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 where, 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.
Wyoming: Bella Fuoco Wood Fired Pizza (Cheyenne)
Yelp/ Renee J.
Bella Fuoco started as a food truck back in 2012, and several years later John and Maria Kopper turned it into their dream restaurant in a historic downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming, house. Today, they’re making fresh dough daily and turning out some astounding pizzas and breads in their old-school wood-fired oven. Try the weekly rotating chef’s special, design your own from 26 toppings, or try one of theirs, like the Veggie Galore, a red or white pie topped with onions, peppers, zucchini, olives, spinach and mozzarella; the end result is certainly going to be much better than what you'll find at local pizza chains!
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