The Daily Meal's 2015 101 Best Pizzas In America Expert Pizza Panel

Coming up with a list of the 101 best pizzerias in America is a formidable task. Pizza is arguably our country's most varied and beloved culinary genre, one whose followers are some of the most opinionated, and yet it remains one of the most accessible foods there is. Every red-blooded American, rich and poor, grew up with his or her preferred regional style of this national fascination, knowing it as the best. That accessibility and loyalty makes for some tremendously spirited debate. While to some degree everyone's an expert, there are people who devote a good portion of their waking (and sleeping lives) dedicated to pizza. As The Daily Meal sought to narrow down a list of some 800 pizza spots, these are the people we turned to.

Read: 101 Best Pizzas in America

Unlike many arbitrary lists, rankings diversified for the purpose of geographical engagement, and "expert" listicles chosen by a handful of New York's food writers, we approached our rankings methodically and comprehensively. Who were the fine folks who made up this year's pizza panel? In addition to The Daily Meal's in-house pizza experts and city editors, this was a geographically diverse panel of American chefs, restaurant critics, bloggers, writers, and pizza authorities. We're indebted to this group of sauce-loving, cheese-obsessed, crust-crunching pizzaphiles and salute their dedication and love to this, one of Americans' most beloved foods.

We started big, ordering extra-large, extra-cheese, considering 800 spots in every corner of the country — about 100 more than last year. How did we narrow this number down to just 101? To begin with, we eat at as many pizzerias as we can ourselves (this editor has personally visited nearly half the places that made the list this year).

The Daily Meal's in-house pizza experts — including eight-time James Beard award winner and editorial director for The Daily Meal Colman Andrews, Eat/Dine editor Dan Myers, and Restaurant editor Kate Kolenda — along with our city editors, Culinary Council experts, and Culinary Content Network bloggers, pitched in. But we also called upon a blue-chip, geographically diverse list of pizza panelists — chefs, restaurant critics, bloggers, writers, and pizza authorities — asking them to share their considerable pizza experience with us, and to vote only for places where they've actually eaten) (If you're in food media or are a recognized pizza expert and you disagree with this list and didn't vote for it, send us an email with your pizza cred and we'll consider you for our panel in 2016.)[pullquote:right]]

We're going out on a thin-crust slice to say there's never before been such a comprehensive list of pizzas voted on by such a large and qualified group of experts. Certainly, this year's 109-member panel is The Daily Meal's longest, most impressive, most star-studded pizza-expert roster ever, including 31 more pizza mavens from across America than we had last year.

So who says the 101 pizzas on this list are the country's best? It's an impressive bunch. Following is the 2015 expert pizza panel minus the experts who asked to remain anonymous.

• Albert Grande, (author of The Pizza Therapy Pizza Book: Unlock the Secret of Making Simple, Easy Pizza)
• Amanda Mactas, New York City lifestyle expert of Manhattan With a Twist
• Andrew Scudera, Goodfella's Pizza School of New York
• Andrew Zimmern, television personality, chef, food writer, and lover of gas station pizza
• Brooke Jackson, The Daily Meal's Culinary Content Network blogger, Too Many Apples
• Caroline LaMorte, The Daily Meal's Culinary Content Network blogger, A Whole New Twist
• Cary and Lillian Steiner, Passion for Pizza bloggers
• Colin M. Caplan, New Haven walking culinary tour expert​
• Craig Agranoff, Worst Pizza blogger
• Dara Pollak, The Daily Meal's Culinary Content Network blogger, The Skinny Pig
• David Chapus, Rochester NY Pizza blogger
• Dean Falcone, pizza documentarian
• Dominique Love, co-founder of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival
• Drew Tyson, Portland, Ore., pizza pro
• Elizabeth Falkner, 2012 Classic Italian first prize winner of the World Pizza Championships in Naples, Italy
• Eric Schaefer, Eric Eats Out
• Evan Benn, Miami Herald food editor
• Felicia Braude, Pizza Lover Chicago blogger
• Gorman Bechard, director of pizza documentary Pizza, A Love Story
• GutterGourmet, The Daily Meal's resident pizza know-it-all and uni-pizza-loving (the most prolific Chowhounder ever?)
• Ilana Bergen, lead senior content strategist and managing editor at MSN
• Joe Satran, HuffPost modern medicine (and former HuffPost Taste) reporter
• John Mariani, James Beard Award-nominated author of How Italian Food Conquered the World and Mariani's Virtual Gourmet
• Jonathan Porter, Chicago Pizza Tours
• Kelly Alexander, The Daily Meal's Culinary Council member and food writer
• Larry Olmsted, USA Today's "Great American Bites" regional cuisine columnist 
• Mark Bello, pizza professor for New York City pizza school Pizza a Casa
• Melody Baetens Malosh, features reporter for The Detroit News
• Michael Piff, Chicago pizza pursuer
• Michaela Guzy, Oh the People You Meet!'s founder
• Michelle De La Cerda, The Daily Meal's Culinary Content Network blogger, The Complete Savorist
• Nancy Luna, Fast Food Maven for the Orange County Register
• Nicole Danna, Broward Palm Beach New Times food critic
• Nicole Perry, POPSUGAR Food
• Nicole Rupersburg, Thrillist
• Patrick Evans-Hylton, Virginia pizza connoisseur for The Virginian-Pilot
• Peter Block, The Daily Meal's Culinary Content Network blogger, Feed Your Soul 2
• Peter Frost, food, beverage, and dining reporter of Crain's Chicago Business
• Peter Reinhart, James Beard Award-winning baking cookbook writer of the artisanal pizza exploration website
• Rachelle King, The Daily Meal's Culinary Content Network blogger, Blinded by the Bite!
• Raymond Hook, cheese expert (because you can't rate pizza without a cheese expert)
• Robert Rosenthal, food humorist, The Daily Meal man-on-the-street host, and New York City pizza lover
• S. Irene Virbila, restaurant critic and wine columnist for the Los Angeles Times
• Sara Levine, Food Network editor
• Scott Wiener, New York City pizza tour impresario of Scott's Pizza Tours, Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box author, and Guinness World Record holder for pizza boxes
• Susan and Ted Axelrod, Maine food experts of Maine's own Spoon and Shutter
• "The Pizza King" Dan Janssen, owner of artisanal Maryland woodshop, Imperium Woodcraft, who last year revealed that he has survived on a diet of pizza alone for the last 25 years
• Theresa Nemetz, Milwaukee Food Tour leader
• Wylie Dufresne, New York's modernist cuisine pioneer chef of Alder (chef for The Daily Meal's 2014 Restaurant of the Year)

We also have a special expert this year: America's foremost authority on pizzaology (says it right there on the July 8th comic strip), "Blondie's" Dagwood Bumstead. That's right, Dagwood weighed in. Top that.

Think you have what it takes to be a pizza panelist? We're always on the lookout for aficionados so feel free to reach out and nominate yourself by email. Please send a line about your bona fides and provide a link to any sites you'd like us to consider. We'll keep you (and any pizza spots you'd like to nominate) in mind for the 101 Best Pizzas in America list for 2016.

View List: 101 Best Pizzas in America

Arthur Bovino is The Daily Meal's executive editor. Read more articles by Arthurreach him by email, or follow Arthur on Twitter.