A Guide to Great Pizza in Every Borough of New York City
There are a few things that every New Yorker will debate vehemently about and discuss at length—rent prices and which borough is the “new Manhattan,” sports teams and whether you’re a Jets or Giants fan, and where to find the best slice of pizza. Our concrete jungle is practically bursting at the seams with pizza options, from the 99 cent slices that seem to defy expiration dates, to the tourist-magnet pizzerias like Grimaldi’s and John’s on Bleeker Street.
In a city that is home to thousands of restaurants buzzing with patrons at this very moment, it takes a pizza expert and enthusiast to know the best spots for a slice in each of the five boroughs. Alexis Guerreros is one such expert who is a local comedian who, when not indulging in his love of stand-up, is giving tours of New York’s best pizza joints for Scott's Pizza Tours. From nostalgic pizza joints in the Bronx to masters of thin crust in Staten Island, the following pizza spots will ensure you never settle for a dollar slice at a corner store again.
Louie & Ernie's is a throwback to the days of what pizza joints once were. With a red brick exterior and wood paneled interior, Louie & Ernie’s is a nostalgic trip to days when pizza was less about grabbing a slice and more about enjoying a meal. What makes this pizza spot the best in the Bronx? Their cheese has a creamy bite to it, the sauce is uncooked with crushed tomatoes seasoned on the actual pie, and the sausage hails from a nearby butcher shop that lends the meat a fresh flavor.
Sam's Italian Cuisine is reminiscent of the film, The Godfather, with its overtly Italian heritage and traditions. The restaurant has been in business since 1930 and with the same coal oven (though it was converted to natural gas in 1940). In fact, the oven is so unique that many have come to take samples of the stone and observe the natural gas pipes it uses, only to fail at its recreation. Sam’s still runs in the family as the present day owner, Louie, is the grand nephew of the restaurant’s namesake. Some things are better left untouched and at Sam’s the pizza you eat is the exact same style as the pizza that was served to customers in 1940—no frills, no fuss—just a damn good pie.
New York Pizza Suprema has been rated the best slice of pizza in Manhattan by Good Day New York, and is a stop on many pizza tours around the city. Manhattan is a treasure trove of pizza joints and picking just one to crown “best” is a tricky feat, but New York Pizza Suprema rises to the occasion. Simply put, they have mastered the art of making pizza—particularly their plain pie. Their sauce is perfection, their cheese is fresh and placed expertly, and the pizza proves to need nothing more than some grated cheese and crushed red pepper. As Guerreros beautifully puts it, “It's the type of pizza you walk away from on a full stomach but get another slice anyway—just in case a meteor hits NYC that night—so that you'll avoid feeling like an idiot as you're dying and thinking you should have gotten one more slice.”
Sac's Place in Astoria is known for serving classic Italian food in the Abruzzese tradition. Brothers and owners, Anthony and Domenico Sacramone, keep their family tradition alive by paying homage to their grandmother’s style of cooking in the Abruzzo region of Italy that was passed down to their mother and eventually the two boys. While the Italian food is delicious, the real reason to make the trek to this Astoria locale is the pizza. Guerreros’ inside tip? Ask for the pizza to be well done; you’ll thank him later.
New York is home to some fantastic pizza joints so if you’re going to take a boat to another island for a slice it better prove to be fantastic. Joe & Pat's on Staten Island is one such place that is a long-standing pizza joint that specializes in thin crust (and they mean thin!) pizza. At Joe & Pat’s they stretch out the dough until all the bubbles disappear before the homemade sauce is generously smothered on the dough up until the edges. The sauce reduces while the pizza is in the oven, helping to create a natural thin crust edge that makes for a paper-thin pizza that they advise against folding.