Pizza is arguably America’s most varied and beloved dish, one whose devotees are some of the most opinionated, and yet it remains one of the most accessible foods there is. Even the country’s most expensive and esteemed pizza temple is within reach of the average person’s budget. Every red-blooded American grew up with his or her preferred regional style of this national fascination, knowing it as the definitive best. Today, there’s better pizza, more knowledge about it, and interest in it everywhere. That accessibility and loyalty makes for some tremendously spirited debate.
Considering the passion pizza inspires, responsibly declaring America’s Best Pizza can be challenging. But The Daily Meal doesn't shy away from the challenge. For our third annual pizza ranking, we again sought the nation's best pies and slices, considering more places than ever in our quest for the best. We researched and added 275 more pizzas and recruited a group of 30 more experts to weigh in than for our 2013 list. Some 700 pizza spots were considered by 78 panelists, comprising The Daily Meal’s in-house pizza experts and city editors, American chefs, restaurant critics, bloggers, writers, and pizza authorities. We compiled the data, and although there could only be one winner, there is plenty of seriously good pizza being made across America, including in the Twin Cities.
Described by Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine as home of “the area's definitive authentic Neapolitan pizzas,” Punch Neapolitan Pizza combines a thin crust, “a modest amount of toppings, and a luscious San Marzano tomato sauce to make a restrained but satisfying pie.” Punch (which was almost named Bruni until the owner’s wife stepped in) was a success soon after John Soranno founded it in Highland Park in 1996, and it has since become a Minneapolis-St. Paul pizza icon, partly because Caribou Coffee co-founders John and Kim Puckett fell in love with it and partnered with Sorrano; there are now 9 locations of what they’ve called their favorite restaurant. But don’t hate on success. Punch is all about quality and, it turns out, excellent pies. Peruse the menu and you’ll see that they have had some fun with it, detailing the anatomy of a Neapolitan Pizza (frame-blackened blisters, fresh mozzarella, crushed tomatoes), and laying out their pies under headings like, “For Those Who Get It,” “Those Who Really Get It,” and “Double Your Pleasure.” But know that the most popular pie is the Margherita Extra (fresh mozzarella di bufala, crushed tomatoes from Campagna and Mt. Vesuvio), and that the newest pizza is the Bufalina with mozzarella di bufala, arugula, and prosciutto (no crushed tomatoes).