The World’s 10 Best Cities for Pizza (Slideshow)
June 25, 2014
Want great pizza? You don’t need to travel too far
10) Sao Paolo, Brazil
Great pizza, in Brazil? You better believe it. Italians are the largest immigrant group in the city (more than double the Portugese population), and they opened the city’s first pizzerias in the late 1800s. Today, there are almost 9,000 pizzerias in Sao Paolo alone, but we all know that quantity doesn’t equal quality. Thankfully, the quality of most of the pizza here is also quite high; leading pizza spots include Margherita Pizzeria, Casa Bráz, and Camelo. The pizza-eating experience in Sao Paolo is also unlike any in the world: pizza is served rodízio-style, with waiters bringing around many different varieties with toppings ranging from the Portuguesa (topped with mozzarella, ham, onion, hard-boiled eggs, peppers, olives, and oregano) to corn, potato sticks, and even beef stroganoff. For dessert, don’t miss the Nevada-style, topped with banana, cinnamon, and meringue.
9) Melbourne, Australia
If you need convincing that Melbourne is a great pizza town, look no further than Johnny Di Francesco, who runs the city’s 90 Secondi restaurant. Earlier this year, he bested 600 entrants from 35 countries to win the Pizza World Championship in Parma, Italy, and one taste of his Neapolitan-style pizza will most likely have you convinced that it’s the best in the world as well. But one great pizza does not a great pizza town make: Melbourne is chock full of them. Scoozi is one of only three pizzerias in Australia to get the seal of approval from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana; the wood-fired oven at La Svolta turns out thin, crisp pizzas with toppings ranging from the traditional to one topped with pumpkin, pancetta, gorgonzola, and red onion; and at DOC, which has several locations, chef Tony Nicolini is turning out truly exquisite, crisp and chewy pies.
8) Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is a city of Italian immigrants, and they’ve brought some amazing pizza over with them. There’s a pizzeria on nearly every corner here, and over the years a pizza style all its own — Argentine-style — has emerged. The crust is thick, the cheese is plentiful and gooey, the tomato sauce is in a thin layer, and other toppings are added right before the pizza is served (El Cuartito and Guerrin serve perhaps the finest examples). There’s also plenty of traditional thin-crust pizza to be found, at restaurants like Filo and Siamo Nel Forno, and the slices served at local chain Kentucky Pizza are widely regarded as the city’s finest drinking food. Don’t forget to drop by Bakano for their trademark dessert pizzas; try the one topped with Nutella and a scoop of ice cream.
7) Nice, France
Just a short distance from Italy, pizza in Nice is spectacular, and those who live in Provence and along the Côte d'Azur have made it all their own. Most notably, they’ve done away with mozzarella and replaced it with more piquant cheeses like Emmental and Cantal, and thanks to their proximity to the Mediterranean they appreciate the value of good tomatoes, olive oil, and basil. Pizza in Nice is crisp, delicate, and nicely-charred, topped with high-quality, simple, local ingredients, and the ovens are fired with local pine and oak. Traditional local seasonings like Herbes de Provence, persillade, and pistou frequently make appearances, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a crummy pizza in the entire city. Le Safari (open since 1973) and Le Pizza Nice (since 1956) are renowned.
6) San Francisco and Environs, California
The Bay Area is home to some seriously delicious pizza, and the vast majority of the great pizzerias there are less than 10 years old. The Bay Area dining scene is best-known for its dedication to using the highest-quality seasonal produce and well-sourced meats and cheeses, and there are few better ways to showcase that commitment than through pizza. There’s Anthony Mangieri’s perfect Neapolitan pie at Una Pizza Neapoletana, the trailblazing Pizzeria Delfina, the unassuming but mild-blowingly delicious Flour + Water, and Little Star’s deep-dish and thin-crust creative genius. But the great pizza doesn’t stop at the San Francisco city limits; places like The Forge in Oakland and The Cheese Board Collective in Berkeley are turning out pizzas that are damn near perfect.
5) New Haven, Connecticut
Just the fact alone that the tiny city of New Haven is home to America’s best pizza, the white clam pie at the legendary Frank Pepe, is enough to earn it a spot on our list, but Pepe’s just the tip of the iceberg. In New Haven, pizza isn’t pizza, it’s apizza, and it’s thin-crusted, oblong, coal-fired, deeply charred, the crust is chewier thanks to a longer fermentation, and it doesn’t automatically come topped with “mootz.” Head to Pepe’s, Sally’s, or Modern Apizza (each of which have been around since the ‘20s or ‘30s), sample the goods, wash it all down with a Foxon Park soda, and get ready for a life-changing pizza experience.
4) Boston, Massachusetts
In Boston, pizza is a way of life. There’s no such thing as a Boston-style pie, but that’s because they’ve managed to take just about every other regional style, from bar pie to “sauce on top” pies to traditional Neapolitan to square Sicilian, and perfect it. The legendary Santarpio’s puts their sauce on top of the cheese and toppings on the bottom and claims that this is the best way to do it (it would be hard to argue after trying a slice); Regina Pizza serves one of the country’s perfect plain slices; the crust on Picco’s pies is crunchy, chewy, yeasty, and slightly sour (in a good way) and the toppings are all local, organic, and homemade; and at Galleria Umberto the square slices are cheesy and greasy in all the right ways, yet paradoxically light as air.
3) Rome, Italy
Believe it or not, the pizza scene in Rome has only recently taken off, but what a scene it’s become. The Italian capital has found a formula that works — super-high-quality ingredients, creative toppings, and a fine dining-style experience — and they’re milking it for all it’s worth, with incredibly impressive (and lucrative) results. There are still plenty of old-style pizzerias and bakeries serving traditional oblong pizza alla pala, but newcomers like Sforno (serving a paradigm-shifting cacio e pepe pizza); La Gatta Mangiona (supplementing pizzas topped with potato, salmon, mozzarella, and parsley with more than 200 wines and 70 craft beers); Pizzarium (where Rome’s most famous pizzaiolo, Gabriele Bonci, has been creating genius pies topped with items like rabbit, raisins, and fennel greens since 2003); and La Fucina (breaking the mold by pre-slicing their pizzas so diners can sample multiple varieties, like the one topped with flowers, shrimp, mozzarella, and lardo) have turned pizza in Rome from a post-war peasant food to seriously high-class fare.
2) Naples, Italy
Of course, the birthplace of pizza as we know it would rank high on our list. And while it could easily be resting on its laurels and serving mass-produced dreck to flocks of tourists (some places there certainly do), the overall quality level of pizza to be found in Naples is astonishingly high. The most famous pizzerias in Naples have been owned by the same families for generations, and the level of excellence has been meticulously consistent. While places all around the world may claim to serve Neapolitan pizza, there really is nothing like eating one in its birthplace. Here, pizza must be cooked at a super-high temperature in a domed, wood-fired brick oven, taking a minute and a half to cook tops, and the end result is complex, smoky, soft and light, slightly puffy, and sparsely topped, with a slightly soupy center that requires a knife and fork (or if you want it to-go, it can be folded up and eaten off of heavy-duty paper). There’s complex chemistry at play here, and at places like Da Michele, Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente, Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, and Di Matteo, you’ll get a front-row seat.
1) New York, New York
New York City: the best pizza town in the world. It was here that pizza found its first foothold in the New World, and also here that the most popular form of pizza — the slice — was invented. Never mind the dollar slice joints or the (still generally very good) corner pizzerias; the truly great slices can be found at the old-school spots like Patsy’s, Totonno’s, Grimaldi’s, and Lombardi’s, where New York-style pizza was invented and still thrives. But pizza in New York doesn’t stop there: you can find flawless Neapolitan-style pies at places like Motorino, Kesté, and Lucali; St. Louis-style pizza at Speedy Romeo, a mind-blowing square slice at L&B Spumoni Gardens, a slice bigger than your head at Koronet, deep-fried pie at Don Antonio by Starita, and fearlessly creative toppings at hotspots like Roberta’s and Paulie Gee’s. If you want to try perfect interpretations of just about any style of pizza known to man, New York is the place to go, and that’s why it’s the best city for pizza in the world.