Clinton Hill & LES
Gimmicky pies with St. Louis influence
St. Louis style-pizza is unlike any other. An ultra-thin, crispy crust made with yeast (unsuitable for folding), is topped with the city’s beloved Provel cheese (a processed blend of Cheddar, provolone, and Swiss), and typically cut into squares. Speedy Romeo, the hip Clinton Hill/Bed-Stuy pizza joint that once served as the Brooklyn location of Cafe Grumpy on Girls, is probably the only place in New York where you can find it. There are a number of other novelties, like a brunch-only lox pizza and an LES-exclusive made with Katz’s pastrami. Kind of gimmicky? Maybe, but they work.
Old-school pizza shop that’s worth waiting for
Dom DeMarco opened his Avenue J pizzeria in 1964, and to this day, the octogenarian makes nearly every single pie by hand. Using mainly imported ingredients, Di Fara’s pies come with an old-fashioned and simple sauce that’s among the best in the city, made with San Marzano tomatoes and topped with an angelic blend of Grana Padano, mozzarella, and Parmesan, plus a touch of snipped basil and olive oil poured from a silver can. A line consistently snakes from the no-frills Midwood spot, but if you care about pizza, you’ll make the trek and take the wait in stride.
Doughy Sicilian and grandma slices
Before Emmy Squared won hearts (both in real life and on Instagram) with its much-hyped Detroit-style square pizza, there was Prince Street Pizza, offering what is still one of the best square slices in the city. The Nolita pizza shop offers several kinds of Sicilian and grandma slices, but the move is to order the Spicy Spring with fra diavolo, fresh mozzarella, and small, crispy pepperonis that curl up around the edges and fill with pools of grease -- and then order a vodka slice to go along with it.
Neapolitan-style pies with a thin crust
If you’re eating at Lucali, you’re eating one of two things: pizza or a calzone. That's because the menu only offers those two options. Mark Iacono has perfected what he knows, offering doughy but thin crust with lots of char, topped with a fresh and tangy sauce, mozzarella, and other toppings of your choice (be sure to get the slightly spicy pepperoni). There’s a reason Beyoncé and Jay Z once skipped the Grammys to eat here.
A historic coal-oven pizzeria (with some of the most affordable pies in the city)
The original Patsy’s opened on First Avenue in 1933 and still offers the same big cheesy pies sans pretense. The menu lists plenty of terrific speciality pies, but order simply: the original pie, with a beautifully thin and soft crust, topped with a classic tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. While the prices aren’t as low as they were in 1933, a huge pizza is still only $12.
Williamsburg, East Village & UWS
Must-try Brussels sprout pizza
In addition to two NYC locations, Mathieu Palombino’s Motorino also has outposts in Manila, Singapore, and Hong Kong. This rapid expansion is unsurprising, given the consistently great quality of Motorino's Neapolitan-style pies (which it was doing before the style’s surge in popularity in NYC). There are a number of inventive pies here -- even the plain margherita touts a perfectly tangy San Marzano sauce with huge dollops of fior di latte and pecorino -- but the star is the Brussels sprout pizza (fret not, the leafy vegetable is accompanied by smoked pancetta).
Thin-crust Coney Island icon
Coney Island’s beloved Totonno’s is another one of New York’s oldest pizzerias, and a veritable institution. The owner did his time at Lombardi’s before opening his own spot in 1924, and the business has since been through a lot (multiple fires, a five-month shutdown after Sandy). But Totonno’s stands strong today, still making one of the city’s best margherita pies with a thin, charred crust, a sweet but not too-sweet tomato sauce, and slices of melty, fresh mozzarella.
Hip Neapolitan pizzeria with an outdoor tiki bar
Bushwick darling Roberta’s nails the perfect balance between too cool and inviting. You’ll wait forever to try the Brooklyn-Neapolitan-style pies adored by locals and the Clintons alike, but you’ll enjoy tasty, cold drinks in the backyard tiki bar while you wait. There’s nothing exclusive or pretentious about the place -- take a seat at a wooden picnic table (inside or outside) and enjoy pizzas like the Speckenwolf, with house-made mozzarella, thin slices of salty speck, and mushrooms. Pro tip: Try the Bee Sting (topped with spicy honey and sopressata). It no longer appears on the menu, but ask, and you shall receive.
Castleton Corners & East Village
Family-run pizzeria with a perfect vodka pie
If you live in Staten Island, you eat your pizza at Joe & Pat's. This family-run pizzeria has been open since 1960 and remains a favorite among locals due to its near-perfect thin-crust pie, loaded with a tangy sauce and large globs of cheese. The margherita is always a reliable choice (by the pie or slice), and you can grab a large cheese for just $10 on Mondays and Tuesdays. The team recently opened its first outpost in the East Village, but a meal at the OG institution is worth a trip on the Staten Island Ferry.
The go-to 2am slice shop
Joe’s is unbeatable for a fast bite. Much to the delight of 2am slice-seekers, Joe Pozzuoli’s 1975 West Village location has spawned three other outposts -- all on busy streets (14th Street in the East Village, Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, and Broadway in Midtown). Yes, it’s a tourist attraction, but it’s hard to find a regular slice that compares. If anything is true New York pizza, it’s Joe’s.
No-frills Italian-American restaurant with coal-fired pizza
While the rest of Brooklyn moves rapidly in the direction of million-dollar shoebox apartments and high-end restaurants in converted garages, Sam’s on Court Street remains unchanged. An old-school joint filled with red leather booths and red checkered table cloths, Sam’s offers simple but delicious coal-fired pizza with a nice crispy crust; though the real star is Louis, son of owner Mario Migliaccio, who for years was the head waiter/main source of biting humor, and now serves as the man-in-charge.
Inventive pies served inside a rustic space
Inside a cabin-like room with enough rustic wood finishings to fill a Pinterest board, you’ll find some of the city’s most inventive Neapolitan-style pies, like the Hometown brisket with chunks of Hometown Bar-B-Que's beloved meat, and the sweet-and-savory Cherry Jones with mozzarella, gorgonzola, prosciutto, dried cherries, and honey. New Yorkers are so taken with the Greenpoint pizzeria that it's expanded to Baltimore, Miami, Columbus, and Chicago.
Red-sauce joint with a semi-secret pizza
Mario Migliucci once said no to having a scene from The Godfather filmed in his “family-friendly” pizzeria in the Bronx. Forty years later, after his death, his son allowed a scene from The Sopranos to be filmed in the restaurant, but only because it wasn’t violent. Mario’s doesn’t consider itself a pizza place -- it’s a classic-red-sauce Italian joint boasting the likes of veal Parm and manicotti. You won’t even find pizza listed on the menu, and if you don’t ask for a large size when ordering it, you’ll get a small, appetizer-size pie. But the pizza at Mario’s is worth the semi-secret ordering maneuver, with a chewy charred crust and the right amount of sauce and cheese (opt for the sausage pie and you won’t be disappointed).
Light and airy pies, with a shorter wait than Grimaldi's
Patsy Grimaldi’s Juliana’s -- a competitor of the adjacent Grimaldi's, which he no longer owns -- offers pies that seem nearly identical to its rival, but offer something entirely different. Juliana’s pizza is light and airy, with fresh and rich flavors from its sauce and cheese. It also helps that the line isn’t nearly as long.
A bucket list-worthy, reverse-engineered square slice
The square-slice gold standard, L&B’s Sicilian is certainly something to check off your NYC dining bucket list. It’s a wonderfully plump, doughy square with plenty of fresh mozzarella and a tart tomato sauce on top (accompanied by a liberal sprinkling of pecorino), striking the perfect balance between sweet and tart. It’s best enjoyed outside at one of L&B’s red picnic tables, along with a paper cup brimming with the eponymous frozen treat.
Boerum Hill & Harlem
The perfect (weekend-only) burrata pizza
This friendly neighborhood spot seems to achieve the impossible: a crust that’s not too thick and not too thin, with just the perfect amount of char. There’s a bevy of options to choose from, but if you come Friday-Sunday, always get the burrata (it’s only offered then). Any other night, go with the Laura: mozzarella, mascarpone, rosemary, and bacon-like speck.
Elm Park & Greenwich Village
Thin-crust pies loaded with toppings
Denino’s has been a Staten Island staple since the 1930s -- the street below is even named after its founders. But Manhattanites needn’t trek out to the outer-borough to get it; there’s now a location on MacDougal Street. The go-to order here is the Garbage Pie, a meat-heavy number topped with sausage, meatballs, pepperoni, mushrooms, and onions. If you’re a Denino’s regular, you know to order it well done.
Sweet and savory Neapolitan-esque pies
Zero Otto Nove has several outposts (including Manhattan and Armonk) but the original Arthur Avenue location will always reign supreme. Roberto Paciullo’s Salerno-style pies are extremely unique -- somewhat similar to Neapolitan, but crispier and less fluffy. Opt for the sweet and savory La Riccardo with butternut squash puree, smoked mozzarella, and spicy pancetta.
Standing room-only pizzeria with a great white pie
Jokes about the name's poor SEO aside, this Williamsburg pizza shop from Roberta's alum Frank Pinello truly is one of the city's best, with a few different pie options and heroes in a largely standing room-only storefront (it guarantees no long waits for a table!). The no-frills shop has one of the best white pies in the city, topped with caramelized onions, Parmesan, and sesame seeds.
The city’s most Instagrammed pizza
Emily and Matt Hyland know a thing or two about a good burger, but Emily is first and foremost a pizza place. Creative and colorful pies like the El Pastor (mozzarella, chipotle pineapple, bacon) and the Lady Pizza Girl (havarti, ricotta, mushrooms, pickled jalapeño, basil) set Emily apart from its peers. The West Village location tosses both round and square pies (like the ones from sister shop Emmy Squared).
Underrated, lighter-than-average Neapolitan pies
In a city rich with Neapolitan pies, this Union Square spot from Kesté and PizzArte alums is turning out some of the city’s most underrated pizza. Using strictly Neapolitan ingredients (including flour and yeast), Ribalta crafts lighter than usual pies (thanks to said flour and yeast), meaning you won’t feel completely weighed down from the zucchini pie with burrata and speck, or the namesake Ribalta, topped with mozzarella, Italian sausage, and broccoli rabe.
Detroit-style squares with social media notoriety
It’s still nearly impossible to look at any social media platform without seeing a snap of the Detroit-style square pies from this Emily spin-off. Yes, it’s photogenic pizza -- with crispy, cheesy edges -- and it checks all the Detroit-style boxes it should. But it’s chef Matt Hyland’s always-creative menu that makes dining here so exciting. Try the Roni Supreme (pepperoni with Calabrian chilies), the Emmy (banana peppers, onions, ranch), or the Hula Hog (bacon, pineapple, pickled jalapeños), all of which arrive in steel pans.
Sicilian slices with the sauce on top, cheese on the bottom
Maspeth may seem like a trek if you’re coming from basically anywhere that isn’t already Queens, but the trip is well worth it for a Sicilian from Rosa’s, famously made with the sauce on top of the cheese. The squares here are perfectly thick with well-charred edges and topped with the right ratio of sauce to cheese.
Scene-y Italian spot known for its clam pie
This scene-y Charlie Bird follow-up doesn’t make the city’s best clam pie, but it’s certainly a competition-stirring one. PJ’s offers a number of wood-fired pizzas (which you can watch being prepped in the open kitchen), but the Littleneck Clam, loaded with rich and salty cream; a touch of lemon, parsley, and garlic; and perfectly briny chopped clams is the one to order.
The quintessential neighborhood pizza joint
Brother’s has been around for over 50 years and is still the quintessential neighborhood pizza joint -- all you’ll find here are regular slices and Sicilians, made by a friendly staff that’s more or less been around since the place opened. The pies are cheap and enormous, made with a thin and crispy crust, and topped with a slightly sweet tomato sauce and plenty of cheese.
Williamsburg, Financial District, Greenwich Village
Gluten-free pizzas to write home about
If gluten-free pizza crust is sacrilegious, we’re all sinners at Kesté. The place serves a hefty menu of Neapolitan, wood-fired pizzas in standard, vegan, and gluten-free iterations -- all in frill-free venues that do little justice to the goods themselves. Each pie boasts a dense, doughy crust (yes, even the ones without wheat flour), a generous slathering of sauce (either rosso, bianco, or specialty), and a rainstorm of creative toppings like cream of walnut, butternut squash, Crespone salami, and homemade burrata.
A resurrected Queens favorite for no-fuss slices
Once a Flushing mainstay for classic New York style slices, Gloria closed for more than 20 years before reopening its doors in Forest Hills in 2012, much to the delight of Queens pizza fanatics. Each tried-and-true slice comes slightly charred and slick with grease -- and each crust has precisely the right degree of flop for prime folding, even under the weight of all that sauce and cheese.
Family-owned staple for quality late-night pies
Named for owners Gerelyn Blackstone and Dimitri Karapanos’ puppy (who makes an appearance on the pizza box), Archie’s is a bar first. Cans of Mexicali are $3 during happy hour, you might have to stand, and pizzas are pumped from the steaming kitchen as late as 3:30am. Inspired by Connecticut-style pies, these are served pan-baked with a thick, dense crust -- kind of like an upscale Domino’s slice. The husband-wife duo ensures that every pie comes loaded with a small mountain of gooey cheese.
Like Roberta’s, minus the absurd wait
With a casual but fundamentally hip dark-wood dining room, and a roster of creative Neapolitan pizzas that give Franny’s and Emily a run for their money, the place is one of the spectacular new-ish venues putting Franklin Avenue on the culinary map. The pies are thin and slightly blackened, limp under the weight of three-cheese blends and house-made meatballs, and baked to soupy perfection in an enormous white-tiled brick oven.
Inventive pies made from in-house milled flour
With the slew of bars littered across Third Avenue, it’s easy to miss Bruno’s avant-garde pies, all made from house-milled ground wheat berries, for a deeply wheat-y crust. Pizzas here and fun and creative -- the Speck & Pear comes flush with mozzarella, caramelized onion, and sage -- and there’s even a take on the classic NYC cheese slice, bubbling with mozzarella, asiago, Cheddar, and roasted garlic.
Choose from wood-fired pizzas or grandma slices
It’s all about the wood-fired pizzas at this Park Slope neighborhood spot, where freshly milled flour and a sourdough starter unite to create a dark and tangy crust. Pizzas here zip from classic (tomato sauce; mozzarella) to inventive (the potato pizza is plush with crispy kale, mozzarella, and Hungarian wax pepper vinegar). Very good grandma slices come in in cheese, pepperoni, mushroom, and squash varieties.
Lower East Side
Neapolitan pies from an NYC pizza veteran
Una Pizza Napoletana may have just reopened on the LES following its East Village closure several years ago, but people are already lining up for chef Anthony Mangieri’s Neapolitan puffed-up, blistered pies. Pizzas here skew simple, leaning on Italian ingredients -- buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, salami, olive oil -- to elevate the wonderfully chewy crust.
Cracker-thin pizzas to rival those of Joe & Pat’s
Angelo Pappalardo grew up washing dishes at Joe & Pat’s, his father’s beloved Staten Island pizzeria. Today, he’s at the forefront of his own place, making the same kind of cracker-thin pizzas, just on another island. Pizzas here come in just two sizes -- small and large -- but in many varieties. Regulars rave about the vodka pie, slick with pink sauce and piled with rounds of mozzarella, but it’s worth ordering a couple for the table, like the Rubirosa Supreme, brimming with mozzarella, pepperoni, mini meatballs, and roasted garlic.
Veggie-heavy Neapolitan pies in a former laundromat
Mozzarella is the star at this Astoria hotspot, a local haven for excellently crispy Neapolitan pies. Take a seat in the dining room or the lovely back garden, then feast on the Van Dammer pie, overflowing with Brussels sprouts, mozzarella, egg, and truffle oil, or the Jimmy Snuka, swiped with a salty/sweet combo of tomato, mozzarella, jalapeños, pineapple, and speck.