Where to Find Austin's Most Unforgettable Pizzas
Everyone knows that the (not-particularly-healthy) ATX food pyramid is supported by a hearty base of BBQ and breakfast tacos, but what sits between that and the farm-to-table sections on top? Well, pizza of course. It’s a universally loved food and for damn good reason: its insanely satisfying and contains most of, well, the actual food pyramid. From massive NY-style pies to delicate wood-fired Neapolitans to outliers like Detroit squares, Austinites love a slice of pepperoni almost as waiting in line for a slice of fatty brisket or migas tacos. So, here are the best pizza spots in town, with a little extra cheese.
Neighborhood lounge serving cocktails and super shareable square-sliced pizzas
King Bee Lounge may not heavily promote itself as a pizza destination, but the cocktail bar’s hand-tossed and shaken offering should be on everyone’s radar. The dark, spacious dive owned by beloved bar vets Colette and Billy serves rotating signature pies, along with mainstays like the crowd-pleasing Green and White Grocery (basil, tomato) and our favorite, the 'cheezilla: a gobsmacking inch-thick cap of mozzarella, ricotta, provolone, asiago, fontina, and parmesan, which also makes a perfectly indulgent base for pepperoni. Wash it all down with one of Billy’s famous frozen cocktails, like the honey-infused Bee’s Knees.
Communal seating with craft brews and pizza
Pinthouse Pizza has a lot going for it: a fun atmosphere suitable for dude’s night as well as weeknight dinner with kiddos, an award-winning in-house microbrewery, and pizza pies the aforementioned dudes and kids will both love. Opt for the simple goodness of Pinthouse’s pepperoni and basil pie, or the Banh Mi: a flavorful standout that captures the flavors of the Vietnamese sandwich with crème fraîche, house cheese blend, local sausage, jalapeños, pickled onions and carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, and Sriracha. You can also get experimental with Pinthouse's monthly rotating Off the Map pie; December's pie is the Return of the Mac, with mac-n-cheese inspired creamy Mornay sauce, PHP cheese blend, macaroni, cheddar, and buttery breadcrumbs. With locations on Burnet, South Lamar and the newest in Round Rock, there’s really no excuse not to go.
Neapolitan pizza, wine, and beer in a bright bungalow
40 North is easily the most underrated pizza spot in Austin; their Neapolitan pies combine tasty, inspired flavor combos with an impossibly delicious sourdough crust that is simultaneously chewy, crisp, decadent, and delicate. We love the Dandelion (fontina, mozzarella, dandelion greens, onion jam, pancetta, and parmesan) as well as the spicy and sweet Hot Honey (tomato, ricotta, coppa aka pork salume, parmesan, fresno pepper, and Mike's Hot Honey). And, for a limited time check out the Spicy Pickle Pizza: a 40 North x La Barbeque collaboration that features La Barbeque's housemade pickles and pickled garlic with mozzarella, fontina, parmesan, fresno, and dill.
Universally beloved Detroit-style deep-dish pies
Many an evening has ended early due to the gluttonous temptation of Via 313. Their Detroit-style pies are four square slices of thick, pillowy crust, given extra crunch thanks to a light caramelization of cheese. Two pieces make a perfect bar snack and three a full meal, but that fourth slice is a one-way, direct ticket to bedtime. For the full experience, go with the double pepperoni Detroiter, but even the arugula-topped Rocket is in strict violation to most diets.
NY-style pizza by the pie or slice
The Home Slice employee pilgrimages to New York's most iconic pizza shrines are the stuff of legend, so you know they're not just dollar-slice carpetbaggers. The slices are as big in size as the staff is in personality -- even the Friday 2:30am counter dudes are surprisingly cheerful in the face of belligerent spillover from the Continental Club. They have reason to be with pizza this good: classic margherita, pepperoni with the perfect level of grease, white pies heaped with balloons of ricotta, and Home Slice’s famously crisp crust and signature “snap”.
Refined Neapolitan pizza and an impressive wine list
The wait for a seat may be long, but the pizzas pop out of their post oak-fired oven in 60 seconds flat. The crust of Bufalina's Neapolitan pizza is so delicate you might hurt its feelings just by picking it up -- ask for penance, because you'll want to pick up many, many slices, from classics like margherita and calabrese, to experimental pies like the harissa (cauliflower, green olives, pistachio, herbs) and mushroom (herbed goat cheese, mozzarella, shallot, lemon, herbs). Bonus points for perhaps the most swipe-right-worthy clientele of any pizza joint in town.
Ultra-thin-crust pies piled high with local toppings
East Side Pies might be the most Austin-y pizza shop on this list. A visit to the claustrophobic original Eastside location feels like a step back into the '90s (although it opened in 2006), before interior design consultations were requisites for opening even the tiniest hole in the wall. The attitude is also decidedly slacker-ish, walking the thin line between a no-fucks-given attitude and thoughtful ingredient sourcing. While the crust is cardboard-thin and doesn't pack the wow-factor of spots like Bufalina or Via 313, the creative sauces (chimichurri! rosemary olive oil!) and gratuitous toppings of local produce more than make up for a sometimes floppy slice.
Quiet neighborhood spot with NY-style pizza and outdoor seating
It doesn't get much more wholesome than Little Deli. Tucked into a quaint Crestview strip mall that's quizzically on an otherwise residential street, this sandwich shop excels at big, Northeast-style slices cooked in 2-inch stone hearth ovens. There's nothing fancy going on here, just an old-school dough recipe executed to craveable perfection, although Little Deli's got new-fangled diners covered as well with an option for Ancient Grains gluten-free crust. The eatery’s Windsor Park location will be opening any day now.
Cozy space serving Neapolitan pizza and antipasti
With the exception of Hoboken (and a few acceptable chains), the local Downtown pizza game is fairly dismal. Thankfully, Backspace upped the ante in 2010 when it opened behind Parkside, bringing some of the city's first (and still finest) wood-fired Neapolitan pies. Its app game is the most robust on this list, with an impressive selection of shared plates (lamb & pork meatballs, baked ricotta) and antipasti (house-made mozz), but the pizzas are obviously the main draw. The ingredient combinations tend to be minimal, keeping knockouts like fennel sausage and picante salame from withering under piles of unwanted veggies.
No-frills joint serving custom pizzas 'til 2:30am
Hoboken boasts being “proud like the pigeon,” which is a fitting tagline since many of its late-night clientele have been reduced to the level of mindless scavengers. Despite the barebones “dining room” (with Parmesan and pepper shakers chained to the wall, bank pen-style), the Jersey-influenced pies deliver a satisfying experience to both Dirty Sixth zombies and clear-eyed diners alike, thanks to a can't-miss crust and some of the most flavorful cheese and sauce in town. Plus, they deliver!
Chewy specialty pizzas in an ultra-hip restaurant setting
Yes, Second Bar + Kitchen is a destination for solo businessmen seeking dirty martinis and promising third dates, but it’s also a go-to for consistently great food, all day. While we're often lured in by the cocktail offerings, the restaurant’s fries (which are prob the best in Austin) are a must, in addition to the food critic-approved pizza. Try the Black + Bleu: a testament to balance with its funky black truffle and blue cheese, salty pork belly, and sweet caramelized dates on a thin-yet-dense crust. Don’t snooze on their Domain location if you live in north Austin!
Date spot with wood-fired pies and great cocktails
Dallas-based Cane Rosso follows strict Italian standards for its authentic Neapolitan pizzas and its fresh dough is made daily, San Marzano tomatoes are hand-crushed and mozzarella is pulled fresh in-house daily. The pizza is fired in a custom, wood-fired at 900 degrees for 90 seconds resulting in a delicate charred crust. And thank baby Jesus, Cane Rosso serves actual cocktails, in this case Italian-inspired drinks with familiar liqueurs like Campari and Aperol that are a welcome sight in our beer-and-wine-only pizzeria landscape.
Neapolitan-style pizza and house-made pastrami
If you haven’t had the pleasure of scarfing half of a Pieous pie after a long afternoon sampling spirits and beers off of Fitzhugh Road, you haven’t lived. The wood-fired, thick sourdough crust leans Neapolitan, and the house-smoked pastrami (which you can add to your pizza) are what make Pieous a destination for those of us who reside in Austin proper. You can’t go wrong with any choice, but we love the fiery House on Fire (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, salame calabrese, spicy onions, Calabrian peppers, and chili flakes).
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