The Best Pizza Joints in Charlotte
Fact: Charlotte’s got serious pizza game. Whether you’re trying to find a takeout spot, somewhere upscale to settle into, or a neighborhood restaurant perfect for slices and beers, you’ll have no problem locating a great pie in the Queen City.
We’ve got divey joints with plenty of red and white-checkered kitsch, restaurants with a dress code, and even a couple of newer spots with fresh, local spins on your favorite classics. So take a look at -- and grab a bite from -- some of the best pizza places in town.
Pizza made with ancient grain crust and farm-fresh toppings
Pure Pizza got its name from its holistic pizza philosophy, which involves a revolutionary sprouted ancient grain crust and farm-fresh ingredients. With an original location at 7th Street Public Market, Pure Pizza opened its second location in Plaza Midwood, complete with an urban greenhouse to produce its very own homegrown toppings. Try the margherita, which revels in its simplicity, or the Chorizo pizza, topped with shaved radishes, tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, cilantro, chorizo, and a squeeze of lime. The side of spicy honey it serves for dunking pizza crust is spot-on as well.
Large, late-night slices and a bunch of beers
Charlotte loves this late-night, by-the-slice joint located in the middle of the ever-growing NoDa bar scene. The home of the “Virginia Slice” -- named for the state where the business began -- provides Charlotteans the chance to get their hands on the whopping 28-inch round pie that made Benny's famous. But if we’re being honest, seeing as one slice takes up TWO plates, you might not need the whole pizza. If you’re looking for something to help wash it all down, Benny’s has almost 30 different brews on hand.
A hidden gem… that’s also a $9 pizza buffet
Luisa’s is tucked away near Park Road Shopping Center and situated along the bustling Montford Drive. They’ve been serving delicious pizza for over 20 years from its mammoth wood-fired oven. The Luisa, a crowd favorite, is topped with pesto, sliced tomatoes, fresh garlic, ricotta, and mozzarella. Bust a gut on a tasting tour of Luisa’s pizza selection at the weekday lunch buffet, where you can sample at least 10 different pies.
New York-style pizza with a variety of toppings
Hawthorne’s serves up New York-style pizzas loaded with toppings. Dig into the Crew Pizza, a thin-crust pizza topped with meatballs, Italian sausage, banana peppers, and red onion. Or, if you are expecting and are ready to evict your little bundle of joy, eat the nationally-recognized and aptly named pie, The Inducer.
The most authentic New York-style pizza in Charlotte
If it’s one heck of a New York-style slice you’re after, Due Amici should be your next pit stop. The glorified favorites -- the chicken Parm or caprese pies -- will have you coming back to this casual, counter-service establishment time and time again, but the more adventurous ones will keep you talking. Try out a famous stuffed pie, filled with either meat or vegetables, for just $24. And be sure to get a side of the garlic knots, as the smell alone will probably have you drooling.
Boasting incredibly unique pizza of the month options
This place is great for a number of reasons, one of which is that you can build your own custom pie. Another is that you can take your pick of one of the 20 specialty creations. It also offers some unique pizza-of-the-month options, such as things like shrimp scampi, pear gorgonzola, and fior di zucca. The chef packs his menu with ingredients straight from the neighboring farmers market, so you can be sure you’re getting the freshest of the fresh here.
Italian-style pizza in a date-friendly location
Portofino’s Ristorante is where you go with a special someone, or where you go to get takeout on a lazy Friday night. This family-owned business serves up a proper Italian pie, like The Arrabbiata, a salty, savory dream layered with spicy marinara, prosciutto, mushrooms, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and mozzarella cheese.
New York-style pizza. Great for the family. Lawn games.
Although it boasts multiple locations, it’s the Plaza Midwood spot, a former gas station, that has become synonymous with family dinners out. Grab a beer on tap, and order the Updyke, a pizza covered in mozzarella, goat cheese, Italian sausage, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and topped with fresh arugula. After that, grab another beer and hit the lively front lawn for a game of cornhole.
The most authentic Neapolitan-style pizza in Charlotte
Using a wood-fired oven shipped from Italy that cooks a pizza within 90 seconds, Inizio is as close to authentic Neapolitan-style pizza as Charlotteans will get without a passport and a plane ticket. You can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas here, but you should definitely order Inizio’s top seller -- the pistachio pizza, made with rosemary, sea salt, ricotta, buffalo mozzarella, and house-made pistachio-pesto sauce.
Large, Neapolitan pies that give you a great reason to leave Charlotte
Aliño Pizzeria is located about 30 miles north of Charlotte in Mooresville, and believe us, it’s worth the trek for Charlotteans. Come hungry or prepared to share as there is only one pie size (16 inches) available. Get a bottle of wine and order the Toscana with sausage, San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, and fresh garlic.
Craft cocktails, craft beer, and craft pizza
One of Wolfgang Puck’s newest restaurant concepts, WP Kitchen + Bar is seriously -- and literally -- all about the craft. Expect everything coming from the kitchen and the bar to be high-quality and made with the best ingredients around. Try the fennel sausage pizza with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, red onions, and feta; or the roasted mushroom pizza with garlic cream, baby spinach, goat cheese, and truffle oil. Fun fact: WP Kitchen + Bar serves only North Carolina beer and we are very okay with that.
The server gives you scissors. You cut up the pizza.
Stagioni was the third (of five) restaurants opened by Charlotte chef and restaurateur, Bruce Moffett. Located in a historic home known as “The Villa”, Stagioni serves delicious Italian fare, but it’s the pizza that has made this a neighborhood stalwart. The wood-fired pies change seasonally, and are never boring. Past standouts include the smoked lamb sausage topped with red onions, mozzarella, arugula, and tapenade; and the butternut squash pizza made with goat cheese, mozzarella, rosemary, and a wine reduction. Plus, who doesn’t love cutting their own perfectly-sized slice?
Serbian traditions meet an American favorite
Intermezzo is a family-owned restaurant specializing in traditional Serbian dishes mixed with American and European accents. Order a more familiar style of pizza, or be spontaneous and try something like the Piroska, a Balkan-style stuffed pizza. It’s made with ham, mushrooms, mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, sour cream, and tomato sauce, and will absolutely stay on your mind long after you’ve paid your check.
A Charlotte hidden gem that grows their own herbs and veggies
Descend the stairs at this Myers Park institution and you may be surprised to see the casual, no-frills setting in a neighborhood known for opulence. Almost always packed, Zio may not be on the radar of the Instagram foodies of Charlotte, but it is for anyone who loves great pizza and fresh ingredients. Order the staple, sweet Italian sausage pie, or for something different, order the goat cheese and prosciutto pizza. Before you leave, walk through their garden if it’s open and check out their bounty.
New York-style pizza? Not here. We’re talking New Jersey-style.
No matter what you’ve heard or seen about New Jersey, you can’t take away the fact that great pizza comes out of the Garden State. Grab your favorite pair of stretchy pants, put on an oversized sweatshirt, and either call for delivery or head in for takeout. You can get the standards such as cheese or pepperoni, but we suggest thinking outside the box here. Try the chicken bacon ranch or the chicken artichoke red pepper pizzas… just don’t weigh yourself in the morning.
Don’t be fooled by the name...
Although they were known for their delicious Chicago-inspired hot dogs, Matt’s opened up a spot in Cornelius that ostensibly ushered in a new era for them. If you crave deep-dish, Chicago-style pizza, you’ll make your way over. Order Matt's Chicago Classic pizza, which is loaded (and we mean loaded) with cheese, sausage, and cremini mushrooms.
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