Can the NYC Steakhouse Survive?
Lively Irish pub with reliably delicious New York-style pies
It's a fact: This Downtown Irish pub and pizzeria has one of the best New York-style pies on the island. The secret may be its hand-tossed dough folded with a touch of Guinness, or it may be toppings made from fresh, local produce, or it may be the simple pairing of ice-cold beer and hot slices, but either way, this local institution has become a favorite for pizza lovers for a reason. Or several reasons.
Snack-like pizzas that leave room for a beer or three
Downtown lounge Bar 35 may be best known for its extensive beer selection (over 200 choices!), but its oblong, thin-crust, almost cracker-like pies are a close second. Presented on rectangular wood paddles, pizzas from master chef Francesco Valentini are both a nod to classic, crispy, Roman-style crusts, and a fusion interpretation, with toppings like lamb, smoked salmon, and kalua pork. Try a sweet and savory pizza -- topped with Chinese sausage, sweet chili sauce, cilantro, and mozzarella -- that's big enough to share, but you might not want to. Pro tip: Come on Tuesday nights when you can get a full pizza and a bottle of wine for $25.
Dive bar with creative specialty pies
Maybe you’ve stumbled into this alley-side bar after discovering J.J. Dolan’s kitchen was closed, but stayed because A) there’s actually room to sit down, B) somebody’s got to satiate your late-night pizza needs, or C) its whimsical toppings are surprisingly delicious -- and no, that’s not the beer(s) talking. Plus, where else are you going to get a fried-rice pie topped with kimchi, oyster sauce, char siu, pocho sausage, bacon, sweet peas, and carrots? Bonus: Vegetarian options are also available for the herbivores among you.
Casual, no-fuss, home-style pizza -- with bowling
By now, it’s no surprise that just saying the name of this Leeward bowling alley restaurant fires the hunger synapses in your brain. After you’ve gotten your fill of lemon crunch cake and oxtail soup, give their no-frills pizzas a try. The classic Perfect 300 pie is a combination of pepperoni, Canadian bacon, Italian sausage, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, extra cheese, and marinara sauce. It's one of the few pizzerias on the island with a sourdough shell, and its crunchy, homemade crust may be enough to bowl you over.
Take-out food truck with oversized pies by the beach
Named for a shore break in Bali, this one-man mobile pizza truck doesn't, as its name suggests, make tracking down a slice impossible, but it is pretty tough. IP's open just three days a week (you'll find it parked between Sunset Beach and Waimea) and has no social media presence, so it’s best to call and find out exactly where the truck's located, or better yet, order ahead to avoid the rush. Pizzas by the slice are limited, so be prepared to invest in a gargantuan pie so big, the crust runneth over the box. Pro tip: Add a side of homemade ranch dipping sauce in which to dunk your naked leftover crusts for optimal enjoyment. And it's cash-only.
Loaded artisan wood-fired Neapolitan pies
When former V Lounge pizza master Alejandro Briceno closed the popular Honolulu pizzeria and took his kiawe wood-burning pizza talents to the Windward side, it left a pie-sized hole in the hearts of many. But not to worry, this modern Italian restaurant may actually fill the void. Here, the menu is divided into two categories: Not Pizza and Pizza, the later of which boasts a crust that is not too thin, not too thick, and charred just right. Go for the margherita.
Local chain with tons and tons of menu options
This local brand has been a Garden Isle favorite for decades, but made its way to Oahu just a few years ago. Pizza sizes range from small (eight slices), medium (10 slices), to large (12 slices) and are available in white, wheat, or gluten-free dough. Tough time deciding? Go for its classic hearth-baked Original Super Pizza, which may just be a meat lover's fantasy with a carnivorous blend of salami, pepperoni, Italian sausage, seasoned lean beef, Portuguese sausage, and smoked ham on your choice of wheat or white crust. Oh, and to make your mom happy, it’s also topped your daily serving of vegetables -- mushrooms, black olives, green onions, bell peppers, and mozzarella -- all arranged nicely on top of homemade marinara sauce.
Made-to-order personal pan pizzas
Now located in a strip mall near the airport, this cash-only establishment has been serving local-style deep(ish)-dish pan pizzas since the early '90s. The dough is made fresh daily, and baked to a well-done golden crisp, before getting topped with meaty options like applewood-smoked bacon, kalua pig, chorizo, or you can even add, *gasp*, vegetables, available in 7-inch and 12-inch pans. Each pie is custom baked, so if you’re in a rush, it’s best to call ahead. And one last thing: garlic cheese balls. Just do it.
Modern brick-fire pizza in an al-fresco setting
Traditional and modern Italian-American pizzas live at this open-air Waikiki beer and pizza restaurant, where the menu is divided into rossa (tomato sauce) and blanca (garlic cream sauce) pies. Classic pizza lovers will find happiness with traditional options like margherita pizza, and those with an adventurous palate can find local specials like the red-sauced Kalua Pork pizza, made with mozzarella, slow-roasted pork and tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, sweet Thai chili sauce, and cilantro; or the white-sauced Teriyaki shrimp pie, made with mozzarella, shrimp, teriyaki sauce, furikake, crispy shallots & kimchee slaw. Bonus: During NFL season, doors open at 7am, so you can catch all the early-morning games with pizza and a breakfast beer.
Design-your-own Pompeii-style pies with a multitude of toppings
Like some kind of Chipotle of pizza, this local eatery lets you build the pie of your dreams, available in 12-inch or half-pizza masterpieces. Choose from Sophie’s original or guava-infused dough, then your choice of sauce (like the house red, zesty Sriracha red, cilantro tomato pesto, mac nut cream, or garlic herb oil), then pile on the toppings and wait for it to come to life in its handcrafted, rotating stone-floor brick oven, which blisters the crust to an expert crisp. Dough and sauces are made from scratch daily, and you’ll find an array of fun toppings like Korean BBQ beef, Thai curry-spiced chicken, and choy sum in addition to traditional favorites like meatballs, Italian sausage, and roasted onions. If you’re finding the endless options too overwhelming, try any of Sophie’s picks, which take all the dough, sauce, and topping guesswork out the equation.
Quick, giant slices in a casual setting
Although this pizza parlor might be hard to compete with the fancier gourmet pizza joints, this local chain is great when you’re hungry and short on time, which is great, because its slices are anything but short. To give you an idea, one of Boston's slices is about a quarter the size an actual pizza elsewhere. Full-size pizzas are also available and can feed a small army. Or one really really hungry person. We don’t judge.
Live music and modern American pizza made with local ingredients
Like all of Peter Merriman’s restaurants, everything on the menu is made from scratch or locally sourced -- down to the ketchup. Pizzas aren’t the sole star at his urban Kakaako eatery (hello, Hawaii beef burgers and 29-degree craft beers on tap), but the pies often steal the show. The pizza dough is aged for three days and hand tossed and baked at 700 degrees. The Hamakua wild mushroom pizza, made with truffle oil, garlic, white sauce, Parmesan, and fresh thyme is said to have converted even the highest of the fungi-hating eaters. If you’ve been wanting to sample more than one pie at a time, stop by for happy hour from 3-5pm, when all pizzas are just $9. Bonus: Live music starts at 4pm, so you can have a live soundtrack while shoving your pizza pie hole.
A literal hole-in-the-wall serving quality pies
Pies at this innocuous pizza joint are set on an unbleached flour, topped with fresh ingredients, and made-to-order. Finding this carry-out Halawa eatery can be a little tricky, as it's hidden in a warehouse area with just a sliding glass window and a sign taped to the wall. Luckily, delivery is free from Diamond Head to Waipahu if you don’t feel like hunting down their take-out window. Delivery can take over an hour, so be sure to order when you’re just kind of hungry, and not stark-raving hangry.
Cozy restaurant and bar good for both traditional and modern handcrafted pies
Seats are limited at this cozy spot, so call ahead if you don’t want to spend too much time drooling while others eat their kiawe-wood-smoked pizzas before you. It's worth it, though; the owners trained with pizzaiolo Enzo Coccia (one of the founding members of an international nonprofit that promotes the art of Neapolitan pizza) and master dough maker Davide Bruno. Pies are crafted by hand, made with fine imported Italian ingredients, house-made mozzarella, and seasonal locally sourced ingredients, then fired for 90 seconds in a 900-degree Fahrenheit wood-fire oven made specially for the store and fired on locally sourced kiawe wood. The result is a thin crust that’s well-charred and chewy at the same time.