The Absolute Best Pizza in Nashville
Nashville is undergoing a bit of a pizza renaissance of late, with excellent choices available from humble pizzerias or fine dining restaurants. Demonstrating a range of styles from thin crust NY pies to bready Detroit or Sicilian pies, there’s something for every appetite in town. Put on your stretchy pants and go on an exploratory tour of Italy at any of these fantastic pizza joints.
In case you’re not familiar with the sfincione style of pizza, it’s a Sicilian product that is closer to a focaccia than your traditional Neapolitan pie, and nobody in town does it better than St. Vito. Popping up Sunday nights at West Nashville’s Hathorne, St. Vito offers delightfully spongy pan pizzas with exotic ingredients spread edge-to-edge across the rectangular crust. If you’re tired of the same old, same old, check out some sfincione.
The owners of Coco’s trace their lineage to the Old Country, between Naples and Rome, and their authentic Italian pizzas are definitely legit! The Vigo is a meat-lovers dream, piled high with pepperoni, Genoa salami and Italian sausage, and cheeseheads can opt for the Quattro made with fresh ricotta, parm, mozz and feta. A pizza lunch and a couple games of bocce on their outdoor court is molto italiano.
Already known for their proficiency with dough at Biscuit Love, the owners of this tiny boutique pizzeria are taking their talents to pizza town. With a complex dough recipe that benefits from four days of proofing and a tight menu of nine pies, ‘za is serving up some of the best pizza in town straight out of their wood-fired oven.
Hillsboro Village and Bellevue
For almost 40 years, Pizza Perfect has cooked up some of Nashville’s favorite pizzas in their gas-fired deck ovens using fresh dough made daily. Buy the pie or by the slice, their pizzas are available with either thin crusts or chewy Sicilian-style and feature a range of sauces from savory pesto to creamy Alfredo to spicy habanero. If you can’t make up your mind, go with a basic Margherita, one of the best examples of that classic style in town.
The Gulch (& other locations)
Nashville has quickly become enamored of these rectangular Detroit-style pizzas with their seemingly impossible chewy/crispy crusts and a layer of delightful charred cheese known in the biz as “frico.” As a bonus, Emmy Squared also serves up some fantastic sandwiches and one of the best (and priciest) burgers in town.
Don’t let the name of this place fool you. While the pastas at Pastaria are top notch, they also pump some fantastic pizzas out of the open kitchen. You can sit right at the chef’s bar and watch them create your order before giving it a quick pass through the infernal oven. If you like it spicy, get The Nduja, topped with spicy sausage paste, mozz, garlic, oregano, and a little drizzle of honey to add some sweet to the spice.
12 South and Franklin
The founders of MAFIAoZAs were urban pioneers when they built their classic pizzeria in 12 South long before it became the hip neighborhood it is today. Serving a solid menu of pizzas and pastas bring out the crowds, particularly on two-for-one Tuesdays when the streets were crammed with cars taking advantage of the generous drinks deal. Specialty pies are piled high with traditional toppings combined in inventive ways, and gluten-free crusts may be substituted on any order.
When Smith & Lentz had to rebuild their brewery after 2020’s tornado that pretty much wiped them out, they made the intelligent decision to contract with a local chef to develop a new pizza program for their taproom. The results have been extremely popular, even among new fans who never tried their also excellent beer. Choose from a list of interesting topping combos and then make the power move to take it to PROM with the addition of brushed garlic butter, dried oregano, red chili flakes and grated parm for just two bucks more.
West Nashville (& other locations)
While many Nashvillians claim to prefer Napolitano-style pizza, these same folks often complain that the middle of their pies get too soggy. Actually, this is a natural side effect of the VPN’s process of using fresh tomatoes and a very short trip through the oven. What they probably really want is a cracker-crisp crust that is more like a New York-style pizza. NY Pie even offers a NY Sriracha Chicken topped with “hipster ketchup.”
Folk, chef Philip Krajeck’s spin-off of his award-winning Rolf & Daughters, draws diners across the river to munch on inventive pizzas made with a unique crust that benefits from a lovely fermentation of the dough to create flavors heretofore never discovered in run-of-the-mill pies. Toppings feature seasonal ingredients that are also rarely found in most pizzerias, options like fennel pollen, pumpkin seed pesto and a popular pie topped with littleneck clams, bonito, lemon and parsley. It might sound a little weird, but it's magnificent.
Pizza and beer go together like Keeley and Roy, and at TennFold they take pride in both. The brewery side of the business serves up more than a dozen different craft brews made in-house along with guest taps to accompany their menu of both Neapolitan and NY-style pies. The crispy NY pizzas feature more traditional toppings like salami, meatballs, and ‘shrooms plus the always polarizing ham and pineapple option. The Italian-style pies have more exotic toppings like pesto chicken, Thai smoked pork, country ham, and figs.
The charming patio tucked away in the middle of the Villa Place complex is an ideal spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for awhile and enjoy a fine glass of vino and a great pie made using the finest ingredients imported from Italy. On nice nights, they also feature live entertainment under the stars that will transport you away while you nosh on a legit Margherita pizza simply constructed with just fresh mozzarella, basil, and extra virgin olive oil.
West End and Williamson County
Frequent visitors recognize that Porta Via is more than just a pizza spot. However, it still trades on its status as a VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana)-certified pizzeria with super-traditional, Old World-style Italian. Add a menu of excellent pasta dishes and many varieties of gelato, and you’ve got plenty of reasons to visit.
Music Row (& other locations)
This popular pizzeria has more than doubled its seating area with the addition of a new bar and dining room, but crowds still pack the joint on weekend evenings. Fortunately, since the pizzas come out of the screaming hot stone ovens within a couple of minutes, you won’t have to wait long for one of its premium pies, like the San Gennaro with San Marzano tomato sauce, sausage, peppadews, garlic, caramelized onions, scamorza, mozzarella di bufala, and pecorino Romano cheeses.
Music Row (& other locations)
The two boots in the name of this NYC-based pizzeria refer to the shapes of the state of Louisiana and the country of Italy, so it’s no surprise that spicy Cajun flavors meld with Galbani whole milk mozzarella to create piquant pies. The pizzas are cheekily named after pop culture icons, so you’ll have to read the menu closely to figure out the difference between “The Newman” and “The Dude.” [Hint: the Dude really ties the room together.] A local favorite is “The Kitty,” featuring hot chicken from Two Boots’ neighbors across the street at Hattie B’s.
East Nashville and West Nashville
Sometimes you need a perfectly greasy slice served up on a paper plate. The walk-up window at Five Points Pizza is the perfect equivalent of a culinary disco nap when you need some extra fuel to continue your bad idea exploits from bar to bar in East Nashville. To accentuate the NY vibe, there are NO SUBSTITUTIONS allowed on those slices.
At Manny’s in the Arcade Downtown, they’ve got that authentic Noo Yawk attitude in spades. The decor is nothing to phone home about (except the front of the building), but the pizza is legit, with thin crust or Sicilian styles available hot out of the oven. Its stromboli and calzones are also worth a try. Pro tip: You can park in the Arcade alley between Church and Union, and they’ll bring your carryout order right to the car.
Joey’s brother Manny split off from the family biz to open his own House of Pizza in an old sandwich shop right off of I-40 at Fesslers Lane. Originally from Brooklyn, Joey brought his family and its recipes with him, and it shows. Get anything with meatballs on it: pizza, pasta, hell... order 'em on a plate.
If you’ve got some time on your hands and a hankering for some Chicago-style pizza, 312 Pizza Co. is the place to go. Good things come to those who wait, and the crowds and long cooking times of these deep-dish cheese bombs pretty much guarantee that you’ll have to stretch your lunch hour to get in and out at midday. When your boss asks where you've been, blame it on the traffic.
Just opening a new pizza parlor in this growing West Nashville neighborhood should be a recipe for rampant success, but when you do it the way Nicky’s has, it’s no surprise it’s been a huge hit. Cooking in a coal-fired oven named “Enrico,” named for chef/owner Tony Galzin’s grandfather, the open kitchen at Nicky’s pumps out close to a dozen varieties of red and white pies, plus other fantastic baked pasta and vegetable dishes, and some of the best antipasti and charcuterie in town.
Music Row (& other locations)
Midwestern transplants to Nashville swear by this chain out of Columbus, Ohio, and for once, locals are actually listening to them. They’ve recently announced plans to open 10-15 new locations in Middle Tennessee, so prepare for Donatos domination. Thin-crust pies are covered from edge to edge with tasty toppings and then cut into party-style square pieces for easy sharing. The Founder's Favorite with heritage pepperoni, family recipe sausage, shaved ham, and banana peppers is particularly addictive. Don’t keep count of how many slices you eat, since 12 sounds like a lot. And in a nod to its Music City location, Donatos actually features live music Thursday-Saturday nights.
North Nashville (& other locations)
Slim & Husky’s has created a new category of restaurant with the invention of the pizza beeria instead of a mere pizzeria. Concentrating on craft beers and eminently customizable pies, lines frequently stretch out the door. By the time your pizza has made a quick pass through the conveyor oven, you should be ready for a second beer.
Most people’s experience with Mangia Nashville has been attending one of its weekend multi-course Italian dinner extravaganzas, complete with conga lines snaking through the dining room between courses and The Godfather playing on the restaurant's televisions. However, during the day and on weeknights, Mangia operates as a unique focacceria, serving sandwiches on a novel black-pizza-crust-like bread made using activated charcoal.
Built around a precious little wood-burning oven, Bella Nashville is one of the best dining options among many at the Nashville Farmers Market. Its talented pizzaiolos take advantage of the fresh local produce of the market to create gourmet pies that are sized for one diner. With daily specials and a tight menu of regular recipes, Bella is a great place for a group to order the whole menu and share slices.