The 28 American Pizza Joints You Need to Try Right Now
Where to grab a slice—or, let’s be honest, a whole pie.
There’s a reason everyone loves the pizza they grew up with. The best pizzerias are one-of-kind. They serve pizzas you can spot on Instagram without a location tag. They have specific flavors and textures that don’t exist in the same form anywhere else in the world. They’re the originator of a style or the place that mastered it. They have stories behind them that inspire and spaces inside that transport you. And above all, they have incredibly passionate people who have put their life into making a place where magic can happen with a little flour, sauce, and heat.
Pizza—even great pizza—is subjective. You may like a certain pizza more, but we don’t think you’ll find many pizzerias better than the following list. These 28 spots are all very different, but each of them can make one helluva pie.
Every town in America seems to have a popular neighborhood pizza place with classic arcade games, but none of them serve pizza as absurdly great as Portland legend, Apizza Scholls. Scholl’s serves thin crust, but it’s definitely not New York style. The ends are puffier and more flavorful, the bottom is sturdier, and there’s more cheese than you’d expect on such a dialed-in pie. Master bread baker Brian Spangler has been a pizza rock star for more than 15 years. His plain pies are killer on their own, but his toppings are fantastic, too—especially the sausage. Spangler’s also a man who lives by a specific code: overloading ingredients ruins pizza. Oh, and that collection of vintage arcade games Spangler regularly rotates? That’s probably the best I’ve seen at any pizzeria as well.
While every Austin local has a favorite taco or barbecue place they will defend to the death as “the absolute best,” there is no such debate when it comes to Bufalina. This high-end, pizza-driven establishment is universally beloved by anyone lucky enough to taste their Neapolitan-style creations. The delicate, expertly formed pies here are a love letter to all the possibilities that the combination of dough and ingredients can achieve. The complex show of flavors, like the ones in the Garden Pie (which contains coconut milk, squash, corn, fennel hot sauce, and various herbs), will elevate a guilty pleasure to fine cuisine.
New York, New York
Perhaps the ultimate pilgrimage for anyone interested in NYC pizza lore, this old-school shop dates back to 1965, when Italian immigrant Domenico DeMarco (“Dom”) opened what would become one of Brooklyn’s most legendary pizza joints. A taste of Di Fara’s pizza is served by the basic slice, but you’ll want to pile on imported Italian ingredients like soppressata, prosciutto, and broccoli rabe. The shop’s lauded pizzaiolo recently passed away after decades at the helm of this iconic shop, but the top-notch pizza that comes thanks to his excellent recipes helps to carry on his legacy.
Brandon Pettit—already a pizzeria proprietor of Delancey, one of Seattle’s most beloved spots of fire-kissed pie—missed the Jersey pies of his youth. So Pettit did what any dough-obsessed pizzaiolo would do: recreate the red-lamped and moody pizza joint of his memories into a carefully crafted dive that pays homage to the Jersey pizza taverns he remembers. At his Capitol Hill spot, find thick Sicilian-style encrusted with caramelized cheese, zippy red sauce, locally sourced toppings, and maximum char. Round pizzas, like the understated yet perfect White Pie, also prevail here. Don’t skip a big pile of shareable salad or Actual Garlic Knots. And there are Negronis on-tap, just saying.
Eleventh Street Pizza is a creation of convenience from restaurateur and chef David Foulqiuer, who opened up a to-go shop when his old restaurant, Fooq’s, suffered a pandemic-induced closure. The large, Brooklyn-style pies became an instant sensation, mixing a masterful, spicy sauce with a crust that strikes the perfect blend of crispy and doughy. It’s enough to support the pizza, but not so much to weigh it down. There’s also traditional Sicilian pizza, where thick pan-cooked slices are topped with onions, tomatoes, herbs, and no cheese. In a city where it’s often impossible to separate hype from the real deal, Eleventh Street delivers, showing us all that sometimes when a project ends, it can lead to something greater.
On a quiet street in Berkeley, the one and only employee of Emilia’s Pizzeria quietly serves the best pizza in California. Emilia’s can best be described as “coal oven-esque,” even though owner Keith Freilich is cooking in a gas oven that runs much hotter than most. His pizza is a nod to the classic joints Freilich worked at back in New York like Grimaldi’s, but the crust is more supple and flavorful, and his blend of fresh and aged cheeses is more refined. It doesn’t taste like the classics it descended from—it actually tastes much better. Emilia’s has a tiny footprint and there's only room for one table in the place, so it’s primarily a takeout operation.
San Francisco, California
The original Flour + Water restaurant has great Neapolitan pies and even better pasta, but when Thomas McNaughton made the decision to open a pizzeria, he knew he had to change things up. True Neapolitan doesn’t travel well. You can set a timer when it comes out of the oven and you’re lucky if it survives for five minutes. This incarnation of Flour + Water keeps McNaughton’s notoriously high standards for ingredients, but drops the leopard spots in favor of bulbous, bready crust that’s built for the long haul. Though pizza (red and white) is the reason you’re likely going to this pizzeria, there are other tasty things on the menu, including mozzarella sticks that are well-seasoned and gooey and just crispy enough on the outside, a couple of salads, and soft serve for which you definitely need to save room.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Recently, Vegas has become a pizza scene that is worthy of some of the heaviest-hitting pizza cities in the country. It can’t all be credited to lifelong pizzaiolo Vincent Rotolo and his shop Good Pie, but it certainly changed the game. What started as a tiny pizza shop in Pawn Plaza in early 2018, has grown into its very own sit-down restaurant and bar with a walk-up window serving hot slices in the extremely happening Arts District. Good Pie specializes in a lot of different pizza styles, from the giant foldable triangles of its Brooklyn style to three distinctly different square pies—the thin and chewy Grandma, the fluffy-but-not-too-thick Sicilian (it is the Goldilocks of the three square styles), and the densely springy Detroit with its caramelized cheese crust.
Hazel Park, Michigan
Loui’s lives in the shadows of Buddy’s, the progenitor of Detroit style pizza, the vaguely Sicilian pizza that’s currently popping up around the nation. The pizzas are made in aluminum pans with Wisconsin brick cheese that goes all the way to the edge. The sauce goes on the very top, but you’ll really know it’s Detroit when you see the gloriously burnt, caramelized edges. You can argue over which place has better squares, but Buddy can't hold a carburetor to Loui’s experience. What seems like thousands of bottles that once held Chianti adorn the cavernous bar with kitschy lights and a staff that seems like it’s been there for decades serving an uninhibited variety Detroit style. There’s more cheese, more grease, and a decidedly un-organic sauce that somehow makes the rest of the flavors pop more.
Talk to pizza people about the chef they’re most excited about and Sarah Minnick’s name is guaranteed to come up. Minnick is the co-owner of Lovely’s 50/50, a pizzeria that quickly became a Portland institution. Lovely’s pies aren’t just seasonal, they’re completely dependent on what she liked at the farmer’s market that week. That means ingredients and flavors you’ve never had on a pizza before like roasted kohlrabi, apricot, and even marigold petals, along with a revolving blend of aged, funky cheeses. You haven’t had anything like her rustic dough, either. It’s a naturally leavened, whole grain variety that’s as hearty and wheaty as pizza gets. After dinner, Lovely’s 50/50 has one more trick up its sleeve. The other half of the 50/50 is ice cream made from the same organic, farm-fresh ingredients Minnick uses in her pizza.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Founder Peyton Smith set out to bring Neapolitan pizza to the barbecue-crazed denizens of North Carolina. Smith spent years perfecting his craft out of a wood-fired oven mount on a trainer. Today, the 2022 James Beard Semifinalist is lauded for his pies topped with crushed tomatoes, a pinch of salt, and a drizzle of premium olive oil, the way that Jupiter intended. After a fleeting pass through an infernal 900-degree oven, Mission Pizza’s pies emerge with a crust that is improbably fluffy and crispy at the same time, with the perfect amount of charred “leopard spots” on the bottom. Dressed with both traditional and inventive toppings, it’s enough to make a Carolinian eschew smoked pork—at least for a meal or two.
Los Angeles, California
More than 15 years ago, Nancy Silverton unlocked the secret to making great pizza in Los Angeles. As the founder of LaBrea Bakery and the woman who changed the way Americans view a baguette, Silverton developed a dough recipe based on her favorite bread and then put the best ingredients she could find on top of it. Mozza has a true baker’s crust that uses a mix of bread and rye flours and some barley malt to give a slight sweetness to the puffy crust. And not everyone can raid LA’s farmer’s markets for squash blossoms or knows which nooks and crannies of Italy to poke around to find the best olive oil of the season. In the years since Mozza opened, Silverton has gained even more acclaim as one of the country’s best chefs. But beyond a few weak attempts in Los Angeles, nobody else has tried to copy her signature style. Maybe it’s a sign of respect, but more likely they just can’t. Nancy’s that good.
Fun fact: Over 90% of America’s—and one third of the world’s—canned tomatoes come from the farms around Sacramento. And One Speed is the realization of that potential. This unassuming bicycle-themed pizza restaurant in East Sacramento cranks out pies that not only stand above anything in the Bay Area, they could go toe-to-toe with any in New York City. One Speed’s menu changes by what’s in season at surrounding farms, a very California take on pizza making that harkens back to the old world. The New Jersey Tomato pie with soppressata salami, herbed mozzarella, parmesan, crushed tomatoes, basil, and garlic oil tastes like a dinner scene in a mob movie.
New Haven, Connecticut
Is it cheating to combine two different places? Perhaps. But Pepe’s and Sally’s are at the very top of pizzerias in their class, legends that have served oblong, chewy coal oven New Haven apizza for a combined 175 years. They’re also a block away from each other and even descended from the same family. Of course, the big counter to that argument is that the two spots excel at radically different pies. Pepe’s white clam pizza is legendary. The definitive blend of grated romano cheese, fresh garlic, olive oil, and parsley perfectly highlight the fresh clams in an absurdly simple fashion. But Sally’s tomato pie is a beautiful mix of tangy canned tomatoes with a dusting Pecorino Romano and fresh herbs. It highlights the flakey char, which is more present at Sally’s. So if they’re not actually the same, should they really be listed together? Eat them back to back for what could possibly be the best pizza night of your life and thank us later.
There’s classic deep dish like Lou Malnati’s, there’s stuffed pizza like Giordano’s, and there’s pan, like Pequod’s. When we’re really craving a gut bomb, Pequod’s is the nuclear option. This OG deep dish slinger serves up buttery pies loaded down with savory toppings and finished with its signature caramelized crust. Pan pizza pioneer and legendary character Burt Katz founded Pequod’s before he later opened his own place (Burt’s, of course), but since his passing in 2016, Pequod’s seems to be the place where his legacy remains intact. The shop in Lincoln Park has the goods, but visiting the original Morton Grove location is an immersive experience. It’s like you're in someone's basement-turned-bar that happens to serve one of the most soulful, over the top dishes of all-time. It all feels very Chicago and very Burt, and that’s a great combo.
When Pizza Brain opened in 2012, it was touted as the first Pizza Museum. There is real history in Brian Dwyer’s massive collection of memorabilia, but more than that, it was a reminder how much fun pizza is and how it’s intrinsically tied to communities and pop culture. All the toys and records and classic photos are still there, but customers aren’t there because of the past, but for the innovative pizza of today. The shop serves “American pizza” with a golden brown crust from a brick oven. A playful, seasonal menu features bánh mì pies, lamb curry, and low country boil–themed pizzas with andouille sausage, shrimp, pureed potatoes, and sweet corn. These don’t feel like gimmicks though, partly because the crew is talented and partly because the intention behind it is so pure. Pizza Brain has been a constant for Philly’s pizza landscape even as the city seems to have more options than ever before.
Los Angeles, California
Daniele Uditi grew up in an artisan bread baking family and worked at one of the very best pizzerias in Italy. To some, that may be a dream, but he found the rigid Neapolitan codes restrictive. So when he moved across the world to find a new life in Los Angeles, he threw the rules out the window and made something wholly original. On first glance, Pizzana may look like regular Neapolitan, but lift up a slice and you’ll notice there isn’t anything soupy or floppy about this pizza. The crust is delicate, but it’s also more crisp and flavorful than a traditional Neapolitan pie thanks to a hand-mixed dough that is gently fermented and baked slightly longer at a lower oven temperature. Uditi also uses special cooling racks and serving plates that vent the bottom of the crust so the slices retain their structural integrity. Try the Neo-Margherita, a deconstructed version of the classic, or the Cacio e Pepe pie. Leave it to an Italian to reinvent Italian pizza.
Nearly 20 years ago, Pizzeria Bianco was already known as the best pizza in the country. If you’re Chris Bianco, a Jedi master of pizza, you reach out beyond Arizona and inspire a legion of burgeoning pizzaiolos around the country to make the best pie they possibly can. To really understand the pizza renaissance of the last decade, trek to where it all started. Bianco cultivates relationships with local farmers and producers who treat the land right and, in turn, provide the best ingredients. At Pizzeria Bianco, the tangy mozzarella cheese his team makes in-house works perfectly with his organic California tomatoes, which impeccably pair with the dough his brother makes from local wheat. If you have any doubts, try the Rosa, a rustic mix of Parmigiano Reggiano, red onion, rosemary, and Arizona pistachios.
Pizzicletta is a tiny pizzeria owned by Caleb Schiff, a former geologist who fell in love with Neapolitan pizza 10 years ago while biking across Italy. Today, he’s cooking up one of the most refined, naturally leavened pizzas in the country, on a bustling drag in Flagstaff. Pizzicletta is tiny, with room for just 15 hungry customers, and the menu is even smaller at just five pizzas, but there are enough add-ons on specials to keep it fresh. Schiff makes an amazing margherita, but get more adventurous with the Amore oi Mari—a salty, creamy base of marscapone and pecorino romano set the stage for peppery arugula, thinly sliced prosciutto, and a drizzle of Meyer lemon olive oil. Schiff installed a second oven in nearby Dark Sky Brewery, which features a great selection of beers on tap and five new pies on the menu.
Jersey City, New Jersey
Every night there’s a certain energy in the line on Grove Street in Jersey City. They’re all waiting to get into Razza, a charming neighborhood place that just so happens to serve the very best pizza in the country. Going to Razza always feels like an event, and that’s wholly due to the obsessive focus and dedication of chef-owner Dan Richer. He’s got a beautiful wood-burning oven in the dining room, but he’s not out to make cheffy, ornate pies. He just wants to make food that tastes as good as humanly possible, and in this case it’s pizza. Perfectly crisp with a tender, flavorful crumb and crave-worthy toppings, Razza’s pies exude the terroir of the tomatoes or the fresh ingredients from the farms Richer works with. He could tell you about the years of experimentation he went on to make that slice on your plate perfect. But he’s even happier if you’re simply loving the food.
New York, New York
Roberta’s burst onto the Bushwick dining scene and launched a local NYC pizza renaissance more than a decade ago—and it’s grown more beloved with every passing year. Choose from a roster of expertly crafted options like the Famous Original, swiped with red sauce, melty mozzarella, sharp Caciocavallo and parmesan, and a sprinkle of chili flakes and oregano, or design your own with twenty-some-odd toppings. Along with multiple Big Apple locations, they’ve also set up shop in Nashville, Houston, and Los Angeles.
This is when you forego both niceties and toppings and silently snarf the best cheese pizza in town. The gas and toll money is more than worth spending to reach this Eastie centenarian mainstay (forgo the Peabody outlet, unless you’re far afield and desperate), which started as an Eastie bakery in 1903 and serves barbecued lamb and steak skewers in addition to pizza. Bonus points go to the inimitable people-watching and the $5 glasses of house wine.
New York, New York
Owner and pizzaiolo Scarr Pimentel grew up in slice joints at the tip of Manhattan. As an adult, he learned the art of NYC pizza crafting at top spots like Joe’s, Artichoke, and Lombardi’s—so when he noticed the crumbling quality of slice joints in recent years, Pimentel read up on how to open his own place. Scarr’s utilizes only the finest ingredients for each pie that goes out the door, and it’s perhaps best known for the signature organic stone-milled flour that creates an airy, yielding vehicle for stringy cheese and flavor-packed pepperoni. With stained glass light fixtures, booths that are reminiscent of bowling alley seating, and other ’80s-inspired kitsch, Scarr’s serves up a refined back-to-basics slice alongside natural wine and hype-inducing merch.
Slim & Husky’s calls itself a “pizza-beeria,” and it does indeed serve up some great pies and cold craft drafts. But, more importantly, this chain started by three friends who graduated together from HBCU Tennessee State University targets underserved neighborhoods, often near colleges. The decor inspired by ’90s hip-hop-inspired menu features pizzas named Rony, Roni, Rone!, the PREAM (Pizza Rules Everything Around Me) and the vegan Nothin’ but a “V” Thang. In just four years, Slim & Husky’s has expanded to nine locations, including the only Black-owned restaurant in Nashville’s downtown tourist district. Giving back is critical to its mission, whether it’s employing neighborhood kids and offering scholarships to hardworking teenage employees or hosting local electoral debates at the shop.
Would you believe some of the best Neapolitan pizza in the entire country is made by a Jewish guy from Chicago? Spacca Napoli owner Jonathan Goldsmith is a social worker turned pizzaiolo who reveres Italian culture. He’s fluent to the point where he unconsciously drops Italian into everyday conversation, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn he trained with the masters of pizza in Naples. That’s most apparent in his dough. Every batch is hand-mixed at Spacca, so the pizza comes out as light and pillowy. The toppings are traditional, but he’s always experimenting with ingredients like ancient cheeses he picked up on research trips to Italy. Goldsmith never stops experimenting with his dough to see if he can reach new heights, and based on his track record, he probably will.
San Diego, California
Launched in 2016 by a bona fide pizza nerd, this cozy neighborhood spot situated in a former post office pays homage to beloved pies from pizzerias across the nation, like Roberta’s in Brooklyn, Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, and the food court in Costco (no joke!). Owner Matt Lyons finely tuned every detail of the operation to turn out the best possible pizza, including sourcing a specific brand of flour, splurging on a 1,500-pound wood-fired Renato oven, and installing a reverse osmosis system to make the water just right. Tribute gets bonus points for always coming up with extensive and delicious vegan and vegetarian options, and for special touches like serving Miller High Life in actual champagne bottles sitting inside a stainless steel ice bucket.
The true pie in Illinois is something much closer to Vito and Nick's, the city's first square cut, tavern-style pizza. Vito and Nick’s opened as a bar in 1923 and started slinging pie in 1946, and it hasn’t changed much since. The crust is firm enough to hold a healthy coating of mozzarella and way too much extra-fatty fennel sausage, but it’s more pliant and less crackery than the standard bar pie. Extra points for the ice cold Old Style beer blissful disinterest in the passage of time.
Jay Jerrier had great success with his VPN-certified Neapolitan pizzeria Cane Rosso, but when he wanted to do something less formal he brought New York transplant Lee Hunziger in to handle the oven. Zoli’s serves up top-shelf slices and Sicilians that don’t seem too far removed from the East Coast even though they’ve got shops in Texas. But Zoli’s really shines when it embraces its heritage and goes off script. Soppressata marmalades grace more than a few pies, while brisket and barbecue sauce get in the pen with pepperoni on the Meat Fight pizza. “Everything is bigger in Texas” may be a cliche at this point, but Zoli’s embraces it with specials like the double-crust Meatzilla, loaded with a shocking amount of pepperoni, meatballs, soppressata, and sausage. Sometimes “too much” is just the right amount, and Hunziger and Jerrier have paved their own lane in the pizza world—including their newest Dallas offshoot, Thunderbird Pies.
Writers: Mary Beth Abate, Meaghan Agnew, Daisy Baringer, Chris Chamberlain, Melissa Kravitz-Hoeffner, Matthew Meltzer, Molly Moltzen, Lance Roberts, and Nicole Rupersburg