Pizza addiction is a legit phenomenon, and objectively speaking, no city's been hit harder by the pizza epidemic than NYC. But, since we're already guilty of enabling said addiction, we figured we'd double down and bring you the 11 best pie-slinging spots in Spike Lee's favorite borough: Brooklyn. Time to broaden your horizons (along with your waistline).
The coal-fired pies at this Grimaldi's offshoot come covered with everything from fennel sausage and homemade meatballs to white truffle oil and buffalo mozzarella, but if you're intimidated by all the topping options (topptions?), keeping it simple with the Margherita is always a win.
This isn’t the place to order a plain cheese slice: pile the buttery and slightly charred crust sky high with toppings like the chef’s signature fior di latte, spicy sausage, smoked pancetta, clams, and brussels. Maybe not all at once, though -- unless you feel like being the greatest.
Meanwhile, this is the place to order a plain cheese slice, especially if it's of the white pizza variety. Of course, if you're open to the idea of toppings (and you should be), you can adorn your cheesy slice (or pie) with anything from bacon and sausage to pickled veggies and Calabrian chili.
One of the best things about this place is, since they're on the lighter, crispier side, you can eat an entire pizza and not feel too upset about it. And thanks to combos like artichoke and pancetta, cremini and fennel sausage, and sopressata picante with honey, you definitely will eat an entire pizza by yourself.
Yes, you’ve been hearing about this no-frills place on Avenue J forever, and yes, the line to get inside is borderline outrageous, but Di Fara's been turning out insanely delicious pies and slices for more than half a century, both round and square, and the quality's remained unchanged. If you still need convincing, consider this: Anthony Bourdain, the anti-Fieri himself, proclaimed this Midwood spot to be "the best of the best."
Buddy the Elf can leave his maple syrup stash at home, because the Canadian-bacon and gouda-covered Monte Cristo pie here comes with a drizzle of the sweet & sticky stuff on top. If that's a little too out-there for you, there's always the Arugula Shmoogula, the Ricotta Be Kiddin' Me, or the Hellboy -- that last one's not a pun, it's just a really good classic pizza.
The hardest decision you'll make here is whether to go with a Round or Grandma crust (we’ll help you out: go Grandma). After that, the rest is gravy -- or Gorgonzola, soppressata, truffle oil, or any of the other specialty toppings on offer, all of which come with a drone delivery option, by the way. Welcome to the future.
It’s a little out of the way -- like, "several stops and a subway transfer" out of the way -- but this Bensonhurst icon serves the epitome of what a Sicilian pizza should be. You can order by the slice or by the tray, and while it’s definitely a “would you like some cheese with your sauce” situation, don’t let that intimidate you: if you don’t get it all over your face, you’re doing it wrong.
Sure, it looks like a crack den from the outside, but the backyard charm and communal tables at this legendary spot almost make its punny-named pies (like the “Cheesus Chrust” and “Speckenwolf”) taste better. Not that they have to, though, because said pies are covered in killer toppings like pork sausage, alpine cheese, and speck.
This is the pizza equivalent of Painting with a Twist: you get a blank canvas (in this case, the pizza) and you “paint” it yourself by picking from a range of rotating toppings. Also, it’s BYOB and you’ll probably leave with a stained shirt. See? It’s totally the same... except you end up with an edible masterpiece at the end, instead of a warped piece of outsider art.
When a restaurant abandons quaint digs for a bigger setup, it runs the risk of losing its charm. That’s hardly the case with Franny’s, which now serves its pies on Flatbush in between rows of firewood, which, as we all know, is the epitome of charm. According to just about everyone who's ever been here, your go-to move is the clam pie with chile and parsley -- and who are we to argue, especially when it’s true?
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Liz Newman is a freelance writer for Thrillist and will buy you a slice from one of these fine establishments if you don’t tell anyone she did Painting with a Twist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @lizn813.
1. Juliana's19 Old Fulton St, Brooklyn
2. Motorino Pizza139 Broadway, Brooklyn
3. Best Pizza33 Havemeyer St, New York
4. Barboncino781 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn
5. Di Fara Pizza1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn
6. Paulie Gee’s60 Greenpoint Ave, Brooklyn
7. Williamsburg Pizza265 Union Ave, Brooklyn
8. L&B Spumoni Gardens2725 86th St, Brooklyn
9. Roberta's Pizza261 Moore St, Brooklyn
10. Lucali575 Henry St, Brooklyn
11. Franny's348 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn
It’s not a coincidence that Juliana’s is next door to the famed Grimaldi’s -- Patsy Grimaldi opened the Dumbo pizzeria in 2012, 14 years after he sold Grimaldi’s to a new owner and entered a legendary pizza feud. Long story short, Juliana’s thin-crust pies should be on your bucket list of New York pizza. Aside from the classics (margherita, marinara, and white pizza), there are a few specials, like the tomato-free pie topped with mozzarella, scamorza cheese, pancetta, scallions, and white truffles. The wait is the longest on the weekend, but it isn’t as tourist-heavy as other joints (ahem, Grimaldi’s).
Motorino's Brooklyn outpost is a Williamsburg staple, slinging excellent Neapolitan pies, from the classic margherita to more adventurous options like gorgonzola with speck and onions. The pies are supplemented with salads, antipasti, cheese, and salumi to round out an Italian menu rich in classics as well as quality modern takes.
Opened by Roberta's alum Frank Pinello, Best Pizza is paper-plating thin-crust and grandma-style pies with toppings like LaFrieda shortrib/brisket meatballs, chicken, anchovies, and bacon. Sometimes, however, simplicity is key, so we recommend giving the plain white slice a try as well. Best Pizza utilizes a century-old wood-burning oven, but the joint's other accents are decidedly no-frills -- the walls are covered in paper plates that are adorned with crazy drawings by customers, and the space in general is very reminiscent of an old-school pizza shop.
Supplying light, crispy pizza, this Crown Heights spot serves inventive brick-oven creations topped with goodies like artichoke, smoked pancetta, and clams. Dessert-like pies -- like sweet apple, ricotta, and brown sugar pizza , and the banana Nutella calzone -- dominate Barboncino's popular brunch menu.
You'll have to brave a long line, but it's more than worth it for Dom DeMarco's handmade pies, lauded by many as the best in New York, and featuring a sauce made with simple San Marzanos; a sprinkling DeMarco's blend of Grana Padano, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses; and a careful snipping of fresh basil across the top.
In the dog-eat-dog world of New York pizzerias, Greenpoint’s Paulie Gee’s ranks pretty high. The Neapolitan-style pies include classic ones topped with tomatoes, arugula, and Parmigiano reggiano and more experimental takes like the Greenpoint Benedict topped with mozzarella, baby spinach, Canadian bacon, and Hollandaise sauce. There’s vegan pizza that makes a strong case for dairy-free eating, plus salads and soups to start. The barn-like interior makes it feel extra rustic and cozy.
Williamsburg Pizza is a popular counter-serve joint that doles out Brooklyn slices and Grandma squares, plus some of the shiniest, crustiest, and steaming hot garlic knots in the city. Toppings vary from house-made mozzarella and Italian sausage to crimini mushrooms and white truffle oil. The no-frills spot is perfect for when you're looking for a late-night slice, or you just feel like ordering a pizza.
Far out in Bensonhurst is this iconic Italian restaurant that serves the epitome of what a Sicilian pizza should be. L&B Spumoni Gardens serves a full menu of classic Italian pastas and meat entrees, but you're really there for the plump, doughy squares of pizza topped with tart tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. You can order by the slice or by the tray, and if the weather's nice, definitely snag a seat outside at the red picnic tables.
Don’t be dissuaded by the gritty, graffiti-splattered cinder-block facade, Roberta’s is among New York’s most celebrated pizzerias, having made an international footprint (sauce print?) with visiting Europeans and local Bushwick loft-dwellers alike who endure long waits on nights and weekends for a table. Inside the red front door, you'll find a warm dining room and open kitchen where blistering discs of dough are pulled out of an Italian-made wood-burning oven and given names like Speckenwolf (mozzarella, crispy speck, cremini mushroom, red onion, oregano) and Millennium Falco (parmesan, pork sausage, red onion). The final product is Neapolitan-like in taste and structure, and since you probably won't have any leftovers, do yourself one last favor and buy a loaf of bread from the on-site bakery on your way out.
If you’re eating at Lucali, you’re eating one of two things: pizza or calzone, both of which are made with a doughy-but-thin crust that offers just the right amount of char. Lucali's pizzas are ingredient-driven and come with the toppings of your choice (be sure to get the slightly spicy pepperoni). The Carroll Gardens spot is BYOB, cash-only, and usually has long waits but if you're in the market for some of the best pizza in New York, you're in the right place.
Franny's, a family-style restaurant, serves up pizzas made from sustainable, local ingredients that are Neapolitan in their balance and simplicity. The pies are cooked in two enormous wood-burning ovens that produce a perfect char on the crust, and all toppings are considered on a seasonal basis & added with a minimalistic touch. Appetizers and pasta dishes sprinkle the menu, but the pizzas are what Franny's has gained such a strong reputation for. Order one at the bar or from one of the cozy wooden tables in the dining area.