Food & Drink

The Best Pizza in New York City

Published On 05/11/2016 Published On 05/11/2016
prince street pizza
Cole Saladino/Thrillist
Courtesy of Speedy Romeo

Speedy Romeo

Clinton Hill (& Lower East Side)

St. Louis style-pizza is unlike any other pizza you've ever had. It uses an ultra-thin, crispy crust made with yeast (it's not in any way made for folding), topped with the city's beloved Provel cheese (a processed blend of cheddar, provolone, and Swiss), and typically cut into squares. Speedy Romeo, the hip Clinton Hill/Bed-Stuy pizza joint that once served as the Brooklyn location of Cafe Grumpy on Girls, is probably the only place in New York where you can find it. There are also a number of other crazy wood oven pies, like a brunch-only lox pizza, and a pie made with Katz’s pastrami, smoked red kraut, fontina, and 1000 Island dressing on everything crust at the new LES location. Kind of stunt-y? Maybe, but they work. 

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Di Fara

Midwood

Dom DeMarco opened his Avenue J pizzeria in 1964, and to this day, the now 80-year-old makes every single pizza by hand, refusing to let anyone else do it (including his children, who also work in the restaurant). Using imported ingredients almost exclusively, Demarco’s pies come with an old-fashioned and simple sauce that’s probably the best in the city, made with San Marzano tomatoes and topped with a blend of Grana Padano, mozzarella, and parmesan, plus a touch of basil. The no-frills Midwood spot sees an almost constant line out the door, but if you care about pizza you’ll make the trek, and take the wait in stride.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Prince Street Pizza

Nolita

Before Emmy Squared won hearts and Instagram likes with its much-hyped Detroit-style square pizza, there was Prince Street Pizza, offering what is still one of the best square slices in the city. The Nolita pizza shop offers several kinds of Sicilian and Grandma slices, but the move is to order the Spicy Spring with fra diavolo, fresh mozzarella, and small, crispy pepperonis that curl up around the edges and fill with pools of grease -- and then order a vodka slice to go along with it.

Flickr/slice

Lucali

Carroll Gardens

If you’re eating at Lucali, you’re eating one of two things: pizza or calzone. There aren’t any other options on the menu, which is what makes it so great. Mark Iacono has perfected what he knows, offering doughy but thin crust with lots of char, topped with a fresh and tangy sauce, mozzarella, and the toppings of your choice (be sure to get the slightly spicy pepperoni). There’s a reason Beyoncé and Jay Z once skipped the Grammys to eat here.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Patsy's Pizzeria

East Harlem

The original Patsy’s opened on First Ave in 1933, and still offers the same big cheesy pies and slices without the pretense today. The menu lists plenty of speciality pies that are quite good, but your order here is simple: the original pie, which features a beautifully thin and soft crust, topped with a no-frills tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. While the prices aren’t as low as they were in 1933, a slice is still just $1.75, and a huge pie is only $12.

Flickr/garrettziegler

Motorino

Williamsburg (& East Village)

In addition to two NYC locations, Mathieu Palombino’s Motorino also has outposts in Manila, Singapore, and Hong Kong. This rapid expansion is unsurprising, given the consistently great quality of Motorino's Neapolitan-style pies (which it was doing before the style’s surge in popularity in NYC). There are a number of inventive pies here -- even the plain margarita touts a perfectly tangy San Marzano sauce with huge dollops of fior di latte and pecorino -- but the star is the Brussels sprout pizza (fret not, the leafy vegetable is accompanied by smoked pancetta).

Totonno's

Coney Island

Coney Island’s beloved Totonno’s is another one of New York’s oldest pizzerias, and a veritable institution. The owner did his time at Lombardi’s before opening his own spot in 1924, and the business has since been through a lot (multiple fires, a five-month shutdown after Sandy). But Totonno’s stands strong today, still making one of the city’s best margherita pies with a thin, charred crust, a sweet but not too-sweet tomato sauce, and slices of melty, fresh mozzarella.

Courtesy of Deidre Schoo

Roberta's

Bushwick

Bushwick darling Roberta’s nails the perfect balance of being at once too cool and inviting. You’ll wait forever to try the Brooklyn-Neapolitan-style pies adored by locals and the Clintons alike, and drinking in the backyard Tiki bar while waiting to eat only heightens the allure, but there’s nothing exclusive or pretentious about the place. Take a seat at a wooden picnic table (inside or outside) and enjoy the crown jewel: the Speckenwolf, made with house-made mozzarella, thin slices of salty speck, and mushrooms.

Joe & Pat’s

Castleton Corners

If you live in Staten Island, you eat your pizza at Joe & Pat's. This family-run pizzeria has been open since 1960, and is a favorite among locals, largely because of its near-perfect thin-crust pie, loaded with a tangy sauce and large globs of cheese. The margarita is always a reliable choice (by the pie or slice), but the vodka pizza can’t be missed. It’s worth the trip, no matter what borough you live in.

Nick Krueck/Thrillist

Joe's Pizza

West Village (& other locations)

When it comes to a regular, fast slice it’s hard to beat Joe’s. Still owned and operated by Joe Pozzuoli, who opened the original West Village location in 1975, Joe’s now has two other outposts -- both on busy streets (14th St in the East Village/Union Square and Bedford Ave in Williamsburg), much to the delight of those seeking a 2am slice. Though it’s certainly a tourist attraction, it’s hard to find a regular cheese slice that compares. If anything is true New York pizza, it’s Joe’s.

Sam's

Cobble Hill

While the rest of Brooklyn moves rapidly in the direction of million dollar shoebox apartments and high-end restaurants in converted garages, Sam’s on Court St remains unchanged. An old-school joint filled with red leather booths and red checkered table cloths, Sam’s offers simple but delicious coal-fired pizza with a nice crispy crust; though the real star is Louis, son of owner Mario Migliaccio, who for years was the head waiter/main source of biting humor, and now serves as the man-in-charge.

Flickr/garrettziegler

Paulie Gee's

Greenpoint

Inside a cabin-like room with enough rustic wood finishings to fill a Pinterest board, you’ll find some of the city’s most inventive Neapolitan-style pies, like the Hometown Brisket with chunks of Hometown Bar-B-Que's beloved meat, and the sweet-and-savory Cherry Jones with mozzarella, gorgonzola, prosciutto, dried cherries, and honey. New Yorkers are so taken with the Greenpoint pizzeria that it has plans to expand to Baltimore, Miami, and Columbus.

Mario's

Belmont

Mario Migliucci once said no to having a scene from The Godfather filmed in his “family friendly” pizzeria in the Bronx. Forty years later, after his death, his son allowed a scene from The Sopranos to be filmed in the restaurant, but only because it wasn’t violent. Mario’s doesn’t consider itself a pizza place -- it’s a classic-red-sauce Italian joint boasting the likes of veal Parm and manicotti. You won’t even find pizza listed on the menu, and if you don’t ask for a large size when ordering it, you’ll get a small, appetizer-size pie. But the pizza at Mario’s is worth the semi-secret ordering maneuver, with a chewy charred crust and the right amount of sauce and cheese (opt for the sausage pie and you won’t be disappointed).

Juliana's Pizza

Juliana's

Dumbo

Patsy Grimaldi’s Juliana’s -- a rival of the adjacent Grimaldi's, which he no longer owns -- consistently wins accolades for its pies, which in appearance would seem nearly identical to its rival, but in taste offer something entirely different. Juliana’s pizza is light and airy, with fresh and rich flavors from its sauce and cheese. It also helps that the line isn’t nearly as long.

L&B Spumoni Gardens

Gravesend

The square-slice gold standard, L&B’s Sicilian is certainly something to check off your NYC dining bucket list. It’s a wonderfully plump, doughy square with plenty of fresh mozzarella and a tart tomato sauce on top of that (accompanied by a sprinkle of pecorino), striking the perfect balance of sweet and tart flavor. It’s best enjoyed outside at one of L&B’s red picnic tables. 

Flickr/garrettziegler

Sottocasa

Boerum Hill

This friendly neighborhood spot seems to achieve the impossible: a crust that’s not too thick and not too thin, with just the perfect amount of char. There’s a bevy of options to choose from, but if you come Friday-Sunday, always get the burrata (it’s only offered then), any other night, go with the Laura: mozzarella, mascarpone, rosemary, and bacon-like speck.

Denino's

Port Richmond

Denino’s is a true Staten Island staple -- it’s been around since the 1930s, and the street it’s located on is even named after it’s founder. The go-to order here is the Garbage Pie, a meat-heavy number topped with sausage, meatballs, pepperoni, mushrooms, and onions. If you’re a Denino’s regular, you know to order it well-done.

Franny's

Franny's

Park Slope

In true Park Slopian fashion, the Neapolitan pizza at Franny’s is made using only locally grown ingredients, accompanied by a nice, doughy crust riddled with beautiful char bubbles. The clam pie here is easily one of the best in the city -- a creamy and salty number made with cream sauce, chilies, parsley, and a hefty serving of clams.

Flickr/garrettziegler

Zero Otto Nove

Belmont

Zero Otto Nove has several outposts (including Manhattan and Armonk) but the original Arthur Ave location will always reign supreme. Roberto Paciullo’s Salerno-style pies are some of the most unique the city has to offer -- somewhat similar to Neapolitan, but crispier and less fluffy -- like the sweet and savory La Riccardo with butternut squash puree, smoked mozzarella, and spicy pancetta.

Drew Swantak/Thrillist

Best Pizza

Williamsburg

Jokes about the name's poor SEO aside, this Williamsburg pizza shop from Roberta's alum Frank Pinello delivers with a few different pie options and heroes in a largely standing room-only storefront (it guarantees no long waits for a table!). The no-frills shop has one of the best white pies in the city, topped with caramelized onions, Parmesan, and sesame seeds. 

Flickr/manggy

Co.

Chelsea

Sullivan St. Bakery’s Jim Lahey first experimented with pizza at the bakery, offering interesting focaccia-like mini-pizzas that are still a popular order -- but it’s at the pizza-devoted Co., opened in 2009, where his true pizza prowess shines. The crust at Co. is super thin and crunchy, with lots of good char, and menu is filled with elevated options like the Shiitake, the Meatball, and the Popeye with three cheeses, spinach, black pepper, and garlic.

Jill Futter

Emily

Clinton Hill

Emily and Matt Hyland know a thing or two about a good burger, but that shouldn't distract you from the fact that Emily is first and foremost a pizza place. While you should absolutely go ahead and order the burger, it should serve as a side to your pizza (that's a normal thing to do, right?). Creative and colorful pies like the Lady Girl (ricotta, havarti, mushrooms, pickled chili) and the North Maple (havarti, mozzarella, Benton’s bacon, pecans, maple syrup) set Emily apart from the modern-day pizza shop competition. Given all the hype around the duo's new Williamsburg spin-off focusing on Detroit-style squares, there's no question the Hylands will be blessing New Yorkers with their pizza for a long while.

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1. Speedy Romeo 376 Classon Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

This Clinton Hill Italian (with a second location on the Lower East Side) is one of the only places in New York that serves authentic St. Louis-style pizza. Different from the Neapolitan style, St. Louis pies are made with an ultra-thin, cracker-like crust and topped with white Provel cheese. Speedy Romeo's signature version, The Saint Louie, comes with an added topping of Italian sausage, pepperoni, and pickled chilis. If you aren't one for processed cheese, don't worry, the menu features more typical Italian pies with mozzarella, ricotta, and pecorino. Located in a 100-year-old bar-turned-liquor store-turned-auto shop, the space is decked out with retro decor that feels like an ode to its Brooklyn past.

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2. Di Fara Pizza 1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn, NY 11230

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.

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3. Prince Street Pizza 27 Prince St, New York, NY 10012 (Soho)

This popular Nolita pizza shop specializes in square pizzas and New York-style pies. Available by the slice or as a whole pie, all of the pizzas are named after streets in SoHo. The signature is hands down the Spicy Spring, a square pie topped with spicy fra diavolo tomato sauce, mozzarella, and crispy pepperonis. The space is tiny and aside from a few counters, there isn't much seating so your best bet is to eat your slice on the street like a true New Yorker.

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4. Lucali 575 Henry St, Brooklyn, NY 11231 (Carroll Gardens)

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.

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5. Patsy's Pizza 2287 1st Ave, New York, NY 10035 (Harlem)

As evidenced by the continual crowds at its various locations across the city, Patsy's is a New York institution. The original location opened in Harlem in 1933, and it still serves the same big cheesy pies without the pretense. The menu lists plenty of speciality pies, but the go-to order is the original made with a thin and soft crust and topped with no-frills tomato sauce and mozzarella. The big portions and ample seating make Patsy's great for groups.

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6. Motorino Pizza 139 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211

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.

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7. Totonno's Pizzeria Napolitano 1524 Neptune Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224

Coney Island’s beloved Totonno’s is another one of New York’s oldest pizzerias. The owner did his time at Lombardi’s before opening his own spot in 1924, and the business has since been through a lot (multiple fires, a five-month shutdown after Sandy). But Totonno’s stands strong today and is still making one of the city’s best margherita pies with a thin, charred crust, a sweet but not too-sweet tomato sauce, and slices of melty, fresh mozzarella. The place is seriously old school with checkered floors and framed photos covering the walls.

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8. Roberta's Pizza 261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY 11206 (Bushwick)

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.

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9. Joe & Pat's 1758 Victory Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10314

Open since 1960, this family-run pizzeria in Staten Island is a neighborhood favorite for its near-perfect thin-crust pizza. At night, the place is packed with families getting their pizza fix and during the day, it's equally crowded with nearby workers taking their slices to go. The pizza dough is made from a secret family recipe, and though the margherita is always a reliable choice, the vodka pizza is a crowd favorite. In case pizza doesn't cut it for you, Joe & Pat's also serves Italian-American staples like stuffed shells, veal parmesan, and baked ziti.

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10. Joe's Pizza 7 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014 (Greenwich Village)

Joe's Pizza is the epitome of an NYC slice joint. The West Village original has been doling out perfectly simple slices of New York and Sicilian-style pies since 1975. The process is simple: wait in line, pay for a slice, fold it in half, and eat it while standing.

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11. Sam's 238 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11201 (Cobble Hill)

This red sauce Italian joint in Cobble Hill has remain unchanged since opening in 1930. The basement space is outfitted with red checkered tablecloths and red leather booths, aka it's the perfect place to enjoy brick-oven pizza made with a thick-for-New-York crust and a liberal amount of sauce and cheese. The menu also includes basic Italian dishes like spaghetti with meatballs, baked clams, and lasagna. The real star of the place is Louis, the son of the original owner who mans the dining room with a gruff and no-nonsense manner.

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12. Paulie Gee’s 60 Greenpoint Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222

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.

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13. Mario's Restaurant 2342 Arthur Ave, Bronx, NY 10458 (Bronx)

Expect nothing less than an authentic Italian-American experience at this red-sauce joint that's been in business for more than 90 years. The Arthur Ave spot focuses on classics like linguine and clams, chicken parm, and ossu buco, but you'd be remiss if you didn't order the margherita pizza. It's hidden under the appetizer section on the menu, so make sure you ask for it in a large unless you want a tiny starter pie. In case you needed more proof that Mario's is legit, here's some trivia: a scene from The Sopranos was filmed inside.

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14. Juliana's 19 Old Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

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).

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15. L&B Spumoni Gardens 2725 86th St, Brooklyn, NY 11223

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.

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16. Sottocasa Pizzeria 298 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201

This friendly neighborhood spot in Boerum Hill seems to achieve the impossible: a crust that’s not too thick and not too thin with just the perfect amount of char. There’s a bevy of pizza picks to choose from in addition to antipastos and red sauce classics, which can and should be paired with a glass of wine from the extensive Italian selection. The space is clean and modern with white brick walls and dark metal furniture.

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17. Denino's Pizzeria & Tavern 524 Port Richmond Ave, Staten Island, NY 10302

Staten Island has more than its fair share of phenomenal pizza spots, but Denino’s is by far the most destination-worthy. You'll know you're in the right place because the street is named after founder Carlos Denino. The thin-crust pizza comes with a variety of toppings (buffalo wings, clams, fried shrimp), but the move is to order the so-called Garbage Pie, which is topped with the trifecta of sausage, meatballs and pepperoni, plus mushrooms and onions. The menu also includes heroes and greasy-good appetizers like fried calamari and mozzarella sticks.

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18. Franny's 348 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

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.

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19. Zero Otto Nove 2357 Arthur Ave, Bronx, NY 10458 (Bronx)

Zero Otto Nove, which translates to 089, has several outposts (including Manhattan and Armonk) but the original Arthur Ave location will always reign supreme. Roberto Paciullo’s Salerno-style pies are some of the most unique the city has to offer -- somewhat similar to Neapolitan, but crispier, less fluffy, and without the soupy center. The dining room is cavernous and the trattoria décor a bit kitschy, but the pies are so outstanding that nothing else matters.

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20. Best Pizza 33 Havemeyer St, New York, NY 11211

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.

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21. Co. 230 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001 (Chelsea)

This upscale Chelsea spot, started by Sullivan St. Bakery's Jim Lahey, is a 54-seat pizzeria serving radical pies that are a far cry from the tomato sauce & mozzarella-clad classics. This is not to say the spot doesn't feature some of your favorites, but it's better to arrive with a sense of adventure. You'll come across unexpected ingredients like quail eggs, mint, and bratwurst atop Co.'s wood-fire oven pies. Jim Lahey obviously knows his bread, so this is not your average pizza crust, either; it’s light without being flimsy, a little bit crunchy, and charred in all the right places.

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22. Emily 919 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11238

This cozy Clinton Hill spot was founded by two foodies who sparked a relationship in college over a shared pizza. Today, they're serving up an overwhelming selection of creative pies in their intimate restaurant. In addition to pizza -- split between red and white on the menu -- Emily is known for the critically-acclaimed Emmy Burger, featuring a dry-aged patty topped with rich cheddar, sweet caramelized onions, and a buffalo-like sauce inside of a pretzel bun. A limited amount of burgers is served every night, but luckily, they're available in (near-unlimited) amounts during Sunday lunch service.

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