Korean Pizza Takes Stuffed Crust To The Next Level
A little brother to the famed Lucali
It’s not easy to make a name for yourself in a pizza town like New York, especially when your brother is Mark Iacono -- the brains and the brawn behind legendary pizza shop, Lucali. But after doing time slinging pies beside his brother, Chris Iacono managed to secure a pizza kitchen of his own. You’ll find a plain pie smothered in fresh basil on the Lucali-modeled menu, and another loaded with toppings selected from a mounted chalkboard. Unlike Lucali, Giuseppina’s has beer and wine, and a far shorter wait for a table.
Perhaps the only good vegan pizza out there
Thanks to Brooklyn’s percolating vegan constituency, meat and animal by-product-free fare abounds in the borough. You can order a vegan pie at Paulie Gee’s, but you’ll wait for a table. The dairy-free slice at Screamers Pizza will do in a pinch, but its packaged nut cheese leaves a little something to be desired. Adelina’s hits the spot every time. Most pizzas on its veggie-forward menu can be made vegetarian or vegan. Carnivores can sink their teeth into the spicy sausage pizza, loaded with fresh mozzarella, grana padano, chili peppers, and free-range sausage -- all marvelously void of substitutes.
From Ivan Ramen alumni, pizza built on the merit of its remarkable crust
Corner Slice’s artisan wheat blend dough is fermented for 60 hours before it hits the oven, resulting in one of the most perfect pizza crusts in the city. Its proprietors, the trio behind Ivan Ramen keep the menu simple at their Gotham West Market location, offering just three pie varieties: tomato, cheese, and white. They’re perfect on their own, but you can jazz ‘em up with toppings like garlic, pickled chili, sopressata, and sausage.
A Bushwick watering hole serving up affordable wood-fired pies
Straddling the Bushwick/Bed-Stuy border on a humdrum block under the elevated subway tracks, Santa Panza betrays its exterior. Bartenders sling negronis, spritzes, and made-to order cocktails in a narrow space up front. A wood-burning pizza oven, where your mozzarella, speck, gorgonzola, and walnut-topped pies bake to perfection, anchors a roomier back dining room.
Cheap, classic slices in MSG territory
After pizza blogger Slice Harvester gave NY Pizza Suprema the only perfect score in his endeavor to rank every pizza joint in the city, pizza fans from all over turned their attention to the deceptively mediocre-looking, Madison Square Garden-facing spot. The slice shop isn’t doing anything fancy, it’s simply turning out cheap, authentic New York pizza. The crust is stiff enough for folding, and oily enough to stay moist. The sauce on the regular slice skews sweet, and the creamy, mellow mozzarella balances each bite.
A cozy local spot, slinging tasty brick-oven pies
The wood plank ceiling, exposed brick, dim lighting, and red drapery make Ops’ intimate interior feel like an Italian chalet. It’s a place to cuddle up and fortify après-ski, or at least après-subway. Sip a vermouth and soda while you peruse the pizza menu, which includes basics like marinara and margherita pies, and novelties like the cicero (“many onions,” sharp provolone, mozzarella, preserved tomatoes, oregano). Appetizer, salad, and cheese plate options change daily, and you should switch to your server’s natural wine recommendation once you’ve ordered.
Clinton Hill & LES
Gimmicky pies with St. Louis influence
St. Louis-style pizza is unlike any other. An ultra-thin, crispy crust made with yeast (unsuitable for folding) is 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 among the only places in New York you can find it.
Old-school pizza shop that’s worth waiting for
Since Dom DeMarco opened his Avenue J pizzeria in 1964, the octogenarian has made nearly every single pie by hand. Using mainly imported ingredients, Di Fara’s pies come slathered in an old-fashioned red sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes and a dense sprinkling of blended Grana Padano sifted with Mozzarella and Parmesan. Add a leaf or two of snipped basil for garnish, and a heavy drizzle of olive oil poured from a silver can, and you’ve got one of DeMarco’s famous, fresh creations. A line consistently snakes from the no-frills corner spot, but any old geezer who can get you to an obscure corner in Midwood, Brooklyn, can clearly make a damn good pizza.
Doughy Sicilian and grandma slices
Before Emmy Squared won hearts (both in real life and on Instagram) 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 your best move is the Spicy Spring with fra diavolo, fresh mozzarella, and small, crispy pepperonis cradling glistening pools of grease.
Neapolitan-style pies with a thin crust
If you’re eating at Lucali, you’re eating one of two things: pizza or a calzone. That's because the menu only offers those two options. 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 other toppings like Portobellos or artichoke hearts. If you can snag a table, be sure to BYO wine. There’s a reason Beyoncé and Jay Z once skipped the Grammys to eat here.
A historic coal-oven pizzeria (with some of the most affordable pies in the city)
The original Patsy’s opened on First Avenue in 1933 and still offers the same big cheesy pies sans pretense. The menu lists plenty of terrific speciality pies, but order simply: the original pie, with a beautifully thin and soft crust, topped with a classic tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. While the prices aren’t as low as they were in 1933, a huge pizza is still only $12.
Williamsburg, East Village, & UWS
Must-try Brussels sprout pizza
In addition to two NYC locations, Mathieu Palombino’s Motorino has expanded to Manila, Singapore, and Hong Kong -- which comes as no surprise once you taste the shop’s Neapolitan-style pies. Pioneering in New York’s Neapolitan movement, the place hawks margherita pies with a perfectly tangy San Marzano sauce and huge dollops of fior di latte with pecorino, along with more inventive renditions, like the standout Brussels sprout pizza (fret not, the leafy vegetable is accompanied by smoked pancetta).
Thin-crust Coney Island icon
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.
Hip Neapolitan pizzeria with an outdoor tiki bar
Bushwick spot Roberta’s is almost too cool for its own good. You’ll wait forever to try the Brooklyn-Neapolitan-style pies adored by locals and the Clintons alike, but at least you’ll enjoy tasty, cold drinks in the backyard tiki bar while you wait. There’s nothing exclusive or pretentious about the place if you discount the aggressive line. Take a seat at a wooden picnic table (inside or outside) and enjoy pizzas like the Speckenwolf, with house-made mozzarella, thin slices of salty speck, and mushrooms. Pro tip: Try the Bee Sting (topped with spicy honey and sopressata). It no longer appears on the menu, but ask, and you shall receive.
Castleton Corners & East Village
Family-run pizzeria with a perfect vodka pie
If you live in Staten Island, you eat your pizza at Joe & Pat's. This family-run pizzeria has been open since 1960 and remains a favorite among locals due to its near-perfect thin-crust pie, loaded with a tangy sauce and large globs of cheese. The margherita is always a reliable choice (by the pie or slice), and you can grab a large cheese for just $10 on Mondays and Tuesdays. The team recently opened its first outpost in the East Village, but a meal at the OG institution is worth a trip on the Staten Island Ferry.
The go-to 2am slice shop
Much to the delight of 2am slice-seekers, Joe Pozzuoli’s 1975 West Village location has spawned three other outposts -- all on busy streets (14th Street in the East Village, Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, and Broadway in Midtown). Yes, it’s a tourist attraction, but it’s hard to find a regular slice that compares. If anything is true New York pizza, it’s Joe’s. And like all great late-night institutions, the spot is cash-only, so don’t even think about waving your card at the counter.
Inventive pies served inside a rustic space
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's expanded to Baltimore, Miami, Columbus, and Chicago.
Red-sauce joint with a semi-secret pizza
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 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 a perfect sauce-to-cheese ratio.
Light and airy pies, with a shorter wait than Grimaldi's
Patsy Grimaldi’s Juliana’s -- a competitor of the adjacent Grimaldi's, which he no longer owns -- offers pies that seem nearly identical to its rival, but with a line less than half the size. Skip the classic spot in favor of this one, and savor specials like the No.1 with mozzarella, scamorza affumicata, pancetta, scallions, and white truffles in olive oil. But be wary: There are no substitutions on Grimaldi's specials.
A bucket list-worthy, reverse-engineered square slice
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 (accompanied by a liberal sprinkling of pecorino), striking the perfect balance between sweet and tart. It’s best enjoyed outside at one of L&B’s red picnic tables, along with a paper cup brimming with the eponymous frozen treat.
Boerum Hill & Harlem
The perfect (weekend-only) burrata pizza
This neighborhood darling seems to achieve the impossible: a crust that is neither too think nor too thin, with just the right degree 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.
Elm Park & Greenwich Village
Thin-crust pies loaded with toppings
Denino’s has been a Staten Island staple since the 1930s -- the street below is even named after its founders. But Manhattanites needn’t trek out to the outer-borough to get it; there’s now a location on MacDougal Street. 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.
Sweet and savory Neapolitan-esque pies
Zero Otto Nove has several outposts (including Manhattan and Armonk) but the original Arthur Avenue location will always reign supreme. Roberto Paciullo’s Salerno-style pies are extremely unique -- somewhat similar to Neapolitan, but crispier and less fluffy. Opt for the sweet and savory La Riccardo with butternut squash puree, smoked mozzarella, and spicy pancetta.
Standing room-only pizzeria with a great white pie
Jokes about the name's poor SEO aside, this Williamsburg pizza shop from Roberta's alum Frank Pinello truly is one of the city's best, with a few different pie options and heroes in a largely standing room-only storefront. The no-frills shop has one of the best white pies in the city, topped with caramelized onions, Parmesan, and sliced mushroom.
The city’s most Instagrammed pizza
Emily and Matt Hyland know a thing or two about a good burger, but Emily is first and foremost a pizza place. Creative and colorful pies like the Emily (pistachio, honey, truffle Sottocenere) and the Pig Freaker (Benton's bacon, kimchi, sesame, miso queso) set Emily apart from its peers. The West Village location tosses both round and square pies (like the ones from sister shop Emmy Squared).
Underrated, lighter-than-average Neapolitan pies
In a city rich with Neapolitan pies, this Union Square spot from Kesté and PizzArte alums is turning out some of the city’s most underrated pizza. Using strictly Neapolitan ingredients (including flour and yeast), Ribalta crafts lighter than usual pies (thanks to said flour and yeast), meaning you won’t require an impromptu nap after eating pies like the namesake Ribalta, topped with mozzarella, Italian sausage, and broccoli rabe.
Sicilian slices with the sauce on top, cheese on the bottom
Maspeth may seem like a trek if you’re coming from basically anywhere that isn’t already in Queens, but the trip is well worth it for a Sicilian slice from Rosa’s, famously made with the sauce on top of the cheese. Crazy, right? The squares here are just dense enough, with a delicate char, and an excellent sauce-cheese balance, even if the order is reversed.
Scene-y Italian spot known for its clam pie
This buzzy Charlie Bird follow-up doesn’t make the city’s best clam pie, but it’s certainly a competition-stirring one. PJ’s offers a number of wood-fired pizzas (which you can watch being prepped in the open kitchen), but the Littleneck Clam, loaded with rich and salty cream, a touch of lemon, parsley, garlic, and perfectly briny chopped clams, is the one to order.
The quintessential neighborhood pizza joint
Brother’s has been around for over 50 years and is still the model neighborhood pizza joint -- all you’ll find here are regular slices and Sicilians, made by a friendly staff that’s more or less been around since the place opened. The pies are cheap and enormous, made with a thin and crispy crust, and topped with a slightly sweet tomato sauce and plenty of cheese.
Financial District, Greenwich Village
Gluten-free pizzas to write home about
If gluten-free pizza crust is sacrilegious, we’re all sinners at Kesté. The place serves a hefty menu of Neapolitan, wood-fired pizzas in standard, vegan, and gluten-free iterations -- all in frill-free venues that do little justice to the goods themselves. Each pie boasts a dense, doughy crust (yes, even the ones without wheat flour), a generous slathering of sauce (either rosso, bianco, or specialty), and a rainstorm of creative toppings like cream of walnut, butternut squash, Crespone salami, and homemade burrata.
A resurrected Queens favorite for no-fuss slices
Once a Flushing mainstay for classic New York style slices, Gloria closed for more than 20 years before reopening its doors in Forest Hills in 2012, much to the delight of Queens pizza fanatics. Each tried-and-true slice comes slightly charred and slick with grease -- and each crust has precisely the right degree of flop for prime folding, even under the weight of all that sauce and cheese.
Family-owned staple for quality late-night pies
Named for owners Gerelyn Blackstone and Dimitri Karapanos’ puppy (who makes an appearance on the pizza box), Archie’s is a bar first. Cans of Mexicali are $3 during happy hour, you might have to stand, and pizzas are pumped from the steaming kitchen as late as 3:30am. Inspired by Connecticut-style pies, these are served pan-baked with a thick, dense crust -- kind of like an upscale Domino’s slice.
Like Roberta’s, minus the absurd wait
This casual Neapolitan pizza spot is one of the spectacular new-ish venues putting Franklin Avenue on the culinary map. The pies are thin and slightly blackened, limp under the weight of three-cheese blends and house-made meatballs, and baked to soupy perfection in an enormous white-tiled brick oven. They’re not dissimilar to those at Emily and Roberta’s, though we assure you the line won’t be nearly as long.
Inventive pies made from in-house milled flour
With the slew of bars littered across Third Avenue, it’s easy to miss Bruno’s avant-garde pies, all made from house-milled ground wheat berries, for a deeply wheat-y crust. Pizzas here and fun and creative -- the Speck & Pear comes flush with mozzarella, caramelized onion, and sage -- and there’s even a take on the classic NYC cheese slice, bubbling with mozzarella, asiago, Cheddar, and roasted garlic. Gluten-opposed, be wary.
Choose from wood-fired pizzas or grandma slices
It’s all about the wood-fired pizzas at this Park Slope neighborhood spot, where freshly milled flour and a sourdough starter unite to create a dark and tangy crust. Pizzas here zip from classic (tomato sauce; mozzarella) to inventive (the potato pizza arrives with crispy kale, mozzarella). Solidly delicious grandma slices come in in cheese, pepperoni, mushroom, and squash varieties.
Lower East Side
Neapolitan pies from an NYC pizza veteran
Una Pizza Napoletana’s East Village location shuttered years ago, but at long last, Anthony Mangieri’s Neapolitan puffed-up, blistered pies are back in LES digs. Pizzas here skew simple, leaning on solid, simple Italian ingredients -- Buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, salami, olive oil -- so as not to distract from their vehicle: the crust.
Cracker-thin pizzas to rival those of Joe & Pat’s
Angelo Pappalardo grew up washing dishes at Joe & Pat’s, his father’s beloved Staten Island pizzeria. Today, he’s at the forefront of his own place, making the same kind of cracker-thin pizzas, just on another island. Pizzas here come in just two sizes -- small and large -- but in many varieties. Regulars rave about the vodka pie, slick with pink sauce and piled with rounds of mozzarella, but it’s worth ordering a couple for the table, like the Rubirosa Supreme, brimming with mozzarella, pepperoni, mini meatballs, and roasted garlic.
Veggie-heavy Neapolitan pies in a former laundromat
Mozzarella is the star at this Astoria hotspot, a local haven for excellently crispy Neapolitan pies. Take a seat in the dining room or the lovely back garden, then feast on the Van Dammer pie, overflowing with Brussels sprouts, mozzarella, egg, and truffle oil, or the Jimmy Snuka, swiped with a salty/sweet combo of tomato, mozzarella, jalapeños, pineapple, and speck.