L&B Spumoni Gardens | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

L&B Spumoni Gardens

Est. 1939 | Gravesend 

An influential square you’ll want to order by the tray
Dense, fortifying, pies are sold by the square or tray at this 80-year-old outdoor-indoor pizza counter that houses a fancy throwback red sauce joint behind closed doors. Line up at the outside window for a tray of Sicilian pizza (you’ll polish off a slice before you grab a picnic bench, plus you’ll want leftovers), and sink your teeth into a layer of sweet tomato sauce bubbling atop ropy cheese and thick, doughy crust. Make sure you get a few uncorrupted bites in before you go to town on the grated parmesan and red pepper flakes -- why gild the lily?

What the expert says: 
“Every single pizzeria that’s making a Sicilian pizza with a sauce on top of the cheese in some way references L&B. They’re super influential in the way that the Velvet Underground was an influential band. If you lived in the area, South Brooklyn, you went there. Even if you didn't, you know somebody who did, who was influenced by that pizza, who made something that you then ate.” -- Scott Wiener

Rose & Joe’s Italian Bakery | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Rose & Joe’s Italian Bakery

Est. 1976 | Astoria

Semi-obscured slices with a side of sweet Italian treats
Below the rumble of the Q train at Ditmars Boulevard, beyond cases of rainbow cookies, biscotti, cannoli, and St. Joseph’s Day pastries, this narrow bakery hides a destination-worthy pizza counter. Oversized grandma-style (similar to a Sicilian with a thinner crust) slices topped with pepperoni, spinach, olives or just a trove of shredded mozz are warmed in a pizza oven for prompt, commuter-friendly service. 

What the expert says: 
“Serving sweets with pizza on the side makes it such a New York place, an unexpected pizza place. We love pizza so much we put it in every place even when you don't expect to get pizza.” -- SW

Paulie Gee's | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Paulie Gee’s

Est. 2010 | Greenpoint

Where inventive combos create new classics
Paulie Gee’s restaurant doesn’t do takeout, so you’re going to wait for coveted seats and wood-fired, uniquely named pies made with novel ingredients. The Hell Boy is topped with spicy sopressata and a generous drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey (which got its start at the restaurant), The Hometown Brisket is crowned with meat from the Red Hook BBQ favorite, and the Frankel’s Pastrami Ruben is overflowing with Swiss, sauerkraut, and -- you guessed it -- pastrami -- from the nearby appetizing staple. If you can’t stomach the wait, walk a few blocks south to Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop, which offers a truncated, though satisfying, menu.

What the expert says: 
“The restaurant has as much character as the owner who has imbued his character into the pizza. It’s one of the most perfectly realized restaurants I’ve ever been to, from owner to food to ambiance, everything feels right. And the pizza is so interesting with inventive topping combinations, it’s just such a good spot, super influential. It’s a New York story: A guy from Brooklyn moved to Jersey, had a career, and then tried the pizza business. [Owner Paulie Giannone] was a commenter on pizza blogs and had the guts to put himself in front of it.” -- SW

Joe & Pat’s

Est. 1960 | Castleton Corners & East Village

Favorite-worthy basics
A Staten Island staple since 1960, the incredibly thin crust topped with bright tomato sauce and gooey strings of cheese is nothing short of an ideal slice. If you’re eager to get fancy, opt for the tri-pie, which splits the pizza up into thirds spread with the pizzeria’s signature tomato sauce, vodka sauce and pesto sauce, all loaded with fresh mozzarella.

What the expert says: 
“I love how light the pizza is, with a very tart acidic tomato sauce. The ratios are spot on. I’m a purist, I don’t do toppings. Good pizza doesn’t need toppings and this is it.” -- Mark Iacono

Di Fara | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Di Fara

Est. 1965 | Midwood

A destination for old world charm and flavor
Perhaps the ultimate pilgrimage for anyone interested in New York City pizza lore, this old school shop dates back to 1965, when Italian immigrant Domenico De Marco ("Dom") opened what would become one of Brooklyn’s most legendary pizza joints. Imported Italian ingredients, plus the keen eye of a pizzaiolo in his early eighties make this thin pie (also sold by the basic slice, but you’ll want to pile on specialty toppings like soppressata, prosciutto, and broccoli rabe) worth the trip. 

What the expert says: 
“It’s just one of those special places trapped in time. Legend is so important, like going to the Great Wall of China, you need to go as a lover of the cuisine. Di Fara is just such a special place. If you’re there when Dom is there, you feel it.” -- SW

Mario’s Restaurant

Est. 1919 | Belmont

Dough, sauce, and cheese fit for Tony Soprano
Mario’s rose to local fame even before serving as the backdrop for a scene in The Sopranos. Today, the Bronx restaurant offers a wide range of Southern Italian fare, with an $8 individual pizza hiding in plain sight on the appetizer menu. Get one before you fill up on veal parm. 

What the expert says: 
“Historically, this place started as an old school pizzeria, turned restaurant. Now pizza is just a little tiny line on their list of appetizers, but it’s important enough that I’ll take a pizza tour there every few weeks. It’s so phenomenal, a missing link of New York style pizza, dense, crunchy, built like a margarita pizza but comes out like a cheese pizza.” -- SW

Roberta's | Deidre Schoo

Roberta’s

Est. 2008 | Bushwick

A new standard for Brooklyn pizza
Roberta’s burst onto the Bushwick dining scene more than a decade ago and it’s grown more beloved with every passing year. Perhaps predicting the phone-eats-first phenom, both the space and the pies are photogenic. 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.
  
What the expert says: 
“Roberta’s is causing confusion because now New York style pizza as a phrase has come to mean more than Joe’s. Now, Roberta’s is what people define as New York style pizza. This iconic place started off as an artist hangout and quickly became a tourist destination for people from the other side of the planet. It’s such good pizza. They took basic tenants of Neapolitan pizza and expanded upon them.” -- SW

Scarr's | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Scarr’s

Est. 2016 | Lower East Side

Retro slices crafted with top notch ingredients
Owner and pizzaiolo Scarr Pimentel grew up in slice joints at the tip of Manhattan. As an adult, he learned the art of New York City pizza crafting at top spots like Joe’s, Artichoke and Lombardi’s. And after he noticed the crumbling quality of slice joints in recent years, Pimentel read up on how to open his own place. His 1980s-themed storefront trades in high quality ingredients, like the signature organic stone-milled flour that creates an airy, yielding vehicle for stringy cheese and flavor-packed pepperoni. In all its kitsch, Scarr’s serves up an excellently refined back-to-basics slice.

What the expert says: 
“Fantastic pizza.” -- MI

Lucali

Est. 2006 | Carroll Gardens

If it’s good enough for Beyoncé. . . you know
Owned by Thrillist pizza guru Mark Iacono, beloved by American royalty Beyoncé and her husband, and popularized by seemingly every pizza-lover and liker in the tri-state area, Lucali is a bucket-list pizzeria for many. But we’ve got bad news and good news: There are no reservations, so you’ve got to show up around 5pm for a chance to nab a table and you’ll still wait for hours on most days. It’s cash only. And you probably will not run into Bey. But! The cozy space is darling in appearance and in practice (pizza makers use wine bottles to roll out dough), it’s BYOB (hard to come by in NYC), and there are plenty of places to have a drink nearby while you wait for your life changing pie. Ask for basil and garlic atop your large pie, plus a side of sauce for dipping. 

What the expert says: 
“Lucali is awesome. It’s one of these things like when you finally watch Citizen Kane after hearing about how good it is: You can't deny Lucali is so good. Even the build up sticks in your mind, the build up is for a reason. For twelve years it’s been such a pilgrimmage spot, for the hardcore pizza lover, a new Di Fara. If you’re going to go somewhere and wait, it’s here. I always do regular pie with beef pepperoni and shallots. And you can’t miss the calzone and a side of pepper sauce.” -- SW

Fornino | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Fornino

Est. 2004 | Greenpoint & Brooklyn Bridge Park

Curb appeal and appealing pies
Though the original Williamsburg location has closed, Fornino still runs two operations in north and south Brooklyn. Visit Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge park for breathtaking Manhattan skyline views, or enjoy the low key backyard affair in Greenpoint: You’ll get equally delicious wood fired pies at either spot. 

What the expert says: 
“Fornino is one of the first! In 2004, before pretty much anybody was thinking of doing pizza in this way, with a wink from the Italians, but specifically American pizza. He [founder Michael Ayoub] was doing it before a lot of people.” -- SW

Nunzio’s

Est. 1942 | Grant City

Bare-bones style with slices to stay or to go
An archetypal Staten Island pizzeria, this family-run restaurant has been slinging pizzas for more than 70 years. A family-friendly sit-down dining room welcomes locals and visitors eager to dig into a shared pie slathered in sweet tomato sauce. Slices are also available for those making a daytrip on the Staten Island pizza trail. Nunzio’s is the kind of place that if you don’t bring your own kin, you might just be able to sidle up to someone else’s.

What the expert says: 
“This place is so cool. It’s just a great Staten Island slice shop and the guys that work there are quintessential Staten Island as well. It’s really just a good slice shop.” -- SW

Denino's | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Denino’s

Est. 1937 | Elm Park

New Jersey flavors by way of the ferry
A tavern with locations in Staten Island, Manhattan and New Jersey, Denino’s captures thin-crust SI pizza in its prime, replicating the crisp crust layered with rich red sauce, mozzarella rounds and shreds of basil for all who crave the destination-worthy pie. Naturally, you can also add on all manner of meats, fresh garlic, olives, and even the unfairly divisive favorite of 80s-era teens playing pranks on their teachers -- anchovies.

What the expert says: 
“This is what New Jersey became famous for, tavern style pizza. Denino’s is closer to New Jersey than the rest of New York City. It’s a classic place to hang out, the definition of a pizza restaurant. Have a pitcher of beer, get a pie and wings.” -- SW

Vic's

Vic’s

Est. 2014 | NoHo

Modern takes and fresh flavors downtown
This stylish spot on a restaurant-saturated stretch of Great Jones Street serves the perfect Italian-American pizza mashup, with chef Hillary Sterling’s signature dough, wood-fired and topped with top notch (and trendy - fennel pollen!) ingredients. A burrata pie balances the creamy richness with salty anchovies and sweet tomato.

Louie & Ernie’s

Est. 1947 | Schuylerville

Foldable crust or bust
Started by a pair of brothers (Louie & Ernie) in Harlem in 1947, this pizzeria migrated north to Pelham Bay in 1959 and operates in a charming house-turned-restaurant today. Slices and pies are joined by half-a-dozen meat and cheese calzones should you need a little pizza-adjacent app while you wait for your order. Crust is yeasty and crisp, and the thin layer of sauce and shredded cheese make for an easy folded slice, if that’s your thing. 

What the expert says: 
“Oh my God, yeah. It’s a neighborhood slice joint in a house in the middle of a neighborhood and every time I go there I know that if I grew up in that neighborhood, I would never leave it, it would be my hangout. They have one of the best fried calzones.” -- SW

Nino’s Pizza

Est. circa 1969 | Bay Ridge

Go decadent or delicate slice by slice
Family-owned for five decades and counting, Nino’s is a neighborhood joint for in-the-know Brooklynites eager for friendly service and great slices. Garden or Caesar salad-topped slices are healthyish alternatives, but why not go all out with the Gran Mama -- a crispy, thin grandma slice decked out with cheese. 

What the expert says: 
“It’s just a great slice in Bay Ridge. I go for the grandma slice and classic slice.” -- MI

Dani's House of Pizza

Dani’s House of Pizza

Est. 1959 | Kew Gardens

Savory slices to slake your sweet tooth
A Queens staple unlike any other in the city, Dani’s is known for its sweet sauce, slathered on round pies ripe to be adorned with a variety of traditional pizzeria toppings. First opened by Albanian immigrant Ramiz Dani, the shop sticks to its original recipes, with a few modern concessions. More recent menu additions include vegan cheese and an extensive array of salads, pastas, sandwiches and sides.
 
What the expert says: 
“This little tiny slice joint in an old fish shop is great. The sauce is sweet, if you like sweet sauce, that’s the spot.” -- SW

Joe's | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Joe’s

Est. 1975 | West Village

A piece-a pizza straight out of Central Casting
Nearly synonymous with a New York pizza itself, Joe’s is the iconic grab-and-go meal, the spitting image of what a pizza slice emoji or tattoo would look like -- it’s that familiar. Large slices are reheated in the oven until the crust is crisp, the cheese is melty (but not mouth-burning) and the sauce bubbles between the two.  

What the expert says: 
“To me, Joe’s serves the quintessential New York slice. It’s perfectly proportioned, hangs over the edge of the plate and flexes and bends without breaking. It glistens without being greasy. It’s my platonic ideal of a New York slice. And I 100% go with a cheese slice.” -- SW

Luigi’s

Est. 1982 | Clinton Hill

A no-fuss to-go go-to
A neighborhood staple since the 1980s, Luigi’s isn’t doing anything over-the-top in design or decor. Order through the DeKalb Avenue window on a nice day or wait for your slice in the slip of a space inside and then get ‘outta the way for the next guy. Luigi’s is just doing the basics, but they’re doing them just right.
 
What the expert says: 
“It’s an old school slice joint, nothing fancy about it, other than good pizza. It just takes me back. It tastes good. It tastes like pizza. It’s another slice joint.” -- MI

Totonno's Pizzeria Napolitana | Liz/Flickr

Totonno's Pizzeria Napolitana

Est. 1921 | Coney Island

Pies fired the old-fashioned way
The beachside boardwalk may evoke notions of hot dogs, but Neptune Avenue is home to one of New York’s last coal-burning ovens, making for a crisp, delightfully charred pizza crust. Waits are predictably long, but worthwhile, for slightly burnt but still gooey mozzarella immersed in chunky tomato sauce and just enough residual grease.

New Park Pizza

Est. 1956 | Howard Beach

Out of the way but here to stay near JFK
Worth a trip even if you aren’t on your way to the airport (or a fine welcome home when you’ve been away from the city for too long), this neighborhood brick oven pizza place has been slinging pies since flying was sexy. The glowing neon sign outside will lure you in and the seductively bubbly cheese pizzas will beckon you to book extra trips out of town.
 
What the expert says: 
“You have to go here. This is a dynamite slice with salt on the bottom.” -- SW

Zero Otto Nove

Est. 2008 | Belmont

An excellent intro to Little Italy North
The go-to spot for Arthur Avenue first-timers, this antique Italian restaurant serves multi-course meals of antipasti, pasta, fish, and meat. But no feast in the opulent dining room would be complete without a selection from Zero Otto Nove’s extensive pizza menu. Choose from traditional margarita, classic sausage and broccoli rabe, or fancy butternut squash and truffle cream options.
 
What the expert says: 
“That place is so busy, it’s such a gorgeous restaurant, one of the prettiest pizza restaurants. The pizza is denser than a Neopolitan pizza and you go up to Arthur Avenue and have to go in there -- you just have to breathe in the air.” -- SW

Prince Street Pizza | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Prince Street Pizza

Est. 2012 | Soho

A hypebeast feast
A newcomer may think Supreme is dropping a new collection based on the line spirling outside of Prince Street Pizza come lunchtime. But no new drops here -- it’s all about the “original SoHo squares,” -- grandma-style rectangular slices decked out with a top-secret savory, basil-studded marinara sauce and mozzarella. Iconic before New Yorkers were eating for the ‘gram, though now recognizable from the influencer set, the Spicy Spring Square, topped with mini pepperoni cups holding just the right amount of grease, justifies the embarrassment of waiting in line for pizza.

Best Pizza | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Best Pizza

Est. 2010 | Williamsburg

A midnight snack delicious any time of day 
Best lives up to its name, especially at 1am on a Saturday when you’re the last to nab a cheese slice. A wood-burning oven kisses pies with a distinct char and basil leaves add a hint of freshness. The slices here are better than they need to be for a late night nosh, and good enough to return to in the daylight. 

What the expert says: 
“I just stick to the New York slice joints. I love their grandma slice, it’s delicious.” -- MI

Emmy Squared | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Emmy Squared

Est. 2016 | East Village & Williamsburg

Precious pizzas that taste as good as they look
Owned and operated by pizza loving partners Matt and Emily Hyland, this modern pizzeria dedicated to crisp Detroit style pies is a true love story. Yes, Emmy Squared and its sister restaurant, Emily, were born in the Instagram era, but the truly attractive pies are just as delicious as they are filter-friendly. The Roni Supreme, polka dotted with pepperoni, plus Calabrian chilis for an extra kick, might even inspire you to put the phone down.

What the expert says: 
“Emmy squared is the classiest pizza ever. Gritty but classy at the same. Burnt cheese on the edge, oh man you get burrata on that pie, and I feel like I should be wearing a button down. Emily’s round pie is awesome too. That’s such a good thin edge crusted pizza.” -- SW

Pizza Quadrata Romana

Est. 2018 | Upper East Side

Surprisingly light bites brought to you by science
The key to this rectangular Roman-style pizza’s light, tangy crust is its four-day dough fermentation. The resulting air bubbles make each margherita slice -- topped with organic tomatoes, mozz and fresh basil -- all too easy to inhale. Pivot to the potato topped option for a heftier, pleasantly carb-forward piece.
 
What the expert says: 
“That place is a shiny beacon for Roman pizza alitalia. It’s the up and coming pizza by the slice from Rome, very light, very airy, square, they just do it great, with such great flavor to their dough. It’s a pricier slice so I hope people get it.” -- SW

Ops | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Ops

Est. 2016 | Bushwick

Fresh seasonal fare for the gods
Named for the Roman goddess of the harvest, Ops stays true to its muse with fresh, high-quality ingredients stacked on a naturally leavened pizza dough. Margherita pizzas are adorned with house-made mozzarella, and seasonal pizzas are topped with special limited-time treats.
 
What the expert says: 
“This place is amazing. They create such a great contrast for a great textural pizza. There’s a great bite to it that a lot of other places don’t have.” -- SW

Wheated

Est. 2013 | Ditmas Park

An homage to the borough in food form
Sourdough pizza is the specialty at this restaurant that names each of its pies for Brooklyn neighborhoods. Funky combinations like Borough Park’s gorgonzola and pineapple and Brighton Beach’s garlic, bacon and aged mozzarella accentuate the funky, charred crust.
  
What the expert says: 
"The pizza at Wheated is beautiful. Crust is 100% sourdough and baked in an electric oven, which is becoming more common these days because it can reach high temp of a wood fired oven but way more even on the bake. David (the owner) was using it back when he opened. The place is housed in an old bakery building and the coal burning oven is still encased in the foundation! Lots of cool topping combinations as well. Makes sense because he worked at Paulie Gee’s before opening his shop in Ditmas Park!” -- SW

Francesco’s Pizza

Est. 2006 | Carroll Gardens

Throwback pies that satisfy
Between the remaining old school Italian bakeries and butchers, this mainstay trattoria serves a solid slice. An abundance of expertly-crafted pizzas offer neighbors an easy reason to return here on the regular, though the mozzarella slice, topped with fresh tomato and basil is a true gem unlike any other in the city -- each ingredient melds together to create the perfect balance of gooey toppings and a crisp crust.
 
What the expert says: 
“I like their upside down square. The sauce is on top of the cheese. The sauce to cheese ratio just tastes good. And you don’t need extra sauce, no dipping. If it’s made right it doesn't need to be dipped. I just like eating it.” -- MI