You Probably Haven't Heard of America's Best Fried Chicken Chain
You can’t always judge a restaurant by its mini mall location. There may be more beautiful places in the area to eat than Caffé Rustica, situated two miles from Main St and easily accessible by the free Lake Placid Xpress trolley, but there is no better place in Lake Placid to get a slice. The Tuscan farmhouse flair and CIA-trained Chef Kevin Gregg’s wood-fired pizza -- topped with house-made sausage or locally foraged mushrooms -- make it a popular spot for locals like Kim Rielly, director of communications in Lake Placid’s Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, who suggests ordering the Sicilian. (Trust her.)
Upriver from Albany, DeFazio’s is one of the last remaining businesses in Troy's Little Italy, where the move is a simple sausage and cheese slice. Punch things up a notch with the Buffalo chicken pizza, with blue cheese and a little spiciness. The high quality ingredients and unique touches -- like hand-pitted Kalamata olives and local beer-infused dough -- make DeFazio’s worth planning a weekend escape around.
Head up to the Catskills, drop your bags at Graham & Co., then walk six minutes into town for a table on the patio and a plate of something out of the brick oven, like a slice with grilled eggplant, roast peppers, portobello, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, and pesto. After hiking off the pizza on Mount Tremper and going for a dip in the pool at Graham & Co., don’t fight the urge to come back to Brio’s. Just let it happen.
Perfectly greasy pizza with little charred pepperoni cups (quintessential Buffalo-style pizza) can be found at this small take-out only place in the East Side of Buffalo, which uses fresh, seasonal toppings on its wood-fired pies. Tuck into a roasted mushroom and fennel sausage pie on the patio and don’t be surprised (or hate us) if you compare every pizza hereafter to this one.
The next time you hear the Metro-North conductor announce Mount Vernon, get off the train and walk 10 minutes to Johnny’s, a pie-only place on the Bronx border that dates back to 1942. On any given Saturday, you may find Scott Wiener -- a pizza pundit who runs Scott's Pizza Tours -- enjoying a cheese pizza with sausage or pepperoni at this dependably delicious shop. Before leaving home, make sure to bring cash, a big appetite, and a sense of spontaneity.
If you’d rather not lose a day of your life trying to get out to the Hamptons this summer, consider a trip to an under-the-radar region of Long Island that’s much closer to the city and just as likely to make you be all "[pizza emoji] [pizza emoji] [pizza emoji]." Little Vincent’s, home to the celebrated cold cheese slice is another one of Scott Wiener’s “rock solid” spots. Take a classic plain pizza to go and walk eight minutes towards the Heckscher Museum of Art, a different kind of hidden gem and a great place to have a picnic -- if you can stay strong and wait the eight minutes before eating, which (spoiler alert) you can’t.
After catching waves and rays at surf spot Dune Road, drive four minutes to Pizzetteria Brunetti for lunch. Tucked away behind a Häagen-Dazs, this humble son-and-pop shop is one of Scott Wiener’s favorite pizza places outside of New York City. Wiener considers PB a wonderful, weird place where the authentic Neapolitan pie will 100% make your trip to the Hamptons.
Saratoga might best be known for its equestrian pastimes and mineral springs, but this city also makes damn good pizza. While there are 17 dough-tossing establishments around town, your best bet is Pope Pizza. Whether you add meatballs or peppers/onions, you can’t go wrong when a large cheese pie starts at $11 (yes, you read that right).
Jimmy Fallon’s hometown has a lot going for it, like the six-acre sculpture park Opus 40, the scenic bike rides, the Saugerties Lighthouse bed and breakfast, the microbrews at Dutch Ale House, and the fact that IT'S JIMMY FALLON'S HOMETOWN. But, let’s be honest, it’ll be the taste of Slices pizza (specifically, Grandma’s Pie with Grandma Crust) that will linger the longest after you return home -- that, and the greasy stains on your clothes. If you’re in the area and in the mood for pizza, Hudson Valley Good Stuff's Vanessa Ahern says Slices is the go-to move.
It’s not hard to earn a slice -- or if you're from Chicago, a whole pie -- in the Catskills, where you can’t help but work up a hearty appetite after a day spent hiking Balsam Lake Mountain and tubing the class II rapids of Esopus Creek. On Friday and Saturday nights, locals like Spruceton Inn owner Casey Scieszka turn up at Table on Ten for the brick oven pizza. “It’s as adventurous and beautiful as the menu, location, and décor,” says Scieszka. Table on Ten’s Inez Valk recommends the signature fennel pizza or, for a slightly more unusual bite, try a triangle of lamb ragù and roasted red peppers with a tahini and lemon green salad on top; Richardson describes it as the “Turkish Special Pizza with a lovely bubble of Dutch nostalgia.”
1. Caffé Rustica1936 Saranac Ave, Lake Placid
2. DeFazio's Woodfired Pizza266 4th St, Troy
3. Brio's Restaurant & Pizzeria68 Main St, Phoenicia
4. Elm Street Bakery72 Elm St, East Aurora
5. Johnny's Pizzeria30 W Lincoln Ave, Mount Vernon
6. Little Vincent's Pizza329 New York Ave, Huntington
7. Pizzetteria Brunetti103 Main St, Westhampton Beach
8. Pope's Pizza232 Washington St, Saratoga Springs
9. Slices of Saugerties71 Partition St, Saugerties
10. Table on Ten52030 NY-10, Bloomville
It might be in a strip mall and next to a Price Chopper, but Caffé Rustica in Lake Placid serves excellent Italian food prepared by CIA-trained chefs. The menu is split equally among pasta dishes, meat and fish entrées, and wood-fired pizzas. Everything is of the highest quality here, whether it's the house-made meatballs and sausage, fresh mozzarella, or wild mushrooms. The modest but well-curated wine list is heavy on pinot grigio and chardonnay.
Troy’s favorite pizzeria serves famous wood-fired pies, homemade pastas, and calzones in a brick storefront that began as an Italian imports shop in the '30s. DeFazio's pizzas (available in 12" and 16" pies) have a thick and doughy crust that's lightly charred with the right amount of air bubbles. They come loaded with a variety of toppings and sauces, and the homemade sausage is a must-try. An extensive selection of linguine and fettucine dishes round out the menu.
Right in downtown Phoenicia, Brio's is a reliable all-day restaurant that nails all three meals. Open since 1973, the eatery serves pastrami scrambles and mozzarella omelets at breakfast, almost every kind of hot and cold sandwich under the sun at lunch, and excellent brick-oven pizzas from noon to night. The pie options are near endless, but nothing hits the spot like the grilled eggplant pie with roast peppers, portobello, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, and pesto.
Think of Elm Street Bakery as an independent, locals-only Le Pain Quotidien. Southeast of Buffalo, the East Aurora restaurant traffics in all things baked, whether it's artisan bread, sweet and savory tarts, or pizza topped with crispy and curled pepperoni cups. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the rustic spot emphasizes uses seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients to make its scratch-made specialities.
Johnny's has been serving damn fine pizza to the good people of Westchester County since 1942. The exterior is pretty nondescript, but the interior is decked out with Yankees memorabilia that'll make you feel like you're a New York local, even if you aren't. The thin-crust pies are charred and bubbly with the perfect ratio of cheese and sauce. The menu keeps the toppings selection simple proving that nothing hits the spot like a piece of pepperoni pizza.
Little Vincent's in Huntington serves something spectacular: cold-cheese pizza, and it's exactly what it sounds like. Topped with shredded cold mozzarella, each slice is a wonderful example of how when it comes to pizza, simple is always better. The shop is small and basic, and it's open late to cater to all your alcohol-induced cravings.
This traditional Neapolitan pizzeria is one of the best in Long Island and well worth stopping by for their signature pies. Brunetti's uses small batch ingredients including freshly yeasted dough, mozzarella, and house-made tomato sauce. The interior may be pint sized, but the flavors are big. New Yorkers, be sure to check out their location in the West Village!
Mark our words: the best pizza in Saratoga Springs is at Pope's, a nondescript joint with plastic booths and formica tabletops. Pies are available in small and large sizes, and available with basic toppings like pepperoni, peppers, meatballs, black olives, anchovies, and more. There aren't too many pizza specials on the menu, but if you want to go big, get the Pope's special, which comes with all the toppings.
Slices is a small and modern pizza shop known for its Grandma Pie. Available by slice, the thick-crust pizza is golden brown, and crunchy and chewy in all the right places. There are a few tables and window seating, but Slices also delivers. Make sure to order some garlic knots -- they're too good to pass up.
Table on Ten is a one-of-a-kind, under-the-radar gem. A self-described gathering place in the Catskills, it's a café, pizza restaurant, and inn (available to book via Airbnb) all at once. The café is open for breakfast and lunch Thursday through Sunday, serving rustic American food like pot pie, house-made granola, and guinea hen broth. On Friday and Saturday evenings, locals come out for its brick-oven pizza night, for which reservations are strongly recommended.