The Must-Visit Pizzeria in America's 35 Biggest Cities
Once upon a time -- the 1990s, it might’ve been -- you could amble clear across America without discovering a local craft beer. Small towns didn't have their own coffee roasters that served rare Fair Trade brews to landscapers and electricians and cops on the way to work. Even in bigger cities, farm-to-table was regarded as some sort of hippie California trend. You could roll into most places, in most states, and not taste anything new, anything really distinct. And most people seemed to tolerate that with a shrug.
But there’s one exception to the meek acceptance of interchangeable food -- then, now, and always. Americans will straight-up fight your ass over who has the best pizza.
"Best" to you could mean cheapest, fastest, or bulkiest. It could mean flat-out most delicious. Or it could mean the slice that you would most trust to put your town on the map. The pie you roll out when your out-of-town friends come to visit. That's our criteria here, in 35 American metropolises where pizza is a battlefield: the slice you'd feed to a weary, skeptical traveler, in the most memorable pizzeria your city can offer. Bring 'em on.
New York City
A no-frills, by-the-slice joint known for Sicilian squares and long lines
Before New York became overrun with avant garde pizza restaurants, there were the ubiquitous yet unequivocally New York slice shops, serving up classic cheese slices. There was also the no-frills Prince Street Pizza, a tidy hole-in-the-wall etched in that lovable, old New York pizza shop griminess, where celebrity photos hug the walls, and the line perpetually kinks down Prince Street. Eye the Sicilian, grandma, and classic slices, then order the Spicy Spring: a doughy, Sicilian square coated in spicy tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and bite-sized pepperonis that crisp and curl up from the oven’s heat, pooling with oil. You can’t sit here. You can either stand at a narrow plank along the wall, or take your slice (or three) to eat on the sidewalk, orange oil running down your wrists, as the folks in line look on and long. Here’s our definitive list of NYC’s best pizza.
A new-school pizzeria slinging Neapolitan pies in hipster digs
Head to Manhattan for your classic pies if you must. Brooklyn, meanwhile, is happily fomenting a pizza revolution and is worthy of a visit in its own right. It all started when the now legendary Roberta’s opened shop in the warehouse-heavy haunts of Bushwick, boasting a fusion of Brooklyn and Neapolitan-style pies, made in a wood-burning oven. Like the crowd, the pizzas are unquestionably hip. Start with the mighty Speckenwolf (a dreamy concoction of mushrooms, house-made mozzarella, and marvelously salty slices of speck) and the seasonal Bee Sting (airy, just-crisp-enough crust piled with mozzarella, thin slices of soppressata, tomato sauce, chili flakes, and honey).
Ingredients directly from Italy make this a true destination
Tucked away in a warehouse-style building is this unassuming titan, where every pie you get your mitts on is made in one of four wood-burning ovens (made with rocks from Mt. Vesuvius) and topped with ingredients imported straight from Italy. The tomato sauce shines here; it’s always made from San Marzano tomatoes, meaning that the pizza at DeSano can be classified as true Neapolitan pizza -- just ask the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana. Throw draft beer and authentic Italian gelato in the mix, and it's easy to see why a night at DeSano is a night well-spent. Here’s our definitive list of LA’s best pizza.
Hipster pizza haven with unique toppings and ice cream next door
Pizza Brain is the perfect answer for out-of-towners in search of a slice. Not only does the shop serve pizza that could please lovers of hand-tossed and artisanal pies alike, but it also doubles as the city's one and only pizza museum, so your visit is both delicious and informative (not to mention Instagram-worthy). Next door you'll find Little Baby's Ice Cream, which means you've already arrived at one of the best places for dessert in Philly. Here’s our definitive list of Philly’s best pizza.
A city-defining deep-dish treasure set away from the tourist circuit
Famous for its caramelized crust -- a rich ring of blackened mozzarella that encircles these Chicago cast-iron deep-dish delicacies -- this neighborhood hang sports a more authentic vibe than most of the deep-dish establishments that pull in Downtown tourists. These glorious pizza bombs rock a flaky, almost buttery crust, and once they’re loaded with sausage and/or pepperoni, you'll need a team of eaters to make a run at it. Even if you fail to finish, you'll have a helluva time trying. Here’s our definitive list of Chicago’s best pizza.
An old tire store now plates the best creative pizzas in Miami
First: a big, reverent nod to local legend Steve’s Pizza. Now, about Andiamo’s. The variety, creativity, and setting make it the best place to eat pizza in Miami. This converted tire shop has unbeatable outdoor ambience, right at the entrance to the neon-filled MiMo district. You’ll find innovative, wood-fired pies like the Frankie Five’s (chicken, roasted potatoes, and caramelized onions) or the Sunday pie (meatballs and ricotta) usually under $20 for a large. Pair that with a bottle of wine and the warm Miami air and you’ll see why mainland Miami is a destination just as legit as South Beach. Here’s our definitive list of Miami’s best pizza.
Neapolitan pies & dog-friendly
Cane Rosso may have had its inception in Dallas, but after Jonathan Jones (Beaver's, El Big Bad) and Matt Womack (Prohibition, Broken Barrel) opened two up in Houston, the place feels like it's been here forever. Hit the dog-friendly Montrose joint to enjoy pies with your pooch on the patio. Those pies, by the way, are certified Neapolitan-style, made with fresh dough scorched in an insanely hot wood-burning oven. You'll want to try the Joan Marie (pepperoni, goat cheese, and roasted jalapeño pesto). And if you're still hungry, hit up some new additions like the fiery ghost pepper bucatini. The Heights location isn’t dog-friendly (unfortunately) but is equally delicious. Here’s our definitive list of Houston’s best pizza.
Giant slices for the most gigantic, late-night appetites
If you’re in Deep Ellum mid-bar hop and haven’t eaten since before the show, Serious Pizza should be somewhere near your pub-crawl finish line. This culinary staple of Dallas’ live music scene doesn’t just serve up some of the tastiest pies in the neighborhood, but the largest, too. We're talking pies as big as a table, and some of the biggest slices in all of Dallas. They almost require the full length of your arm if you plan on eating one with your hands. Here’s our definitive list of Dallas’ best pizza.
Jersey- and Italian-style pies with thick-yet-airy crusts, and great eggplant Parm
All-Purpose opened to amazing reviews and instantly became a bustling business in May 2016. With pizza inspired by both Rome and New Jersey, it's known for its bread-y crust and delicious garlic knots. Other offerings include house-made charcuterie, a wide selection of hot and cold antipasti, a robust wine menu, and dessert from its neighboring bakeshop, Buttercream. Here’s our definitive list of DC’s best pizza.
A pretension-free pizza lunch counter with BBQ options
Forego niceties and toppings, and snarf the best cheese pizza in town. This centenarian, cash-only mainstay started as an Eastie bakery in 1903 and serves barbecued lamb and steak skewers alongside the pizza. The people-watching alone would be worth the gas and toll money. Here’s our definitive list of Boston’s best pizza.
The best pizza in SF is pricey, hoity-toity, and so, so worth it
This place is très San Francisco, and maybe in an obnoxious way: You can’t make reservations. Waits are long. It’s only open Wednesday through Saturday. When the dough is gone, the restaurant closes. The only thing on the menu is pizza -- no appetizers, no desserts. They only serve five specific pies, none of which you can alter, and none of which include meat (unless it’s Saturday, when they offer up the famous Apollonia, consisting of fresh eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, salami, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, fresh garlic, sea salt, and black pepper). The prices are ridiculous, at $25 a pop. And yet. Even still. This is the pizza you'll find yourself craving -- nay, dreaming of -- over and over again. Here’s our definitive list of San Francisco’s best pizza.
This guy taught Aziz Ansari how to make pizza
If you have one chance to get your pizza fix in Phoenix, it’s gotta be the legendary Pizzeria Bianco -- in particular, the original location in the heart of Downtown. This is the original concept of James Beard Award-winning Chef Bianco, specializing in wood-fired, thin-crust pies. Even 30 years after its opening, there’s still a line out the door most evenings. Don’t expect too many unique or elaborate topping combos; besides, you can never go wrong with a classic margherita. Here’s our definitive list of Phoenix’s best pizza.
Great wood-fired pizza in a veritable nerd heaven
EAV’s nautical-themed watering hole is a great beer bar, an analog arcade, and comic book bruncher’s dream palace. Besides kitschy decor like wooden sea creatures and owl murals, the wood-fired oven at the back of the joint slings tantalizing pies like the roasted garlic, asiago cream sauce-based Butternut Pie with black truffle honey pancetta; or the pepperoni/grass-fed beef/house-made sausage Mutiny on the Bounty, which, according to the Beastie Boys, is "what it's all about." Here’s our definitive list of Atlanta’s best pizza.
Wood-fired, charred crust that’s an instant classic
This Denver joint opened in late June, and in its short lifespan has garnered a cult following that goes coo-coo for the pies flamed up in its wood-fired oven. Cooked at 900 degrees, each 14-inch pizza (one size only, folks) has a speckled black crust and a lingering smoked flavor. Throw on creative toppings like Palisade apples, bacon, Tillamook cheddar, smoked mozzarella, and spicy honey (order the “Bobbin For Apples”) and you’ve got yourself a good reason to visit Lakewood. Here’s our definitive list of Denver’s best pizza.
Oyster-topped pizza from Seattle's OG super chef
Seattle super chef Tom Douglas perfected SP's slightly sweet, almost pastry-like crust at his bakery around the corner, and it's so good that almost anything would taste amazing on it. But you'll want to spend your clams on the pie topped with diced, fresh-shucked ones from Penn Cove, one of the Puget Sound's premier bivalve purveyors. This pie seriously cannot be missed. Here’s our definitive list of Seattle’s best pizza.
Tampa’s triple crown winner of best pizza, beer selection, and wings
This unassuming grocery store on Central Avenue isn’t just great because of its hand-made dough, crispy, tangy sauce, and overload of toppings on every pizza. Sure, pies like the Bring the Noise with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, ham, meatballs, and five veggies weigh enough you could burn off a slice just by curling your takeout order. But it’s the show-stealing wings and the massive selection of beer in the coolers lining the walls that complete the experience and make Lee’s a destination dining spot for folks all over the sprawling Tampa Bay area.
OG institution for classic Detroit-style pies
Choosing a favorite pizza place is a lot like choosing your favorite child: painfully hard, but probably pretty obvious if you’re being honest. When it comes to Detroit-style pizza, one chain rules them all, and that's Buddy’s. Its original location on Six Mile Road and Conant Street has been around since the ‘30s and dishing out classic square pizzas since 1946. Toppings are tucked underneath thick piles of Wisconsin brick cheese on a fresh, chewy crust cooked to crispy perfection. It’s no wonder the location has made countless national “best of” lists -- including this one: Here’s our definitive list of the best pizza in Detroit.
The ultimate only-in-St.Louis experience
St. Louis-style pizza might be the most divisive type in the country. Some people love it. Some people think it tastes like a piece of cardboard topped with bleached ectoplasm. Either way, if you’re in St. Louis, you’re obligated to try it. The quintessential spot is Imo’s, where they top a super-thin crust pizza with a sweet tomato sauce and Provel® cheese -- which can run on the slippery side, but for fans of the style it’s absolute perfection. Is it the BEST pizza in town? Probably not. But it is that rare food item you can find in one American city, and almost no place else.
Feels like fine dining with a European flourish
Chef Ann Kim (a 2017 James Beard semifinalist) opened her third pizza-focused restaurant, Young Joni, less than a year ago. It’s still one of the hardest tables to score in town, and rightfully so. The weirdly creative flavor combinations atop Kim's pies are inspired by her Korean roots as well as her global travels. Standouts include the decadent La Parisienne with prosciutto, Gruyere, and brown butter; and the salty, spicy Basque with Spanish chorizo, piquillo pepper, and Castelvetrano olives. Not only is the pizza mouthwatering, service is stellar and the restaurant manages an aesthetic that is both rustic and modern at the same time. Here’s our definitive list of Minneapolis’ best pizza.
Small-town deep-dish pies that give Chicago a run for its money
So Baltimore is better known for its crab cakes (and football, and indie rock) than its perfect pizza, but if you’re in Charm City on the hunt for a slice, don’t sleep on Matthew’s Pizza. Charm City’s very first pizzeria opened in 1943 and harkens back to the rich Italian heritage of its eclectic Highlandtown neighborhood, with walls covered in Boot Country kitsch and crusty deep-dish delights. Come hungry for a combo of the “Popular” -- made with homemade red sauce and hand-grated mozzarella that’s imported from Italy -- and the “Crab Pie,” topped with caramelized onions, Old Bay seasoning, and giant lumps of luscious backfin.
New takes on famous pizzas, and a damn good wine list
If you're looking for the full restaurant experience, navigate to Tribute Pizza in North Park where you'll find a rotating menu inspired by the culinary team's favorite pizzerias, farms, and, in some cases, taco shops (I mean, this is San Diego). Owner and certified pizza nerd Matt Lyons launched Tribute as a pop-up, and now the brick-and-mortar commands a loyal following for its inventive salads, killer charcuterie boards, a primo wine selection, and soft-serve ice cream for dessert. Here’s our definitive list of San Diego’s best pizza.
New Haven-style pizza that’s actually worth the wait
The line outside of Apizza Scholls is as iconic as the pies themselves, but it’s legitimately worth it for the handcrafted, thin-crust favorites packing only the essential toppings. There’s no calling ahead, they have a limit on ingredients for custom pizzas (and no substitutions or omissions on the house ones), and when they run out of dough, you run out of luck. But the pizzas coming out of their electric ovens are some of the best in the whole country. Here’s our definitive list of Portland’s best pizza.
Charlotte, North Carolina
The most authentic Neapolitan-style pizza around
Noshing pies from this Italian wood-fired oven that cooks a pizza in 90 seconds is the closest Charlotteans will get to Naples without hopping on a plane. You can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas here, but start with Inizio’s top seller: the pistachio pizza, made with rosemary, sea salt, ricotta, buffalo mozzarella, and a house-made pistachio-pesto sauce. Here’s our definitive list of Charlotte’s best pizza.
Instant classic spot serving hand-tossed and thin-crust pies
The best thin slice in south Texas has a crisp bottom, fresh ingredients, and great cheese. If you don't like your pizza cracker-thin, they’ll hand-toss you a crust with more bite. Their strong selection of wines and beer and an excellent ambiance will make this joint annoyingly popular very soon. Go now, while the line is still short. Here’s our definitive list of San Antonio’s best pizza.
Sizes that could be two meals, served at all hours
The University of Central Florida is quietly expanding to become America’s largest university. And yet it still might not match the size of the slices at its legendary pizzeria. The original location near UCF is an education in Orlando culture, as college students down slices the size of their heads and tie 30-inch pies to the roofs of their cars to take to the frat house. It’s open late, serves great beer, and at Mills 50 location, embodies Orlando’s transformation into a hip, interesting city independent from the mouse. Oh, and? The pizza’s actually great.
Funky shop for legitimately great vegan pizza
Vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores converge here for hot, bubbly slices with toppings like roasted garlic and ricotta, Buffalo-style seitan, and vegan mozzarella. The speakers blare punk and metal, vintage pinball machines clang for your quarters, and you can also score two-handed hoagies and wings. Here’s our definitive list of Pittsburgh’s best pizza.
Pizzas topped with stuff from farms you could bike to
My favorite conversation to have about pizza goes like this:
Me: The best pizza I’ve ever had was in Sacramento at this place called OneSpeed. They smoke their bacon and make their sausage in-house. The veggies are from farms like 10 miles away. Everything is totally fresh. The crust is...
Any New Yorker (interrupting, flustered in disbelief): That’s IMPOSSIBLE! New York has the best pizza in the world! How could you possibly think anything in Sacramento is even close?
Me: I’ve been to New York about 30 times. Have you ever been to Sacramento?
New Yorker: No, but...
Me: Well then.
Pizzas you’ve never seen before, served in a brewery
This wildly popular Queen City food truck opted recently to set up permanent shop in the most sensible place for a pizzeria: the middle of a brewery. Now the official café at MadTree Brewing, it’s bringing the most creative wood-fired pizzas Cincinnati has ever seen. Try the Hangover Pie with sausage gravy, sausage, and a cracked egg. Or the Berries & Cream, probably the first dinner pizza you’ll ever see with strawberries as a legitimate topping. But for a real taste of the city’s German heritage, try the Goettup, Stand Up, which in addition to garlic and a cracked egg has goetta on top.
Internationally recognized pizza you can eat from a grab-and-go window
Pizza Rock is the kind of place that has a big rig in the dining room and a different oven for whatever kind of pizza floats your boat: New York? Chicago? Foodie-friendly stuff with pork cheek, Italian chorizo, and lavender sea salt on top? It's all covered, thanks to founder Tony Gemignani -- a guy who wins awards for treating pizzas like art with fresh ingredients. You have two Vegas locations to choose from: the Green Valley Ranch casino in Henderson and Downtown near Fremont Street (which comes with a walk-up window for the perfect grab-and-go fix). Here’s our definitive list of Las Vegas’ best pizza.
A cozy bistro serving chewy pizzas and all Italian wines
This neighborhood favorite quietly turns out excellent pizza year after year, in a warm Italian café. Start your evening a few doors down with a drink at The Wine Spot, then sink your teeth into one of the specialty pies. Or go with a create-your-own combo: a classic sausage, mushroom, and onion on the substantial (but not-too-thick) crust. Here’s our definitive list of Cleveland’s best pizza.
Kansas City, Missouri
Pizza for your inner weirdo
Do you enjoy testing your limits with strange flavor combinations? Are you intrigued and tempted by a pizza that refers to itself as a “serious flesh feast?” Do you have a special affinity for Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives? Yeah? Then Grinders -- a Food Network regular since opening in 2004 -- is your jam. Chef-owner-artist Jeff “Stretch” Rumaner built his reputation around inventive New York-style pies like the Goldberg "Phats" -- featuring pesto topped with smoked salmon, capers, and cream cheese -- and the glorious Le Hog, a white sauce pizza loaded with Canadian bacon, regular bacon, ham, and meatballs. Wash it all down with a draft from the formidable rotating beer list. You’ll leave feeling like a whole new person -- someone who might start saying things like, “Wow, Guy Fieri knows what’s up.”
A local tradition right up there with dotting the “i”
Columbus has one of those low-key claims to a unique style of pizza, with a thin crust cut into squares. The quintessential place to get it is Tommy’s. Its location on The Ohio State University's campus made it an alumni legend, and its giant full-service spot in Upper Arlington made it a dinner staple of many who grew up here. Neither location has changed much over the years, and the pizza likewise has never faltered.
Refined Neapolitan pizza and an impressive wine list
Bufalina -- and its sister location Bufalina Due -- is capable of going toe-to-toe with the best pizzerias of Naples, Italy. The simple dough recipe (flour, water, salt, yeast) combined with classic toppings and the quick-fire bake in a 1,000-degree oven results in arguably Austin’s best pizza. Thin, delicate, perfectly charred crust is topped with flavorful ingredients, sparingly. Bufalina’s restraint and respect to the Neapolitan tradition speaks volumes. Here’s our definitive list of Austin’s best pizza.
The best chain in town
When something’s good, it takes off, and there’s no better proof than the explosion of Greek’s in Indy. Imagine the rich, slightly sweet sauce on top of a bubbly, bready bottom that ends on the edges in a pillowy ring of perfect, dip-able crust. Greek’s is sprouting up in just about every neighborhood (each location is independently owned) in central Indiana; anyone near the I-465 loop probably lives less than 20 minutes from one. If you were thinking about hitting up a certain Papa or Hut, and there’s a Greek’s in your neighborhood, make the life-changing switch for about the same money. You’ll never go back. Here’s our definitive list of the best pizza in Indianapolis.
San Jose, California
Wood-fired perfection in a funky, cozy space
“Fun” isn’t always No. 1 on the agenda during a trip to Silicon Valley, but that’s no reason your pizza-eating experience shouldn’t rule. So go to the sprawling patio at Oak & Rye. Here wood-fired pizzas with names like the Scotty 2 Hottie (crushed tomato, mozzarella, soppressata, honey, basil, pepperoncini oil) and the Commissioner Gordon (crushed tomato, aged cheddar, Nueske's bacon, cornichons, arugula, Dijon, toasted sesame seed) air perfectly with the cool Bay Area evenings. If the night is too cold, eating inside can be just as fun alongside the framed records on the wall and a pizza oven covered in pennies.
Real Italian ingredients, used sparingly and marvelously
Chef Tandy Wilson limits himself to just a few imported ingredients at his rustic Italian restaurant City House, preferring to source regional Southern ingredients to combine the cooking styles of a Tuscan nonna with a Tennessee granny. Almost all the Italian staples he does bring in show up on the house pie, a fantastic concoction of chewy crust, brined and roasted pork belly ham, mozzarella rounds, oregano, chilies and nutty Grana Padano cheese. (You can also add an optional egg on top, and you should.) Sitting at the chef’s bar enjoying a glass of fine Italian wine and watching the pies slide in and out of the wood-fired oven makes dining a spectator sport. Here’s our definitive list of Nashville’s best pizza.