Pizza is such a varied and beloved genre, such a stubborn topic and also a food as accessible as there is, which makes determining the best pizzas in the country a truly difficult task. Yes, pizza is difficult to classify responsibly. But once again, that's just what The Daily Meal set out to do. If you want to speak with authority on the subject of the best pizza in America, you have to make a pilgrimage to this legendary New Haven pizza place.
Frank Pepe opened its doors in Wooster Square in New Haven, Connecticut. After emigrating to the United States in 1909 at age 16 from Italy, Pepe worked odd jobs before opening his restaurant (now called The Spot, next to the larger operation). Since its creation, Pepe's has opened seven additional locations. Sally's Pizza is a New Haven classic, operating from the same place where they opened in the late 1930s, in Wooster Square in New Haven.
Their pizza is traditionally thin-crust, topped with tomato sauce, garlic and mozz. The cakes look a lot like the ones you'll find at the end of the street in Frank Pepe, and any pizza believer in New Haven will notice that's because the man who opened Sally's is the nephew of Pepe's owner. The people at Sally's will be the first to tell you that Pepe makes a better clam pie, but his tomato pie (with tomato sauce, without cheese), well, has the original rhythm. Although this San Francisco restaurant claims to specialize in homemade pasta, its pizza is awesome.
Baked in a wood oven, Flour + Water's thin-crust pizza combines Old World tradition with modern refinement, according to chef and co-owner Thomas McNaughton. Pizza ingredients vary depending on the season, making every dining experience unique, but the Margherita de Flour + Water textbook is amazing. Traditional tomatoes, basil, fior di latte and extra virgin olive oil. If only the simplicity of the name of the restaurant could be doubled in pizzerias across the country.
Miami, FloridaEleventh Street Pizza is the convenience creation of restaurateur and chef David Foulqier, who opened a takeout store when his old restaurant, Fooq's, suffered a closure caused by the pandemic. Big Brooklyn-style pies became an instant sensation, as they mixed masterful hot sauce with a dough that achieved the perfect combination of crunchy and pasty. It's enough to hold the pizza, but not enough to weigh it down. There is also traditional Sicilian pizza, in which thick slices cooked in a pan are covered with onions, tomatoes, herbs and no cheese.
In a city where it's often impossible to separate advertising from reality, Eleventh Street meets the requirements and shows us that sometimes, when a project ends, it can lead to something bigger. In 15th place is Godfather's Pizza. I couldn't make a list without including this string. Pizza Hut was established in 1958 and has more than 7,000 restaurants in the United States.
Their pizzas are shaped like a cake, although they offer thin crusts and also Stromboli. They first opened their doors in 1956 and have more than 600 different restaurants in the U.S. UU. Ha ha, Papa Johns number 1? This guy is ridiculous.
In my honest opinion, is DOMINOS definitely number 1? Papa John's is 7 or 8 years old. Most of these “pizza chains” wouldn't even bother coming to our area. In no way could they compete with the REAL pizzerias in our area. The only ones I've seen in my area are Pizza Hut, Domino's, Papa John's, Little Caesar's, Sbarro and Uno.
We used to have a Ci Ci, but it was so horrible that it broke. Sbarro is a “mall pizza” that is bought because it has no competition. One is a niche pizza if you think the Chicago style is good (it isn't). Papa John's is, at best, glorified frozen pizza.
In fact, I think Digiorno's is better. Little Caesar's is ideal for a “pick and run” cake. Pizza Hut was really good when I was 15, I've said enough. The advantage that Domino's has over all the others is that you can customize the pizza to your liking much more easily than any of the others and, with the excellent coupon offers they offer, get a cheap cake that tastes how you choose to win.
I'll always try to order at a local store, but when I'm short on money, it's Domino's. Buddy's dates back to the Prohibition era, when Gus Guerra, an immigrant from the small Republic of San Marino, ran the place like a blind pig or a speakeasy. Finally, he recruited his wife, Anna, who borrowed the recipes of his Sicilian mother and began making pizza, cooking them on the sturdy metal trays that were used to store parts in car factories. By the late 1940s, Detroit already had Guerra's curious square tarts, with their crispy edges and generous amounts of sauce served with a ladle on top, cut into hearty and satisfying squares.
In some cities, the most popular properties left me absolutely cold; better if they stay a few more years, when we know how important they are to the fabric of the local culture. Not that it has discriminated against the new Neapolitan wave, largely of it inspired by Neapolitan or Neapolitan (to be fair, that's what New York pizza has always been). But I always tried not to let myself be carried away by trends and not to let the new eclipse the best of the pre-existing pizza culture, the one before bags of Capua flour could be bought on Amazon Prime. With any luck, the new children will stay for a long time.
And there will be many more to come. Both stories, in their own way, take us to where we were going with this, and that is that New Jersey is the best place to eat pizza in the country right now. The state is part of an elite group that stayed true to its heritage for long periods of time when others were too busy moving into the future to worry about theirs. Imagine, so to speak, what pizza culture would be like in New York, forced to exist outside the spotlight, without the world making its way to your door, which is New Jersey, working hard, very often without interrupting sustained attention, especially serving a very local clientele that will have no problem holding them accountable.
In between, there's everything else, and where do you start the culture of North Jersey's pizza tavern, Patsy's in Paterson since 1931, or Kinchley's Tavern, in Ramsey, where they've been doing it for the same time, to name two of the many? How do you like the Jersey Shore, from top to bottom, from beautiful Sicilian-style cakes at Rosie's in Point Pleasant to Manco %26 Manco, a staple of Ocean City's boardwalks since the 1950s? Nowadays, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana has restaurants all over the region, but you can still eat the same pizza, still baked on charcoal, fine and fine but always a little chewy, as should be a New Haven pizza, and it is still, and most likely will be in the coming years, one of the best in the country, just like the one you should try at Sally's Apizza (let's say beetroot), also made of fired charcoal. Just down the street, Sally's was founded in the 1930s by Salvatore Consiglio. The blackened edges that contrast with that blood-red sauce are impressive even before you bite into them. There's a lot more to say about New Haven pizza, but there are other cities and towns in Connecticut as well.
Derby, for example, is home to the almost old Roseland Apizza (well, since 193), which shows its vintage neon in a mostly quiet residential neighborhood that grew up with its giant pies, which range from humble tomatoes to exaggerated pizzas loaded with too much fresh seafood. In a city so focused on the future, many of our historic institutions have succumbed to one disease or another, from mass tourism to simple missionary drift. To say that the pandemic laid things out in the open is an understatement; some of our great players of yesteryear have become so unreliable that one wonders how long they will survive. Right now, John's of Bleecker, which opened its doors in 1929, remains the most vital link to the past.
Now that the world is no longer heading to its doors, the restaurant seems like the quaint West Village hangout it once was. Pizzas cooked on charcoal, with an extraordinarily thin crust, but never dry or brittle, are as pure as they seem. By looking into the face of one of the beautiful and classic cakes, you can easily see the origins of the modern New York style. Speaking of which, could the slice, in fact, be our savior? In good times and bad, the overwhelming availability of decent to exceptional pizza continues to set New York apart from the rest.
In 1975, when the genre wasn't worth celebrating, Pino Pozzuoli raised the bar at Joe's Pizza, on Carmine Street, by offering a more careful version of the city's most popular street food, with the perfect (and most importantly) ratio of dough and sauce (never too much, you don't want it to drip) and cheese (anyway). There are now several Joe's locations, and they're all good, but Carmine Street is the place to go if you want to understand not only what the New York side consists of, but also why New Yorkers love it so much. Beyond the suburbs, the city has relatively little influence on the state's pizza culture. A couple of hours north and you'll be in another world, or you'll create that world.
In Schenectady, Perecca's Bakery serves thick slices of tomato pie, celebrating a century of activity. Utica has kept O'Scugnizzo's up and running since 1914, and expatriates request shipments of pizzas with tomatoes and crusts sprinkled with cornmeal. In Syracuse, they cut their thin-crust tarts into long strips at Twin Trees, and then there's Buffalo, for the thick boi pizzas, topped with pepperoni cups, long before it cooled down, at the Bocce Club, opened in 1946 and still run by the Pacciotti family. One of the first to hit the modern scene was Burt Katz, who opened his first pizza restaurant in the early 1960s.
Katz preferred to call his version pizza in a frying pan and, over time, he became famous for his crusts, which achieved a distinctive caramelization during the cooking process, thanks to the slices of mozzarella carefully tucked along the edges. Katz was famous for being the founder of Pequod's, which for many is the beginning and end of the conversation about pizza in a pan (or deep plate in general, in fact), but Burt's Place in Morton Grove, which opened in 1989 after selling Pequod's, is more like Katz's country, even after a recent remodel. Lefty's Pizza in Wilmette, founded by one of the original partners in the recent Burt's reboot, is a good option on the North Coast. In fact, most pizzerias in the region sell quite the opposite: the thinnest of those with thin crust, always with a square cut, like many other pizzas in the Midwest.
A hungry person could lose an entire round on their own. You'll find great versions at Pat's Pizza, which has served Lincoln Park for the better part of a century, and at Marie's Pizza and Liquors in Mayfair, since 1940, where you'll find musicians who walk around on the weekends, at least at normal times. There's Pizza Castle in Gage Park and Fasano's in the suburbs of Bridgeview, but no one comes close to the essentials of thin dough like Vito %26 Nick's, a gloriously classic tavern in the far southwest corner where Vito's granddaughter and Nick's daughter, Rose Baracco George, runs the show. They've been using the same dough recipe since the 1940s, and almost everyone opts for sausage.
Don't forget the rest of the state, Fricano's wafer-thin cakes have been the pride of Grand Haven since before anyone in the state served pizza, based on a pension from the 1800s; the slightly thicker style has been a hit in Mr. Scrib's, in Muskegon and Grand Haven, for generations. The first thing to know about pizza in California is that, in fact, it didn't start at Spago in the 1980s, when Wolfgang Puck started topping the pies with smoked salmon and goat cheese, and what difference does it make. Nor did it start with California Pizza Kitchen, at the end of that decade.
In fact, it didn't start anywhere in Southern California, but in the north, many years before. The first Italians arrived here during colonial times, long before California was a state, and things escalated from there. In the late 19th century, there were more Italian immigrants on the West Coast than in all of New England. Many landed in San Francisco, where North Beach was, and still is today, a center of Italian-Californian culture.
Here you'll find Tommaso's, the first pizza place on the West Coast, which dates back to 1935, just when cities like New Haven, Connecticut, were serious about pizza. In other words, Tommaso's, by American standards, is very old and still turns on its old wood-burning brick oven to cook quite formidable classic pizzas. However, ultimately, your destination is Pittsburgh, which has a little bit of everything and a lot of provolone to add to just about everything. Not so much at Il Pizzaiolo, on Mount Lebanon, which has been offering Neapolitan-style cakes to the most demanding locals since the 1990s, but definitely at Beto's, where square slices are piled up with grated cheese when they come out of the oven; the restaurant consumes more than 500 pounds of provolone on a busy day.
Certainly not for much longer, but over the past winter and until just a few weeks ago, the visitor to Boston's historic (and extremely Italian) North End most likely had the streets almost to themselves, especially early in the day, before the neighborhood actually started to wake up. One thing seems to have returned to normal, however, before opening its doors in the morning, usually shortly before 11 o'clock, there is now almost always a queue in front of the Galleria Umberto. Not that this is so bad: standing for a while can be good to get to know the usual regulars better, some of them not waiting so patiently for the appearance of the first Sicilian tarts that the Dauterio family is known for, which date back to their arrival in Avelino in the 1950s. Now, as before, we don't have to wait too long to get to the restaurant, if you can call it that, it continues to sell out, even in the absence of the armies of office workers from the slums that usually arrive in the neighborhood from the Financial District.
If you arrive long after noon, you may not have pizza, arancini, panzarotti, or calzones for you. A maze of one-way streets, Regina Pizzeria has gone in the opposite direction. One of the oldest pizzerias in the country opened its doors in 1926 with a relic from an oven dating from the late 19th century. There are now Regina pizzerias in malls, food courts and strip centers all over the region, and most of them are a disaster.
However, the Thacher Street original is still as good as gold. Here, they still use the same brick kiln, even though it hasn't burned coal in nearly a century. The classic Neo-Neapolitan pies that come out of there won't change your life, but they tend to be amazingly good, since they pay much more attention to detail than many similar pizzas found a few hours away on I-95, starting with the dough of a family recipe that is almost a century old and ending with generous amounts of whole-milk mozzarella on top. Founded in 1964 and now with approximately 100 stores, Imo's is Provel's most outstanding store; the right way to eat a St.
Louis Pie is filling your pizza with stuff. Not just anything follows the example of others and gets a luxurious cake full of sausages, bacon and vegetables; it's an incredible combination of flavors and textures. Louisianans love their pizza, to the point that they order it online once they move to other places. Few professionals care as much about one of the most dividing regional pizza styles in the United States as the Faraci brothers, Pete and Vince Faraci, owners of Faraci's Pizza in Manchester (the family started in Ferguson in the 1960s, but sold that place in the 1990s).
For the uninitiated, pizzas may once again look a lot like any other thin dough in the Midwest, but the amount of work that goes into these pizzas is staggering. Three days to prepare the dough, the sauce from scratch, the processed meats on the premises and a brick-bottomed oven for baking. Yes, the cheese is Provel, but there's a little Pecorino Romano at the end, for a touch of elegance. Louis Pizza: After eating one of these cakes made with love, you might be in the wrong city.
Since 1994, Pizzeria Bianco has been one of the most important and beloved restaurants in the Southwest, and has inspired countless pizzerias across the country (and the world) to improve their game and stay that way. In Flagstaff, visit little Pizzicletta to sample wood-baked cakes made by geologist-turned-pizza fanatic Caleb Schiff, who biked around Italy and returned home determined to master the craft. There are many Europeans who would like to live in Florida, some of them are taking steps to do so, and it is very likely that some of them are Italians who open pizzerias, or at least that's what it seems today. I apologize to the pastry chefs in the Northeast who take advantage of their heritage here, but when you want the best, go somewhere where they speak Italian, the modern type, like Mister 01 in Miami, named after the O-1 visa that was granted to Renato Viola, a renowned pizza chef from the old country who arrived in the United States because a very intelligent person in the government decided that we needed his skills with pizza.
From its humble beginnings, the restaurant has grown to have five locations in the region, so that everyone has access to Viola's delicious and distinctive star cakes, with bags of creamy ricotta cheese. Giovanni Gagliardi comes from pizza royalty in Caserta; in Miami Beach, he opened La Leggenda, which is said to be Gagliardi's nickname in his country. Great Neapolitan tarts should answer any questions you might have. Indiana is largely bordered by three of the 10 best pizza states in the United States according to Food %26 Wine, so it doesn't take a genius to realize that Indianans eat a lot of those things for themselves; some of them are good or even spectacular.
While there may be occasional exceptions in other regions, most of the magic usually happens in northwestern Indiana, the part of the state where you can hop on a suburban train and arrive in Chicago in a short time, where most of the magic usually happens, whether it's the sturdy thin, generously coated dough at Doreen's in Dyer (with a sister restaurant just across the state line), or the crispy, neat wood-baked cakes at stop 50, Chris and Kristy Bardol's a modern classic located in the forested community of Michiana Shores, where a walk to the lake could take you to neighboring Michigan. The dough is made with a traditional sourdough starter, and the cakes are generous and beautiful to look at. The style, let's call it modern with thin dough, is very different at The Rolling Stonebaker in Valparaíso, and the art is almost as impressive. With a modest loan from their mom, brothers Frank and Dan Carney opened a pizza restaurant in Wichita, back in 1958, under the name Pizza Hut.
It would grow to become the largest pizza brand in the world, a distinction it enjoyed until relatively recently. Domino's beat them with a creak, a few years ago. In Kansas City, there's 1889 Pizza, a modern family business that makes some of the best Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizzas on both sides of the state line. Here, they need two tile kilns to meet demand.
At the other end of the culinary spectrum, there's the classic Old Shawnee pizza, a staple of suburban Kansas for decades. His rise to fame? A crab and rangoon cake. Anyone who spends a lot of time in Lawrence inevitably ends up at Limestone Pizza, where, instead of carelessly throwing a few basil leaves on top, they spray basil oil, which tastes great. From downtown Louisville, it's a pleasant walk along the Ohio River (across the old Big Four Bridge, converted in modern times from rail to pedestrian use) to Papa John's birthplace in Jeffersonville, Indiana, 1984.Sometimes it seems like it might be Louisville's favorite pizza, given all the branches you see, driving around town.
However, a few years before all that, Benny Impellizzeri was working on a series of pizza ovens in the city and introduced his own restaurant, Impellizzeri's, in the late 1970s. To this day, even after a brief shutdown in the middle of the decade, the pizzas here are still one of Louisville's favorites. The Sicilian-style deep dish, your best option on the menu, is like a high-walled pool full of cheese and toppings. If glamorous, modern pizza is what you're looking for, head to Camporosso in Fort Mitchell, just a short walk from downtown Cincinnati.
They've been known to mistake locals for their beautiful Neapolitans, often admirably faithful to the style. A small, elegant Neapolitan-inspired pizza and coffee shop called Fireflour, built around a wood-burning oven imported from Naples, probably isn't the first thing you're looking for in Bismarck, but the state capital of North Dakota will surprise you that way. Owner Kenny Howard had a design career in California, where he was inspired to open his own restaurant, which he did with his wife, Kendra, almost a decade ago. At Fargo, it's a classic, square-cut, thin-crust Midwest with braided edges that perfectly hold all the ingredients at Sammy's, a fixture on the scene since the 1950s.
A summer afternoon in the idyllic Loco River Valley, sharing rustic New World cakes in the American Flatbread wood oven. Is there a pizza experience in the state that's most essential right out of the box? Even during the pandemic, the highlight continued to be strolling through the gardens of the original Lareau Farm farm while waiting for takeout food. Founded by visionary George Schenk in 1985, the company is now owned by the Massachusetts-based Flatbread Company, which in turn was inspired by Schenk's original idea. There are locations in Middlebury and Burlington, the latter also home to the much newer, but also dignified, Pizzeria Verita, which combines Neapolitan technique with a love for Vermont ingredients.
I think Papa John's is the best because this takeaway pizza is not only delicious, but it's also great value for money. Before the world was turned upside down, it had been established that some of the best pizzas in the country were prepared in Jersey City, just across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan. Open since 1959, Charlie's Pizza House in Yankton is proud to be the oldest store in the state, and exactly the type of pizza place you would expect to find in South Dakota, the meatball and sauerkraut pie is one of its best sellers. Phoenix, ArizonaNearly 20 years ago, Pizzeria Bianco was already known as the best pizza in the country.
Then, and now, some of the best pizzas in this country will come from some of the most unlikely places and some of the most outdated ovens. While The Cabin in Bath's claim of having Maine's only authentic pizza might have made more sense in the 1970s, it's worth stopping off at their classic pies, perhaps on the way (road, road) down the coast to Brooksville, where pizza nights at Tinder Hearth, one of the state's many bakeries, are worth planning if you're ever lucky enough to find yourself within walking distance. With bench seats and a casual atmosphere, it's the kind of pizza place you take kids to when they're ready to learn about good pizza. With a few notable exceptions, mostly only appreciated by the people who grew up with them, Maryland is where the magic of East Coast pizza ends, and all of a sudden, maybe it's because there's so much more to eat, but crossing from Pennsylvania or Delaware, and pizza culture suddenly becomes persona non grata, at least in relation to the situation in the neighbors.
Boston, Massachusetts: This is when you forgo the subtleties and ingredients and go silent with the best cheese pizza in town. Nowadays, there are all kinds of good pizzas at your fingertips, starting with grandma's gorgeous pies, compelling Detroit-style pizza, and some of the best gluten-free doughs in the country at Vincent Rotolo's Good Pie in the Arts District. Everyone is waiting to enter Razza, a charming neighborhood joint that happens to serve the best pizza in the country. .