Finding the finest pizzas in the nation is a difficult endeavour since pizza is one of the most diverse, adored, and accessible genres, topics, and foods there is.
Yes, it is difficult to rate pizza responsibly. But once again, The Daily Meal just intended to do that.
New Haven, Connecticut’s 1. Frank Pepe’s (White Clam)
You must visit this storied New Haven pizzeria if you want to have a serious conversation with anybody about what the greatest pizza in America is. In 1925, Frank Pepe established his business serving traditional Napoletana-style pizza in Wooster Square in New Haven, Connecticut. Pepe worked various jobs after arriving in the country from Italy in 1909 at the age of 16, then opened his restaurant (now called “The Spot,” next door to the larger operation). Seven more Pepe’s sites have been established since the company’s founding.
What should you eat when you get at this checkpoint? Clam pie (“No muzz!”) in two words. Pepe’s is the greatest of all the Northeastern pizzas, with freshly shucked, salty littleneck clams, a heavy amount of garlic, olive oil, oregano, and grated parmesan on top of a dough that is dark charcoal in colour. The clever move? bacon and clam pie. On the weekends, if you arrive after 11:30 a.m., just be prepared to wait in line.
Di Fara, Brooklyn, New York 2. (Di Fara Classic Pie)
Domenico DeMarco, who has owned and run Di Fara since 1964, is well-known in the area. Wednesday through Sunday, from noon to 4:30 p.m. and from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Dom prepares both New York and Sicilian-style pizza for hungry New Yorkers and visitors prepared to stand in line and endure the chaotic Di Fara counter environment. Yes, buying the whole pie is preferable than paying $5 for a piece. Yes, it’s a journey, and yes, Dom experiences times when the bottom of the pizza tends to be overcooked, but when he’s on, Di Fara can make a very compelling argument for being the greatest pizza in America. Watch the excellent Di Fara video titled The Best Thing I Ever Did if you want to understand why before coming. You can’t go wrong with the traditional round or square cheese pie (topped with hot peppers marinated in oil, which you can ladle on at the counter if you lean in), but the Di Fara Classic Pie is the menu’s standout item. It contains mozzarella, parmesan, plum tomato sauce, basil, sausage, peppers, mushrooms, and onion, as well as, of course, a drizzle of olive oil from Dom.
Phoenix’s Pizzeria Bianco (Marinara)
Chris Bianco, a native of the Bronx, was reported in The New York Times as stating, “There’s no mystery about my pizza.” “Sicilian oregano, organic flour, San Marzano tomatoes, distilled water, mozzarella I mastered at Mike’s Deli in the Bronx, sea salt, fresh yeast cake, and a trace of yesterday’s dough are all used in this dish. Like everything else, excellent pizza ultimately comes down to balance. It’s that easy.” Try explaining that to the hordes of pizza devotees who have travelled to the renowned Phoenix restaurant he founded more than 20 years ago. The eatery offers delicious salads, fresh country bread, addicting thin-crust pizzas, superb antipasto, and wood-oven roasted veggies. The inauguration of Pizzeria Bianco for lunch and the establishment of Trattoria Bianco, the pizza prince of Arizona’s Italian restaurant in the famed Town & Country Shopping Center, have improved the wait, which was previously often listed as one of the worst for meals in the nation (about 10 minutes from the original). Any pie here will probably be better than most you’ve ever eaten (that Rosa with red onions and pistachios! ), but the classic Marinara, made with tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic, will reset your expectations for pizza forever (no cheese).
San Francisco’s Una Pizza Napoletana, #4 (Margherita)
It was the ultimate insult to New Yorkers when Anthony Mangieri, the pizzaiolo at Una Pizza Napoletana in the East Village, shuttered in 2009 “to make a change,” moved West, and opened someplace he could “have a chance to utilise his outrigger canoe and mountain bike more regularly.” You’re bringing one of the city’s top Neapolitan pizzerias to those who disparage New York’s Mexican cuisine while emigrating to a region with a mild climate. You can mountain bike and canoe, then? Traitor! It’s excellent for Mangieri and San Franciscans that they have inherited one of the greatest Neapolitan pies in the nation (even if just from Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. till they run out of dough). You might almost picture yourself at the pantheon of pizza in Naples with a thin crust, chewy cornicione, tangy, vibrant sauce, and the right amount of cheese: Pizza poetry is displayed on the walls of Da Michele, a restaurant. Mangieri gives the edible version of the same mindset to his customers and references it on his website (check out the pizza poetry “Napoli”). The Apollonia pie, which is available exclusively on Saturdays, is prepared with eggs, parmigiano-reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, salami, extra-virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, sea salt, and black pepper. There are only five pies available, all of which cost $25 (a $5 increase from last year). But you don’t need extras when you’re this close to being a deity. If you want to know the good, stick to the margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh basil, sea salt, and tomato sauce).
Los Angeles’ Mozza Pizzeria (squash blossoms, tomato, burrata)
Famous diners pale in contrast to the inventive, imaginative dishes at Osteria Mozza, a Los Angeles hotspot founded by renowned baker and chef Nancy Silverton and Italian culinary titans Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. The pizzeria, which is connected to the main restaurant, serves a range of antipasti and bruschetta as well as other Italian favourites, but the Neapolitan-style pizzas are the star of the show. A plain aglio e olio, a traditional cheese pizza, costs $11 while a pie with squash blossoms, tomato, and burrata cheese costs $23, making a tasty and straightforward pizza that transports thanks to the calibre and delicacy of its ingredients. There are 21 pies on the menu. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Batali and Bastianich have tried to replicate the success of this model pizza by establishing locations in Newport Beach, Singapore (! ), and shortly San Diego.
Brooklyn, New York’s Roberta’s 6. (Margherita)
Say Roberta’s is among the new breed of eateries that have reignited the Brooklyn vs. Manhattan debate, describe it as a great pizzeria, remember it as a pioneer in the city’s rooftop garden movement, and bring up Carlo Mirarchi’s designation as a Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and you’d still be doing it a disservice. Roberta’s is one of the greatest restaurants in the city and is located in Bushwick, which is six L stations from Manhattan. It even offers one of the city’s most difficult tasting menus to score well on. inside Bushwick! Although Roberta’s serves more than just pizza, their Neapolitan pies are among the greatest in the city (and, according to an interview with the site Slice, Paulie Gee’s, another outstanding pizzeria on our list, was inspired by Roberta’s). Yes, some of them go by names like “Family Jewels,” “Barely Legal,” and — in honour of disgraced New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener — “Carlos Danger.” However, when your pizza is this good, you can afford to not take yourself too seriously in a setting where Brooklyn hipsters and everyone else get along. The Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, and basil) is Roberta’s pizza Lothario, despite how tempting the Amatriciana and the Bee Sting (when Roberta’s goes mobile) may seem.
New Haven, Connecticut’s Sally’s Apizza 7. (Tomato Pie)
Sally’s Apizza, a New Haven institution, continues to be run out of the same Wooster Square premises where it first started in the late 1930s. They serve thin-crust pizza with tomato sauce, garlic, and “mozz” on top. The reason the pies at Sally’s resemble those at Frank Pepe across the street, as any New Haven pizza enthusiast will remark, is because the guy who founded Sally’s is the nephew of the restaurant’s owner. The staff at Sally’s will be the first to admit that Pepe’s clam pies are superior, but when it comes to tomato pies (tomato sauce without cheese), Sally’s has the edge.
San Francisco’s Flour + Water (Margherita)
The pizza at this San Francisco eatery is outstanding, despite the fact that it professes to specialise on homemade pastas. According to chef and co-owner Thomas McNaughton, the thin-crust pizza at Flour + Water combines Old World heritage with contemporary finesse. Each eating experience is distinctive due to the seasonal variations in pizza toppings, but Flour + Water’s classic Margherita is outstanding. If only pizzerias throughout the nation could replicate the simplicity suggested by the restaurant’s name—heirloom tomatoes, basil, fior di latte, and extra-virgin olive oil.
The Motorino in New York City (Brussels Sprout)
There are some bad places. Blessed for others. The East Village pizza culture hardly missed a beat when Mathieu Palombino took over the lease and renamed the premises Motorino after Anthony Mangieri closed Una Pizza Napoletana at 349 East 12th St. and moved to the West. A few lively pies are available at Motorino, such as the cremini mushroom pie with fior di latte, sweet sausage, and garlic, the pie with cherry stone clams, and the pie with stracciatella, raw basil, and Gaeta olives. The move, though, is the Brussels Sprout pie (fior di latte, garlic, Pecorino, smoked pancetta, and olive oil), which Brooklynites and those from Hong Kong can now testify to after Palombino launched (and renovated) his Asian and Williamsburg outlets earlier in 2013.
Al Forno in Providence, Rhode Island (Margarita)
For those who can’t afford the airfare, Al Forno on South Main Street in the centre of Providence, Rhode Island, provides a traditional Italian dining experience. George Germon and Johanne Killeen, a husband and wife team who run the restaurant, were awarded the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano by the Italian government. This is a rare accolade for Americans and is in recognition of their knowledgeable enthusiasm for pasta and their creation of the grilled pizza. The restaurant uses grills over hardwood charcoal fires as well as wood-burning ovens to prepare its pies. Which of their famous grilled pizzas? a Margarita Fresh herbs, pomodoro, two cheeses, and extra virgin olive oil are included in the serving.
New Haven, Connecticut’s Modern Apizza (Italian Bomb)
The coal-fired brick oven at Modern, which began as State Street Pizza in 1934, produces pizza with the same thin-crust design. You’ll probably hear people refer to it as the spot “the locals go instead of Pepe’s and Sally’s.” That could be true. The setting is fantastic—wood panelling, amiable staff, a fresh vibe—but it doesn’t play second fiddle simply because it’s not on Wooster. Pies made nowadays tend to have more toppings and less stability. The famous Italian Bomb pie, which has bacon, sausage, pepperoni, garlic, mushrooms, onion, and pepper, is the one to try given the emphasis on toppings.
Totonno’s in Brooklyn, New York (Margherita)
By all rights, Totonno’s shouldn’t exist today. First, keep in mind that it was established at Coney Island in 1924 (by Antonio “Totonno” Pero, a former student of Lombardi’s). Add to it the 2009 fire that engulfed the region and destroyed the coal storage area. The family-owned institution was completely devastated by 4 feet of water after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, adding insult to injury (and requiring some claimed $150,000 in repairs). You’ll probably agree that Brooklyn (and the nation) should be grateful for their good fortune. There is still a Totonno’s. Yet it does more than that.
It does more than simply stoke nostalgia for bygone eras and possibly more genuine and reliable pizzas; it also preserves a legendary pizza moniker. No. The proprietors, Antoinette Balzano, Frank Balzano, and Louise “Cookie” Ciminieri, don’t only connect pizza’s modern-day celebration to its early days at Lombardi’s. Ah, fuggedabout all the teary-eyed try-too-much words, this is Neptune Avenue! The coal-fired blistered edges, the patchy mozzarella threaded over that lovely crimson sauce Brooklyn, New York! It’s Totonno’s here. And this is how pizza is made.
Paulie Gee’s in Brooklyn, New York (Regina)
Paulie Giannone ventured into the unknown to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with a passion for pizza, minimal formal education, a lack of a high school diploma, a vocation that he has described as having “masqueraded as a computer geek,” and a dread of becoming like Shelley Levene from “Glengarry Glen Ross.” He went there before “Girls,” before condominiums, and back when a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment on the Polish word-of-mouth, no-lease real estate wire that was a 10-minute walk from the train to Manhattan still cost less than $2,000 seemed like a pipe dream.
This pizza enthusiast in the backyard risked everything for his craft, and he deserves every compliment. Although Greenpoint isn’t very attractive, Paulie Gee’s is a pizza lover’s paradise. It is a spotless, rustic restaurant that looks like a barn and serves pies that can compete with any memories you may have of Naples. When The Daily Meal visited the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie that was noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil, and fresh basil. There are about 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations, such as In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin’, and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies). The judges also agreed that Paulie’s Regina deservedly took the top rank among the top 20 pizzas in the country.
Apizza Scholls in Portland, Oregon, 14. (Apizza Amore)
Using an electric oven, Apizza Scholls makes some of the greatest pizza in Portland and, according to some, north of San Francisco. However, there are certain restrictions for customers who want to create their own topping combinations for their 18-inch pies: there may be no more than three ingredients and two meats per pie. Decide carefully from a selection of toppings that includes capicollo, house-cured Canadian bacon, cotto salami, arugula, jalapenos, and pepperoncini in addition to traditional options like anchovies, red onions, garlic, pepperoni, sausage, and basil. Bacon is “not provided for create your own toppings,” so be aware of that. There are ten traditional pies to pick from if you don’t feel like creating your own pie, including the iconic Apizza Amore: margherita with capicollo (cured pork shoulder). The somewhat sweet mozzarella and well-balanced sauce in the iconic Amore counteract the fiery heat to some extent. That is love!
New York City’s South Brooklyn Pizza, No. 15 (New York Style)
Who makes the greatest slice in New York City, please? That is a challenging question. Although New York is famed for its excellent pizza, the slice there isn’t quite what you’d expect, particularly with the Neapolitan fad and $0.99 cardboard drunk food (you’d almost prefer D.C.’s giant slice). However, there is hope thanks to South Brooklyn Pizza in the East Village, whose owner Jim McGown advocates for a traditional gas oven that gives the upskirt a little char that appears just perfect. It might take up to 10 minutes on average to get a piece of the famous New York Style pizza, but it’s worth it. Layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, fontina cubes, basil, and grated pecorino or Grana Padano are placed on top of the San Marzano sauce, which is neither very sweet nor acidic. Even when the thin crust breaks, the cheese and sauce are carried up the slice in each sour mouthful. However, in a world of dollar slices that don’t, South Brooklyn does. It’s true that the concept of a $4 slice doesn’t sit right, and you can blame Di Fara if you want to (it’s just as excellent but just as uneven).