The Best Pizza Places In The US, According To Tasting Table Staff

Along with the ever-fractured divide of politics and the contentious nature of sports ball allegiances, few topics invite as much hostility and polarization as pizza. On its face, you would assume the humble pie would be a source of unity with the comforting, crowd-pleasing trifecta of a baked dough base topped with red sauce and mozzarella. 

Well, that is unless you're ordering a marinara pie that eschews the cheese and lets the sauce shine. Then, of course, there's the sauceless, ricotta-dolloped white pie. And while that carb-loaded foundation may be the constant, is it of the circular charred and blistered variety made famous in Naples? The crisper, crunchier crusts of the larger Northeastern stalwarts? The substantial squares of the Midwest? Or even a mozz and marinara-topped bagel — which can literally be eaten at any time! And therein lies the rub. 

Though basic at its core, the wide world of pizza is dizzyingly complex — and we haven't even broached the all-important issue of toppings and the infinite permutations that can adorn a pie, not to mention the numerous cheese and sauce swaps at your disposal. With that in mind, it only made sense that if we were going to take on the daunting task of assembling a list of the country's top pizza spots, it would be far too heavy a burden on just one individual. That's why we enlisted multiple members of the Tasting Table staff and their wide-ranging opinions to cover this divisive, yet sublimely delicious subject.  

Blue Pan Pizza in Denver — Sarah O'Phelan

The Mile High City might not be the first place that comes to mind for pizza, but savvy Denver locals are hip to a hidden gem: Blue Pan Pizza. With two locations nestled in Denver's Congress Park and West Highlands neighborhoods, Blue Pan boasts a variety of styles, but is best-known for Detroit-style pizza, which features a caramelized crust embedded with brick white cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, a Stanislaus tomato sauce, and top-quality olive oil. These decadent rectangular pies include specialties like the Brooklyn Bridge (ricotta, pepperoni cups, hand-pinched Italian sausage, and Pecorino Romano cheese) and the Prospector (green chilies, chopped garlic, sauteed mushrooms, and sausage). Pro tip: Make sure to drizzle Mike's hot honey (a side is offered for $2) on your slice for a sweet and spicy delight.

While Blue Pan also offers New York and Chicago cracker-thin pizza crusts (a gluten-free version is also available), the pizzeria's co-founder and Head Pizzaiolo, Jeff Smokevitch, explained to Westword that the Detroit-style pizza he grew up with in the Midwest is where his passion lies. Smokevitch himself has won national and international awards for his pizza and was trained under Tony Gemignani, a world-renowned Pizzaiolo, author, and speaker. In addition to pizza, Blue Pan also serves sides like sauteed spinach and garlic bread, salads, and classic Italian-inspired appetizers such as caprese, cheesy baked artichokes, and eggplant parmesan though saving room for those will be a tough task.  

Calderone Club in Milwaukee — Maria Scinto

While Milwaukee is less than 100 miles from Chicago, it's not really a deep-dish pizza kind of town. Instead, Milwaukee-style pies are the same square-cut, thin-crust style common across the Midwest. While the pizza at the Calderone Club is both square-cut and thin-crusted, it's nothing like your typical Brew City tavern-style slice. The crust is Neapolitan-style and it does have a little bit of chew to it as well as a nice yeasty tang. As for the sauce, it, thankfully, isn't the over-sweetened kind many pizza parlors seem to favor. The third crucial pizza component, the cheese, isn't applied with too heavy a hand, but instead balances nicely with the sauce and crust.

Where the Calderone Club really stands out, however, is with its pizza toppings. While it offers the standard range of pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, etc., it unashamedly includes anchovies on that list as well. You want authentic Italian? Learn to deal with anchovies! (Or just don't order them, but keep your rude comments to yourself as some of us love those salty little fishies.) For a slight upcharge, you can even add on premium toppings like fresh mozzarella, marinated artichokes, or, best of all, slices of delicious dry-cured ham. Calderone Club's prosciutto pizza is something that has us coming back time and time again, even if the restaurant is located on the hard-to-park side of town.

Coalfire Pizza in Chicago— Melissa Nicholson

Can you even say the word pizza without thinking, "Chicago"? While many spots claim to be the best in the Windy City, there is one small pizzeria that is making waves and its presence known. Coalfire Pizza slings hand-tossed pies cooked quickly in a coal-burning oven at a mere 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The result is a thin and tender crust that is bubbly with just enough charring. Needless to say, this is a far cry from deep dish.  

Beyond that gorgeous cornicione, Coalfire's pizzas impress with impeccable ingredients that are brilliantly paired. If you're a first-timer, you may want to start with a standard cheese pie which is always a good indicator of whether you're dealing with a quality pizzeria. Once that's affirmed, set your sights on the honey and salami combo, or go green with a slather of pistachio pesto. Whether you visit the West Town or Lakeview location, you're in for an unforgettable pizza experience.  

Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn — Katherine Peach

Mirroring the trend for most things in New York these days, the best pizza parlors are found in Brooklyn (even though people in the know are rightly obsessed with Louie & Ernie's in The Bronx). The options are vast, and the opinions are subjective, but one spot sticks out from the rest. The family-owned Di Fara Pizza is our top contender for superior pies, lunch-to-dinner hours (take note, Lucali's) and two locations.  

Di Fara is a culinary institution for its commitment to both Neapolitan and Sicilian pies and slices and you can't go wrong with either. Quality is key here with an emphasis on fresh ingredients that are allowed to shine. The dough is made several times per day, herbs are grown in the window boxes, and the sauce has been called out for its ideal acidity.

While we have no qualms with the Manhattan spot, head to Midwood off the J train for a pizza pilgrimage to the original location that first opened in 1965. Bring cash, and expect to wait. While Dominic "Dom" DeMarco is longer working the ovens and clipping fresh basil (he sadly passed away in 2022), rest assured that his legacy lives on.  

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven — Sara Klimek

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana opened its doors in 1925 and has served some of the best "apizza" style pies in America ever since. Pepe, an Italian immigrant who arrived in New Haven in 1909, originally sold his pizza from a cart before opening his brick-and-mortar location at 157 Wooster Street.

The apizza style is a distinct artisanal method of pizza-making. Each pie is topped with a very thin layer of sauce, cheese, and toppings before being baked in a coal-fired bread oven. The resulting crust is deliciously thin with characteristic black blisters throughout. Frank Pepe's is widely acclaimed for its pizzas, including the "original tomato pie" — a thin-crust style pizza made with crushed Italian tomatoes, grated Pecorino Romano, and olive oil. In addition, seafood lovers flock to the pizzeria's famous white clam pizza made with fresh clams, grated Pecorino Romano, garlic, olive oil, and oregano.

Katie's in New Orleans — Brandon Rich

Like the brilliantly eclectic city it calls home, Katie's in New Orleans has something for everyone. There's pasta served alongside po'boys, smoked ribs, gumbo, chargrilled oysters, and seafood platters a mile high. But what the decades-old, family-run spot in Mid-City does especially well is pizza — and it offers plenty of options.

The kitchen at Katie's slings so many pies that an entire menu is dedicated solely to pizza. There's the Atchafalaya, topped with a full catch of bayou seafood and slathered in the hurts-so-good burn of Tabasco sauce that makes you just hot and bothered enough for another cold one. The Yardbird kindly ruffles some feathers with a unique decking of grilled chicken, tomato, feta, caramelized onions, and garlic butter sauce. Or you can order The Boudreaux, the now-famous pie that called out to Guy Fieri on his "Diner's, Drive-Ins, and Dives" visit to the restaurant. Adorned with whole roasted garlic cloves, scallions, red onions, and succulent cochon de lait, it will whisper sweet Cajun nothings in your ear as it puts you — and a (very) satisfied appetite — to bed.

But, Katie's pies are about more than just the toppings. In another ode to the Crescent City's inclination for worldly influence, the pizza-making technique at this eatery is pulled from all over. The fresh dough is hand-stretched and fired over a Brooklyn-style stone, and chef Scot Craig prefers to use Provel cheese, a St. Louis export known for an especially buttery finish. Ask for your pizza cut in squares and laissez les bons temps rouler.

Macy's Place in Cheektowaga, New York — Brett Llenos Smith

Scan just about any contemporary food menu these days and you'll find culinary mash-ups: Korean Philly steaks, donut burgers, tot-chos, and the Cronut to name a few. Macy's Place Pizzeria near Buffalo, New York is one of the best at turning heads with its unorthodox pies. In 2021, the pizzeria created a firestorm of controversy on Twitter with its overloaded Thanksgiving pizza. If a pizza topped with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and a cranberry drizzle isn't your thing, Macy's Place offers plenty of other topping options, like chicken-n-waffles, burrata and feta, and the dim sum-inspired sesame chicken dumplings.

It's easy to dismiss these pizzas as 21st-century P.T. Barnum stunt food designed for social media. In fact, Macy's Place acknowledges this, listing specialty pies in a menu section called Instagram Pizzas. But why are these kinds of pizzas derided while the Cronut gets universal praise? According to Stefanie Gray of The Guardian, privilege plays a role: Fast food and pizza are linked with low-income Americans, with supposedly unrefined palates, while fried treats at upscale bakeries inspire thoughtful reviews as Warholian pop art. You may disagree, but you can't deny that Macy's Place has built a national cult following and a successful business with multiple locations. No judgement here when it comes to pizza purists, but we appreciate a joint that relishes having fun with the craft.  

Manco & Manco in Ocean City, New Jersey — Julia Collins

In case you didn't already know, the Jersey Shore is a pizza paradise, but Manco & Manco stands above the heavy competition. With three locations on the Ocean City boardwalk alone, it goes without saying that this mini-chain has a fervent following — and for a good reason. The sauce, for us, is what makes the pizzeria so special. It has the perfect balance of sweetness in the tomatoes with the savoriness in the spices, and there's a little zing in there that really brings it all together. The dough is made fresh, the cheese is always perfectly melted, and the folks at Manco & Manco are incredibly consistent with producing the same top-notch quality for every pie.

Other things that make this local business stand out from the pizza crowd are how inclusive it is — the people there really want everyone to try their pizza. From gluten-free options to a service where you can order your pie half-baked so you can finish baking it yourself at home so that it's perfectly cooked, Manco & Manco has really thought of everything. In the summer, at any one of the pizza shop's locations, the line will be out the door, but it moves pretty fast and the wait is more than worth it. 

Ops in Brooklyn — Joe Virgillito

Sourdough pizza and fresh ingredients are name of the game at Ops, which opened its doors in Bushwick in 2016. Its intimate, inviting ambiance is perfect for a date night or evening out with friends who enjoy an extensive natural wine list and, of course, amazing pizza.

Its Neapolitan-style pies are among the best New York City has to offer. But what truly distinguishes Ops from the rest of the pack are its sourdough crusts, which are made from a wild yeast starter that kitchen staff feeds three times a day. Rotating special pizzas feature fresh seasonal produce, while menu regulars like the Cicero (many onions) and Juno (potato, broccoli rabe, and ricotta salata) are always sure to please. The restaurant's most interesting pie is the Rojo, which is finished with a drizzle of olive oil atop several slices of mortadella to create a delightful textural contrast with its crispy crust. If you're eating with a crowd, opt for the square pie, topped with fresh basil and a smattering of Pecorino Romano.

PIE.ZAA in Asheville — Lucia Capretti

When pizza is good, it's natural to want more of it. PIE.ZAA in Asheville takes this to heart, preparing massive 28-inch pies for customers to devour. The late-night hours are a bonus for hungry bar-goers, who can stop in for a massive slice or pie for dine-in or takeout until midnight from Sunday to Thursday and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. For those craving a slice of cheesy goodness from the comfort of their home, delivery is an option too.

The pizza is a thin New York-style slice, easily foldable for convenient consumption. If you're dining solo you'll want to stick to slices, but if you've got a few people in tow, the pies are sliced into eight or 16 slices to share. A monthly rotating pizza offers regulars the chance to try something new with repeat visits, with options like the Sweet Caroline (mozzarella, marinara, ricotta, pesto, basil, and a honey drizzle) or Bringin' Sexy Mac (bacon mac and cheese). Classics like cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and a garden pie are featured on the standard menu, and pizzas can be split half and half to accommodate multiple palates. Whatever you choose, if you're taking it to go you'll want to factor in the dimensions of the oversized pizza box when determining your mode of transport — it doesn't fit through all car doors. Open since 2020, the pizza shop is situated in the South Slope Brewing District, so grab a pie and then wash it down with some local pints.  

Pietro's Pizzeria in Roscoe, Illinois — Dani Zoeller

We are firm believers that every city and small town should have a pizza place that offers pies so iconic, it becomes part of the fabric of that community and is an integral part of family memories. From classroom pizza parties to quiet evenings at home with everyone's favorite pie, these local joints are essential. In fact, if you're moving to a new city or town, seeking out the locals' haunt will give you powerful insight into what it's like to live in the area. Pietro's Pizzeria in the small town of Roscoe, Illinois is one of these places.

Since opening over three decades ago, the pizzeria remains a small pickup stop. When you walk in, you'll be greeted by smiling teen workers who will ring up your order. Behind them, you can watch the fully open pizza kitchen preparing, cooking, cutting, and boxing orders. Our go-to is a classic pepperoni pizza featuring that slight pepperoni curl. Still, Pietro's also offers a delicious garbage pizza and even more unique flavors, like a Hawaiian pizza with pineapple and ham. This pan-style pizza has a perfectly cooked crust that is slightly crispy on the bottom and soft on top. The sauce has a wonderfully sweet flavor, and the ingredients are some of the best anywhere. Watching the entirely open kitchen at work, you'll quickly see why this is some of the best pizza in the country.

Pizza Palace in Manhattan — Brendan McGinley

Trying to recommend a single pizzeria in NYC is a provocation to debate 9 million strangers. So while an entire article can and has been written enumerating New York's best pizzerias, stow your Lucali, Grimaldi's, Patsy's, and even delicious transplants like Emmy's Detroit-style or Speedy Romeo's St. Louis pizza. They are known and noted. Let us recommend to you the most exemplary slice of New York City pizza to ever grace our palate. Pizza Palace (also known as Johnny's Pizza) has been putting out perfect slices at the northern tip of Manhattan for a lifetime.

While Joe's Pizza is often cited as the borough's by-the-slice standard-bearer (even by people who admit it's not their favorite) we submit to you that Pizza Palace is the island's true flagship, and it never disappoints. Every bite is exactly what those in the know recall as the taste of how New York pizza ought to be. Every aspect has just enough extra oomph to come together in salty, fatty, chewy perfection atop a subtly flavorful dough maintaining its baseline. Make Pizza Palace a must-stop after your trip to the Cloisters, while watching a streetball game at Monsignor Kett Playground or before a bar crawl west into Dyckman's bumping nightlife.

Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix — Lindsay D. Mattison

Phoenix earned its spot as a top destination for pizza largely thanks to Chris Bianco and his iconic Pizzeria Bianco. The legendary pizzaiolo has been cranking out thin-crust, wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas since 1988, creating the ideal balance between a lightly chewy crust, the blister and char from the fire, and perfectly distributed toppings. Pizzeria Bianco received national recognition when Bianco became the first pizza maker to win a regional James Beard Award for Best Chef in 2003. The restaurant has since opened additional locations in Phoenix and expanded to Los Angeles in 2022.

What makes these pizzas so special is the use of locally-sourced ingredients. In Netflix's "Chef's Table: Pizza," Bianco explains that it's about finding the best ingredients that grow around you, from local dairies for making mozzarella in-house to Arizona-grown flour for the dough, which is made without sourdough starters or long fermentation times to ensure sour notes don't dominate the toppings. Instead, you can taste the acidity in the tomato sauce and the wheat in the crust.

The menu offers six options, ranging from a perfectly balanced marghertia pizza that shines in its simplicity to the popular Wise Guy with wood-roasted onions, house-smoked mozzarella, and fennel sausage. If you're looking for something unique, check out the Rosa, a pie that tastes and smells like the desert from the addition of fresh rosemary and Arizona pistachios.

Quarter Sheets Pizza in Los Angeles — Taylor Murray

Los Angeles is in the midst of a pizza renaissance, and Quarter Sheets Pizza is helping to lead the charge. The tiny strip mall joint sits in the shadow of Dodger Stadium in Echo Park, Los Angeles, and sells hot squares of thick pan-style pizza, dessert, and wine to hungry crowds that line up to get a slice. The pizza dough is airy, chewy, and bubbly, ringed with a shatteringly-crisp exterior. Weekly specials like the Quiet Storm, a combination of hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, mozzarella, Meyer lemon gremolata, thyme, and grated Grana Padano, are announced on Instagram (and typically sold out shortly after).

As if the pizza wasn't enough of a draw, the desserts produced by Pastry Chef Hannah Ziskin are some of the best in town. Heavenly slabs of fluffy chiffon cake topped with airy buttercream or brûléed maple custard pie with confit Satsuma mandarin and whipped crème fraîche are just a few recent options, though the dessert menu changes daily based on Ziskin's whims.

Star Pizza in Houston — Aries Jones

With multiple locations across Houston, Star Pizza is a family-owned establishment specializing in made-to-order pies, all created with fresh and homemade ingredients. It offers a range of specialty pizzas, but the most popular is its classic Starburst, featuring ground beef, Italian sausage, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, and green peppers, with a mozzarella cheese and sauce base.

While Star's creations are perfect as they are, you can also customize the pies in various ways. Customers can choose from a New York, Chicago, Chicago deep dish, or personal pizza style. From there, select a white, whole wheat, or gluten-free crust. You can even add additional ingredients or update the cheese type (there's a vegan option available). If you're feeling especially creative, you can also create your own pizza with your preferred selection of toppings. Complete your meal with one of the restaurant's sweet treats, like homemade cookies or an apple cinnamon dessert pizza.

Even if you aren't particularly in the mood for a slice, Star Pizza offers other menu items, including pasta (also customizable with your choice of sauce and pasta), sandwiches, and salads. You can also order beer or wine to go — perfect for if you're entertaining a group of people for a special occasion.