Truth is, there are hundreds of pizzas to adore in this town. Puffy, charred Neapolitan-style pies we rip apart with our fingers. Thick-crusted, garlicky Sicilians—give us the corner square, please! And simple New York slices, so thin we can fold them in half as we stand on the sidewalk and eat them off paper plates dripping with grease.
But here are the 10 cheese-laden beauties that really get our hearts racing. The pizzas we dream about between visits. The ones you need to eat right now.
Totonno's Pizzeria Napolitana in Coney Island
This bustling neighborhood joint with a magic-making brick oven has been turning out pies since 1924, and it still fills up every night with happy locals and tourists willing to ride out the F in the name of great pizza. All it takes is one bite of the margherita ($16.50 to $19.50) to see the old-school shop's commitment to beautiful thin crusts with traditional toppings composed in harmony and, dare we say it, with love.
Joe's Pizza in Greenwich Village and Union Square
The plain cheese pie at Joe's ($20) has the flat, profoundly unfancy look of the pizza we grew up with—those cheap, pleasingly greasy slices of yore. We love the crust, which is thin and crisp but sturdy enough to hold a generous amount of gooey melted cheese. We get a plain slice ($2.75) to go on a floppy paper plate any time we need a reminder that pizza at its simplest can be supremely satisfying.
Franny's in Park Slope
It's not just the tender Littleneck clams, steamed open in a wine reduction and scattered between airy bubbles of char that keep us coming back. It's that smear of sweet, salty, intensely clam-flavored cream that holds everything together. We mean to order other pies, really we do, but the siren song of Franny's gorgeous clam pizza ($18) is irresistible.
Prince Street Pizza in Soho
When we want a break from the classic plain slice, we turn to the square Sicilian ($3.95 a slice, $26 for a pie) at this no-frills counter spot. The thick crust is surprisingly light, like a cousin to focaccia, dressed with a tangy tomato sauce, melted orbs of fresh mozzarella and crisp, curled pepperoni coins that hold a little pool of grease.
Di Fara Pizza in Midwood
Yes, it's tricky to get there and the price keeps going up. And yes, legendary pizzaiolo Dom DeMarco really takes his sweet time behind the grimy counter. But there's no disputing this: A pie at Di Fara is one of the single greatest pleasures available to anyone in this city with $28 in cash. Handsome and unevenly shaped, topped with superb fresh mozzarella and tangy San Marzano tomatoes, the chewy crust is charred more intensely than seems possible and drenched in delicious olive oil.
Roberta's in Bushwick
The restaurant is known for so much more now—the elegant pasta dishes and salads, the tasting counter that doesn't play by the rules, an indie radio station in the back—but as long as Roberta's keeps serving beautifully bubbly pizzas, like the honey-drizzled, soppressata-loaded Bee Sting ($16), we'll sit outside and tear the smoky, soft, blistered dough apart.
Motorino in Williamsburg and East Village
Breakfast pizza doesn't have to mean last night's delivery eaten cold in front of the fridge. The doughy beauty at Motorino ($14) involves runny fried eggs and sweet-salty pancetta that clings to extremely creamy pieces of melted fior di latte mozzarella. It's everything good and true about the bacon-and-egg combination, floating on a charred cloud of crust.
Emily in Clinton Hill
Matt and Emily Hyland's lovely little restaurant is less than a year old, but with its tender puffs of chewy, blistered dough and wonderfully fresh toppings (the mozzarella is made every afternoon), it's already competing with the heavyweights. Make sure you try the namesake white pizza, where honey plays real nice with crushed pistachios ($19).
Paulie Gee's in Greenpoint
Self-taught owner Paulie Gee is a pizza lover turned pizza maker. His whimsical, airy pies have crisp shells but moist, yeast-scented middles that we often daydream about between visits. There are plenty of nontraditional pies to love, like the Hometown Brisket ($17) made with meat from the Red Hook barbecue joint of the same name, but go with a classic Regina made simply with tomatoes, mozzarella, Pecorino and a few leaves of fresh basil ($13) to understand why we fell for this spot in the first place.
Juliana's in Dumbo
The pizzas that come out of Patsy Grimaldi's coal oven are glorious, and not just because he made an unexpected comeback at the age of 81. Grimaldi, who was trained by his uncle, who was in turn trained at this city's very first Neapolitan pizzeria, has an old-timer's way of doing things. That means margheritas ($16 to $19) with thin, burnished crusts and an exceptionally creamy and sweet layer of mozzarella cheese—he uses his tangy, gently flavored tomato sauce to shield the cheese, applying it last.
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