Whether you're ordering in for a night on the couch or going out to dig into a brick-oven pie covered in seasonal toppings, pizza is one of those foods that's right for any mood, all year long. As self-proclaimed pizza freaks here at Tasting Table, we took it upon ourselves to seek out the best pies all across the country so that you will know where to go for your next pizza fix.
Here are the 26 best pizzas in the country.
Alabama: Post Office Pies
Make your way to Avondale, and you'll find one of the South's best pizzas at Post Office Pies. This neighborhood joint has been serving wood-fired pizza out of the old—you guessed it—post office for over three years with no sign of slowing down, thanks primarily to partner John Hall, who returned to his hometown after working at some of NYC's most acclaimed restaurants, like Gramercy Tavern and Per Se. Here, Hall channels his culinary prowess into crave-worthy pies, like local favorite The Swine, a 12-hour dough (a recipe he came up with back in his NYC apartment) topped with house-made salami, slab bacon and Molinari & Sons pepperoni. Keep it local and wash it all down with one of the beers on tap from partner Hunter Lake's neighboring Avondale Brewing Co.
Arizona: Pizzeria Bianco
Don't think of Phoenix when you think of best cities for pizza? Think again. And the place leading the charge for that title is Pizzeria Bianco, a wood-fired pizzeria in an old machine shop in downtown Phoenix that under Bronx-born chef Chris Bianco was the first pizza parlor to win a regional James Beard Award back in 2003. Grab a seat out front underneath the twinkling patio lights and order the Rosa, which gets you red onion, Parmigiano-Reggiano, rosemary and Arizona-grown pistachios all on top of that signature crispy-thin crust. Pro tip: Lines form quickly at this institution (and get long fast), so get there well before doors open.
California: Pizzeria Mozza
With Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and bread goddess Nancy Silverton behind the wheel, it's no wonder longtime favorite Pizzeria Mozza is still one of the hottest tickets in Tinseltown. One bite of the squash blossom and burrata pie, with its slightly sweet and fluffy crust, and you'll see why the pizza here is some of the finest in the entire Golden State. Pro tip: Start with Silverton's signature chopped salad and save room for the butterscotch pudding.
Colorado: Blue Pan
Two-year-old Blue Pan in Denver's West Highland area is young but hungry. The restaurant's Detroit-style deep dish, the style it's best known for, has already won a gaggle of awards. Perfect example: The Brooklyn Bridge pie, which took first place in 2014 at the International Pizza Challenge, comes topped with ricotta, oh-so-good natural casing pepperoni whose edges curl up in the oven, sausage, spices and even more cheese. But that's not all: Blue Pan also serves Chicago-style cracker-thin-crust pizza and New York-style pies as well—and all doughs are made with flours unique to each style. Chef Jeff "Smoke" Smokevitch is the genius behind the business and trained under master pizzaiolo Tony Gemignani. Pro tip: Blue Pan is (not surprisingly) a popular place to be, so grab a pie to go and head to Sloan's Lake for dinner in the park.
Connecticut: Frank Pepe
Whether you're a Connecticut native, a one-time Yalie or a visiting out-of-towner, you've probably heard of the great Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven. Since 1925, its classic, thin-crust Italian pies (always made in a coal fire instead of a wood fire) have elicited undying loyalty from customers around the country. Although the pizzeria has now expanded to eight more locations around the state, the original New Haven spot still sees lines around the block. Pepe's signature, of course, is the clam pie, made with fresh clams, grated cheese, olive oil, fresh garlic and oregano. With its chewy charred crust, it's the pie that keeps giving rival Sally's Apizza a run for its money.
Frank Pepe's Pizzeria Napoletano | Photo: Thomas McGovern Photography
Florida: Sir Pizza
Miami-style pies might not be in the official encyclopedia of pizza genres just yet, but when the cheese, pepperoni and sauce spill over the crust's edge like it does at this family-run spot, it brings us back to the nostalgia of frozen toaster-oven pizzas that made up our summer movie nights and childhood sleepovers. Oh, and it doesn't matter which side you fall on when it comes to the "ranch on pizza" debate. At Sir Pizza's, it's an unspoken rule that you order a cup of its legendary house-made dressing for dunking.
Georgia: Varasano's Pizzeria
Bronx-born pizza master Jeff Varasano opened Varasano's in the Buckhead back area of Atlanta in 2009 but spent a lifetime before that studying the science of the perfect pie, specifically the dough—a pizza must if you're in the hood (and even if you're not). The foundation of these Neapolitan-style pizzas is Varasano's natural sourdough base, which ferments for four days. Order the Nana’s, which is the house special—just don't use a knife and fork to cut it. You can also grab a slice on your way out of town at the Atlanta airport or try your hand at making one of Varasano's pies at home.
Photo: Courtesy of Varasanos
Illinois: Lou Malnati's
When you think of Chicago deep-dish pizza, it's impossible not to think of Lou Malnati's. Malnati and his wife opened their first eponymous restaurant in 1971, and in the decades since, they've gone from one pizza joint to more than 45 locations spread out around the Chicago area. If you're seeking true Chicago deep-dish pizza, put this place on your bucket list. And make sure to try the Malnati's Chicago Classic, a pie with sausage, cheese and tomato sauce on their famous "buttercrust."
Kansas: Papa Keno's
If you're looking for a slice that's bigger than your head, head to Papa Keno's, a favorite of University of Kansas students (and who knows good pizza better than college students?). The original location in Lawrence has since expanded to Overland Park and Westport, and at all three places, you can get creative with toppings like bacon, jalapeño and Buffalo sauce, or keep it classic with The Papa, the original 26-inch thin-crust pie.
Louisiana: Fleur de Lis Pizza
Opened as a cocktail bar in 1946, this hole-in-the-wall pizza joint dishes square pies that were originally served only to "soak up the booze" of its thirsty patrons, according to one source. But they quickly became the main attraction. Speaking of cocktails, the building is rumored to have lived its early life as a speakeasy, slinging drinks during Prohibition instead of pies. The good news is that you can get both; just make sure whatever you order to drink goes with the not-to-be-missed anchovy pizza. Fans include Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren, who dubbed the clam pie the "best pizza probably in the world"—even though that particular pie may or may not exist.
Beloved since its original slice shop opening in 2009, Otto on Congress Street in downtown Portland now has six locations in Maine and six in Massachusetts. While the formula for its classic thin-crust pies may be simple, what sets Otto apart is its affinity for creative, comforting and downright strange toppings, from butternut squash, ricotta and cranberry to Sriracha chicken and avocado. One of the most popular pies on the menu, they say, is The Masher, or a mashed potato, scallion and bacon pie that keeps comfort food lovers coming back.
Photo: Courtesy of Otto
Massachusetts: Regina Pizzeria
A North End favorite since it opened in 1926, Regina Pizzeria now has locations all over the Boston area, feeding fans with classic pies like sausage and peppers or pepperoni. The magic combination of whole-milk cheese, a slightly spicy sauce and an ever-so-sour crust made from an 80 year-old-recipe has kept this icon going (Boston) strong. Visit the original location if you can.
Minnesota: Pizzeria Lola
Andrew Zimmern calls the pizza from this Minneapolis joint some of the best in the country, and he's not wrong. Chef Ann Kim makes serious upgrades to standard pizzas, like cranking out house-made fennel sausage for her Italian pie or putting crimini, shitakes and truffle oil on her mushroom pie. She's also attracted national attention for her Korean BBQ pie, which comes with beef short ribs and a soy chile vinaigrette. We suggest trying as many as you can.
Photo: Courtesy of Pizzeria Lola
What started in 1964 as a desire for meat-topped pizza after a Friday spent adhering to the traditional Catholic dietary restrictions has developed into a pizza empire with roughly 100 locations today. We're talking about the famous Imo's, which slings Saint Louis-style pizza, with its thin, crispy crust and Provel® cheese. Unlike most other styles, the Saint Louis version swaps yeast for baking powder in its crust, which yields a cracker-like consistency reminiscent of saltines in the best way possible. The Provel cheese—a processed blend of cheddar, provolone and Swiss cheeses known for its incomparable gooeyness—is the other signature component. It's a style seldom found outside of the city, so make sure to try a slice whenever you're in the area.
New Hampshire: 900 Degrees
If you're passing through the Granite State and get a craving for pizza, look no further than this Neapolitan-style joint, which uses its brick oven for toppings like peppers, bacon and sausage, as well as the pizzas themselves. If you're a traditionalist, opt for the classic Margherita, but don't shy away from gourmet options like the Bella Cosa, topped with a roasted garlic cream sauce, mozzarella, Grana Padano, baby spinach, caramelized red onions, prosciutto and rosemary ham.
New Jersey: Porta
With a rustic, dimly lit interior, Porta is a perfect date-night spot, and the pies themselves—topped with fresh, local ingredients like house-made ricotta, mozzarella and meatballs—are enough to woo anyone. Adventurous eaters should go after the white wine-braised rabbit or vegan sausage, but whichever pie you order, save room for the house-made gelato or Nutella pizza pie.
Photo: Courtesy of Porta
New York: Joe's Pizza
Choosing the best pie in the great city of New York feels a little like putting a red, saucy target on our backs (and, yes, we welcome the feedback!), but we did what we had to do. In the end, it was Joe's on Carmine, the classic NYC establishment that's topped many a best-of list, and even counts Bobby Flay and Alex Guarnaschelli among its biggest fans. Established in in 1975 by an Italian immigrant from Napoli, this establishment has never stopped churning out the real deal: cheesy, pepperoni-laden goodness. While some newer pizza spots in the city may be doing more innovative things with their pies, nothing beats Joe's for a classic New York slice.
North Carolina: Lilly's Pizza
Durham and Raleigh
With locations in both Durham and Raleigh, this establishment dominates the lists for the best pizza in North Carolina, and it's easy to see why. It sources 100 percent certified organic whole wheat flour from Lindley Mills in Graham, North Carolina. Special pies include the Dante's Inferno, topped with a molasses, bourbon BBQ sauce; a mozzarella and barbecued chicken pizza; and The Nonna, which has prosciutto, roasted cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and a balsamic reduction.
Run by an Italian family who emigrated from Italy, this go-to fave has been serving hungry customers since 1968. The menu is simple, but the pies are well executed, with the perfect cheese-to-sauce ratio. Order a classic cheese or try the Everything Above, made with sausage, mushrooms, peppers and onions. If you want something other than pizza, this mom-and-pop place is also known for its homemade ravioli and gnocchi.
Oregon: Apizza Scholls
The East Coast-style pies here, with their crispy crusts giving way to tender centers, don't need fancy toppings. Bread baker Brian Spangler, who cooks his masterpieces in an electric oven at an extremely high heat, has perfected the art of the simple pie. His pizzeria also boasts a set of arcade games, so you can make room between an Apizza More, a Margherita pie with capicola and a New York White Pie.
Pittsburgh is an underrated, great pizza town, and this old-school favorite is one of the best. The family recipe comes with a generous grating of cheese, crispy crust and Italian tomato-based sauce, and gives Aiello's, the longstanding rival favorite in town, a run for its money.
Texas: Star Pizza
There's no stronger love than the one shared between man and pizza, which is exactly what drove homesick Chicagoan Hank Zwirek to convert the first floor of his house into a pizzeria in 1976. When word of his flaky-crusted, high-sided pies spread across Houston, he had to expand the operation upstairs. Go for the gut-busting pies that make our hearts skip a beat (both from excitement and cholesterol). Delivered to your table in three-inch-tall cake pans, they come loaded with everything from the traditional combo of sausage, peppers, onions and mushrooms to a Tex-Mex take decked out with tangy tomatillo salsa and roasted poblano peppers.
You know a pizzeria doesn't mess around when it goes as far as getting officially certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association. And you can taste the difference in the crust, made from imported Italian flour and cooked in a wood-burning oven shipped straight from Naples. Pupatella's pillowy, leopard-spotted pies will be some of the best Neapolitan specimens you'll ever eat. Start with a few crispy arancini or pizza fritta (deep-fried calzones) before deciding whether to tackle the red-sauced diavola with spicy salami or the buffala bianca with buffalo mozzarella and shavings of prosciutto. Or you could stop holding up the line and just order both.
Vermont: American Flatbread
A little bakery that started in Waitsfield, Vermont, has grown into a mini pizza empire over the last almost 30 years, expanding to three restaurants and a line of the best frozen pizza you'll ever have—trust us. With its locally sourced, organic ingredients, baked in a dome-style oven well known to Vermonters everywhere, the pizza is some of New England's finest. Classic combos like the Punctuated Equilibrium—kalamata olives, sweet red peppers, handmade Vermont goat cheese, red onions and fresh herbs—rival daily specials. Go halvsies or just get more than you can handle and take some to go.
Delancey | Photo: Molly Wizenberg
A discreet window sign might be the only thing delineating this humble Ballard hangout, but chances are a crowd of people will be waiting outside Delancey's doors to let you know you've arrived at the right spot. The charred, blistered pies sliding off chef Brandon Pettit's peel are adorned with only the bare necessities: thin slices of crimini mushrooms; cloudy dollops of house-made ricotta; or just plain tomato sauce, cheese and basil, all serving the sole purpose of highlighting his meticulously fermented dough's subtle twang. The rest of the uncluttered menu is no slouch either, from the Jersey salad tossed in homemade "Italian" dressing (a sly tribute to mom-and-pop pizzerias across the country) to the gray salt-flecked chocolate chip cookies, which come either baked into dense, gooey Frisbees or as oversize scoops of raw dough.
Washington, D.C.: Matchbox
D.C. may not be as famous for pizza as bigger cities like Chicago and New York, but it has more than its share of delicious pies to go around. One of the most popular spots among residents of the trendy U Street/14th Street corridor neighborhood is Matchbox, a restaurant serving thin, crispy pizzas made in a wood-fired oven. The original Matchbox location opened in D.C.'s Chinatown in 2003 and became so popular it spawned several more locations throughout the city. Make sure to try its spicy Fire & Smoke pizza, which has a chipotle pepper tomato sauce, roasted red peppers, Spanish onions, garlic purée, smoked Gouda and fresh basil.
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