Life

Famous Chefs Tell Us Where To Find The Best Pizza

Thanks to pervasive pizza chains and frozen options, there may not be a single moment — day or night — that you have to spend without a hot slice in your hand. This is a good thing, because people love pizza with a fervor matched only by their love for 90s-era boy bands and 2000s-era Harry Potter books. The downside of this abundance is that people become emotionally attached to some pretty subpar pizza. Just because you can eat [insert name of chain you don’t like because I won’t risk putting in one I don’t like and getting my butt chewed in the comments] every day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be out searching for the perfect pie. Ya dig?

You are fully encouraged to spend large amounts of your time and money combing through the streets of your city looking for pizza nirvana. We can totally support you in justifying your diminishing bank balance and inflating waistline. Or, you can take the advice of some renowned chefs who have done a lot of the leg work for you. As you read through the responses below, be sure to note that one of them mentions pineapple. Pineapple, now chef approved. If you don’t like it you can move to Iceland.

To the chefs!

Chef Mark McDonald — Executive Chef and Owner, Old Vine Cafe

Since I travel so frequently to Italy, I save my wood fired thin crust cravings for the real thing. Instead, I go thick crust in the states. One of my team members introduced me to Giordano’s and their shipping service. They ship the pizza par-baked, and it’s almost as good out of the oven at home as it is in Chicago.

Chef Craig Connole — Executive Chef, La Casa del Camino, K’ya Bistro Bar, The Rooftop Lounge

Gina’s Pizza in Corona del Mar, California. I was about 10-years-old when I went there for the first time with friends. I remember seeing it and thinking, “Wow, that’ looks incredible!” When I tried it, it was different than anything I had before. The dough was super elastic and flavorful, and it’s been my favorite ever since. It ended up becoming my first cooking job in high school.

Chef Danny Allen — Executive Chef, Ways & Means Oyster House

That’s a tough one considering how many pizza places I’ve tried over the years. I would have to say the most current place I had the best pizza was Haus of Pizza in Costa Mesa, California. Always fresh and very consistent. It’s the type of pizza place you can get one slice and be satisfied! But who are we kidding? Nobody just eats one slice! I usually overindulge when it comes to a thick crust, cheesy pepperoni and pineapple pizza!

Chef Elizabeth Blau — Founder/CEO, Blau + Associates

By far the toughest choice to make is our favorite pizza, so we have to call it a tie between our “hometown” favorite of Pepe’s in New Haven and our West Coast favorite of Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles. When visiting Pepe’s it’s always a toss-up between the white clam pizza, the original tomato pie, and the quattro formaggi. Just be prepared, as sometimes there is a line to get in. When visiting LA, we always make sure to stop at Mozza, a pizzeria owned by our good friends Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Nancy Silverton. The pizza crust alone is worth the visit, as are the meatballs! As for our go to pizza, you can’t go wrong with the squash blossoms, tomato, & burrata.

Chef Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ — Owner, Dr. BBQ

As a Chicago native, I take my pizza very seriously. My favorite is probably a far cry from what you’d think. It’s the very thin crust pizza at Villa Nova in the Chicago suburb of Stickney, Illinois. You were thinking I’d say some deep dish place, weren’t you? I’ve spent a lot of time explaining to people that deep dish pizza really isn’t what Chicagoans eat in the neighborhoods. It’s more of a special occasion thing that has caught on wildly with tourists. Real Chicagoans eat thin crust pizza with Italian sausage and cut into squares … the way God intended it to be. I’ll sometimes add onions, mushrooms, and/or green peppers, but that’s pretty much it. These days, the Chicago thin crust has been re-discovered and is going by the name “tavern style.” I’ve eaten plenty of these in taverns, but Villa Nova is a straight up pizzeria. And there is none better. Anywhere.

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Hello, old friend

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Chef Kyle Schutte — Executive Chef, The FLATS

Pizza is one of those things that instantly takes me back to my childhood, so it’s no surprise that my favorites are from my youth. There are two pizzas that I just cannot force myself to choose between, but oddly enough, they are conflicting ideologies of what a pie should be. The first is a small chain in the Midwest called Rocky Rococo, which was my first introduction to a Chicago-style deep dish and always my favorite part of our annual road trip to Wisconsin to visit my grandparents. The other was a tiny little dive called Al’s Pizza in my hometown of Purcellville, VA. Al’s has sadly gone by the wayside — it was the quintessential small town joint adorned with yellow vinyl booths, pinball machines, and quarry tile floors. They served the best kind of greasy NY style pie, the kind that probably wouldn’t be very good if it didn’t come from ‘that’ neighborhood place.

Chef Matthew Lemery — Chef, Duchess

This is a bit tricky because I love pizza of all shapes and sizes. I was raised on light sauce and the perfect amount of cheese. It’s called “upstate style” pizza and it is a direct decedent of the legendary New York pizza. You can get giant slices for less than a buck. Perfectly crispy and tangy and cheesy. It has been a long time since I have visited one of the hole in the walls in the Big Apple, but I have found my go-to here in the East Bay. Rotten City Pizza in Emeryville is about as close to the real deal and you will get in the Bay Area. The place feels like an East Coast joint and the pie delivers thin, crispy, and just the right amount of tang in the sauce. They are always serving the classic and a few California inspired pies.

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Last lunch of 2016. #pizza 🙃 #eastbay

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Chef Oscar Cabezas — Executive Chef, Teleferic Barcelona

The pizza in Baffetto, Rome is famous because of its salty and slightly lactic flavor, the quality and simplicity of its ingredients, and the craftsmanship of its kneading and its cooking in a traditional oven. Pizza is not only a dish, it is a flag that represents a lifestyle: much more than a bread with a few toppings, it is a timeless memory.

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The cooked version

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Chef Garrett Pittler — Executive chef, City Winery Nashville

I need to start out by saying that I’m a serious pizza snob. Now that that’s been said, the best pizza that I’ve ever had — ever — was at a little place in New York City, in Brooklyn, called Giuseppina’s Brick Oven Pizza. They have an authentic brick oven in their restaurant in which they bake all their pizzas, so they get that perfectly unevenly cooked crust. Pizza should never be cooked perfectly and consistently all the way around; you need to have those delicious charred spots to know it’s good pizza. They use simple, high-quality ingredients as well, which also makes all the difference.

Chef Jon Melendez — Owner and Chef, CIVIC and Mar

Golden Boy Pizza in San Francisco. Their garlic clam pizza is what dreams are made of. Just do it.

Chef Andrew Gruel — Multiple Concepts at TRADE

The best pizza is served at Bottega Louie in Los Angeles. This isn’t your fold-over type NYC pizza; this is an open-fire Roman-style masterpiece. The crust is fired and crispy with a great chew, and the ingredients are all top-notch and don’t weigh the pizza down at all. This crust is the real-deal.

Chef David Smith — Executive Chef, Second Floor Regionally Inspired Kitchen

Hands down, Soho House Chicago has the best pizza ever. Baked in a high-temp woodfire oven and made with the San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh Italian mozzarella & parmesan, and Italian Caputo flour dough … this pie is the real deal! What to order? Sobrasada, red onions and fresh basil — it’s the only way to go.

Chef Phil Kastel — VP of Culinary for Grill Concepts Inc Restaurant Brands, Public School, Daily Grill, The Grill on the Alley, and Laurel Point

One of the best pizzas I’ve had is at Pizzeria Trianon da Ciro in Italy. This spot in Naples was a stop on our way through to the Amalfi Coast, and I’m so glad we did. Trianon is one of the original pizzerias in the town and was probably the most authentic Italian pizza I’ve ever had. Bustling with locals, it gave us the real Naples experience; True pizzas aren’t sliced for you in Naples either, so it made the sharing experience even more fun with our friends. When we travel, we try to go to the places that the locals would go, not the tourists, and this place was just that. You haven’t tasted pizza until you’ve had it while in Italy.

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Amici, Pizza, Napoli 🍕 #happinessis #yummy

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Chef Isaac Miller — Chef and Partner, Maven

You can’t go wrong with Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco when you want a pie with some creativity, solid execution, and the best ingredients. I love their Amatriciana: guanciale, Calabrian chile, tomato, pecorino and black pepper. It’s a classic combo of pork, chile, tomato and cheese that never gets old.

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@pizza #🍕 #imlikereallyrightnow

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Chef Lorena Garcia — Featured Chef, CHICA at The Venetian Las Vegas

Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles. I never miss a chance to support my friend and fellow female chef Nancy Silverton when I am in LA. I’d go even if she didn’t make the best crust in Los Angeles. It’s all about the crust with the pizza at Mozza (although everyone swears by her mozzarella — which is fantastic; I am a sucker for the crust). Her pizza crust is the perfect combination of crispy and chewy bites all at the same time. The squash blossom, tomato, and burrata pizza is to die for. I take the red eye back to Miami just so I can stop for one on my way to the airport. The great vibe draws the best crowd in Los Angeles, a cool mix of locals, industry people (restaurant industry people!), and of course celebrities, too. Just be prepared for a wait — I’ve never been when there wasn’t a crowd.

Chef Matt Fresinski — Corporate Chef, V&E Restaurant Group

Settebello, by far the best pizza. Their dough is amazing, the perfect amount of chewiness and crunch. I haven’t met one of their pizzas that I don’t like. They use quality toppings, and the wood-fired oven gets your pizza quickly and with just enough char around the crust. The Vico is my favorite, spicy sausage and fresh fennel finished with just enough mascarpone to round everything out.

As for Uproxx, for now we’re still sticking with DiFara in Brooklyn! Who you got?

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