Deciding who makes the best pizza in America is an impossible question to answer. Lazy assumptions about New York and Chicago tend to dominate the conversation, with “The Great Pineapple Kerfuffle” making appearances every now-and-then to muddy the waters.
Honestly, all of that convo is a bit boring. Pizza is more than any debate, place, or style. Pizza is adaptable, malleable, and transcendent. The construction of baked flatbread, rich sauce, heaps of cheese, and a deluge of toppings means pizza can be all things at all times to all people. Hence, its inherent greatness.
With that in mind, we’ve dug up our comprehensive picks for the best pizza in each of and every state (with Washington, DC, thrown in for good measure). These may not be your childhood favorites. Instead, our picks are places that excel at offering a wholly unique and delicious pizza experience that feels quintessential to its state. We promise they’re all a whole hell of a lot better than the frozen pie you’re contemplating.
ALABAMA: Pints & Pies, Montgomery
You can never go wrong with pizza and beer. Pints & Pies gets this and pairs unique pies with a stellar beer list. If you’re anywhere near Montgomery, you have to drop in.
Pints & Pies is a chill joint with a vibe that leans towards downing a few too many beers as you eat some of the best in the whole region. There are 35 beers on tap, offering almost every pairing possibility while you nosh. It’s really spectacular.
The pies are all about fresh local ingredients with a bent towards innovative, unique, and a little funky. Their Grape and Gorgonzola pie is a mix of fresh red grapes, earthy gorgonzola, and dashes of fresh rosemary. It’s a delight that challenges your perceptions of pizza in the best way possible.
That, above all things, is what we love about Pints & Pies — they don’t adhere to any made up rules about what pizza is “supposed” to be.
ALASKA: Moose’s Tooth, Anchorage
Moose’s Tooth is an Anchorage institution. It’s also one of those places that gets a massive amount of hype and 100 percent lives up to every accolade and boast. The best part, this place is only ten minutes from the Anchorage Airport. So this should definitely be your first and last stop on any Alaska trip.
Moose’s Tooth pizzas are Spinal Tap amps turned up to eleven every damn time. If you don’t like a lot of toppings on your pizza, Moose’s Tooth will cure you of that silliness with their voluptuous pies. They only have two pizzas with one topping: The pepperoni and the Margarita. The rest of the pizzas are stacked with delicious, local, and deeply comforting toppings that hit every sweet spot.
The pies are made on a fairly hefty crust the leans medium-thick. We’re not getting into Detriot or Chicago territory by any means, just light heft. From there, the world is kind of your oyster when it comes to toppings. There’s reindeer sausage, smoked Alaskan salmon, and too many more to list here. If you’re going all in on the Moose’s Tooth ethos, then grab a Mac ‘N Cheese pie with local reindeer sausage, parsley, garlic oil, and four different kinds of cheese for those macaroni noodles. Moose’s Tooth also has a legit veggie pie selection. The Forager is a “must try” — featuring roasted garlic, spinach, Roma tomatoes, portabella, crimini, and oyster mushrooms with goat, mozzarella, and provolone cheese, and plenty of garlic oil.
This is marvelous pizza that you won’t be able to get enough of.
ARIZONA: Craft 64, Scottsdale
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Fridays is for pizza man! We didn’t understand how good pizza is without cheese until we checked out @craft64scottsdale in Downtown Scottsdale. This is their vegan pizza with artichoke and sautéed onions added. 👌🏾 #goodgrublove #vegantravels #plantbased #veganeats #veganscottsdale #veganphoenix
Great woodfired pizza and craft beer go together. They just do. The bold flavors of a piquant IPA or a smooth creaminess of a stout works wonders with the crispy crusts, milky cheese, and salty and sweet toppings of a nice pie. Craft 64 in Scottsdale gets that and that’s why you’ve gotta make this stop on a trip through Arizona.
Craft 64’s atmosphere is a big draw. It’s a comfortable space where you can smell pizza coming to life in the fires of their oven. It’ll hook you in a hurry.
The crust hits the Neapolitan thinness, crispiness, and ever-so-slightly chewy mark on the head. The toppings are local, seasonal, and tend to be made in-house. House smoked sausages and local cheeses dominate these pizzas and they’re all the better for it. The Smokehouse Pizza is a great example of Craft 64’s prowess with house smoked sausage, house smoked onions, fresh mozz, and Parmigiano Reggiano. It’s delicate and comforting at the same time. Also, don’t sleep on their Uovo pie with crispy local bacon, fresh eggs, spinach, and plenty of fresh local cheese. It’s a funky and fun delight.
ARKANSAS: Deluca’s Pizzeria, Hot Springs
Unless it’s your home state, you’re probably not going to call out Arkansas as a spot for must-eat pizza. Let’s change that. Deluca’s Pizzeria is doing Brooklyn pizza in the heart of Arkansas with a keen eye on keeping things local, fresh, and very seasonal.
Deluca’s leans more towards the beautiful pies of places like Di Fara, Roberta’s, and Totonno’s than a regular New York slice — that is, it’s delicious and complex and not a rubbery, greasy mess. The pizzeria is a great place to watch a master pizzaiolo do their work. The dough is tossed in-house and in very limited quantities. You may actually want to call ahead to reserve a pie. We’re not kidding.
Speaking of that dough, Deluca’s has managed to transport the essence of a Brooklyn pie all the way to the middle of Arkansas. It’s got the wonderful chew at the center that crisps and crunches as you reach the cornice. The red sauce is a glorious balance of sweet and umami. Then there are the toppings. Deluca’s tries to keep it as local and seasonal as possible in the great Italian tradition of cooking what’s good now. The menu is full of great concoctions and mixes of classics and modern takes. There are plenty of vegan pies, specialties of the house, meaty, and veggie alike, assuring there’ll be something you love.
If you can’t choose, start with the Patsy Searcy Pie. It has sharp soppressata, Calabrian chili oil, peppadews, and honey. It’s a spicy, umami, and an earthy sweet mix of pizza delight.
CALIFORNIA: Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles
Nancy Silverton reinvented the bread game in America. Her La Brea Bakery is the stuff of legend, as she almost single-handedly brought back traditional bread baking styles to American shores after a glut of over-produced, soft bread took over the market post-WWII.
After selling her bakery and recipes, Silverton then turned her gaze from the baguette to the pizza and changed the game yet again. The pizza at Pizzeria Mozza is as close to pizza perfection as we’ll ever get in America. Silverton’s obsession with what makes bread “bread” translates amazingly well to produce the best damn pizza crust you’ll taste outside of Franco Pepe’s in rural Italy. Add in a trendy L.A. restaurant with all the bustle and atmosphere of a great southern California setting and you’ve got an unassailable pizza experience.
The pizza at Mozza really does get a lot of points for the delightfulness of the crust (the addition of rye and barley in the crust add wonderful notes). Then there’s the beauty and freshness of the toppings. Mozza takes Neapolitan and rural Italian concepts and filters them through the agriculture of sunny California to achieve something that feels both old world and new school at the same time. If you order one pizza, make it the zucchini blossoms and burrata pie. If you order another, get the meatball pie … then a creamed spinach, leeks, eggs, fontina, and fried artichoke pizza.
Then … Then… Then… Eat them all is what we’re saying.
COLORADO: Cart-Driver, Denver
If you’re serving pies in a state with legal cannabis, you’d best be on your game. We all get a desire to kill a whole pie after getting a little baked. If you do decide to eat a whole pizza in one sitting while you’re in CO., it’s probably best to go Neapolitan and funky. In other words, head to Cart-Driver.
Cart-Driver is an on-point Italian eatery up in Denver that serves some of the most interesting pies right alongside a serious raw seafood bar. The post-modernist restaurant has a bustle to it that draws you in for the long haul. You’ll sit down thinking you’ll just grab a pizza and bounce. The next thing you know, you’ll be ordering another round of oyster and clams, a third Spritz, and maybe just one more pizza. It’s that good.
The pizza at Cart-Driver is very Neapolitan by design. The chewy, wood-fired crusts offer the exacting thinness leading to a chewy crust, similar to what you’ll find on the streets of Napoli. There’s just a hint of sourdough funkiness and wood-fired char. The domestically-sourced ingredients are what makes these pies shine. Their Summer Special pizza is always a must-try if you’re in town. This year, that pie features Palisade peaches from out in California, alongside crispy prosciutto, sharp red onion, bright marjoram oil, and fresh burrata cheese. It’s a wondrous concoction of sweet, funk, umami, and sunshine vibes.
CONNECTICUT: Sally’s Apizza, New Haven
New Haven has an intense pizza culture. There’s a lot of debate over Frank Pepe’s or Sally’s Apizza for the best of the best. Our two cents, they’re both great. But we have to give the edge to Sally’s here. Why? Well, as much as we love a great pizza, we also love that little soupçon of individuality when it comes to pizza.
Sally’s is a classic pizza joint complete with a buzzing neon sign, comfy pleather booths, and a keen reputation for being the greatest among the locals and tourists alike. The pizza here is unlike any other pizza around. The huge misshapen pies with lots of red sauce are fired at an intense heat in a coal-fired oven. That heat gives the crust a sort of split personality of chewy at the center and crispy char at the edges with charred bubbles of dough popping up through the toppings. It’s crazy good.
While the tomato-based pies are an essential part of the Sally’s experience, it’s their White Potato pie that makes a visit here a must. Thin slices of potato ring around the crust with fresh mozz, thin white onion slices, and sprinkles of rosemary. That’s finished with a healthy dose of grated parmesan. It’s a little bit like a light and fresh scalloped potato in pizza form.
DELAWARE: The Wood Fired Pizza Shop, Newark
Unless you’re Joe Biden, you’ve probably never thought, “Hey, let’s go to Delaware for pizza.” That doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of great places to snag a killer slice across the state. Our pick is a small shop in Newark that knows how to make a great pie in a chill setting, The Wood Fired Pizza Shop.
The first thing you notice about The Wood Fired Pizza Shop is the open pizza kitchen sitting in the corner of the dining room. Pizzaiolos are hard at work tossing dough and topping pies before they go into the raging wood-fired oven. This gives a real sense of being in on the pizza-making action. Everything is well thought out here. The crusts have that perfect balance of chew and char. The ingredients are fresh and as local as they can get, meaning sometimes ingredients and toppings will vary. And, very importantly, the beer list is masterfully curated to pair wonderfully with the pies.
The specialty pizzas shine brightest here. The veggie special, The Artie, has chopped fresh spinach, artichoke, hard parmesan, roasted garlic olive oil, and plenty of shredded mozz. It’s earthy, cheesy, and delightful. Though, don’t pass up on their meaty options. They Mama Mia has thick slices of their in-house made beef and pork sausage meatballs with tons of red sauce and melty mozz — it’s a winner.
FLORIDA: Spris Pizza, Miami
Florida is a big place. Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Tallahassee, Pensacola all have great pizza. So, we had to make the hard choice and go with the pizza we love above the rest. In this case, that’s Spris Pizza in Miami.
Spris has four locations around Miami because it’s goddamn delicious. It helps immensely that the vibe at these pizza spots is relaxed and welcoming. You can take your time, drink a little vino, maybe order a dessert as a counterpoint to your pie. It’s all good.
The pizzas lean very Brooklyn crust with straight Neapolitan toppings. The crust is wood-fired, giving it a chewy center and a wonderfully charred edge. The toppings are fresh and bright. They feel like they’ve just arrived from the farm and went straight onto the pizza. Spris is classic pizza that’s executed damn near perfectly. You can’t beat that.
GEORGIA: S&J’s Woodfired Pizza, Atlanta
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Picking a place in Georgia is a tough job. The state has three great food centers between Atlanta, Athens, and Savannah (no disrespect to Macon). With that great food culture, comes great pizza.
We’re going with one of the most unique pizza spots in the country right now for our pick in the Peach State. The mobile pizza kitchen, S&J Woodfired Pizza is a moving pizza oven that turns out some of the best pies in the whole state. This all started when the eponymous S&J (Sarah and John) left the world of nursing behind to follow their pizza dreams. Instead of opening a brick and mortar like everyone else, they went mobile with a pizza food truck pulling a trailer which houses a wood-fired oven.
The pizzas are a testament to S&J’s devotion to local and seasonal. Their hand tossed dough is topped with ingredients from farms around Atlanta and Georgia. That devotion makes their pizzas unique and fun. The style is very Neapolitan with a Southern edge. If you’re in the Atlanta area, look for their portable wood-fired oven at farmer’s markets around the city. You won’t be disappointed.
HAWAI’I: Proof Public House, Honolulu
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Hawai’i and pizza are a great mix. You can spend a day in the water or lounging on an idyllic hidden beach then wander into town for a little slice of pizza heaven and maybe a drink or two. Proof Public House offers everything you want in a pizzeria in paradise: Great pies, on point drinks, and plenty of fresh air.
The pizzas at Proof are either “build your own” or specialty pies that are straight ingenious and very local. Or you can just grab a slice and a beer and move along. We recommend sitting down, ordering a cocktail, and sharing a whole pizza here. It’ll be a one-of-a-kind experience.
Proof’s pizzas shine with a medium thin crust that brings a nice crunch that gives way to a soft bready core. The toppings are stellar. Char-siu pork, grass-fed ground beef, Huli chicken, sweet dates, and pocho sausage help make the menu pop. Their Fried Rice Pizza is a can’t-miss for pizza lovers everywhere. The crust is topped with char-siu pork, bacon, pocho sausage, sweet peas and carrots, kimchi, and oyster sauce. It’s basically all the components of an awesome bowl of fried rice put on top of a pizza crust.
Sounds strange? Guess what: It absolutely works; as do all of the pies at Proof.
IDAHO: Enoteca, Ketchum
Ketchum, Idaho is a wondrous place. The town is basically surrounded by the magnificent and remote Sawtooth National Forest. It’s an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise and also home to some of the best Neapolitan wood-fired pizzas on the west coast.
Enoteca has a super hot wood-fired oven for a short list of well-thought-out pies that can stand up with the best from Los Angeles to New York. Over the years, Ketchum’s Mason family has been opening up local restaurants that focus on bringing the best food to the community with both an international eye and local flare. Enoteca hits that mark plumb and true.
The small pizza menu here shines brightly through truly innovative pies, pitch-perfect crust, and a freshness to the toppings. The “Wine Auction” pizza is a must-try — with fresh grapes, wonderfully sweet caramelized onions, and funky gorgonzola. Then there’s The Mercantile, which has local lamb sausage, bell peppers, olives, and smoked mozzarella. One bite of one of these pizzas and you’ll be hooked for life.
ILLINOIS: Pat’s Pizza, Chicago
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Okay. We went back a forth a lot here. Chicago has been pigeoned-holed as the place of deep dish pizza — so much so that deep dish is colloquially called Chicago-Style these days. We’re not sure about that. We love deep dish and would be remiss not to shout out Giordano’s, Pequod’s, Burt’s, and even Lou Malnati’s for their seriously amazing pies. But… deep dish isn’t really the everyday pie people in Chicago or Illinois eat. That honor goes to Tavern-Style pizza. That’s a thin crust pie that’s cut into squares and is goddamn delicious every single time.
Pat’s Pizza is a Chicago institution. The whole joint has a classic atmosphere with deep booths, dark red walls, checkered table clothes, and plenty of charm. It’s also simple and straightforward with plastic cups for sipping fizzy drinks and great service to go along with great pizza.
Speaking of the pizza, you go to Pat’s to order a “Thin Crust” pie. Pat’s Special is always the way to go. It’s a big ol’ pizza smothered in mozz, pepperoni, green peppers, mushrooms, and onions. From there, you can build your own pie with a wide range of Chicago-inspired and classic pizza toppings from sliced beef to provolone to shrimp and fresh ricotta. Our advice, order the special and dig in. You won’t be disappointed.
INDIANA: Mother Bear’s Pizza, Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana is a quintessential college town. And like all college towns, there’s a great pizza to be had. Mother Bear’s Pizza is the perfect mix of good times and great pizza, making it our pick for the Hoosier state.
Mother Bear’s strength lies in its chill vibes and great pies. The old wooden tables and graffiti-covered wood-paneled walls give the place a welcoming and convivial atmosphere. Add in a serious beer bottle list and Two-Hearted Ale on tap and you’ve got the best pizza experience in Indiana on your hands.
The pizza to eat at Mother Bear’s is the traditional pan crust. Think of it like a Detriot-Style crust but round instead of square. It’s got a wonderful chewiness to it that gives way to a deep pan-crisp crust — it’s kind of like Pizza Hut, done well. The tangy red sauce, heaps of mozz, and motley toppings add even more greatness to the pies. You can build your own pizzas and get super funky with six different sauces, a long list of fruit and vegetables, and a lot of meats including “gourmet” sausages and “Hoosier Ham.” If that’s too much to ask, grab an Archie Pizza with imported pepperoni, fresh mushrooms, and plenty of jalapenos. It’s dope.
IOWA: Great Plains Sauce and Dough Co., Ames
The owners of Great Plains Sauce and Dough Co. may have inadvertently created the Iowa-Style pizza. Their Colorado-Style thick crust with rolled edges is made with whole wheat, giving the pies and an extra layer of heft. The pizza bridges the thickness meter between the standard Costco-type medium crust and classic deep dish. It’s unique, delicious, and you’ll only really find it in Iowa.
This pizza joint is a classic spot. The wood-paneling and booths will take you back to all those times you and your parents just needed to get out of the house for a night and a great pizza was in order. It comes complete with the smells of baking cheese and spicy tubed meats and the distinct rapping of the pizza pans going in and out of ovens and landing on tables.
The pies here are some of the most unique in the region. We recommend sticking with their thick crust whole wheat base. It’s got a maltiness to it that works wonders with a nice pint of beer. There’s no skimping on the toppings here. The cheese is piled high and then whatever you want is added next with more cheese to finish the pizza off just right. The Prairie Special is a great place to get an idea of the wonderful pies at Great Plains. It’s a hefty pizza with pepperoni, house-made pork sausage, diced onions, and diced green peppers. Once you try it, you’ll have a new found respect for the thick crust pies with a seriously thick folded rim.
KANSAS: Papa Keno’s, Lawrence
Papa Keno’s out in Lawrence, Kansas (shout out to Supernatural fans) turns out jumbo slices of pizza slices similar to what you’d see in the Washington, DC area. The huge slices at Papa Keno’s are another example of how the Midwest takes all the best aspects of the pizza culture in America and nails them.
Papa Keno’s also flat-out nails the pizzeria aesthetic. The red brick walls, old wooden bar, killer drinks list, oily red pepper flake and parm shakers, live music, and chilled out vibe make this place a must stop. The great pizza only adds to the draw here.
Generally, people order a slice of what’s going. Trust us, they’re huge. The pies are 26 inches. To put that in perspective, the pizzas at Costco are 16 inches. That’s a huge difference. There are 14-inch and 18-inch thin crust pies if you have to have your own pizza and there’s a spectacular deep dish on the menu as well. We say stick with whatever slices are hot-out-of-the-oven when you sit down and add a great pitcher of beer. You can’t go wrong with the crisp and doughy crust and classic and well-executed toppings. It’s always gonna be great.
Protip: Do yourself a favor and order the Mama K’s Pesto Formaggio dip for your pizza crusts. You can thank us later.
KENTUCKY: Impellizzeri’s Pizza, Louisville
Benny Impellizzeri started baking pies back in the 1970s. His innovation was to double up the layering of toppings and cheese. This trick was a huge hit and Louisville-style pizza was born.
Impellizzeri’s Pizza is a great spot for great pizza in Louisville. There are five joints around town to pick from. We can’t really decide which is best. Each spot has that little bit of old-school pizza parlor charm with plenty of red bricks, neon, greasy parm and red pepper flake shakers, and old aluminum serving pans that have been used a gazillion times.
The pizzas come in many forms at Impellizzeri’s. The classic pie is the thick crust. There’s also a stellar thin crust, gluten-free, and “Sicilian” deep crust. We definitely recommend the classic thick crust as it’ll give you the best sense of what Louisville-style pizza is. The soft dough supports heaps of cheese and toppings. This is fortifying pizza that’s as indulgent as it’s delicious. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better or more unique pizza in the whole Ohio Valley.
LOUISIANA: Fleur de Lis Pizza, Baton Rouge
This was a tough choice, people. Louisiana is a food haven. A land of oysters, po’ boys, dirty rice and beans, endless Bloody Marys, and so much more. This is a wholly unique corner of American food culture and the pizza is as delicious and unique as it gets.
We’re going deep for this one. Fleur de Lis Pizza in Baton Rouge does a special pie that’s called “Roman Pizza.” It’s a long rectangular pie that’s cut into smaller squares a la the Roman pizza al taglio. Before we get into the pies, we would be remiss not to mention how cool this joint is in general. There’s a very old school neon sign on the street advertising “Roman Pizza” in bright red letters. The inside is a wood-paneled throwback dive bar that feels like a home-away-from-home when you walk in. It’s all real atmosphere and thick nostalgia.
Then there are the Roman pizzas. The pies have a fairly thin crust. Not so thin as to be a German Flammkuchen cracker but not so thick to be an NY slice. Sweet red sauce, hard mozz, and toppings are piled on. It’s cut into squares and you dig in. Their signature pizza, the “Round The World,” is the perfect introductory pizza. It’s topped with anchovy, Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, pepperoni, and salami. It’s a little over-the-top, or exactly how you want food in Louisiana to be.
MAINE: Otto Pizza, Portland
Otto Pizza in Portland kills the pizza game. Their deep menu, friendly atmosphere, and pizza parlor vibes make this place shine. Otto feels like a place you could post up in for a long spell. The pies are a nice balance between classic American styles and innovative recipes that’ll inspire you to seek a wider pizza world.
Otto’s mashed potato, bacon, and scallion pie is a revelation. We know what you’re thinking, “Mashed potatoes on pizza sounds bananas!” You’re so wrong, dear reader. Mashed potato on pizza is divine — in fact, more pizzas need more potato action. That’s just a fact. Yet another pizza that’ll change your opinion on the form is their Veg pie with butternut squash, fresh ricotta, and cranberry. The mixture of creamy fresh cheese and tart berries with the earthy and sweet nature of the squash is a masterstroke of pizza making.
If all that beautiful pizza isn’t your jam, don’t worry. They’ll still sling you an old-school pepperoni or sausage pie. Though, we’d be remiss not to mention their cheese pizza that’s topped with cheese tortellini. It’s shockingly addictive and, perhaps oddly, still manages to be light.
MARYLAND: Matthew’s Pizza, Baltimore
Maryland is probably more known for Old Bay and soft shell crabs than pizza. And, you know what, that’s okay. Old Bay and crabs are fantastic and make Maryland well-worth the visit. However, there’s a pizza place that definitely deserves a quick stop for a unique and delicious pie.
Matthew’s Pizza has been around for long enough to feel classic and well lived in. The hole-in-the-wall aura is melded with a really chill pizza parlor feel — there’s plenty of coziness and Italian-American kitsch. Greasy parm shakers aside, the pizza here rocks.
There are two pies you’ll have to try when you roll into Matthew’s. First, you need to indulge in a Crab Pie. Seriously. The mix of real backfin crab meat with hand-grated mozz and imported Reggianito cheese from Argentina is then topped with caramelized onions and, of course, Old Bay. It’s a bit like a spicy crab melt via pizza form and it’s delicious. After you’ve downed that, order an Anna’s Stuffed Pie. This is a sort of a deep dish pizza by way of Baltimore — loaded with provolone and cured meats and topped with more mozzarella. It’s a bomb of a pizza that hits just the right balance of delectable and satisfying.
MASSACHUSETTS: Santarpio’s Pizza, Boston
There’s a lot of good pizza of every variety in Massachusetts and, especially Boston. While it’d be easy to pick a post-modern spot in the center of the city that serves trendy pies in an Instagrammable setting, we’re going simple and delicious.
Santarpio’s Pizza is a down-and-dirty pizza joint that cares about putting out the best classic American pies imaginable. The pizza at Santarpio’s isn’t reinventing any wheels or challenging any so-called norms. This is the pizza you likely grew up with done the same way it’s been done for decades. Hand-tossed in-house dough, slightly sweet red sauce, tons of cheese, with all the pepperoni, sausage, bell peppers, and olives.
Think of pizza at Santarpio’s like the grandfather of what Domino’s was going for — way back in the day when it started. Santarpio’s pizzas feel like a sublime version of pizza that fast food imitates but never really nails. It’s easy to eat, yet 100 percent delicious. It goes perfectly with a cheap can of beer and a backyard party. You can’t beat that.
MICHIGAN: Buddy’s Pizza, Detroit
Detroit-style pizza is a delight — a heavy delight, but a delight nonetheless. The pizza has a thick, doughy crust that’s baked in plenty of oil (or fat) to really crisp up the outer layer. The cheese and sauce create a holy alliance below whatever you choose to pile on toppings-wise. It’s a square of wonder and it deserves a lot more respect on the national stage than it gets.
There are a lot of chains slinging Detriot-Style pizza across the Motor City. We had to go with a favorite local chain, Buddy’s Pizza. The pies here are dense and delicious and you can find them at eleven locations around Detroit and one spot in Ann Arbor.
Buddy’s has been firing their square pizzas since the 1930s so they’ve got their pies down to a science. Generally, you order a pizza and then add toppings one at a time. This allows you to have it your way. That’s great and all but you might want to try The Detroiter. It’s topped with cheese and tomato basil sauce with pepperoni then topped with shaved parmesan and “Buddy’s Sicilian spice blend.” It’s a signature pie that serves as a great place to start your love affair with Detroit-Style pizza.
MINNESOTA: Pizza Nea, Minneapolis
It gets cold up Minnesota way. That means you need a solid pizza every now and then to keep the winter from biting too hard. Luckily, there are gobs of options around the state. We have to go with a spot in Minneapolis that balances Neapolitan traditions with Minnesotan heft.
Pizza Nea, in the center of Minneapolis, is as assuming as it is fantastic. The brick walls of the dining room make you feel like you’re further east. The beer list is an on-point selection of local craft and international heavy-hitters. Overall, this is just a nice place to pull up a chair and watch the chefs throw pies into a blazing wood-fired oven.
Pizza Nea leans heavily towards the pizza ways of Italy but keeps things local, fresh, and hand-made. The hand-pulled dough is that perfect balance of chewy and wood-fired crunchy — with a delightful yeast funk lingering the background. The toppings are Neapolitan by way of the harbors of New York with a focus on umami-bomb cured meats, bright red fruits, green herbs, fresh mozz, and hard parmesan. Grab a “white” pie Con Uovo (with two runny eggs) and a little pancetta and an Indeed B-Side Pilsner and you’ll be set for a great meal.
MISSISSIPPI: Stromboli’s Italian Eatery, Starkville
Stromboli’s Italian Eatery makes serious pizza. They make serious baked sandwiches, actual stromboli, and calzones too — but it’s the pizza were after here. The pizzeria bridges old-school neon Americana with modern (Instagrammable) street art surrounding some damn good food. The chill atmosphere of the restaurant will draw you in with the smells of baking cheese and pepperoni on bread. Once you take a bite, you’ll be hooked for life.
The pizza here is unique to say the very least. They’re a little bit of the Colorado and Iowa styles with a big puffy rim around the crust that’s sometimes folded over. The difference here is that Stromboli’s crust has a lightness that’s divine. The thick, fluffy crust means you have a serious piece of bread for dipping into a nice marinara or ranch once you’ve eaten the core of the slice.
The toppings lean towards classic American. There are definite standouts like the Muffaletta. The olive mix, salami, ham, pepperoni, and mozz make a lot of sense and bring a slightly briny new dimension to a standard olive pizza.
MISSOURI: Shakespeare’s Pizza, Columbia
St. Louis’s famed cracker crust pies are a delight. But, like Illinois, we had to go a different direction. No disrespect to places like Imo’s Pizza who are doing amazing St. Louis-Style pies. We love you too. We just love our favorite MO. pizza joint a little bit more.
Some people will claim Shakespeare’s Pizza in Columbia, Missouri has the best pizza in the world. They may be letting nostalgia lead their senses a little and that’s okay. What we know for sure is that these are the best pizzas in Missouri. Shakespeare’s nails the pizzeria vibe. This place is so quintessentially an American pizza joint that you could easily imagine it popping up as a location in Stranger Things or any Steven Spielberg family sci-fi drama.
In the end, it’s the pizzas that count. Shakespeare’s isn’t reinventing the wheel. They’re taking tried and true American-Style pizza practices and knocking them out of the park. The medium-thick crusts with a hint of yeast, the stringy mozz, and the array of classic toppings make this place a gold standard of the “Classic American” pizzeria world. It’s the details that matter here. The dough is hand stretched from a massive dough mountain. The ingredients are fresh. The atmosphere is jovial. All of that makes for amazing pizza. In fact, that’s what matters most in this quest: Good times and good pies.
MONTANA: Biga Pizza, Missoula
Missoula has a lot going for it. The college town sits next to some of the biggest wilderness in the country — Glacier National Park is practically their backyard. People come to Missoula and invariably get stuck due to the vibe. That means there’s a lot going on in the food scene that makes the city shine.
Biga Pizza was started by a transplant from New Jersey, so Biga’s pedigree runs deep. Bob Marshall moved out to Missoula to study at UofM’s culinary program. He ended up staying and eventually opened a pizzeria that focuses on the local and seasonal bounty in a way that also embraces Italian tradition. Or, more simply put, Marshall makes amazing pizza pies.
Everything is well-thought out at Biga Pizza. The dough has a heritage that leads back to the first pies fired in their oven — since they use the traditional “biga” method to start their doughs. That’s basically using the previous day’s dough to start the next day’s. From there, Biga’s toppings rotate depending on what’s good right now. Expect local, fresh, and imaginative flavors. Sausages are made in-house and cheeses are carefully curated. This is comfort food done well and it’s damn addictive.
NEBRASKA: Dash Pizzeria, Kearney
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The little green bag at Flippin' Sweet in Kearney, Nebraska! – Pesto, artichokes, spinach, sundried tomatoes, pistachios and mushroom. HEAVEN. We started crying it was so good. – #flippinsweetpizza #pizza #eatourworld #localbusiness #foodie #foodporn #flippinsweet #kearney #NE #smalltown
The Flippin Sweet eateries around Kearney, Nebraska are the perfect balance of hip and grounded. That chillness translates to their quirky and delicious menu. We don’t use the word ‘quirky’ lightly here. The pizzas at Dash Pizzeria are some of the most imaginative… maybe anywhere in the United States right now.
Dash Pizzeria is easy to get stuck in. The spot has a trendy vibe that’s also welcoming. The menu is the highlight here but don’t sleep on their serious beer list — it’s full of local craft and national favorites to help wash down a funky pie.
Dash and The Flippin Sweet chain focuses in on what’s local and fresh right now. So, there will be times that some of the ingredients on the menu simply aren’t available. That also means you’ll get some seriously unique pies. A great place to start is with their Tennenbaum pie. Dash’s perfectly executed crust is topped with a fig butter sauce, bacon, roasted garlic, pistachios, arugula, balsamic glaze, and finished with shaved parmesan. There’s nothing quite like and it’s delectable. After that, order their super local and super mouthwatering The Dude. That’s topped with spicy arrabbiata sauce, smoked elk sausage, smoked buffalo sausage, curry-smoked onions, and smoked cheese. All of it’s made locally or in-house and, again, wholly unique. You simply won’t get these pizzas anywhere else in the world.
NEVADA: Five50 Pizza Bar, Las Vegas
Picking a pizza place in Nevada is tough. Las Vegas dominates the conversation, simply because all the big name chefs open up shop somewhere near the Strip. This is not to say you can’t find amazing pizza in Reno, Carson City, or Tahoe. You can. It’s just really hard to beat the heights of the Vegas food scene, baby.
We tapped friend to Uproxx, podcast Tsar and pizza enthusiast, Adam Tod Brown, for his favorite pizza spot in Vegas. After a glowing recommendation for Five50 at the Aria, we had to see for ourselves and Brown was right. It’s the best.
Five50 doesn’t do some fancy-schmancy overwrought pizza. Instead, the place makes good, old-fashioned pies that hit on the best elements of New York and Naples at once. The success of this pizza joint is due to James Beard award-winning chef Shawn McClain’s desire to keep it simple and delicious. The pies have that perfect thinness with a little heft to the crust and a slightly yeasty bite. The toppings stay within a narrow lane of classics that are done with a little elevation but not so much so as to alienate. The North Beach pie, for instance, has clams, smoked mozz, sweet onions, and fresh oregano. You just can’t beat those flavors.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Pig Tale Restaurant, Nashua
New Hampshire, like it’s New England neighbors, relishes in the local bounty and farm-to-table is taken very seriously. This makes for great local restaurants and great local pizza that leans towards the ingenious. Farm-to-table restaurant Pig Tale is doing some of the best pizza in New England with a laser focus on keeping things fresh while making sure it’s always satisfying.
Pig Tale serves a great local menu in a “friend’s living” room setting. Their burgers, fried chicken and waffles, and mac ‘n cheese are fabulous. Then there’s a full bar of killer cocktails, well thought out bottles of wine, and a dope beer list of local heavy-hitters. But, we’re not here to talk about that. This is about the pizza, baby.
The pies are wood-fired masterpieces that’ll have you rethinking what you can put on a pizza. If you only have room to try one, get the Rooster. Their beautiful crust is topped with six (!) local eggs, heaps of bacon, crunchy shoestring fries, bright green onion, and plenty of melty cheese. It’s basically brunch is pizza form. If you can’t dig it, then grab their signature Pig Tale pizza. It’s topped with succulent pork shoulder, bacon, fontina, local country sausage, piquant pickled onions, and dashes of house-made BBQ sauce. It’s a hefty delight of flavors and textures.
NEW JERSEY: Al Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizza, Elizabeth
As important as the ingredients are to a great pizza, the oven is just as important if not more so. An oven that’s been seasoned by generations of pizzaiolos doing what pizzaiolos do means you’ll have a completely unique pizza baking experience. Santillo’s has one such oven and the pies getting fired inside its hot walls are stellar.
Santillo’s in an unassuming pizza joint that looks like a place Tony Soprano drove past every day on his way to “work.” It’s pure Jersey hole-in-the-wall with all the charm of a classic pizza joint that doesn’t have time for frills. The pies coming out of Santillo’s are classic Italian-American masterpieces that hit you in the depths of your pizza-loving heart.
Generally, you can get either a “round” pie that’s not quite New York style thin but not Costco thick or an old-school “Sicilian” pie with a thickness that makes it feel like a proto-Detroit-style pizza (which it essentially is). They’re both great so it’s really dealer’s choice. From there, a long list of classic toppings from anchovies and clams to spicy pepperoni and thick cut sausage to big ol’ mushrooms and eggplant dominate the menu. Whatever you choose, it’ll be fired in a 100-year-old oven, so keep your expectations high.
NEW MEXICO: Giovanni’s Pizzeria, Albuquerque
Giovanni’s Pizzeria is a spot on, small pizzeria in a strip mall. Let’s be honest, strip malls are one of America’s best inventions. Anywhere you can get a massage, car insurance, a six-pack, weed, and great food within a few steps of each other is a win. Giovanni’s keeps it simple. The red-checkered table clothes, the straightforward and delicious menu, the old Formica booths — they all tell you that the pizza is what’s important here.
The pies at Giovanni’s aren’t reinventing the wheel. What they do is take New York-style Neapolitan pizza and execute it perfectly. The crust is just the right amount of thin and chewy, with a nice bit of char around the rim. The cheese is gooey mozz and the toppings are all the classic Italian-American standards: Italian sausage, spicy pepperoni, peppers, olives, anchovies, meatballs, plenty of garlic, and — in keeping with New Mexico tradition — green chiles.
You can build your own pie, of course, but we really recommend Giovanni’s Supreme with pepperoni, mushrooms, bell peppers, olives, green chile, sausage, and onion. Imagine the best possible version of a Domino’s Supreme and you’ll be getting close to how good Giovanni’s tastes.
NEW YORK: Di Fara, Brooklyn
This was a struggle. Totonno’s, Roberta’s, and Lucali all deserve a special nod here. They’re each spectacular in their own right. But, as special as the pizza in those joints are, they don’t have the “Dom” factor.
Domenico De Marco has been slinging the best pies in Brooklyn since 1965 at Di Fara. That’s 53 years of making pies — or ten thousand hours about 50 times over. There’s a subtle nature to Dom’s pies that transcends. You feel the history, precision, and skill in each crust. The toppings are just the right balance of not too much but enough to be satisfying. This is the sort of pizza that you take your first bite of and your eyes slowly close as your head gets a little light.
Look, Dom has been making pizza for half-a-century and, right now, you can go to Brooklyn and eat a pie made by the Italian-American master. That’s, sadly, not going to last forever — so this experience is fleeting. He cooks up 150 pies a day. When they’re out, that’s it until tomorrow. Take the opportunity and get your ass to Brooklyn to eat a slice of pie made by a living legend. Then maybe eat one or two more. Then make sure to carry out a Di Fara Chaos pie to eat when you get home.
NORTH CAROLINA: Lilly’s Pizza, Raleigh and Durham
North Carolina has a varied and deeply good pizza scene. One place does stand out with a great selection and a great story to boot. Lilly’s Pizza started off as a side gig for a few musicians. They launched a fun little carry-out/ walk-up joint in an old biker bar. People loved their pizza so much, they started bringing their own lawn chairs and a scene was created around an amazing pizza. Today, the crew has two brick and mortars in the Raleigh-Durham area and they’re still slinging great pies.
The pizza is unique at Lilly’s. The crusts are hand-tossed and a tad thicker than a Costco pizza crust. It has a nice density that can withstand a pile of toppings — that’s a good thing. You can build your own pizza from a long list of organic, seasonal, and local ingredients or just dive into one of their specials. The Big Star with pesto, mozz, gorgonzola, fontina, roasted red peppers, parmesan, and a sprinkling of pistachios is a cheesy, funky, and textural delight.
You’re going to need to hit this place more than once if you’re in town. The pizzas are so funky and delicious that one visit won’t be enough.
NORTH DAKOTA: Fireflour Pizza & Coffee, Bismarck
North Dakota is low-key becoming a serious food destination. The access to local and seasonal ingredients is key to that success and you can see the benefits in the pizza in the state’s capital. Fireflour Pizza is making some serious Neapolitan pies that can stand up next to the best Chicago, L.A., or New York have to offer.
This pizza joint rises above thanks, in part, to its location. It’s chic pizza in an unpretentious setting. You’ll never feel like an outsider here. It’s welcoming, homey, and warm. The white tiles and small dining room give way to an open kitchen full of pizzaiolo’s tossing dough and firing pies. It’s comfort writ large.
Where Fireflour shines is their inventive-bordering-on-avant-garde use of toppings. Their 48-hour fermented dough is hand stretched and topped with either “red” or “white” sauces. From there, an array of organic, local, seasonal, and in-house crafted toppings are piled high. They bring in fresh, hand-stretched mozz from Wisconsin, Berkshire pork from humane farms, and as much local produce as possible. This all makes it a little too hard to pick just one pizza to try. So, we guess, you’re just going to have to taste them all.
OHIO: Harvest Pizzeria, German Village
With a laser-tight focus on local ingredients and suppliers, Harvest Pizzeria has started to dominate the pizza scene in Ohio. Italian food, at its core, is about using what’s in season and around you to make amazing food. Harvest has taken that to heart with their pies.
Harvest Pizzeria is a pretty chill local chain that focuses on serving great pizza in a low-key setting with well-curated wine and beer lists. The cocktails, beer, and food are all stellar without the pretensions of some frou-frou establishment with waiting lists. You can walk in, order some great food and drink, and take your time to really enjoy it. That’s a win.
The pizza at Harvest really is that good. The crusts are in the Neapolitan style and have a nice thinness that gives way to a wood-fire charred cornice. Then there are the toppings. Harvest focuses on what’s local and fresh right now. Fresh and local mozz and blue goat cheese are just the tip of the pizza-iceberg. Locally cured meats, fresh and bright veg and fruit from the area are the real highlights.
This is local pizza done right.
OKLAHOMA: Eagle One Pizza, Oklahoma City & Midwest City
A great pizza joint doesn’t need any frills. It just has to sling great pies and people will come again and again. OKC’s Eagle One Pizza hits that mark perfectly.
Eagle One Pizza is the pizza joint your parents picked up pies from when they were just too tired to cook but still wanted a hot dinner that kept the kids quiet. There’s something universal about the place, from the black and white checkered floor to the ever-so-slightly greasy parmesan and red pepper flake shakers. Eagle One feels like home.
It helps that the pizza rocks, of course. The pies are what we’d like to call “classic American.” They’re big pies with a medium, hand-tossed crust that stay nice and gooey towards the middle while crisping up nicely towards the crust (they do have a thin crust option as well). The sauce has that nice hint of sweet next to the tomato umami edge. The mozzarella is heaped on generously and the toppings are classic — pepperoni, Italian sausage, bell peppers, mushrooms, black olives, jalapenos dominate.
Think of the pizzas at Eagle One like a Costco or Domino’s pie done just for you with tender loving care every time. It’s what you know but done better and it will put a smile on your face.
OREGON: Apizza Scholls, Portland
Apizza Scholls is legendary at this point. People drive down from Seattle to get this Portland mainstay. And if Washingtonians are giving into something from Oregon with a smile on their faces, you know it’s special.
Apizza Scholls got a huge boost from early-years Anthony Bourdain when he raved about the pies in season three of No Reservations. In the years since it’s maintained its rep as a quintessential American pizzeria. The atmosphere in the dining room is both hip and friendly. You can try and beat the high score on an old arcade game or just sit at the altar of pizza and gorge. Your choice. We recommend a bit of both.
The pizzas are a nice balance of PNW tavern pies styles with a touch of Neapolitan refinement. The crust errs on the side of thin with a big and bubbly ring around the edge, giving you that nice balance of dense cornice leading to thin base. In good PDX tradition, the toppings lean local and seasonal along with classic pizzeria staples. Grab a nice sausage pizza with fresh basil or one of our favs with local clams with bacon. For the latter, you’ll have to show up on a Monday or Tuesday. But, trust us, clams-on-pizza move is worth the wait for one of those briny and salty delights.
PENNSYLVANIA: Pizzeria Beddia, Philadelphia
Pizza Beddia walks a fine line between trendy branding and amazing pizza. This is a pizzeria that knows that the pizza comes first and the shirts and Instagrams come second. Beddia has created a mini pizza empire out of a tiny Philly spot and now it’s poised to go worldwide.
None of this would be possible if the pizza wasn’t phenomenal. The pizza is so good that as of March 31st, Beddia has been closed so it can open up shop in a bigger location to deal with the lines of people waiting for a pie. Look at it this way, if people are willing to wait out in the snow to get a pizza, then you know it’s goddamn delicious.
As with all good pizza, it all starts with the dough. The fermentation, hand-stretching, and flame firing make for a perfect balance of chew and crispiness with a hint of yeasty funk. From there, the toppings stay simple, fresh, local, and seasonal with a generous nod to classics like spicy pepperoni or sausage. But, in all honesty, the simpler the pies the better. Their pie with red sauce, anchovies, garlic, and a dusting of cheese is a miracle of flavors and textures. It’s just great pizza at the end of the day.
RHODE ISLAND: The Village Hearth Bakery, Jamestown
Like some of the best pizza places from Palermo to Los Angeles, The Village Hearth Bakery’s pizza started out with bakers mastering the subtle art of dough and baking first — then came the pizza. The bakers behind Village Hearth mastered that art and became so popular they had to turn their house into bakery and restaurant to deal with the popularity. Their garage became the baking floor and workshop. Their living room is now a seating area.
The pizzas are Village Hearth focus on two tenets: Great bread base and the freshest and most local ingredients they can get their hands on. This makes for not only great pizza but for unique pies that you may only get once in your life. The cozy atmosphere of the bakery is hinged around a hand-built and beautiful wood-fired oven that’s been producing an amazing amount of baked goods for nearly 20 years now. This is an oven that feels like an altar to the greatness of bread and pizza.
Here’s the rub, you can’t just show up here and order a pizza any ol’ time. They have pizza nights on Saturdays and Sundays for three hours each day (from 4:30 to 7:30). That’s a narrow window to score one of these masterpieces. Generally, each night has a special and a Margherita. That’s it. The Margherita has mildly spicy tomato sauce, fresh mozz, and a smattering of local hard cheddar with fresh basil. You’ll have to follow their social media to know what the special will be. Or, just show up and be surprised. It’ll always be a local and seasonal pizza that’ll delight your taste buds. You’re like Parker Lewis, you can’t lose.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Andolini’s Pizza, Charleston
Charleston is one of America’s premier food cities. It should come as no surprise there’s great pizza here. Andolini’s Pizza has been making sure the pizza scene stays strong for almost three decades now.
The chain has three locations around the city — each of them are great so we’re not going to single one out here. The places have a chill pizza parlor vibe with plenty of wood tables, big plastic cups for soda, airy patios, and big open pizza kitchens (so you can watch the magic happen).
The pizza is freakin’ fantastic, obviously. The pies are close to a New York style with a thin, chewy crust. The toppings tend to lean classic Americana pizza with plenty of sausages, pepperoni, onions, peppers, and olives. But it doesn’t end there, they like to have a little fun with their pizza with Bacon Cheeseburger pizzas and Meatball specials. Our suggestion is to grab a slice of whatever the Monday Special is (if you’re there on a Monday that is). Or, just grab any two large slices and a can of PBR for seven bucks. It’s all good.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Charlie’s Pizza House, Yankton
Not far from the banks of the Missouri River in the small burg of Yankton, you’ll find South Dakota’s oldest and best pizza joint. Just look for an old neon sign that screams 1950s Americana and you’ll be in the right place.
Charlie’s Pizza House has a straight-up roadside diner feel to it. You can snag pitchers of root beer to wash down the pies and drink from old mason jars. You’ll feel like you’re at a friend’s place more than a restaurant — a friend’s place that just so happens to have amazing pizza.
The pies at Charlie’s are big and bold. The narrow ideas that pizza toppings have to fall into a certain group of cured meats and specific veg and fruit is not adhered to in Yankton. Case in point, their Three Stooges pizza with ground beef, bacon, cheddar, and spears of dill pickles will change your life. The pickles are put on after the pizza is fired so they still have that wonderful, briny crunch and it rocks as part of a pizza. Another great concept is the Hawaiian Elvis with has ham, pineapple, and sauerkraut baked right in. It’s a fermented delight that pairs amazingly well with the acidic sweetness of the pineapple and the savoriness of the ham.
We know, it all sounds so weird and different. Trust us, it’s revelatory.
TENNESSEE: Aldo’s Pizza Pies, Memphis
You thought we’d go with the too-cool-for-school kids and pick a parlor in Nashville, didn’t you? Well, sorry, the best pizza in Tennessee is in Memphis.
Aldo’s Pizza Pies wins out for having a great atmosphere alongside killer pies. Aldo’s is the sort of spot where you’re bound to have a good time with friends while eating great pizza, drinking superior beer, and, likely, getting a few shots for your Instagram feed.
Instagrams aside, the pizzas really is the star of the show. The crusts are New York inspired with a nice heft but a little more refinement — there’s slightly more airiness at play in Aldo’s crusts. The toppings are unique and visionary with great combos on the menu. They make their own in-house mozz, which is fantastic, fresh, and creamy. Pies like the Trippy Truffle are loaded with four different fungi and plenty of cheese. If it’s not local or housemade, it’s not going on Aldo’s pizzas and that’s why this place is the best.
TEXAS: Via 313, Austin
We’re leading off in this region with a Detriot-style pizza joint, based in Austin. We know that may be blasphemous to Texans, but there’s not really a “Texan” style pizza.
Via 313 takes the Sicilian-inspired Detriot Style pizza and knocks it out of the park. The company’s locations around Austin also help make this place a must-visit for any weary traveler looking to fill up on fantastic pizza pie and a well-crafted beer. The three brick and mortars are bolstered by two pizza trailers — one at Buford’s Backyard Beer Garden and another at Craft Pride on Rainey Street. As great as a lot of pizza is around Austin and all over Texas, you really can’t beat the good vibes at Via 313.
Detriot Style pizza is a kind of like pizza in reverse — some people even call it “upside down” pizza. Basically, Via 313’s pizzas are built upon a super soft and chewy crust with a serious crispiness from the pan and the oil it’s baked in. Pepperoni goes on first, then the cheese, then more toppings, and, finally, the sauce. The cheese starts to bubble up through the sauce and sort of emulsify into a brilliant layer of saucy cheese. The last ripple is the rectangular shape. It makes so much sense when you eat it that you’ll almost forget most pizzas are pie shaped.
Try The 500 first. It has naturally cased pepperoni, pickled jalapenos, and full rings of canned pineapple. It’s sweet, spicy, cheesy, meaty, chewy, and crunchy all at once. In other words, it’s a goddamn delight.
UTAH: The Pie Pizzeria – Underground, Salt Lake City
The Pie Pizzeria is a Salt Lake City institution with locations across the city. But, we’re going to be bold and pick just one location from the local chain. That’s not to say the other spots aren’t great — they are. We just dig this location the most.
The location is on the east side of town near the University of Utah. And if we’ve learned anything traveling the world and eating pizza, pizza joints near colleges tend to be top notch. The Pie – Underground is a rad little basement with graffiti-covered walls, red bulb candles, big ol’ plastic pitchers for killer craft beer, and chill vibe. The dimly lit space will draw you in and you’ll likely end up ordering just one more pitcher of the local craft. They also have a locally brewed micro root beer on tap that’s as smooth as it’s spicy.
The pies here are big and comforting. The base is a pretty standard medium thick crust or a thin crust. Both are thick enough to pile the topping high. The toppings range from the classics to a nice array of specialties of the house like whole roasted garlic cloves, spicy Sicilian tomatoes, and Cajun sausages. There’s also a nice selection of vegan options if you’re into it. We highly recommend skipping the headache of building your own pie and ordering one of their Specialties. The Thai Pie has a lush Thai peanut sauce, sliced chicken breast, pickled carrots, crunchy red onions, and Dole pineapple with fresh basil and chopped cilantro. It’s topped with a light dusting of mozzarella. It’ll leave you dreaming of coming back for more.
VERMONT: American Flatbread, Waitsfield
American Flatbread has a wholly unique philosophy when it comes to pizza. They’re looking at pizza as something that transcends Italian migration of innovation in the 19th century. They look at the combination of bread, rocks, and flame as a cornerstone of the human experience, dating back dozens and dozens of millennia. Untethered from the idea that pizza has to be “this” or “that” they’re able to create unique pies that push beyond any preconceived notion of what pizza is and can be.
We know. This is all heady stuff for simple ol’ pizza. The unique stone hearths that bake American Flatbread’s pies are just as important as the beautiful ingredients involved. This team started by thinking about making and baking bread. So the crusts here are something truly special with a distinct funk, chew, and crispness that you simply won’t find elsewhere.
American Flatbread focuses in on very local and seasonal ingredients from the abundant farms in the area. That means the pies are something special every single time. Eating a pizza at American Flatbread is an experience unlike any other, with pies you may only have once in your lifetime.
VIRGINIA: Benny’s Pizza, Across the State
The Virginia Slice is a radical icon of the pizza world and no one does it better than Benny’s Pizza. The simple pizza joint has spots all over Virginia and into the Carolinas these days. Why? Because it’s so good it can’t stop growing. The joints are unpretentious pizza parlors and walk-ups where you grab a quick slice or carry out a massive pie. It’s fast, delicious, and affordable.
The über slices of pizza are as fun as they are on point. The thin(ish) crust has a nice chew to it with just enough heft to keep it together. Generally speaking, there are slices of cheese, pepperoni, and sausage ready to go at all times. There are monthly specials but those vary by location. You can be assured that the specials are always clever and tasty.
This a great pizza that demands two paper plates. What’s not to love about that?
WASHINGTON: Waterfront Pizza, Port Townsend
There’s a lot of great pizza up in Washington State. You’ll find an awesome fast-casual concept, MOD Pizza, that’s going to go national soon. Then there’s the tavern pies you get in dive bars and old roadside pizza joints around the state. Pacific Northwest tavern pies are a bit like the ol’ kitchen sink burger — that is, you can get almost anything on them.
Waterfront Pizza in the sleepy Victorian seaside burg of Port Townsend is the epitome of a great PNW tavern pie. The old wooden shop is right on the main street (it’s called Water Street). On street level, you’ll find the pizza kitchen with an old-school wooden bar dotted with bar stools. A few feet away sit two old electric ovens that have been turning out pies for decades. There are great local beers and wines, with specialty local sodas for your sugar fix. There’s a small dining room up some creaky late 19th century steps, with another very small bar. It’s quaint and pure seaside Washington (the beach is about a one minute walk away). You can also grab a slice from an old-school rotating pizza merchandizer, which sits right on the bar downstairs.
Then there are the pizzas. The sourdough crusts are hand rolled and tossed in front of you at the downstairs pizza bar. The toppings are a mix of local ingredients and stone-cold classics. The sourdough crust offers the perfect, hefty base for pilling the toppings high. Our recommendation is to grab “Everyone’s Favorite.” That’s fresh mushrooms, sliced black olives, and a nice and spicy pepperoni pie. It’s everyone’s favorite for a reason and the perfect place to start your Waterfront Pizza love affair.
WEST VIRGINIA: The Pizza Place, Parkersburg
The Pizza Place (not to be confused with The Original Pizza Place, which ironically came later) is a West Virginia institution of one-of-a-kind pizza. The three locations around WV are classic pizza parlors with a nostalgic feel that’ll take you back to halcyon days of quarter arcades with greasy joysticks and way too many pitchers of Mountain Dew in your belly. Good times.
The pizza here is a unique mix of Sicilian proportions by way of the Ohio Valley’s love of cheese. The style of pizza you’ll find at The Pizza Place is part Sicilian sfincione, a little Detroit, and a lot West Virginia.
The square thick crusts are hand-pulled and baked to a perfect balance of chewy interior and crisp exterior. The toppings are layered more classically than Detroit’s reverse style layering but hit the same touchstones. Then small disks of piquant pepperoni are generously applied and the whole thing is baked. It’s a beautifully dense and cheesy mess of a pizza.
WISCONSIN: Fixture Pizza Pub, Milwaukee
Milwaukee’s Fixture Pizza Pub is the best of all worlds when it comes to Midwest pizza. They do a standard American crust which has the thickness of a Costco pizza. They also do a thin crust that feels very tavern-style by way of St. Louis. Then there are the deep dish pies that healthily nod to Chicago. Midwest pizza collides in all the best ways at Fixture.
Fixture also benefits from being a great bar to post up in and spend an afternoon or evening reveling, drinking, and stuffing one’s face with great pizza. The menu has some great deep cuts and the bar and beer menu is well-curated for a pizza joint.
The pizzas here hit on the classics with plenty of piquant pepperoni, savory sausage, black and green olives, and heaps of mozz dominating. There are nice nuances in the menu, like funky gorgonzola and sharp and briny giardiniera veg. As for the latter, if there’s one thing you take away from the Midwest and pizza, let it be that fermented and pickled vegetables have been missing from your pies for far too long.
WYOMING: Pinky G’s, Jackson Hole
Within striking distance of both the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, Jackson Hole gets a lot of tourism, seasonal residents, and outdoor lovers. All those people need good pizza before they start their adventure in the great wilds of Wyoming and Jackson has just the spot.
Pinky G’s keeps things simple. That doesn’t mean they don’t care deeply about their pizza. They do. The pizzas are big and comforting. These are straightforward tavern pies that come hot and delicious to your table, preferably with a nice glass of great beer to wash it all down. They’re the perfect base for filling up before a trip into the wild.
The pizza crust hits that sweet spot between not too thick and not too thin. There’s a nice crispness the bottom of the crust with a softness to the top. The toppings range in the classics. Great sausage, tasty meatballs, plenty of greens and sweet veg, and tons of cured meats make the list. The pulled pork pizza with BBQ sauce is a local favorite and a gut-bomb of a pizza. Try it at your own risk. We’d recommend grabbing a slice (or whole pie) of the Abe Forman. That’s local spicy sausage, buffalo mozz, and plenty of fresh basil. It’s a textural delight with a nice kick to go with the smooth creaminess of the cheese.
WASHINGTON, DC: 2 Amy’s
Washington, DC, has a pretty broad pizza culture. The jumbo DC slices of Adams Morgan are the stuff of drunken legend. But we’re not going with a jumbo slice this time around.
2 Amy’s was one of the first pizzerias outside of Italy to earn the Italian DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) certification. That’s given to places or foods that meet the strict cultural and quality requirements to be actual Italian specialties. In this case, it was for their Margherita DOC pie and deep love of executing some of the best Italian dishes in the DC area. The pizza has a creamy and earthy mozzarella di bufala (cheese made with wild water buffalo milk) along with the exact durum wheat you’d find at the finest pizzerias across Napoli. The type 00 flour is expertly cold fermented overnight and then proofed over wood coals from the wood-fired oven. This gives the dough that wonderful chew along with an exact level of firey char. The San Marzano tomato base is slightly sweet with an umami edge that adds bite. The basil is the brightest and freshest there is. If there’s perfection in pizza, this might be close.
So, by all means, get wasted and nosh a jumbo slice on the streets late at night. Then spend an evening at 2 Amy’s enjoying some of the best Neapolitan pizzas outside of Naples.