There is a reason why everyone loves their childhood pizza. The finest pizzerias are unique. You can find their pizzas on Instagram without a location tag. They possess unique flavors and textures that cannot be found anyplace else in the world. They are the inventor or masters of a particular style. They have inspiring histories and spaces that transport you to another place. And above all, they have tremendously dedicated people who have devoted their lives to creating a location where a little flour, sauce, and fire can create magic.
Every town in America appears to have a popular neighborhood pizzeria with old arcade games, but none of them serve pizza as ridiculously good as Apizza Scholls in Portland. Scholl’s offers thin-crust pizza, although it is not New York style. The ends are more savory and puffier, the bottom is more robust, and there is more cheese than you’d anticipate on a pie with such precision. Brian Spangler, a master bread baker, has been a pizza rock star for over 15 years. His simple pies are delicious on their own, but his toppings, especially the sausage, are equally delicious. Spangler is also a man who adheres to a code: excessive ingredients destroy pizza. Oh, and does Spangler change his collection of vintage arcade games on a regular basis? That is arguably the finest pizza I’ve ever seen at any pizzeria.
Every Austinite has a favorite taco or barbecue joint that they will defend to the grave as “the finest,” but there is no disagreement over Bufalina. This upscale pizzeria is universally adored by those fortunate enough to sample their Neapolitan-style delicacies. These delicate, skillfully shaped pies are an ode to all the possibilities dough and ingredients may achieve when combined. Complex taste combinations, such as those in the Garden Pie (which includes coconut milk, squash, corn, fennel hot sauce, and other herbs), will elevate a guilty pleasure to haute cuisine.
Di Fara Pizza
This old-school company dates back to 1965 when Italian immigrant Domenico DeMarco (“Dom”) started what would become one of Brooklyn’s most renowned pizza restaurants. You can sample Di Fara’s pizza by the slice, but you should add imported Italian ingredients such as soppressata, prosciutto, and broccoli rabe. The illustrious pizzaiolo just passed away after decades at the leadership of this renowned restaurant, yet his outstanding pizza recipes continue to carry on his legacy.
Dino’s Tomato Pie
Brandon Pettit, already the owner of Delancey, one of Seattle’s most famous pizzerias, longed for the New Jersey pies of his youth. So, Pettit did what any dough-obsessed pizzaiolo would do: he recreated the red-lamped and somber pizza place of his childhood into a meticulously built dive that pays respect to the New Jersey pizza taverns he remembers. At his Capitol Hill restaurant, he serves thick Sicilian-style pizzas topped with caramelized cheese, tangy red sauce, locally sourced toppings, and a generous amount of char. Round pizzas, such as the unassuming yet flawless White Pie, are also prevalent here. Don’t pass up a heaping dish of salad or Real Garlic Knots. And Negronis are available on tap, just so you know.
Eleventh Street Pizza
Eleventh Street Pizza is a product of convenience by restaurateur and chef David Foulqiuer, who launched a takeout store after the pandemic forced the closing of his previous restaurant, Fooq’s. Large, Brooklyn-style pies that combine a superb, spicy sauce with a crust that hits the ideal balance between crunchy and chewy became an instant hit. It is sufficient to support the pizza but insufficient to weigh it down. Moreover, there is classic Sicilian pizza, which consists of thick pan-cooked slices topped with onions, tomatoes, and herbs but no cheese. In a city where it can be difficult to distinguish between hype and reality, Eleventh Street proves that sometimes, when a project concludes, it can lead to something larger.
On a quiet street in Berkeley, the sole employee at Emilia’s Pizzeria delivers California’s finest pizza in silence. Emilia’s is best described as “coal oven-like,” despite the fact that owner Keith Freilich uses a gas oven that operates at a considerably higher temperature than most. His pizza is reminiscent of Grimaldi’s in New York, where he previously worked, but the crust is more soft and tasty, and his blend of fresh and aged cheeses is more sophisticated. It tastes significantly better than the classics from which it descends. There is only one table at Emilia’s, therefore the restaurant is largely a takeout establishment.
When Thomas McNaughton decided to launch a pizzeria, he knew he would have to modify the menu at his initial restaurant, Flour + Water, which serves excellent Neapolitan pies and even better pasta. Real Neapolitan doesn’t travel well. As it comes out of the oven, you can set a timer and be lucky if it lasts five minutes. This iteration of Flour + Water maintains McNaughton’s notoriously high standards for ingredients but eliminates leopard spots in favor of a bready, bulbous crust designed for the long haul. Even while pizza (red and white) is probably the reason you’re heading to this pizzeria, there are other delicious items on the menu, such as mozzarella sticks that are well-seasoned, gooey, and crisp on the outside, a couple of salads, and soft serve for which you should absolutely save room.
Vegas has recently developed a pizza scene comparable to that of several of the country’s pizza capitals. It cannot all be attributed to Vincent Rotolo, a veteran pizzaiolo, and his shop Good Pie, but it revolutionized the game. What began as a little pizza business in Pawn Plaza at the beginning of 2018 has expanded into its own sit-down restaurant and bar with a walk-up window offering hot slices in the wildly popular Arts District. Good Pie specializes in a variety of pizza styles, from the enormous foldable triangles of its Brooklyn style to three distinct square pies: the thin and chewy Grandma, the fluffy-but-not-too-thick Sicilian (it is the Goldilocks of the three square styles), and the densely springy Detroit with its caramelized cheese crust.
Loui’s exists in the shadow of Buddy’s, the originator of Detroit-style pizza, the vaguely Sicilian pizza that is rapidly gaining popularity around the country. The pizzas are prepared in aluminum pans with Wisconsin brick cheese that extends to the edges. The sauce is placed on top, but you’ll know you’re in Detroit when you see the wonderfully caramelized, charred edges. Buddy cannot hold a carburetor to Loui’s experience, regardless of which location has the best squares. The vast bar is decorated with what appears to be thousands of empty Chianti wine bottles, tacky lighting, and a crew that appears to have been there for decades, pouring an unrestricted variety Detroit-style. There is more cheese, more oil, and a sauce that is obviously not organic, which strangely enhances the other flavors.
Speak to pizza lovers about their favorite chef, and Sarah Minnick’s name will undoubtedly come up. Minnick is co-owner of Lovely’s 50/50, a pizzeria that became an instant Portland landmark. Not only are Lovely’s pies seasonal, but they also depend entirely on what she liked at the farmer’s market that week. This includes ingredients and flavors you’ve never had on a pizza before, such as roasted kohlrabi, apricot, and even marigold petals, as well as an ever-changing blend of aged, funky cheeses. You have also never tasted anything like her rustic dough. It is a naturally leavened, whole-grain type that is as robust and wheaty as pizza can get. Lovely’s 50/50 has one more surprise up its sleeve after dinner. Minnick employs the same organic, farm-fresh ingredients in her pizza as she does in her ice cream.
Mission Pizza Napoletana
Mission Pizza Peyton Smith, the founder of Napoletana Winston-Salem, North Carolina, sought to introduce Neapolitan pizza to the barbecue-obsessed citizens of North Carolina. Smith spent years practicing his art while mounted on a trainer with a wood-fired oven. As Jupiter intended, the 2022 James Beard Semifinalist is celebrated for his pies topped with crushed tomatoes, a touch of salt, and a drizzle of premium olive oil. After a brief trip through a 900-degree oven, Mission Pizza’s pies emerge with a crust that is implausibly airy and crisp, with the ideal amount of “leopard spots” on the bottom. That is enough to convince a North Carolinian to forego smoked pork for at least a couple of meals.
Nancy Silverton discovered the secret to baking outstanding pizza in Los Angeles more than 15 years ago. As the founder of LaBrea Bakery and the woman who altered Americans’ perception of a baguette, Silverton created a dough recipe based on her favorite bread and then topped it with the finest toppings available. Mozza’s authentic baker’s crust is made using a combination of bread and rye flours, as well as barley malt for a hint of sweetness. Yet not everyone can scour the farmer’s markets of Los Angeles for squash blossoms or knows where in Italy to search for the greatest olive oil of the season. Since the opening of Mozza, Silverton’s reputation as one of the country’s finest chefs has grown. Apart from a few feeble attempts in Los Angeles, nobody has attempted to replicate her trademark look. Perhaps it’s a sign of respect, but it’s more probable because they simply cannot. That good is Nancy.
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