Slice of Heaven: Tucson's Best Pizza Spots
By Patricia Escarcega
Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson Local Expert
Tucson may be a long way from the pizza capitals of Napoli, Chicago, and New York, but that doesn't mean you can't find great pizza in the Old Pueblo. After all, Tucson has a large and diverse population of East Coast transplants, which means there is a demand for high quality and authentic pizza pies. If you like your pizza thin and crispy, head to Grimaldi's Pizzeria, where the coal brick oven infuses every slice with an irresistibly smokey flavor. For deep and hearty pizza, try Rocco's Little Chicago, where you might need a hand cart just to carry out your deep-dish pies out to the car. Anyway you slice it, Tucson is a great pizza town.
6 Enoteca Pizzeria Wine Bar
This downtown pizzeria and wine bar has brought life to the downtown scene. The pizza and Italian dishes are top-notch. Try the bruschetta and the antipasto plate for starters. The pizza menu is simple and traditional, featuring the highest quality cheeses, oils, and herbs. Try the Quattro Formagi to see how a four-cheese pizza should really taste. (520-623-0744)
5 Magpies Gourmet Pizza
For more than ten years, Magpies has been serving some mighty fine gourmet pizzas. The Pueblo starts with a kicky Southwestern sauce and is topped with mozzarella, cheddar, ground beef, scallions, roasted green chiles, tomatoes and black olives. Juan Carlos Pesto features tomatoes, piñon nuts and mozzarella atop a basil-jalapeno pesto sauce. Or create your own specialty from among three crust types, five sauces, seven cheeses including soy, ten meats, and 25 vegetables and herbs. You can even go cheese-less, or get all your toppings wrapped up in a calzone. (520-628-1661)
4 Brooklyn Pizza
This Fourth Avenue institution creates its own energy using solar panels. But let's talk about the pizza: delectable thin-crust slices loaded with fresh toppings. Owner Tony Vaccaro has operated his bustling operation for 12 years now, with no signs of slowing down. Pizzas come in one size, 16 inches, and whether you design your own or choose a specialty pie, the quality of ingredients always makes this one of the best slices in town. (520-622-6868)
3 Grimaldi's Pizzeria
Grimaldi's signature brick oven is the key to the restaurant's authentic pizza pies, all featuring a unique, smoky flavor and crisp crust that is just not possible to get from convection, gas, or wood ovens. Grimaldi's pizzas are always made with the freshest ingredients, including handmade mozzarella and a special "secret recipe" sauce that has made this one of the most award-winning pizzerias in the United States. (520-882-6100)
2 Vero Amore
Owned by 20-something brothers Josh and Aric Mussman, Vero Amore makes what is possibly the best pizza in Tucson. Adhering to the standards set forth by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association (arbiters of fine Neapolitan pizza), the restaurant bakes in a brick, wood-burning oven, using fresh mozzarella made in-house and roma tomatoes imported directly from Italy. This is pizza for grownups, the object of almost irrational cravings. In keeping with the high quality of the pies, salads and dressings are all super fresh and homemade, and the couple of pastas on the menu are divine. (520-325-4122)
1 Pizzeria Vivace
Vivace is Italian for "lively," and this midtown restaurant lives up to the name. With a spacious, inviting dining room, an open kitchen and a separate wine bar, there is plenty of room to accommodate groups. A smaller dining room is suited to intimate dinners or special occasions. Chef Daniel Scordato, highly regarded in Tucson for his fantastic Italian cuisine, has created a stellar menu full of favorites like crispy crab cannelloni, linguini with grilled salmon, and veal osso bucco. (520-529-2700)
About Patricia Escarcega
Patricia Escarcega has lived in the Arizona desert since she was a teenager. She works as a writer and editor in Phoenix with her four dogs and two cats. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and is working on a novel about growing up in the 1990s.
Read more about Patricia Escarcega here.