Americans have been making pizza since Lombardi's first started cooking simple tomato pies in a coal oven at the turn of the 19th century in New York. In 100+ years that followed, the number of iconic regional styles and diverse range of toppings ballooned until pizza became, quite possibly, the most ubiquitous food in the U.S.
But it wasn't until very recently that pizzaiolos became obsessed with high-quality ingredients and a found a newly enjoyed freedom to express their wildest pizza dreams. Actually, it wasn't until recently, that pizzaiolos were even a thing.
Long gone are the days when it was hard to find a great pizzeria outside of New York. We've now elevated our pizza game to the point that a great slice can be found in cities all over the U.S. Here are our favorite pizza joints across 10 cities:
Winter Park | The Wine Barn
Orlando is not exactly known for its pizza, but the home of the world's most famous mouse has a number of places to get a good slice of cheese. And nothing goes better with cheese than wine, which makes it exciting that the best pizza in the Orlando area can be found at a wholesale wine market.
The Wine Barn in Winter Park has an extensive selection of vino at every price point, and oenophiles can open a bottle onsite to sip with a crisp, wood-fired pizza. The Wine Barn has several wood-fired appetizers and an impressive charcuterie plate, but its creative pizzas are the standout on the menu.
Take, for example, the "bacon mojito"(topped with pork belly, Georgia peach, asiago, aged rum balsamic, fior di latte, goat cheese and homegrown mint) or the "one whole lobster" (Maine lobster, asiago, fior di latte, aged parmesan, shallot chutney, tandoori smoke, chardonnay scampi and garlic olive oil rub).
Chicago | Vito & Nick's
We’re probably supposed to say that the best pizza in Chicago is deep dish – that pan-baked, tomato topped, cheese-oozing pie is the most famous food in the Windy City, after all. But locals eat Chicago-style thin crust (yes, that’s a thing) just as often, if not more often, than its more famous relative.
Vito & Nick’s has been baking some of the best cardboard-thin, cracker-crispy pizzas for almost 90 years, topped with brown blistery cheese and and a generous supply of toppings. This southside institution is famous for its house special with sausage, mushrooms, green peppers and onions. But the egg pizza with crushed pepperoni (Fridays only) is a local favorite.
Naples, Fla. | Rosedale Brick Oven Pizzeria
Is it reasonable to assume Naples, Fla. is littered with authentic Italian pizzerias just because its named after the birthplace of pizza? Probably not. But there’s at least one place that makes pies that resemble the ones in the old country.
Rosedale Brick Oven Pizzeria’s Neapolitan style pies are topped with fresh mozzarella and imported San Marzano tomatoes before going into a brick, wood-fired oven. The classics stay true to form, but the variety of toppings is a bit broader than you might find in a typical Naples pizzeria.
Offerings range from the “sea shell” with clams, spinach, mozzarella, provolone and roasted garlic to the ambitious “chicken rustica” with grilled chicken, fresh mozzarella, roasted garlic, provolone fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, chopped romaine lettuce, shaved pamesan and balsamic glaze.
New York | Keste
Ask two New Yorkers their favorite pizza place and you’ll probably start a heated argument about which old-school joint is the best in the city. We'll try to stay out of that argument by writing about a relative newcomer to New York’s ever-growing pizza landscape.
Keste has only been around since 2009, but many (including us) have called it the best pizza in the city. Italian chef Roberto Caporuscio honed his pizza skills in Naples and brought an authentic taste of his homeland to the culinary hot zone of Bleecker Street, where he offers about 50 pizzas (including 15 gluten free options) that turn any experience into a bittersweet mix of FOMO and culinary paradise.
The crust is perfectly chewy, the ingredients fresh and inventive. Take the “ricotta e noci,” for example, a pie topped with cream of walnut, fresh ricotta, homemade mozzarella, pecorino Romano, basil and extra virgin olive oil.
Phoenix | Pizzeria Bianco
Before Chris Bianco started baking pies, Phoenix wasn’t just a literal desert – it was a pizza desert where great pizzerias were as rare as snowstorms. Pizzeria Bianco revolutionized pizza not only in Phoenix, but in the entire country.
Bianco started making wood-fired pies with light, chewy crust and fresh, creative, and often locally sourced ingredients – basically, what’s now known as new Neapolitan (or American) pizza.
More than a few major publications called the pizzeria the best in the country, and as word spread it sparked an American pizza renaissance. One famous pizza chef called her first bite of Pizzeria Bianco a life-changing experience. That chef was Nancy Silverton of Pizzeria Mozza.
Los Angeles | Pizzeria Mozza
Pizzeria Mozza — Photo courtesy of Pizzeria Mozza
Celebrity chefs Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali teamed up to open Pizzeria Mozza in 2006, and since then it’s been the gold standard for pizza in Los Angeles. Lines of hungry diners still stretch out the door seven days a week to wait for a taste of the wood-fired pies that are famous for their crust as well as their imaginative ingredients.
That crust manages to be crunchy and chewy, flavorful with charred blisters around the edges. The traditional pies are excellent, but this Los Angeles pizzeria stands out because of its more innovative offerings, like its squash blossom pizza with tomato and burrata or the stinging nettles and finnochiona salame pizza with cacio di Roma.
Washington D.C. | Pizzeria Paradiso
When owner and chef Ruth Gresser opened the original location of Pizzeria Paradiso on the second floor of a small townhouse in Dupont Circle in 1991, she was trying to fill a pizza black hole in Washington. The pizza scene in D.C. has never been the same.
Twenty five years later Pizzeria Paradiso remains among the best in the city. All three locations now have adjoining beer bars called Birerria Paradiso with a carefully curated menu of about 200 bottled brews and more than a dozen on draft to pair with the wood-fired pies.
San Antonio | Fratello's Deli & Market
With only three years in existence, Fratello’s Deli & Market has already developed a loyal following of people who consider it the best pizza in the city. The restaurant/deli/market hybrid imports premium Italian ingredients and procures local products to stock its shelves and to create thoughtful antipasti, pastas and wood-fired pizzas.
Dishes like arancini (Sicilian breaded rice balls with meat sauce, parmesan and mozzarella) and mozzarella al’forno (fresh mozzarella, breaded and wrapped with prosciutto, and topped with tomatoes and basil) are as much of a draw as the pizza at this San Antonio establishment.
One of the most highly regarded pizzas is the “Italian meatlovers,” topped with fresh mozzarella, basil, locally made Italian sausage, calabrese salami, and small, old-world pepperoni that crisps around the edges.
Reno | Noble Pie Parlor
When it was built in 1931, the El Cortez Hotel was the biggest little hotel in Reno. More than 80 years later, the art deco property has become a bit shabby, but it can still lay claim to having the best pizza joint in town.
El Cortez houses Noble Pie Parlor, a hipster haven that cooks up some deliciously weird pizzas, like the “wrangler” (with “rippin ranch” and “backyard BBQ sauce,” pepperoni, sausage, jalapeno, pineapple, green onion and creamy horseradish cheese) or the “white gurl” (with bianco base, peas, red onion, artichoke hearts, grape tomatoes and carrots).
The restaurant also specializes in equally creative strombolis, as well as wings and local, non-GMO meatballs.
Atlanta | Antico Pizza
Antico Pizza Napoletana might be the hottest pizza in Hotlanta. Literally. The pies are cooked in three side-by-side 900-degree stone ovens shipped to Atlanta from Italy. Originally intended to be a carry-out only restaurant, Antico quickly established a fanatic following and the subsequent lines inherent in creating delicious food.
After a short time, community tables were squeezed into the small space, and now diners can sit in front of the open kitchen to watch pizzaiolos spinning dough and fidgeting with the Neapolitan pies in the oven. The menu at Antico is small – only a few calzones and less than a dozen pizzas – with a focus on simple, fresh ingredients.
Beyond the classic Neapolitan pizzas like margherita and marinara, Antico has a few creations of its own, like the lasagna pizza (meatball, ricotta, Romano cheese) and the house special “Sophia,” with buffalo mozzarella, cipollini onions, roasted mushrooms, and white truffle oil.