New York New York Pizza is perfectly located in the heart of the Ybor City entertainment district, and a very popular spot to grab a late night slice after hitting the clubs. For those on their way home, there is a convenient walk-up window. They offer a surprisingly extensive menu complete with chicken wings, salads, Italian subs, and pasta dinners - all made fresh from scratch. However, most people come for the pizza, New York style of course. Most agree it is delicious with a crust that is thin and crispy and a huge number of toppings available. Other locations include SoHo, Wesley Chapel, West Chase and Riverview.
Recommended for Pizza because: New York New York Pizza is a popular spot to grab a hot, fresh slice while visiting Tampa's historic district, Ybor City.
Skye's expert tip: Even when ordering by the slice, they usually have a large selection of toppings to choose from.
If you're looking for a break from the large chain pizzerias, then Grimaldi's may be just the ticket. Conveniently located in Tampa's Westshore Mall near shopping and the business district, this award-winning restaurant is the perfect spot for a weekday lunch or intimate date night. The franchise got its start in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, so you know the focus is on New York style pizza. They make their secret recipe dough fresh daily and use only the freshest ingredients to prepare the pies before tossing into their coal-fired, brick-oven. The New York-themed decor is casual but upscale with plenty of indoor and outdoor covered seating.
Recommended for Pizza because: Grimaldi's Pizzeria is centrally located in Tampa's Westshore Mall and features award-winning, New York style pizza.
Skye's expert tip: This is a great spot for lovers of the white pizza with several mouth-watering versions of this specialty pizza on offer.
As you would expect from a place named after a famous Italian sculptor, Bernini is going for the classical vibe. Fine art and decorative columns may fill the space, but what we're really interested in is the gourmet food. Dishes include black Angus beef, orange-glazed duck, and fresh salmon. The highlight of the menu is the authentic wood-fired flatbread pizza and the opulent martinis. You're also going to need to save room for dessert, featuring fresh spins on classic Italian favorites. Lunch is definitely more casual than dinner, which includes live jazz music. This is a great spot place to fuel up before taking on the nightlife in Ybor City.
Recommended for Pizza because: Bernini's is a classic Italian restaurant in the heart of Ybor City that features authentic wood-fired pizza.
Skye's expert tip: Happy hour features $2 martinis and 1/2 off entrees.
This is the most inventive pizza place in town. That's not to say that Gourmet Pizza is supremely expensive, you need reservations, or there is a dress code to adhere to, only that the pizza you get is both interesting and superior. There is an emphasis on making eclectic pies that are fresh, made from local ingredients and health conscious. Specialties include a cajun crawfish pizza, a southwestern pizza, and quite a few vegan selections. Located between downtown and Dale Mabry Highway near the SoHo neighborhood, the location is the definition of a "hole in the wall", so make sure you are paying attention to your directions (or just have them deliver).
Recommended for Pizza because: Gourmet Pizza is an eclectic pizzeria located in Tampa's SoHo neighborhood that emphasizes fresh ingredients and unusual toppings.
Scott's expert tip: Diners with special diets will appreciate their gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian pies.
Bavaro's Pizza Napoletana & Pastaria is built around an authentic Neapolitan wood-fired brick oven for the most complete pizza experience possible. Its location in the middle of downtown Tampa makes it a popular stop for both office workers and tourists visiting the museums along Tampa's River Walk. Their crusts are thin and soft with just a hint of crispness, and their ingredients are either imported from Naples or sourced locally. Other places might have larger, more diverse menus, but few have pizzas that you might actually find in Naples. Reservations might be in order to avoid a wait.
Recommended for Pizza because: Bavaro's pizza is conveniently located in downtown Tampa and serves fresh and delicious Neapolitan pizzas just like the old country.
Skye's expert tip: This makes a great stop after a tour of the museums on the River Walk.
Tampa's Mellow Mushroom offers three area locations if you can't make it to this Brandon location. As the originators of the "classic southern pizza," don't be put off by the hippie vibe at this pizza joint. The pies are serious, even if the decor isn't. With such favorites as the Kosmic Karma (tomatoes, spinach, and feta) and the Philosopher's Pie (steak, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts), there's something for everyone, even if it's a creation you haven't heard of yet. They also pride themselves on serving interesting microbrews from around the country. It's almost guaranteed that if you visit the Mushroom, you will experience something new and different that you can't have anywhere else.
Recommended for Pizza because: Tampa's Mellow Mushroom in Brandon offers a world of hippy happiness with seriously delicious pies paired with cold craft brews.
Skye's expert tip: Mushroom lovers will swoon over the "Holy Shiitake" specialty pie with a trifecta of shiitake, button and portobello mushrooms.
Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza is a small chain with three Tampa locations. This location is in the Carrollwood neighborhood of Tampa, but all feature a winning combination of top-quality ingredients, authentic 800-degree coal-burning ovens and personalized service that set them apart from other area pizza joints. Pies are cooked "well done" and feature the finest quality mozzarella, Italian plum tomatoes, Romano cheese, fresh basil and olive oil. Other menu specialties, or "Italian soul food," include coal oven roasted chicken wings and sandwiches, as well as Italian dishes like hand-rolled meatballs with ricotta cheese and Eggplant Marino. Check their website for details on the other Tampa locations.
Recommended for Pizza because: Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza features delicious pies fresh out of their 800-degree coal-burning ovens.
Scott's expert tip: Try the Eggplant Marino - a favorite of NFL hall-of-famer and restaurant partner, Dan Marino.
Bella's has been a favorite of locals in South Tampa for over three decades. Featuring home-cooked flavors, everything is prepared from scratch here including their pizza dough and pasta. Diners return often to tuck into the delicious wood-fired pizzas and a full menu of classic Italian favorites. Although the decor could easily seem overdone, thanks to subdued lighting and gracious details, Bella's greets guests with a relaxed charm. The open kitchen provides a hint of what's to come for inside diners, and there is also a patio with outdoor seating. Late hours and favorable prices heighten Bella's appeal with the after-clubbing crowd.
Recommended for Pizza because: Bella's is a long-time favorite with locals and visitors alike for wood-fired pizzas in South Tampa.
Scott's expert tip: Bella's doesn't take reservations so it's a good idea to call ahead for seating.
Cappy's is a very popular, award-winning Tampa-based pizza chain. There are five area locations, but the South Tampa location is the original and still the fan favorite. Cappy's is dedicated to pizza which is pretty much the only thing on the menu besides a few salads and calzones. They do thin crust New York style well, but it's really a Chicago deep dish mecca. It's as if you walked into a pizza joint across from Wrigley Field. The crust is doughy and covered with cheese first, then sauce (as any deep dish aficionado will tell you, that's how it's done). Don't expect terribly inventive toppings, but all of the old standards are here. They also serve beer and wine.
Recommended for Pizza because: Cappys is one of Tampa's favorite pizza joints - try their deep-dish pie for a great taste of Chicago.
Skye's expert tip: Locals rave about the generously-sized Greek salads, heaped with feta, kalamata olives, and pepperoncini, and topped with house-made potato salad and dressing.
For some people, an authentic New York pizza experience requires a hole-in-the-wall setting. If you are one of those people, Eddie & Sam's is for you. The ingredients, including water shipped down from New York for the dough, only add to the authenticity. The pizzas come out crisp and hot from the oven and include such favorites as Primavera, Hawaiian, and Sicilian, hot and cold sandwiches, and buffalo wings. Eddie & Sam's has been a lunchtime favorite of the nearby office crowd for years, but it's also near to popular downtown hotels if you're looking for a great nighttime snack.
Recommended for Pizza because: Eddie & Sam's is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Tampa and serves the most authentic New York pie around.
Scott's expert tip: Don't worry if there's a line, these guys are professionals, and they move the line pretty quickly.