For people across the globe, pizza is not only a quick, convenient, and delicious meal, but a way of life. Go into any city and you’ll find countless places that boldly claim they have the best pizza in town, the state, the country, and sometimes the world. Although many establishments boast this to draw in customers, a few among them really are that good. Here are some of the most beloved pizza spots in the United States.
Lombardi’s – New York, New York
Lombardi’s Pizzeria was established in 1905 when Gennaro Lombardi began first making pizza’s in the United States, bringing the technique he learned from Naples, Italy. Lombardi is credited with developing New York Style Pizza as well as the first pizzeria in the United States.
Today, it can be found in the Little Italy area of Manhattan and another location in Chelsea, riding itself on its classic approach to New York Style pizza. However, it has certainly evolved since 1905.
Modern Apizza – New Haven, Connecticut
Modern Apizza’s history dates all the way back to 1911, which includes a variety of different people, places, and names, all while managing to endure decades of tumultuous change.
What used to be a classic neighborhood pizza spot eventually became one of the cities most prominent restaurants. It has won awards such as the local advocate poll ranking to number one. Over time, Modern found itself at baseball fields in Seattle, Washington, and countless convention centers across the country.
Grimaldi’s – Brooklyn, New York
Grimaldi’s first opened its doors beneath the Brooklyn Bridge back in 1990. However, Grimaldi’s unique staple is using a coal-fired brick oven pizza instead of wood, which offers a unique flavor and crust.
They are considered the most award-winning pizzeria in the United States, a title that is most likely helped by their “secret recipe” dough that is made daily. To top it all off, they pride themselves on their open kitchen layout that makes eating there an entertaining event.
Galleria Umberto – Boston, Massachusetts
Known for its cash-only business, Galleria Umberto is a Sicilian-style pizza spot in Boston, Massachusetts, located incredibly close to the Boston Public Garden. They are famous for their square-sliced pizza and are open every day from 10:45 until 2:30, except for Sunday.
Of course, if you want a chance to try one of these coveted square slices, you’ll have to be ready to wait in line. According to Paul Deuterio, the co-owner of Umberto, “If you make something good enough, and you have some longevity, people will come and eat it.”
Motorino Pizza – New York, New York
Motorino Pizza has locations in East Village, Williamsburg, and the Upper West Side of New York City. Serving Neapolitan-style pizzas, in 2010, Times critic Sam Sifton named Motorino the best pizzas in the city.
He writes, “Motorino pies are great hot out of the oven, 5 minutes later, 10. You can order too much, watch a pie go cool on the plate, eat it anyway and discover: terrific.” On top of the three New York locations, they also have establishments in Hong Kong, Manila, and Singapore.
Piece – Chicago, Illinois
Known for both their pizza and their beer, Piece in Chicago, Illinois, is a hip place to grab a slice and cut loose. They offer New Haven-style pizza with classic menu items such as white, BBQ, red, and unique pizzas like honey butter fried chicken or Hot Doug’s Atomic Sausage pizza.
However, Piece is also the most award-winning brewpub in Chicago, winning Champion Small Brewpub at the World Beer Cup in 2006 and a silver medal for Swingin’ Single at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival.
Zurilee – Brooklyn, New York
Zurilee is different from many of the pizza spots that you might find in Brooklyn as it is heavily influenced by its Caribbean roots, making it particularly unique, especially for the area.
Although they certainly sell the classics, they make sure to up the class of the cheese on many of their pies while also offering eccentric dishes such as Jerk Chicken Pizza with mozzarella and corn, he Oxtail with mozzarella, oxtail ragu, and more.
Pizzeria Delfina – San Francisco, California
Located in foggy San Francisco, California, in 2005, Annie and Craig Stoll accomplished their dream of opening up a Neapolitan-inspired pizza joint directly next to their already James beard Award-winning Delfina restaurant.
As well as pizzas, Pizzeria Delfina also has seasonal antipasti, Piatti, and of course, more than enough beer and wine. A family-run business, the 600 square-foot establishments has become a landmark of the neighborhood and now has a total of five locations in the city.
Roberta’s – Brooklyn, New York
Located in Brooklyn, New York, Roberta’s offers countless pizzas that focus on seasonal ingredients from local producers as well as an impressive selection of house-cured meats, doing things the correct and old way.
Of course, all of the pizzas are cooked in their wood oven, and they pride themselves on offering beef, chops, fish, oysters, veal, and more, all sourced from local and sustainable farms. If you’re feeling thirsty, they also offer a selection of Anjelique Craft brews on tap and an extensive wine list. To top off your meal, they also have pies, pastries, and custards.
Lovely’s Fifty Fifty – Portland, Organ
Surprisingly found in Portland, Oregon of all places, Lovely’s Fifty Fifty is best-known for their epic combination of both pizza and ice cream. They pride themselves on using organic and locally sourced ingredients, with their dough being naturally leavened to remain as healthy as possible.
Of course, on top of their pizza and ice cream, they also provide other dishes such as borlotti bean and garlic soup, marinated castelvetrano olives, calzones, and a range of other healthy options.
Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria – Chicago, Illinois
Considered to be the oldest family name in Chicago pizza history, Lou Malnati first began making deep-dish pizzas in the 1940s. He and his wife then opened their first Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria on March 17, 1971.
However, after Lou’s untimely death in 1978, the business was taken over by the family, and the business has only gone forward. They chalk up their success to their California vine-ripened tomatoes, exclusive sausage blend, fresh mozzarella, and a family secret to the flaky and buttery crust.
Pizzeria Bianco – Phoenix, Arizona
Located in Phoenix, Arizona, Chris Bianco first opened Pizzeria Bianco in 1988 in the back of a neighborhood grocery store. However, using his expert pizza knowledge and skill, he managed to take his small back store and become one of the Phoenix food scenes’ frontrunners.
In 2003, Chris won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest and has provided advice and aid to several other budding pizza establishments. Now, Pizzeria Bianco can be found across the city.
Joe’s Pizza – New York City, New York
Originally from Naples, Italy, Joe Pozzuoli opened up Joes Pizza in 1975 and has since been serving up the classic New York slice. New Yorkers themselves rave about the establishment, with it frequently being in the top ten list of New York’s best pizza with New York Magazine naming it the “Best Pizza in New York.”
Furthermore, in 2009, GQ titled it as one of the “Best 25 Pizzas on Earth.” Their website states, “No glossy corporate backing, no fancy pants pies, no pretentious nonsense, and no gimmicky budget pizza either. We are tried and true – the real deal.”
Cibo – Phoenix, Arizona
At Cibo in Phoenix, Arizona, the Margherita pizza is one of the most popular dishes on the menu by far, among other incredible menu items made by Chef Guido Saccone.
One of the reasons that the food is so good here, according to Daily Meal, is that the chef “grew up doing this in Naples. He spent his whole life working in restaurants and learning pizza. He was taught by his brother. He’s the heart and soul of this restaurant.”
Smiling With Hope – Reno, Nevada
Smiling with hope is different than most places for a specific reason. Although they serve up the typical New York-style slices, what makes them special is that they train and employ individuals with developmental disabilities, who make up an impressive 30% of their staff.
The entire pizzeria is inspired by the shops the owner Walter grew up around in New Jersey in the 1960s and ’70s. He and his wife Judy work every hour of operation.
Razza Pizza Artigianale – Jersey City, New Jersey
Chef and owner of Razza Pizza Artigianale, Dan Richer, had always had a passion for food, inspired by his experiences in Italy. In 2007, he purchased a small pizzeria in Maplewood, New Jersey, and managed to turn a struggling establishment into a hopping and progressive neighborhood pizza place.
In 2011, Dan was a James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef semi-finalist, with Razza receiving a 3-star review from the New York Times and was named Best Pizza in North America by 50 Best in 2019.
Patsy’s Pizza – New York City, New York
Patsy’s Pizza certainly doesn’t claim to be the oldest pizza joint in New York, although they have been in business since 1933. However, what they do have against other pizza establishments is that they are widely credited with being the first pizzeria to sell by the slice and helping to spread the popularity of New York’s thin-crust.
Another interesting thing about Patsy’s is that there are just three options for purchase: old-fashioned square pie, old-school round pier, and white pie with your choice of toppings.
Paulie Gee’s – Brooklyn, New York
Although it’s located in New York, Paulie Gee’s has no problems straying away from tradition. They offer more than 30 different types of wood-fired pizzas and even some vegan options! With the most popular item on the menu being Mike’s Hot Honey, that’s just one of many options.
However, it’s important to remember that you can only buy whole pizzas here. If you only want a slice, you have to go to Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop just two blocks away.
Cart-Driver – Denver, Colorado
Cart-Driver has two locations in Denver, Colorado. Incredibly, they are both in 640 square-foot shipping containers. They are popular for their wood-fired pizzas, fresh oysters, locals brews, cocktails, and more.
According to their website, Cart-Driver is “Inspired by the Carrettiera, or Cart-Driver, who brought goods from Southern Italy’s farms to its villages via horse-drawn cart, stopping along the way to serve dishes to the people he met, sharing is at the heart of the Cart-Driver experience.”
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana – New Haven, New Jersey
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana opened in 1925, making it one of the oldest known pizzerias in the United States. It was founded by Italian immigrant Frank Pep from Maiori, Italy, who, after saving up money, bought a wagon and began selling pizza out of it.
Pepe’s is best known for originating the Hew Haven-style thin-crust pizza, baked in a coal-fired brick pizza oven. Today, the shop is considered to be a Mecca for pizza lovers and has been considered one of the best old-school restaurants of all time.
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana – San Francisco, California
Although the owner and founder Tony Gemignani had been in the pizza business since 1991, in 2009, he made the decision to open Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco, California.
Tony’s is known for using three different types of ovens for their many different kinds of pizza and has been named the 5th-highest pizzeria in the United States by TripAdvisor. Furthermore, San Francisco Eater named it among the top 20 essential San Francisco pizzas to eat.
Prince Street Pizza – New York City, New York
With their Spicy Spring Pie being their specialty made with fra Diavolo sauce, spicy pepperoni, and mozzarella, Prince Street Pizza is another New York City classic that practices authentic pizza.
According to their website, “Prince Street Pizza uses only the freshest ingredients around, ensuring that every dish is of the highest possible quality.” Available on the menu are dishes such as Prince Perfection Pie, Broadway Breadcrumb Pie, Mercer Margherita Pie, and thin crust. Plenty of New Yorkers believe you can’t go wrong here.
Sally’s Apizza – New Haven, Connecticut
Established in 1938, Sally’s Apizza was created by Salvatore Consiglio and prides itself on continuing New Haven coal-fired pizza for more than 80 years. Although Sally’s definitely knows how to make authentic New Haven-style pies, they also stray from tradition.
They also offer more unique specialty pizzas, with one of note being the White Potato. This includes potato, onion, mozzarella, and imported parmesan and rosemary.
Lucali – Brooklyn, New York
Although Lucali is arguably one of the most popular pizza places in all of New York, it actually came to be from a happy accident. Owner Mark Iacono opened up Lucali in order to save the local candy store that he went to as a kid from going under.
Today, Lucali is so popular that celebrities are frequented along with the likes of Ed Sheeran, and Kylie Jenner, among countless others. Safe to say, it’s a hot spot for both locals and tourists.
Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria – Nashville, Tennesse
Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria in Nashville, Tennessee changes things up with their menu items heavily inspired by hip-hop and R&B, such as “Cee No Green” with red sauce, house cheese blend, ground beef, pepperoni, hickory smoked bacon, Canadian bacon, and Italian sausage.
According to their website, “Our kitchens make fresh dough and sauce daily. This includes our five house-made pizza sauces, seven finishing drizzles, and a variety of cream cheese flavors for our tasty cinnamon rolls.”
Santarpio’s – Boston, Massachusettes
Originally established as a bakery in 1903, owner Frank Santarpio only began selling pizzas decades later. It is known for its New York-style pizza, which has been served at the same spot on Chelsea Street since 1933.
A Boston Globe reporter once commented, “[t]he average New Englander’s only knowledge of East Boston is the sign for Santarpio’s Pizza that can be seen from the highway on the way to the airport.” Today, Santarpios is known for the variety of pizzas they offer, although still honors the classics.
Buddy’s Pizza – Detroit, Michigan
The Motor City has its own way of doing things, and the same thing goes for Buddy’s Pizza, who have been doing their Detroit-style pies for more than 75 years.
Don’t expect your usual pizza if you’re going to Buddy’s, who have been using the same methods and even equipment since the business was first established in 1946. According to Fodors Travel, “What makes it special? It’s a rectangular pizza with a thick, buttery crust that’s crispy on the bottom,”
John’s of Bleecker Street – New York City, New York
John’s of Bleecker Street was established in 1929 by an Italian immigrant named John Sasso from Naples, Italy. After losing the property of his first pizzeria, he moved his shop to Bleecker street, where it has remained ever since. In 1954, Sasso finally sold the operation to the Vesce Brothers, who kept the name.
John’s of Bleecker Street remains family-owned to this day and still practice John’s traditional ways of making pizza. On their website, it reads, The world has changed, but we haven’t. We are still The “Original” John’s of Bleecker Street.
Pequod’s – Chicago, Illinois
In 1970, Pequod’s was opened to the public and became incredibly popularized for its pan-style pizza with a “caramelized crust” edge. Although the restaurant remained a local legend for some time, in 1986, it changed hands in ownership and kept its roots but grew in other areas.
Their pizza and atmosphere became so well-known and loved that they now have establishments in the Windy City. Naming themselves the “Best known secrets for pizza in the northwest suburbs.”
Forno Rosso Pizzeria Napoletana – Chicago, Illinois
As a child, Nick Nitti lived in Italy for several years, where he at his first pizza Napoletana in the city of Naples. He would later return to Naples to learn the art of making pizza Napoletana, training in one of Naple’s best shops.
Upon returning to the United States, Nick opened Forno Rosso Pizzeria Napoletana in Chicago and would open his second location in 2016. The two locations serve more than 20 pizzas, with some of them being more unique than others.