Where to Eat Great Pizza from Coast to Coast
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Photo By: Will Crocker ©Will Crocker 2011
Great Pizza, Any Way You Slice It
Pizza is one of our ultimate comfort foods, whether we’re digging into an authentic Neapolitan-style pie or a classic New York slice. There’s just something special about that quintessential combination of crust, sauce and cheese — and these spots from coast to coast do it particularly well. Here’s where to find great pizza across the country.
By Cindy Augustine
Di Fara — Brooklyn, NY
An undisputed favorite among New Yorkers, local celebrity owner Domenico DeMarco has been at the helm making and serving slices and pies since the '60s. One thing is for certain: Di Fara's is worth the trek, the wait in line and the price tag. A classic round pie is the go-to for most NYC customers, as is the square pie for some, and porcini mushrooms make a classic that much better. But as with most beloved dishes, the simplest ingredients (fresh olive oil, a handful of cheeses, oregano) keep the customers coming back.
Balena — Chicago
With a slew of accolades, Lincoln Park newcomer Balena (with Chef Chris Pandel running the kitchen) is making its mark on Chicago with its 12-inch handmade pizzas. While it's not the traditional deep-dish the city is known for, no one seems to care. Customer demand brought delivery to the Windy City this summer, and now the seasonally inspired pies are that much more available. While Balena offers classics, it's their more inventive pies that have made them stand out (think rhubarb, ricotta, guanciale, spring onion, mint). What's even better is that customers can also order wine with their pies right off the restaurant's house list.
Andiamo! — Miami
Sure, South Florida isn’t the first locale associated with pizza, and, not surprisingly, one of Andiamo’s most-popular pies is the New Yorker — simply made with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, Parmesan, basil and olive oil — along with a pepperoni pie, aptly named the Brooklyn Special. The pizza varieties are inventive and seemingly endless — plus there’s a selection of paninis and salads to mix things up — and this brick-oven pizzeria housed in a landmark building in Little Haiti always seems busy and buzzing.
Una Pizza Napoletana — San Francisco
When a NYC transplant moves out West, taking his pizza philosophies with him and imposing all sorts of rules on customers (no substitutions, no meat), the result is pure devotion. With praiseworthy pizza and the lines to prove it, Anthony Mangieri has had the Bay Area in the palm of his hand since opening less than five years ago. Options are limited, but no one seems to care — the Neapolitan pies are some of the most drool-worthy in the city (the margherita, with its fresh basil and smoky dough, is sublime). The hours are also limited, but customers overlook that too. Plan ahead.
Pizzeria Mozza — Los Angeles
When Mario Batali paired up with Nancy Silverton, a match was made in pizza heaven. Fortunately for Angelenos, the pies are made and sold in the City of Angels — not your typical place in the U.S.A. to find an excellent pie. But with founders who are an expert in Italian cuisine (Batali) and a renowned baker (Silverton, who can often be seen stretching mozzarella on-site), the success was to be expected. The Burrata and squash blossom pie is a standout. The takeout arm of the operation, which also includes restaurant Osteria Mozza, is Mozza 2 Go, perfect for this hectic holiday season.
2 Amys — Washington, D.C.
When it comes to pizza, the Italian DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) status reigns supreme. 2 Amys can boast such certification, but whether customers recognize the authenticity behind the Neapolitan-style pizzas is unknown — they could just love the way they taste. The traditional margherita, with its mozzarella di bufala and basil, olive oil and tomato, is praised as the best in the nation’s capital, and the fresh dough is perfectly crispy from 2 Amys' wood-burning oven. Set in Cathedral Heights, the casual hub is often filled with families, but is a household name among pizza lovers of all ages.
Hot Lips — Portland, Ore.
Known for using fresh, local and organic ingredients — before it was the thing to do — Hot Lips is a bit of an institution in Portland, having been around for 30 years and expanded to five locations in the area. Nearly a decade ago, Hot Lips grew their business on the same foundation, creating a line of homemade natural sodas. But pizza is the heart of the business, and the selection of pies ranges from healthy (with vegan and gluten-free options) to a Meat Lover's pie (with house-smoked ham and chicken, housemade Italian sausage and meatballs) and an Omnivore's Bliss with, yes, a little bit of everything.
Frank Pepe — New Haven, Conn.
Founder Frank Pepe was credited with developing a style all his own — Neapolitan thin-crust that is now known as New Haven-style — and his namesake Connecticut pizzeria has been attracting locals and tourists alike since 1925. While Frank himself passed away over 40 years ago, the recipes are firmly intact. Pepe’s is best known for its white clam pie, made with fresh-shucked littleneck clams, chopped garlic, grated cheese, oregano and olive oil (get it with bacon if you’re smart), baked in a coal-fired oven. Order a pie, and note that the pizzeria has expanded and now has five other locations in Connecticut and one in Westchester County, New York.
Pizzeria Bianco — Phoenix
Since 1987, Bronx native Chris Bianco has been serving up addictive thin-crust pizzas, fresh out of his wood-fired oven, to Arizonans all too happy to have legitimate (and delicious) pizza out West. Among the favorite pies is the Rosa (made with red onions, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pistachios and rosemary) and classic margherita (tomato sauce, oregano and garlic — no cheese). While the menu may be brief, with just a handful of sections, everything Bianco produces is simple and fresh, from the homemade mozzarella and bread to the antipasti and pies — which is what has earned him awards and loyal customers (and long lines). Fortunately, there's a second location in Phoenix and another one in Tucson.
Pizza Domenica — New Orleans
Bringing inventive pizza to the South is no small task, but, not surprisingly, local favorite John Besh felt up to the challenge. He hired Alon Shaya to man the oven and create fresh takes on pies at his restaurant Domenica. The pizza craze soon caught on, and their popular happy hour led to Pizza Domenica, which opened last spring, offering the same pizzas served at Domenica in a more casual setting. Coming out of the wood-fired oven are classics like margherita and wild mushroom (an egg on anything, especially a pie, makes everything that much more special), but the roasted carrot pie, made with goat cheese, red onion, Brussels sprouts, beets and hazelnuts, is not to be missed.