50 States, 50 Pizzas

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50 states 50 pizzas

Before you click through these pizzas, let’s be clear: In regard to pizza, we, the editors and writers of this story, do not discriminate. When we set out six months ago to find the greatest pizzas in America, we did not insist on thin crust over thick or red sauce over white. We didn’t even care if the pizzas were round. We just needed them to be awesome.

Inevitably, some of you will be alarmed by our choices, shocked that so-and-so was snubbed because their crust has the perfect crunch or their cheese oozes just so. But passionate disagreements about pizza reveal one great truth: There is no single best way to make it. In the bellow gallery, you will see by-the-book classics right next to brash pies that break every rule.

But all of them have one important thing in common: They’re well worth the trip.

50 States, 50 Pizzas

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BLT From Trattoria Centrale: Birmingham, Alabama

Setting up shop in downtown Birmingham, far from the city’s dining scene, was risky, but the gamble paid off for owners Brian Somershield and Geoff Lockert. Their thick-crust, square slices are among the most popular in town. The star is the BLT, with ricotta, mozzarella, bacon, tomatoes and arugula. Fold it in half and eat it as the name suggests, like a sandwich. $2.50 per slice; 207A 20th St. North; trattoriacentrale.com

Alaskan Salmon From Capri Pizza: Anchorage, Alaska

Salmon pizza is not rare in Alaska, but salmon pizza from a halal restaurant run by a Pakistani couple is. Raheel and Shazia Chaudhry opened this spot in 2006 after Raheel honed his craft at an Italian restaurant in Sweden (he liked the climate but not Swedish taxes). For this pie, they top a mild fish sauce with red onion, green peppers, tomatoes and fresh Alaskan salmon, then they dare to combine fish and cheese and add a big helping of mozzarella. $16 to $18; 4505 Spenard Rd.; capripizzahalal.com/

Salsiccia From The Parlor Pizzeria: Phoenix, Arizona

This popular spot had a former life as a 1950s beauty parlor, and it’s fair to say that the place is still sending out some beauties. All of the wood-fired pies are worth trying, but the Salsiccia is a must: a thin, chewy, lightly charred crust loaded with melted slabs of mozzarella and cheddar, grilled radicchio and spicy pork sausage. The kicker is a drizzle of slightly sweet saba, a balsamic vinegar reduction. $10 to $14; 1916 East Camelback Rd.; theparlor.us

The Stuffy Underdog From Damgoode Pies: Little Rock and Fayetteville, Arkansas

There was a time when no one was ordering this double-decker, cheese-and-beef-stuffed pie, and it nearly got axed from the menu. But a few tweaks from co-owner Jeff Trine made all the difference: He added onions and olives, topped each slice with tomato sauce and changed the name from The Mexicali to The Stuffy Underdog. Now it’s one of their best-sellers, reaffirming that everyone really does love an underdog. $7 to $25; multiple locations; damgoodepies.com

©Dero Sanford

Wild Nettle and Pecorino From Pizzaiolo: Oakland, California

Five years ago, Chez Panisse veteran Charlie Hallowell stripped a hardware store down to its bare brick walls, installed a wood-fired oven and started producing spectacular seasonal pies. For this winner, he starts with mozzarella and pecorino and adds shaved red onions and fistfuls of stinging nettles, a spiky-leafed herb. Cooking neutralizes the nettles’ sting and wilts them into a tangle of flavorful greens. $17; 5008 Telegraph Ave.; pizzaiolooakland.com

Mais From Pizzeria Locale: Boulder, Colorado

Instead of just bringing a taste of Naples to Colorado, two James Beard Award winners, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Bobby Stuckey, brought Mount Vesuvius over, too. Their wood-burning oven — made in Naples with special bricks that supposedly contain volcanic material — cooks at 1000 degrees F and spits out screaming-hot pizzas covered with a sweet-salty-tangy combo of corn, prosciutto cotto and crème fraîche. $14; 1730 Pearl St.; localeboulder.com

White Clam From Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana: Connecticut

Frank Pepe opened this place in 1925, serving only two traditional red-sauce pies. But after the clam vendor next door suggested Frank make white clam pizza, Frank smartly expanded his menu, launching the dish that would become Pepe’s most famous specialty: brick-oven pizza topped with olive oil, cheese and freshly shucked clams. It’s as good as ever. $13 to $26; multiple locations; pepespizzeria.com

Photo By: David landsel

Saint From Pizza By Elizabeths: Greenville, Delaware

All of the individual-sized pizzas at this local favorite are named after a famous Elizabeth, like Arden and Taylor. But the best pizza is the Saint Elizabeth, an ode to John the Baptist’s mother: It’s a white pie with lumps of sweet blue crabmeat mixed with an artichoke-Parmesan sauce. The thin crust — white or low-fat honey-wheat — stays crisp and brittle around the edge yet has just the right chewiness. $11 to $16; 3801 Kennett Pike; pizzabyelizabeths.com

Shortrib From Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink: Miami, Florida

Unfortunately, the best pizza in Florida plays hard to get: Sometimes it’s on the menu at this renowned Design District restaurant, sometimes it’s not. Call ahead to see if chef Michael Schwartz is inclined to make it. When he is, he tops his crisp crust with super-tasty, slow-roasted rib meat, aged Gruyère, caramelized onions and arugula — and you should get it while it lasts. $20; 130 Northeast 40th St.; michaelsgenuine.com

Yuppie From Vinnie Van Go-Go’s: Savannah, Georgia

Some customers order the usual toppings here — pepperoni, onions, bell peppers — but those in the know order “yuppie” toppings and end up with the best pizza fixins in the house: banana peppers, artichoke hearts, spinach, tomatoes, feta cheese, spicy Italian sausage and mushrooms. It all arrives on a crust made from the restaurant’s original dough starter, now 20 years old; the crust holds up perfectly under all the weight. $5 for four toppings per slice; 317 West Bryan St.; vinnievangogo.com

CLOSED- Boquerones From V lounge: Honolulu, Hawaii

Update: This restaurant is now closed. 

Avoiding anchovies at this spot would be a mistake: Pizza maker Alejandro Briceno uses special boquerones — white marinated Spanish anchovies that typically stand on their own as tapas — on his anchovy pie. The anchovies share the stage with tomato sauce, mozzarella, thyme and a special local ingredient: Hawaiian chile pepper water (pronounced chilipeppahwattah), a mixture of water, salt, vinegar, garlic and red chiles. $15; 1344 Kona St.; vloungehawaii.com

Wild Forest Mist From Pizzalchik: Boise, Idaho

This pie is all about the flavors of Idaho’s forests: It’s topped with five varieties of wild mushrooms, plus a fiery house-made elk sausage. Owner Brad Breakell takes an unconventional approach to the pizza’s base, too: He adds a pinch of lavender to the sauce and “ages” the dough for at least 24 hours — he claims the technique makes it stretchier and chewier. $16; 7330 West State St.; pizzalchik.com

Cheese From Pequod’s Pizza: Chicago, Illinois

There are endless deep-dish pizzas in Chicago, but this sports bar serves one with a twist: The pies are baked in well-seasoned cast-iron pans lined with a sprinkling of mozzarella, so when the pizzas come out of the oven, they have a crust of crispy, salty, caramelized cheese. This part is so captivating that toppings are an unnecessary distraction — a simple cheese pie is the way to go. $10 to $16; multiple locations; pequodspizza.com

Photo By: brendan lekan ©brendan lekan photography

The Purple Pig From The Rolling Stonebaker: Beverly Shores, Indiana

Eager to own a pizza place (but unable to afford it), Jim Chaddock and Andrea Georgion found a compromise on Craigslist: a retired 1949 Studebaker fire truck. They added a 1-ton wood-fired brick oven to the flatbed and opened The Rolling Stonebaker, serving all sorts of pizzas. The Purple Pig is the one to try: a colorful pulled-pork pie with roasted-garlic olive oil, barbecue sauce, red cabbage and five cheeses. $9; multiple locations; rollingstonebaker.com

Crab Rangoon From Fong’s Pizza: Des Moines, Iowa

This place opened two years ago in what was once Des Moines’ oldest Chinese restaurant. The owners wanted to pay respect to their predecessors, so they came up with this pie, based on a classic Chinese-American appetizer. They riffed on the cream cheese-and-crab fried dumplings by spreading cream cheese on crust and topping it with imitation crabmeat, green onions, crunchy egg-roll strips, cheese and sweet chili sauce. $12 to $19; multiple locations; fongspizza.com

Taco From Wichita Pizza Company: Wichita, Kansas

If you want to eat tacos and pizza together, you have to hit a food court — or just visit this place. Jeff and Lisa Hutton own two Dairy Queens, but last year they wanted to expand into pizza, so they opened Wichita Pizza Company and put this unusual pie on the menu. They cover a crisp crust with refried beans, pizza sauce, beef or chicken, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Crushed-up nacho-flavored Doritos send the whole thing over the top. $12 to $19; 1520 South Webb Rd., #120; wichitapizzacompany.com

Pollotate From Boombozz Pizza & Taphouse: Louisville, Kentucky (CLOSED)

Childhood memories of family dinners with roasted chicken and rosemary potatoes inspired this pie at Tony Palombino’s four Louisville pizza places. Before baking the Pollotate (Italian for the mash-up of chicken and potato), Palombino brushes the crust with a rosemary-garlic olive oil, then adds chicken breast, red onions, roasted potatoes and lots of asiago and mozzarella. The resulting pie is as hearty as a Sunday supper.$8 to 18; multiple locations; boombozztaphouse.com

Pizzaletta From Cascio’s Market Bistro: Bossier City, Louisiana

Owner Rocky Cascio sells a lot of muffuletta sandwiches here, and he always has extra ingredients on hand. One day he started experimenting with them, and the Pizzaletta was born. To make the perfect pizza-sandwich, he takes muffuletta ingredients — Genoa salami, Black Forest ham, olive salad and provolone — then adds a second pizza crust and sprinkles it with mozzarella, provolone and crushed red pepper. $35; 2750 Shed Rd., Suite G; casciosmarketbistro.com/

Mashed Potato From Otto Pizza: Portland, Maine

For much of the year, Maine weather demands serious comfort food, and Otto Pizza’s co-owners, Mike Keon and Anthony Allen, were determined to deliver it: They created a pizza topped with mashed potatoes, meatloaf and gravy. Customers didn’t go for it, but when the two edited the toppings to this perfect combo — buttery mashed potatoes, bacon and scallions — it became an instant best-seller. $11 to $19; multiple locations; ottoportland.com

Photo By: Mark James ©2010 Mark James

Flag From Joe Squared: Baltimore, Maryland

Eating at this alterna-pizzeria is a full-blown sensory experience, with live music, art exhibitions and the main attraction: square, thin-crust sourdough pizza, often topped with ingredients from a nearby greenhouse. The best pie is this tricolor pizza, a tribute to the Italian flag, with three cheese-and-sauce combos: red sauce with five cheeses; white garlic sauce with mozzarella, cheddar and ricotta; and green pesto with fresh mozzarella. $15 to $23; multiple locations; joesquared.com

Photo By: Stacy Z. Goldberg

Lobster From Scampo: Boston, Massachusetts

This is the epitome of high-low eating: a pizza topped with lobster, in a high-end restaurant that’s housed in a former jail. Scampo’s owner, Lydia Shire, slathers each pie with lobster cream and then dots it with big chunks of lobster tail. She conceived of the hit when she was faced with too much lobster one season — an only-in-Boston problem — and now it’s a customer favorite. $25; 215 Charles St.; scampoboston.com

Naples Sampler From Tomatoes Apizza: Farmington Hills, Michigan

At his two Detroit-area joints, Michael Weinstein turns out oblong thin-crust pizza in a region where square, thick-crust pizza is king. But even Midwestern deep-dish purists have embraced Weinstein’s East Coast pies. The best choice is the Naples Sampler, a tasting of four delicious, simple pizzas: classic (with red sauce), white (with tons of garlic with mozzarella), green (with spinach) and mozzarella. $13 to $20; multiple locations; tomatoesapizza.com

#7 From Black Sheep Pizza: Minneapolis–St. Paul, Minnesota

This is Minnesota’s first pizzeria with a coal-fired oven, and chef-owner Jordan Smith takes advantage of his setup to create super-crisp crusts that stay crunchy no matter what he puts on them. Smith’s tastiest pie is this sauceless wonder: a rich combination of meaty oyster mushrooms, smoked mozzarella, ricotta and tons of rosemary and thinly shaved garlic. $13 to $22; multiple locations; blacksheeppizza.com

Gumbo From Tony’s Brick Oven Pizzeria: Gulfport, Mississippi

Call it stew by the slice: Owner Tony Swigris delivers Cajun gumbo — Gulf shrimp, crab and andouille sausage — on a sturdy crust, along with tomato, onion and okra. But the real star of this pie is the sauce: a smoky roux thickened with the secret gumbo ingredient, filé powder (ground dried sassafras leaves). The pizza has just enough cheese to keep all the toppings together so they don’t spill over the sides. $16; 2417 14th St.; tonysbrickovenpizzeria.com


Prosciutto From PizzaBella: Kansas City, Missouri

Chef Quillan Glynn appreciates simple pizzas, like the cheese-tomato sauce kind he grew up making with his mother. So when he opened PizzaBella a few years ago, he focused on no-fuss pies like this one. He starts with a thin layer of tomato sauce and three cheeses; then, after removing the pie from the wood-fired oven, he adds nothing more than Parma prosciutto (in almost-translucent sheets), fresh arugula and a dash of olive oil. $14; 1810 Baltimore Ave.; pizzabellakc.com

Best Pizza Ever From When in Rome: Kalispell, Montana

One day, after overcooking a special-order pie — whole-wheat crust with gorgonzola, roasted red peppers, garlic, red onions and pepperoni — chef Engjell Vrapi left the pizza out for his servers while he prepared a new one for his customer. The staff loved the toppings, so he started giving out free samples of the pie (not burning them this time), and customers kept calling it the “best pizza ever.” He knew he had a winner — and a name for it. $17 to $25; 7 1st Ave. E; bigforkpizza.com

Photo By: Photographer: Engjell Vrapi ©Copyright: zemra-sweets.com -2009

Classic Hamburger From La Casa Pizzaria: Omaha, Nebraska

This rectangular pizza, an Omaha favorite since 1953, is a combo of traditional Sicilian toppings and good ol’ Nebraska ground beef. Along with tomato sauce and cheese, each slice gets a mixture of slow-cooked hamburger, onions and spices. The pie is best eaten with a knife and fork, until the end — the crust is hand-twisted so it will double as a breadstick when you’re done with the rest. $10 to $25; 4432 Leavenworth St.; lacasapizzaria.net

Mulberry Street From Metro Pizza: Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada

The Mulberry Street is a perfectly executed eggplant-parmigiana sub in pizza form. The owners, who are New York natives (the pizza is named after a street in Manhattan’s Little Italy), start with a thin, stretchy New York-style dough, then add strips of breaded, fried eggplant and tomato sauce. The final touch sets the pizza apart from the sandwich: scoops of herb ricotta. $13 to $26; multiple locations; metropizza.com

Spicy Guacamole From MT’s Local Kitchen & Wine Bar: Nashua, New Hampshire

Update: This pizza is no longer on the menu.

Whenever chef-owner Michael Buckley had fresh avocados left over, his staff would slice them up, add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of Sriracha (hot sauce), and chow down. The staff-only, after-hours snack was so popular, he decided to let his customers in on the combo — by adding it to pizza. This thin-crust pie comes with four kinds of cheese, chopped tomatoes, red onion and Sriracha-spiked guacamole. $17; 212 Main St.; mtslocal.com

Sausage From De Lorenzo’s: Hamilton, New Jersey

De Lorenzo’s serves only pizza — in small and large. No appetizers. No sides. The wooden booths, tile floors, 1940s vintage cash register and no-credit card policy give “De Lo’s’’ an old-school, movie-like feel, and the sausage pizza is a classic: tender chunks of fennel sausage and fresh tomatoes on a crisp, crackly crust that’s cooked right every time. $12 to $15; 147 Sloan Ave; delorenzospizza.com/

No. 3 From Rooftop Pizzeria: Santa Fe, New Mexico

New Mexicans are obsessed with green chiles, which was news to chef Rueben Reyes when he moved here from California. When Reyes was creating pizzas for his new restaurant, his partners persuaded him to add a green chile one. He was skeptical, but the pizza quickly gained a following. It’s Santa Fe by the slice: grilled chicken, Alfredo sauce, pinon nuts (New Mexico pine nuts) and green chiles on a blue cornmeal crust. $14 to $20; 60 East San Francisco St.; rooftoppizzeria.com

Margherita From Kesté Pizza & Vino: New York City

It’s hard for a new pizzeria to stand out in New York City, but when Kesté opened in 2009, Italian-born chef and co-owner Roberto Caporuscio threw down the gauntlet: He named the restaurant “this is it” in Neapolitan slang, then started serving Naples-style pizza: The tomatoes are San Marzano, the flour is superfine Italian, the cheese is buffalo mozzarella and the crust is, dare we say it, flawless: puffy, chewy and just a little charred. $12; 271 Bleecker St.; kestepizzeria.com

©Romulo Yanes

Buffalo Chicken Pizza From Wingzza: Charlotte, North Carolina

Larry Swayne couldn’t find a place that served great wings and great pizza, so he created this food truck to do the job. You can order the two separately, but it’s more fun to get wings right on your pie; it comes drizzled with Carolina Buffalo sauce, which is a mix of vinegar-based barbecue and classic Buffalo sauces. Look for the truck among the tailgaters at Carolina Panthers games. $3 per slice; location on Twitter, wingzza.com

House Special From A&B Pizza: Bismarck and Mandan, North Dakota

At first, this place seems like a homespun version of Chuck E. Cheese’s: There’s a pinball machine, arcade games, a mini carousel and simple crowd-pleasing pies. But A&B is super serious about pizza: The restaurant has been around for four decades, and the House Special is a masterpiece. The key ingredient is the pork sausage, seasoned with a secret spice blend that gives it a peppery, anise-y bite. $18; multiple locations; aandbpizza.com

Sunnyside From Bar Cento: Cleveland, Ohio

Sam McNulty’s Sunnyside pizza is sort of like breakfast on a crust: salty pancetta and soft-cooked eggs with provolone and lots of black pepper. The catch is, Bar Cento doesn’t open until 4:30 p.m., so if you want to eat this popular pie in the morning, you have to stick around past midnight and chow down with all of the other late-night regulars: It’s served until 2 a.m. $13; 1948 West 25th St.; barcento.com

Big Country From Hideaway Pizza: Oklahoma

This chain is a favorite among the sports fanatics of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, where it started. After an OSU basketball player named Bryant “Big Country” Reeves led the school to the Final Four in 1995, the folks at Hideaway named this awesome pie after him. It comes with mega portions of Polish sausage, Canadian bacon, pepperoni, mozzarella and red sauce, plus a heap of cheddar cheese. $11 to $20; multiple locations; hideawaypizza.com

Pesto From Dove Vivi: Portland, Oregon

Dove Vivi is Italian for “where you live,” and the place lives up to its name by sourcing many of its ingredients locally. The prize on the menu is the pesto pizza, an appealing combo of ricotta and nutty spinach pesto on a crunchy cornmeal crust. The deli-style dining room isn’t exactly date-night material, but you can order a par-baked pie and finish it off in the oven at home. $23; 2727 Northeast Glisan St.; dovevivipizza.com

Parma From Osteria: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Osteria co-owners Marc Vetri (a James Beard Award winner) and Jeff Michaud ate pizza all over Italy before they added one to the menu here. What did the two veterans of Italian fine dining learn? The simpler, the better. Their Parma pizza is nothing more than razor-thin prosciutto (cut on a hand-cranked slicer), mozzarella, fontina and sherry vinegar-dressed arugula, which is often pulled from a garden they planted nearby. $20; 640 North Broad St.; vetrifamily.com

Summer From Al Forno Restaurant: Providence, Rhode Island

Update: This pizza is no longer on the menu. 

Grill-marked crusts were practically unknown in America when Johanne Killeen and George Germon pioneered the grilled pizza at Al Forno in 1980. They wanted to make pizza but didn’t have a brick oven, so they improvised with a wood-fired grill. Al Forno’s best is the Summer pizza, topped with tomato sauce, fresh herbs, scallions, a blend of fontina and pecorino cheese, a spicy oil and corn right off the cob. $20; 577 South Main St.; alforno.com

Pistachio Pesto From EVO: North Charleston, South Carolina

EVO started as a basic pizza stand at the Charleston Farmers Market, but once the owners set up permanent shop, they started getting creative — and this amazing pizza was born. Co-owner Matt McIntosh grinds pistachios with olive oil and salt to create a “pesto” base, then tops the pie with mozzarella, goat cheese and Parmesan and finishes it off with a dollop of crème fraîche. $11 to $13; 1075 East Montague Ave.; evopizza.com

Spicy Meatball and Sauerkraut From Charlie’s Pizza House: Yankton, South Dakota

Soon after he opened this place in 1959, Charlie Chato gave up on it and moved back to his native Chicago. He should have stayed: The restaurant lived on and became the longest-running, and one of the most popular, pizzerias in South Dakota. Loyal fans are particularly hooked on this pie, topped with spicy-sour meatballs, jalapeños and sauerkraut. Newcomers are often wary, until they bite in. $10 to $26; 804 Summit St.; 605-665-2212

Belly Ham From City House: Nashville, Tennessee

The chef-owner of this popular musicians’ hangout ordered pork bellies one day but didn’t know what to do with them — he didn’t have a smoker, so making bacon was out. Instead, Tandy Wilson brined the bellies for five days, then roasted them, and the result was pork belly ham. He puts chunks of it on this pizza, along with house-made mozzarella, oregano and a shot of chili oil, then he slips the pie into a wood-fired oven. $13; 1222 4th Ave. North; cityhousenashville.com

Hill Country From West Crust Artisan Pizza Pies: Lubbock, Texas

In a state renowned for smoky barbecue, fiery chili and massive chicken-fried steaks, the Hill Country pie at this pizza place highlights the lighter side of Texas. A brick-fired thin crust supports layers of mozzarella and feta cheese, along with turkey bacon, red onion and — the surprise ingredient — glazed pecans. Locals will tell you to add jalapeños for a Texas kick. $15; 6012 82nd St., Suite A; facebook.com/westcrustpizza/

Roasted Corn From Pizzeria 712: Orem, Utah

Update: This pizza is no longer on the menu.

Owners Joseph Macrae and Colton Soelberg have pizza-making down to a science: They keep their wood-burning oven at precisely 712 degrees F, the magic number at which they think pizza crusts char perfectly. Among the best of their pies is the least traditional one: roasted corn, fresh chiles, grana padano and gremolata, a traditional Italian herb mixture. $13; 320 South State St., Suite 147; pizzeria712.com

Photo By: Alyssa Vincent Photography ©Alyssa Vincent

The Green Mountain Special From Parker Pie Co.: West Glover, Vermont

Pizza isn’t usually among the top reasons to visit Vermont’s breathtaking Northeast Kingdom. But hidden away in the mountains, across from a dairy farm, is this unexpected gem, serving pies that are quintessentially Vermont. The Green Mountain Special comes loaded with local apples, sharp cheddar and bacon, and a drizzle of maple syrup from a neighboring farm, all atop chef Ben Trevits’ thin hand-tossed crust. $10 to $20; 161 County Rd.; parkerpie.com

White Mushroom From Crozet Pizza: Crozet, Virginia

Although it is tucked away in a small town 15 miles west of Charlottesville, University of Virginia crowds flock to this 35-year-old pizza place. The menu includes a daunting number of toppings — 36 in all, from the obvious (pepperoni) to the oddball (peanuts). But the absolute best combination comes on the mushroom pie: shiitake and portobello mushrooms over a pungent base of garlic, herbs and olive oil, all on a perfectly chewy crust. $22; multiple locations; crozetpizza.com

MOVED- Country Girl Cherry From Solstice Wood Fire Café: Bingen, Washington

Update: Since the printing of this article in Food Network Magazine, this restaurant has moved to Hood River, Oregon.

Cherry pizza is dessert pizza everywhere except here, where this pie is a rule-breaking favorite. When Aaron and Suzanne Baumhackl opened this spot, they looked to their surroundings for inspiration. Nothing seemed more obvious (or challenging) than using cherries from nearby Columbia River Gorge. They successfully pair the fruit with chorizo sausage and goat cheese, and finish it all off with a sprinkle of rosemary and thyme. $13 to $20; 45 West Steuben St.; solsticewoodfirecafe.com

The Smoky From Comet Ping Pong: Washington, D.C.

This spot is a playground for grownups, a hybrid entertainment space with Ping-Pong tables, punk rock shows and, conveniently, the District’s best wood-fired pizza. You won’t find any sauce on the best pie in the house — and you won’t miss it. The Smoky comes with a double dose of smoke instead: smoked cremini mushrooms and mozzarella, along with bacon and sweet caramelized onions. $13; 5037 Connecticut Ave. Northwest; cometpingpong.com

Grape Pie From Pies & Pints: Fayetteville and Charleston, West Virginia

Pies & Pints leads a double life: One location is in the bustling capital, Charleston; the other is in tiny Fayetteville, a destination for white-water rafters. This Grape Pie has won over both places. Originally, the pizza came with gorgonzola, rosemary and raisins, but one day when the raisins ran out, owner Kimberly Shingledecker replaced them with red grapes, and it has been a winner ever since. $11 to $20; multiple locations; piesandpints.net

Mac n' Cheese From Ian’s: Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Owner Ian Gurfield had a goal when he opened this pizza place in Madison at age 24: to serve innovative pizza to party-going college kids. He turned late-night-snack favorites into pizzas, and his mac and cheese pie has become his best-seller. He starts with a medium-thin crust and adds a layer of crème fraîche, followed by shredded mozzarella and cooked macaroni. After a sprinkle of Wisconsin cheddar, it’s the ideal pie: golden, bubbly and extra cheesy. $11 to $22; multiple locations; ianspizza.com

Thai From Grand Avenue Pizza: Laramie, Wyoming

Wyoming isn’t exactly a mecca for Thai cuisine, but Grand Avenue Pizza has successfully brought Thai flavors to Laramie and turned them into a pizza. Owner Dave Klein rubs his crust with olive oil and garlic, then tops it with mozzarella, chicken, sesame seeds, scallions and a sweet-and-spicy glaze. The pizza is so essential to the University of Wyoming experience that when alumni are in town, they make a trip just to get a slice. $10 to $17; 301 East Grand Ave.; grandavenuepizza.com

©Copyright 2008

Veg Pizza

This list originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of Food Network Magazine. It is fact-checked annually. Please contact our customer support team with any issues. 

Photo By: Philip Friedman/Studio D ©Hearst Commmunications Inc., 2009

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