Pizza Picks for Your Wednesday-Before-Thanksgiving Dinner
One of the busiest pizza nights of the year is — wait for it — the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. It makes perfect sense: With most Americans prepping turkeys, chopping veggies and baking pies, who has time to make dinner? Fortunately, a hot and tasty meal is only a phone call, and sometimes just a delivery, away. Here are some of the best independent pizza spots across the country — no reservations required. Check out the full gallery to find the best pies near your Thanksgiving destination.
Pizzeria Bianco: Phoenix and Tucson (pictured above)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Check out the full gallery of standout pizza spots from coast to coast.