The Best Pizza in New York City
Forget the Big Apple: NYC should be called the Big Pizza. Here's where to find the top slices.
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Take a Slice
New York City has a lot of classic foods to its name: bagels, corned beef and cabbage, black-and-white cookies, hot dogs. But no food item is more symbolic of the NYC food experience than pizza. Though there may be a pizzeria on nearly every corner of the Big Apple, not all pies are created equal. Here are the best places to fold up a slice.
Speedy Romeo is not your average NYC pizzeria. Chef-Owner Justin Bazdarich crafts thin-crust, Neapolitan-like wood-fired that combine New American flavors from his hometown of St. Louis with Italian techniques and a bit of New York flair, leading to toppings like Katz’s Deli pastrami from Manhattan, and Missouri’s beloved provel cheese. The Dick Dale combines Hawaiian and European flavors, with bèchamel, speck, pineapple, St. Louis-style provel cheese and grilled scallions. At the new Lower East Side outpost, Bazdarich honors the neighborhood’s Jewish roots in the Paul’s Boutique, an everything bagel crust layered with dijon bèchamel, fontina, 1000 island dressing, smoked red kraut and pastrami.
Go to: Speedy Romeo
Pizza has been a recurring theme in the history of Matt and Emily Hyland’s relationship. It was the first meal they shared together. On their first proper date, the young couple ate a grilled pie in Providence. So it’s really no surprise that the husband-and-wife team found their way into the industry. At their Clinton Hill restaurant (with a location in the West Village), they serve an array of bubbly modern American-style pies. The dough is hand-mixed and the mozzarella is prepared in-house. High-quality ingredients are integral, and the Hylands strive to use local products whenever possible. On the seasonal menu, pies are broken down into four sections: red (tomato sauce), green (tomatillo), pink (vodka) and white (sauce-free). Expect to see classics with numerous inventive options, such as the namesake Emily with mozzarella, pistachios, truffled cheese and a drizzle of honey. The meat lovers’ must-try is the RM3! with pepperoni, sausage and Mangalitsa ham from New Jersey.
Staking its claim as America’s first pizzeria, the history of Lombardi’s goes back more than a century. As the godfather of coal-fired pies, Lombardi’s has influenced the upper echelon of the city’s pizzerias since its opening in 1905, and is perpetually packed with tourists and locals eager for a taste. Founder Gennaro Lombardi taught John Sasso of John’s and Anthony Pero of Totonno’s how to hone their skills. The cash-only spot serves an array of classics, and no slices. The original margherita is exemplary, with a bright San Marzano sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese, finished with a bit of romano and basil chiffonade. The clam pie is another top seller. Freshly shucked clams are layered on dough with pepper, oregano, garlic, parsley and pecorino. There’s no sauce or cheese, just loads of seafood on a super-crisp crust.
L&B Spumoni Gardens
If a pizza joint is a favorite in a historically Italian neighborhood, it’s likely legit. Established in Bensonhurst in 1939, L&B has been serving adoring crowds for over 70 years now. A three-in-one setup, it offers an ice cream parlor (thus the namesake spumoni), a casual red-sauce restaurant and a pizzeria. All are worth a trip, but the World Famous L&B Sicilian pie is unlike any other slice. The upside-down pie is prepared with the cheese right on top of the dough, and the sweet tomato sauce on top. Crumbly flakes of salty Parmesan are sprinkled above. The thick crust is pulled out of the oven just shy of being fully cooked through, so the bottom layer is slightly springy in the middle with lightly browned edges. It’s not a thin-crust classic, but its flavor is enticing enough to convert even the most-die-hard square-pie-into believers.
Corner Slice at Gotham West
The corner slice has gone artisanal at this Gotham West Market stand. Chef Ivan Orkin, partner David Poran and pie virtuoso Michael Bergemann offer a new take on the neighborhood pizzeria with 60-hour fermented dough made from spelt and durum wheat. The recipe took about a year to develop, and the result was worth the wait. Crisp-crusted square slices are lightly chewy and slightly spongy, like a lighter yet sturdier take on the Sicilian. Here, the goal is perfection, not ostentation, so you won't find any flashy toppings. Tomato, mozzarella and white pies or slices can be covered with ingredients like hot soppressata from Salumeria Biellese, Calabro Cheese ricotta and house-made fennel sausage.
Since 1964, Domenico DeMarco has rolled out dough in this Midwood, Brooklyn, storefront. Not much has changed since those early days. The fluorescent sign out front is a retro throwback. The Formica-filled dining room feels like a church dining hall. Every Wednesday through Sunday guests can spot the octogenarian proprietor working behind the counter. His presence and mastery is the real draw. For the past 50 years, he’s made the pies in same deliberate fashion for adoring crowds. DeMarco’s Neapolitan pies are not fired in wood, but he still manages to obtain a paper-thin crust with supple edges and a slightly soggy center. They're topped with sugary tomato sauce enriched with extra-virgin olive oil, then finished with homegrown basil and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. The only inconsistent aspects are the prices and the lines. Slices now go for $5 apiece (the pies are a better deal), and waits are guaranteed.
Old-time Italian enclave Carroll Gardens was once mostly blue-collar workers and some Mafiosi, and the neighborhood is where famed gangster Al Capone was married. So when former marble worker and local Mark Iacono got news that an old-fashioned candy store had closed and the landlord was searching for a new tenant, he decided to give pizza a whirl. Fueled by a love of his grandmother’s cooking, Iacono created a dimly lit, romantic BYO restaurant. The cash-only pizzeria consistently attracts A-listers ranging from Jay-Z and Beyonce to the Beckhams. Iacono, however, is now famous himself, for his rustic wood-fired pies and calzones. His New York-style plain pizza is consistently hailed as one of the best in the city and even the U.S.
Blending Shake Shack’s counter-order format with Marta’s Roman pies, this new Union Square Hospitality Group spot led by chef Nick Anderer serves coveted Eternal City-inspired pizza for a steal. Aside from the $25 Black Truffle Boscaiola (white pizza with pork sausage, mushrooms, mozzarella and shaved black truffles), light and crispy thin-crust pies cost less than $13 each. Preconceived pies range from spicy salame with red sauce, sopressata and hot peppers to white pizza with kale and pecorino. Those are paired with an inexpensive selection of antipasti, beer, wine and half-bottles of Champagne, all in a no-reservations, no-cash East Village space.
When this Neapolitan-inspired pizzeria opened in early 2016, it was nearly impossible to score a reservation at a normal dining hour, and it can still take weeks to nab a table during primetime. Run by the team behind lively nouveau Italian hotspot Charlie Bird, this sophomore effort is the ideal combination of cool ambience, well-curated Italian wines and ambitious pies. Pliant wood-fired, thin-crust dough is elevated in compositions like the Diavola (hot pepper, mint and Neapolitan salami) and the garlicky Littleneck Clam.
Pasquale “Patsy” Lanceri opened this East Harlem coal-oven shop in 1933, after years of training under Gennaro Lombardi, the founder of America’s first licensed pizzeria. It has a lot in common with its predecessor. Like Lombardi’s, Patsy’s pies are cooked in a scorching-hot coal oven that creates that representative crisp crust marbled with black across the underside. The plain pie is simply topped with sweet tomato sauce and mild mozzarella cheese. It’s a model of uncomplicated perfection. So what does set Patsy’s apart from the other early coal-oven joints? It’s the only historic pizzeria to sell pizza by the slice, for less than the cost of the subway trip.
Set among graffiti-scrawled warehouses, this hipster-approved restaurant is as nouveau Brooklyn as it gets, with a rooftop garden, a bread bakery, an apiary and a radio station blasting from a recycled shipping container. Waits for seats often exceed two hours on weekends, and many diners make special trips to the Morgantown neighborhood from throughout the city. There’s good reason: The food is killer. The menu includes impeccable vegetables, world-class charcuterie and, of course, New York-Neapolitan hybrid-style pies. The Famous Original features tomato sauce, mozzarella, complex caciocavallo cheese (it’s like mozzarella's more sophisticated sibling), oregano and a dash of chile, all on a thin, crisp crust. The result is an earthy, elaborate cheese pie that’s out of this world. The Beastmaster adds gorgonzola, pork sausage, onion, capers and jalapeno to its tomato and mozzarella base. Each pie is completely unique and affordable. The most-expensive option rings in at $18.
This Williamsburg shop looks like your average corner pizzeria; however, it certainly doesn’t sidestep its superlative title. Roberta’s veteran Frank Pinello debuted the neighborhood joint in 2010 as an ode to his Bensonhurst roots, Sicilian heritage and love of New York’s pizza tradition. He uses a century-old wood-burning oven to create classic chewy and slim round pies as well as rectangular grandma pies with a snappy olive oil-infused crust. Like your traditional pizzeria, the menu here is simple with choice of white or red 20-inch pies and slices with your pick of toppings including Salumeria Biellese pepperoni, Pat LaFrieda short rib and brisket meatballs, anchovies, pickled veggies and Calabrian chile.
Much as New Yorkers love their NY-style signature slice, the city has plenty of love for Chicago’s hulking deep dish. When the craving strikes, Emmett’s two-inch tall, casserole-like creations are the way to go, hailed by many as the best deep dish outside Chicago. Flaxen dough cradles a thick pillow of springy mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and choice of toppings ranging from sausage and fried egg to Chi-Town-style hot giardiniera and Italian beef.
When New Yorkers want to get combine a favorite snack dip with their pizza, they head to Artichoke Basille’s. Its eponymous slice is piled about an inch high with artichoke hearts, spinach, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano and a healthy layer of butter and cream atop an extra-thick crust. On the slightly lighter side, the classic Margherita still weighs twice as much as your average NY slice. A thick and chewy crust is slathered with bright tomato sauce, aged mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh basil and an extra sprinkling of Pecorino. On weekend nights from about 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., lines of hungry fans snake out the door and down the block.
Like the cool, scholarly uncle of the U.S. Neapolitan pizza family, Italian pizzaiolo Roberto Caporuscio is so consumed with traditional technique and authentic ingredients he’s become the president of the American chapter of the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletana, the trade association that certifies pizza makers. Caporuscio has trained Neapolitan pie enthusiasts from around the country, and he’s fed tons of New Yorkers. His latest Financial District outpost, run with his daughter, offers more than 70 pizza variations (including the first recorded pizza in history, the Mast’ Nicola, topped with lardo, Pecorino Romano and basil), 150 seats as well as an on-premise pizza school that hosts professionals and amateurs of all ages.
Opened in 2010, Paulie Gee’s is something of a newcomer to the long-established Brooklyn pizza scene. What it lacks in longevity it makes up for in quality and esteem. The joint is so popular that waits can stretch beyond 90 minutes for tables to try the blistered, char-covered crusts. With a crisp circumference and soft center, these Neapolitan-style pies come with clever names and creative toppings. Ricotta Be Kiddin’ Me is one, with fresh mozzarella, Canadian bacon and sweet Italian fennel sausage topped with basil and fresh ricotta straight out of the oven. There are even top-notch vegan options like Red, White and Greenpeace, a pie with baby arugula and olive oil that's finished with house-pickled red onion and cashew ricotta once it’s pulled from the heat. Prepare to hang: There’s no pickup or delivery.
Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitano
Any trip on the classic NYC pizza train must include a stop at this coal-oven pizzeria. Founder Antonio “Totonno” Pero got his start at Lombardi’s shortly after arriving from Italy. A Coney Island institution since 1924, Totonno’s has racked up most every accolade, including a prestigious America’s Classic award from the James Beard Foundation, and a nod as one of the best pizzas on Top 5 Restaurants. Current owners Antoinette Balzano and Louise “Cookie” Cimineri are so secretive about their grandfather’s dough recipe that they wouldn’t allow cameras to film the prep process. The dough is made daily, never refrigerated, then topped with handmade mozzarella and fine ingredients, many sourced straight from the motherland. It’s no joke. The restaurant stays open only until the day’s batch of dough is gone, so it’s best to go early.
This Bushwick pizzeria evokes the sustainable, crafty ethos of its surrounding neighborhood. The rustic-industrial brick-walled space was formerly an auto garage. The sourdough wood-fired pies are creatively crafted from heirloom wheat and natural yeast, dotted with ingredients sourced from local farms. Pies include the Pops (tomatoes, mozzarella, guanciale, onions and Pecorino), Juno (Robiola, asparagus, greens and Parmesan) and a simple Margherita with house-made mozzarella. Those artistic combinations are paired with market-driven antipasti and salads, seasonal cocktails, natural wines and a somewhat ironic “Bud and amaro” riff on the classic boilermaker.
The Big Apple may be in the midst of a fancy-pizza renaissance, but the best old-school slice shops are as good as they’ve ever been. A prime example: Joe’s Pizza. The Greenwich Village institution has been slinging inexpensive pies and slices for more than 40 years. The shop moved a couple blocks down from the original in 2005 and has expanded with three new locations, but Joe’s still serves the same thin-crust rounds coated with the proper balance of vibrant sauce and tasty cheese that have lured fans since 1975, and all for just $3 a slice.
Houdini Kitchen Lab
Set in a nondescript industrial section of Ridgewood in an unmarked former brewery, Houdini Kitchen Lab requires a certain navigational prowess. Given its out-of-the-way location and creative pizzas, it draws comparisons to Roberta’s, just a few subway stops west. The wood-fired pies are sort of like a Neapolitan-NYC hybrid, ultrathin, with top-notch ingredients. The Queen Pizza ups the ante on the regular Margherita with house-made stracciatella. The Habanera, layered with thin strips of cured pork and mouth-tingling chile oil is ideal for heat seekers.
John’s of Bleecker Street
Prince Street Pizza
This Nolita take-out joint, ‘Home of SoHo Squares,’ offers four excellent versions of fluffy oversized Sicilian-style pizzas made on a fluffy, crisp base that banishes any fear of a soggy bottom. All are worthy of applause, but the Spicy Spring Pie is the champion. Right atop the olive oil-infused dough, a hearty sprinkling of mozzarella cheese separates the spicy fra diavolo sauce from the foundation, preventing the crust from getting wet and mushy. Spicy pepperoni slices are spread evenly across the whole the block along with a dusting of Romano cheese.