So Extra: The Craziest Pizzas in the United States
Slice into beyond-basic pies that are pushing the boundaries with extravagant toppings and extreme sizing.
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At its most basic form, pizza is crust and topping, a combination that proves perfect for wild experimentation in the kitchen. It seems the challenge has been accepted, as today's chefs are stretching the limits of their imagination — and that pizza dough — to create the craziest pies in the country. From extravagant ingredients to extraordinary sizing (hello, Guinness World Record!), these pizzas are anything but subtle.
Gold Pizza at Ray's & Stark Bar, Los Angeles
It may not be the most-expensive pizza on this list, but this off-menu special at Ray's & Stark Bar certainly shines the brightest. Chef Fernando Darin puts a Midas touch on each pie, pulling the cheese-topped disc from an 800-degree wood-burning oven and finishing it with aged balsamic and edible gold. It seems fitting that this blinged-out pie is served within a (glittering) stone's throw of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Cheeseburger Pizza at Krave It Sandwich Shop & Eatery, New York City
When deciding between a burger and pizza proves too difficult a choice, opt for this comfort-food hybrid at Krave It. The Queens canteen is known for pushing pizza boundaries and piling on the likes of tater tots, mac and cheese, and, yes, mini cheeseburgers. It may seem like a gimmick, but this Instagram-ready pie is genuinely good. The secret to this pizza's success is that each element is prepared and cooked individually, including the mozzarella-blanketed crust, along with the hand-formed burger patties, French fries and sesame buns that top it.
Super Slice at Pizza Barn, Yonkers, New York
For proof that New Yorkers truly love pizza, look no further than the Pizza Barn, where slices measure 24 inches from tip to crust. The brainchild of owner Angelo Deluca, the two-footer was created for sharing, but 'za-loving customers have been known to consume one all by themselves. Sure, you can enjoy the blistered slices plain, but when in Rome — er, Yonkers — why not go all out and add mac and cheese or French fries.
Nutella Pizza at City Winery, Nashville
Pizza dough makes an excellent canvas for all sorts of toppings, including sweet ones. In a twist that's sure to leave diners with a sugar rush, City Winery swaps out the usual savory fixings for dessert staples. Each disc is shellacked in Nutella and dulce de leche, then topped with hazelnuts, raspberries and torched housemade marshmallows. For those who want a wine to pair with the pie, beverage director Jenelle Engleson recommends a glass of the Quinta de la Rosa 10 Year Tawny Port.
Giant Sicilian at Big Mama's & Papa's Pizzeria, Los Angeles
This L.A. institution more than lives up to the "big" in its name, with a pie so massive that it holds a Guinness World Record for the world's largest delivery pizza. As if the Big Mama and Big Papa pies weren't large enough — they measure 28 and 36 inches, respectively — the largest option clocks in at a whopping 54 inches. Each pie starts with 28 pounds of dough, and requires two people to make it. When it comes to delivery, a bike just won't do for this behemoth. Instead, it's transported by car in a special rooftop box designed to hold the supersized Sicilian.
Lobster Pizza: Scampo
The lobster-topped pie at Scampo is as much of a Beantown institution as its creator, Chef Lydia Shire. This culinary inspiration came to her years ago, thanks to a glut of local lobsters. Faced with an excess of crustaceans in the kitchen, Shire decided to toss some lobster meat on pizza — and a cult-favorite pie was born. Crowned with two pounds of the crustacean, ricotta, caramelized onions and garlic, it's no wonder this pizza has such a loyal following — diners are essentially digging into lobster bisque on pizza dough.
Chili Cheese Frito Pizza at Ian's Pizza, Milwaukee
The list of specialty pizzas at Ian's reads like the ultimate game-day party spread. Menu mainstays include Buffalo Chicken and Macho Nacho, but the real MVP only makes an appearance twice a year. It's worth timing your visit to try this beloved option, the Chili Cheese Frito (available in October and February). The starring stew is ladled onto a sturdy pizza crust and finished with the typical chili toppings of cheddar cheese, red onions, sour cream and Fritos corn chips. Can't go wrong with that winning lineup.
White Truffle Pizza at Bar Cargo, Chicago
When the spotlight is on an ingredient as luxurious as white truffle, it makes sense to keep the rest of the flavors restrained. That's the case at Bar Cargo, the North River spot that specializes in Roman-style pizza al taglio. Italy native Massimo Moresi uses an airy, crisped-up dough as the base, then crowns it simply with a runny egg, so as not to detract from the earthy white truffles that are shaved tableside. Such opulence doesn't come cheap — the pie rings up at a whopping $500.
Taco Pizza at Tony Boloney's, Hoboken, New Jersey
This 30-pound behemoth isn't just a taco-inspired pizza — it's literally tacos on top of a pizza. While it has the same foundation as most pies — dough, cheese, meat — the colossal Taco Tuesday special at Tony Boloney's is crowned with 24 soft shell tacos. Loaded with a variety of fillings, they form a ring around a creamy moat of guacamole and sour cream slathered on the the pie's surface.
Bone Marrow Pizza at Herb & Wood, San Diego
It's a common dining dilemma — giant bone marrow, tiny pieces of toast — one that Chef Brian Malarkey attempts to solve by serving the roasted delicacy with an entire pizza. The dazzling pie served at Herb & Wood is a sight to behold: two bones crisscrossed atop a charred crust that also cradles escargot, Gruyere, herbs and caramelized onions. Who needs cheese when you can simply spoon impossibly rich bits of marrow onto each slice?