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35 Best Pizzas in America for 2012

35 Best Pizzas in America for 2012


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Pizza! If you grew up obsessed with it — postgame pizza, movie pizza, baby-sitting pizza, college pizza, pizza, pizza, pizza! — and followed that American passion for cheese, sauce, and bread with an adult pursuit of the best slice, the finest pie, the Platonic Neapolitan, then the idea of naming America's best is likely contentious.

Read more: America's 35 Best Pizzas Slideshow

"A best pizza list? Iknow pizza. That's not great pizza!" Yes, pizza is tough to rank responsibly. Consider that just years ago, The New York Times' then critic Sam Sifton said Motorino "serves the city’s best pizza." It was enough to make you roll your eyes and call him out for knowing better, right? City's best? Not its best artisanal or Neapolitan pie? What about its best slice? And what is a "best" slice or pie anyway? After all, you could argue that great pizza can be many different things.

Given America's current love affair for Neapolitan pies, some might argue great pizza must meet the requirements of the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, the international nonprofit founded in the 1980s by a group of pizzaiolos to cultivate and protect the art of making Neapolitan pizza. Their rules? Fresh tomatoes as long as they’re San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino D.O.P., Pomodorini di Corbara, and Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio D.O.P. Canned, peeled tomatoes (Pomodoro Pelato San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino D.O.P.) as long as they’re strained, broken up, and homogenized. And depending on whether you’re making a Margherita or marinara, you ladle "sauce" (according to the organization's founder Antonio Pace, technically it’s not a sauce) on and top it with oil, mozzarella or fior di latte, grated cheese, and basil; or just tomato, oil, oregano, and garlic.

Things get more contentious.

Maybe great pizza means the use of the freshest ingredients and seasonal toppings? Does it involve a structural integrity to the underlying dough that ensures you can lift a slice without experiencing droopage? Is it an airy, charred cornicione that makes even the most ardent crust-chucker certain not to leave one pizza bone behind? Must it employ artisanal sausage, or does old-school pepperoni count? Does it involve fresh mozzarella? Or just the expert scattering and sauce to cheese ratio of good old-fashioned, low-moisture aged mozzarella and sauce made from canned San Marzano tomatoes? Does a bar pie count? And how do you stack those up against deep-dish pies?!

These are all questions you could get lost debating for hours. For me, great pizza doesn't include deep dish. That's not pizza. It's a casserole for crying out loud. Great pizza is a thin-crust New York slice right out of the oven that you can fold and that keeps its structural integrity despite the generous cheese, sauce, and orange oil on top about to burn the roof of your mouth that you're compelled to bite into anyway. It's a bar pie topped with hot pepper oil at Colony Grill in Stamford, Conn., or Eddie's in New Hyde Park — pizza so thin that it's more like a hot cracker with your favorite toppings. It's the best renditions of Long Island's much-overlooked pan-crisped genre: the grandma pie. It's the charred, airy crust of Da Michele that inspires devotion and poetry, and the renditions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York City that aspire to and almost achieve that level of greatness. It's South Brooklyn Pizza (the East Village location), Little Vincent's incredibly saucy and bubble-crusted pie in Huntington, Long Island, Bianco's pistachio pie in Phoenix, and Great Lake's chewy crust in Chicago. For me, in its purest form, great pizza is fresh pizza: thin, cheesy, saucy, and with an airy bubbled crust. I could go on, but this isn't my list.

You could argue that all of these things should be taken into account when compiling a list. When it comes to pizza, there are so many nuances, there should be niche lists detailing the best in each category. The Daily Meal will take that approach next year. In 2012, we did the next best thing: we assembled a panel of experts across America, and asked them to vote for the country's best pies.

How did this list of 35 places come to be? The Daily Meal's editors racked their collective pizza memory. We consulted venerable texts and online sources, sought out old-school Formica-table joints and brazen newcomers alike. We carefully considered the stalwarts of the country's two pizza capitals, New York City and (cough) Chicago, but not so closely that we couldn't look beyond them. We ended up with a list of more than 140 places for pizza, most any of which, you'd be very happy with stopping in for a pie.

Knowing that it might still be possible to miss quite a few local gems across the country, we then asked each member of our panel to write in with five suggestions of their own. Altogether, we turned 140 places over to our panel and asked them narrow things down to five spots for each of seven regions: West Coast; Southwest and Texas; Midwest; South; Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and New Jersey; New England; and yes, New York City.

There were hundreds of votes cast by a venerable panel of about 20 American chefs, restaurant critics, and pizza authorities, most of whom, besides the Los Angeles Times' Jonathan Gold and Chicago Magazine's Penny Pollack, requested anonymity. These are people who, like you (and us) live and die pizza. And you know what? The results are probably going to really bubble your crust, and burn your upskirt. That's just the nature of a list like this.

Panelists voted on places that you'd expect to make a best pizza list, like Bianco in Phoenix, Di Fara in Brooklyn, Pizzeria Mozza in LA, New Haven's Frank Pepe, and Una Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco. But they also put these places side by side with deep-dish pies in Chicago, and... wait, is that the jumbo slice from D.C? (Man, you've got to think that The Washington Post's Tom Sietsema and Tim Carman are going to be so mad.)

No $1-slice joints made the list. Neither probably, did several of your, or our favorites. Consider that in New York City alone, Roberta's, Kesté, Paulie Gee's, and South Brooklyn Pizza (that East Village outpost) didn't make the list. Neither did Pizza Moto (arguably, New York City's most underrated pizza — seriously, New York, how have you not acknowledged this as one of Gotham's best?).

That's the way these things go, until everyone can attest to having visited every reputable pizza place across the country. Below is the complete list of 2012's winners organized by region. Check out the slideshow for the countdown to number one. Think we missed a few great places? We're sure we did. Clue us in in the comments below and they'll be sure to be considered next year.

West Coast
Pizzeria Mozza, Una Pizza Napoletana, Gjelina, Flour + Water, A16

Southwest and Texas
Bianco, Pizaro's, Roppolo's, Antonio's Ristorante, Fireside Pies

Midwest
Gino's East, Great Lake, Spacca Napoli, Vito & Nick's, Pizano's

South
EVO, Monza, Scuola Vecchia, Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza, Reginelli's

Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and New Jersey
Osteria, 2Amys, DeLorenzo's, Jumbo Slice Pizza, Papa's Tomato Pies

New York
Co., DiFara, John's, Motorino, Joe's

New England
Frank Pepe's, Al Forno, Regina Pizzeria, Sally's Apizza, Santarpio's

Sean Flynn and Molly Aronica contributed reporting to this article.

Arthur Bovino is The Daily Meal's executive editor. Follow Arthur on Twitter.


How to Make a Classic Cheese Pizza

A classic cheese pizza is the ultimate crowd-pleaser. The delicious combination of crispy pizza crust, flavorful tomato sauce, and bubbly cheese make for an unbeatable combination. Even if you're a fan of unique toppings, it's hard to resist a slice of a plain cheese pie! Ree Drummond has all sorts of fun pizzas on the menu at P-Town Pizza in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, like fig-arugula and potato-leek. But she made sure to have a classic cheese pizza in the mix, too&mdashand it's a fan favorite. Keep reading to get the recipe.

A good classic cheese pizza starts with a good basic pizza dough&mdashand it's not hard to make your own. Once you know your way around homemade pizza dough, making your own pizza is easy. Of course you can always use store-bought dough like Ree does for her Sausage and Peppers Pizza or Steakhouse Pizza, or you can use flatbread like she does for these Broccoli and Tomato Pizzas. But if you want to make the ultimate classic cheese pizza, be sure to try the recipe below from P-Town Pizza!

What is the best cheese for pizza?

While pizzas nowadays get topped with all sorts of different cheeses, the one that is by far the most common is mozzarella&mdashand for good reason. Mozzarella is a great topping for a classic cheese pizza for a few reasons, including the fact that it melts super well, especially if it&rsquos fresh. Though you might not have put much thought into your cheese&rsquos &ldquomeltiness&rdquo prior to now, its ability to boil and bubble away in the oven makes for a great texture and eating experience. Additionally, whole-milk mozzarella usually melts and stretches nicely on a pizza, so if you&rsquore looking for the best cheese to sprinkle on your homemade pizza, reach for mozzarella. You could even try freshly grating some yourself.

What is a classic pizza?

While traditional pizza originates from the Campania region of Italy, more particularly, Naples, pizza in North America often takes on all different varieties, many known for classic toppings and types of crusts. At any pizza shop or chain, you&rsquore sure to find classic pizzas like cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and vegetable. You&rsquoll likely also find menus touting pizzas topped with ham and pineapple, buffalo or barbecue chicken. In terms of crusts, pizza in the U.S. typically comes in &ldquothin&rdquo, &ldquothick&rdquo, and sometimes somewhere in between. Some companies and pizza chains have popularized crusts stuffed with cheese as well as pizzas made with untraditional &ldquocrusts&rdquo, like croissant dough.

What is the standard cheese on pizza?

Mozzarella is most commonly used on pizza, but you can definitely use other cheeses you like. Other cheeses that taste delicious on homemade pizza include parmesan (often used with mozzarella), fontina, cheddar, provolone, pecorino romano and ricotta, just to name a few. Also, don&rsquot feel limited to just one at a time sometimes, pizzas that include a number of different melty cheeses taste great!

What are the four cheeses on a pizza?

While the combinations of cheeses used for a four-cheese pizza vary, you&rsquoll usually find both mozzarella and parmesan, with others like gorgonzola, provolone, ricotta, parmesan and sometimes cheddar commonly used.


The Hot 10: Best New Restaurants in America 2012

The question I'm asked most often is, "What's your favorite restaurant in America?" And I always answer, "Are you kidding?" It's impossible to pick just one. My choice changes monthly, weekly, even daily. Ten years ago, it was most likely one of those "temples of gastronomy," a restaurant with 800-thread-count white tablecloths, entrées hovering around $40, and an exclusive atmosphere. Five years ago, things started to relax, and it wasn't just the food: The Clash played on the speakers, the chairs were backless, and customers balked at the long lines rather than the high prices.

So what kind of restaurants stand out to me in 2012? Well, to start, they're usually scrappy and personal, guided by chefs with a passion to create independently owned places they would want to eat at on their day off. As for what that style of restaurant looks, tastes, and sounds like, there are some common themes: husband-and-wife owners, small dining rooms and even smaller kitchens, no reservations and no tablecloths, counter-side seating around the open kitchen, tweezers in the kitchen, tattooed cooks, servers, and sommeliers, rough-hewn handmade plates, record players and random selections of vinyl in the dining room, and bargaine prix-fixe menus.

In our 2012 Best New Restaurants package, we'll introduce you to a new breed of restaurant. And while one place serves Thai-style street food and another makes dishes that look like an Instagram photo of the forest floor, they're all cut from the same cloth. And they're exactly where I want to eat right now. **


Best Pizza In North Carolina How do these rankings work?

1. Pizzeria Omaggio – Charlotte

This authentic Italian-style pizzeria does super specialty pizzas, with fresh high quality toppings and a delectable dough. Their seasonal pizzas feature unique toppings and they also do an insanely good homemade Semifreddo to finish off the meal.

2. Randy’s Pizza – Raleigh

Who’d have thought you could find authentic New York-style pizza in the heart of North Carolina? Randy’s Pizza serves some of the best pizza in Raleigh, but that’s not all. Here, you’ll also find great stromboli and tasty wings.

3. Inizio Pizza Napoletana – Charlotte

Their Neapolitan-style pizza is as good as anything you will find in the country and sticks to the traditional methods.

That means proving the dough for over a day and cooking it in a blisteringly hot oven in less than 90 seconds. Once you taste their pies with their simple yet elegant toppings you will be hooked for life.

4. Pure Pizza – Charlotte

They’ve been keeping their customers seriously happy and well fed since 2012. They put huge pride into being farm lovers and that means sourcing the very best ingredients.

They also have gluten-free options are organic and cater for vegans. There is literally nothing they cannot make taste delicious.

5. Pizzeria Toro – Durham

Pizzeria Toro serves up wood-fired pizzas, fresh and fast, with beautifully chargrilled dough.

What really takes things to a whole new level here is the gourmet range of toppings. Think: spicy lamb meatball, sweet fennel sausage, meyer lemon, trumpet mushrooms or a pizza with a soft egg on top.

6. Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co – Asheville

This funky brewery has three Asheville locations, but it’s their South Asheville spot that you’ll want to hit up for some of the best pizza in North Carolina. Unique crust options include parmesan or coconut, and you can also branch out with bases ranging from alfredo to house pesto.

Each month also sees a special pie that makes use of local ingredients, such as juicy pulled pork from a nearby bbq joint.

7. Benny Pennello’s – Charlotte

They serve classic New York pizza slices and whole pies that taste absolutely amazing. You will want to make sure you are hungry though, because to say the portion sizes are big would be a serious understatement.

Plenty of people also get the pies to go but there is something about sitting here, eating it piping hot that makes it taste even more special.

8. Lost Province Brewing Co. – Boone

Lost Province is a stellar microbrewery and gastropub that has a wood burning oven at its heart and centre. Alongside other fired-up foods, they serve Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizza that is absolutely divine. They use only the best ingredients for the pizza, from San Marzano tomatoes for the perfect base to local toppings such as farm fried chicken or housemade Italian sausage.

9. Lisa’s Pizzeria – Rodanthe

Stop by Lisa’s Pizzeria after a beach day surfing the waves and you’ll be rewarded with some of the tastiest North Carolina pizza in the region. They’ve bee serving up pies to hungry locals and visitors alike for over 35 years, and show no sign of slowing down in their quality and passion.

Order The Hippie for something different: a hummus base topped with mozzarella cheese, spinach, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and onions.

10. Sergio’s Pizza – Raleigh

This was the first Sergio’s location outside of New York, and is a top choice for authentic NY pies. You could just imagine yourself in New York as you peel away the gorgeous and utterly gooey slices that are loaded with delicious toppings.

11. Amici Pizza – Charlotte

If you want some takeaway pizza to have on the couch watching the big game or to share with the family this is the spot. Their portions are huge, the bases thin and crispy and they load the toppings on so that you will never go hungry.

12. Brooklyn Pizzeria – Goldsboro

Brooklyn Pizzeria is a classic American-style pizza joint, where you’ll get an absolutely incredible cheesy pizza feast. Each pie is freshly baked to order and comes out with piping hot, gooey cheese and a crunchy base.

Gourmet Italian it ain’t, but that’s what we love. Sometimes only a big loaded pie will do the trick, and there’s no better spot than here.

13. Mellow Mushroom – Blowing Rock

Mellow Mushroom has locations all across the country, and you can be sure you’ll always find delicious pies on the menu. Their signature dough is stone baked for the perfect crunch, and then topped with all sorts of tasty ingredients. For a real treat, order the Holy Shitake Pie, which is a mushroom pizza finished with a garlic aioli swirl and a spritz of black truffle oil.

14. The Pizza Peel & Tap Room – Charlotte

Nothing goes together quite as well as pizza and beer and if you want that combination in Charlotte then this is the place you’ll want to head to.

They also do great bar snacks, pasta and other comfort food, but the pizza is the star of the show here.

15. DeMos Pizzeria & Deli – Raleigh

There’s lots of delicious items on the menu at DeMos (the Philly Cheesesteak is superb), but pizza is king. The pizza here is a traditional hand tossed thin crust New York style pie, with just the right amount of ingredients to give you that crunch and fold. Order by slice or get a whole pie to share.

16. Oakwood Pizza Box – Raleigh

This casual-but-cute pizza joint serves up simple pies that pack a real flavour punch. Choose from classic cheese, square or white base and load on the toppings. Our top picks? Meatballs and pickled shallot. P.S. they also have real Mexican Coca-Cola to wash it down with!

17. Elizabeth’s Pizza – Wilmington

Elizabeth’s Pizza is a family-run business that has been at the same location since 1987 and that tells you everything you need to know about their quality.

The bases are thing and crispy and come with a large selection of delicious toppings. There are lot of other great items on the menu, but it is hard to look past the pizza.

18. Bisonte Pizza Co – Charlotte

Wings, beer and pizza. What more could you possibly want in life? The fact that they happen to have the best combined selection of all three in Charlotte under the rood makes this place an absolute winner.

The pies are thin. crispy and loaded with delicious cheese.

19. Blue Mountain Pizza – Weaverville

This cosy little brewpub and pizza joint has been a local favourite for more than 20 years, beloved for its tasty pies and good vibes. The dough is homemade fresh daily, with toppings from the classic – pepperoni, kalamata olives or sausage – to the gourmet: steak tips, chorizo, almonds or gorgonzola.

Finish off your meal with a scoop (or two!) of their creamy homemade ice cream.

20. Slice Pizzeria – Kill Devil Hills

Slice Pizzeria’s hand-tossed, deck-oven pizzas are a firm favourite in the area, know for their fresh base and droolworthy toppings. You can opt for classic pies, calzones, or a Chicago-style deep dish with a buttery crust.

They load the centre up with toppings to create a pizza that is absolutely bursting with flavour through every single mouthful.

21. Trophy Brewing & Pizza – Raleigh

The pies at this local brewery are always made with fresh and often local ingredients, and are the perfect soakage for some craft brews. Perfect crusts and wonderfully original toppings such as poblano cream, braised beef tips and shaved Brussels sprouts makes this fun.

22. FRESH Wood Fired Pizza West – Asheville

With an ethos of using as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible, FRESH lives up to its name with a fantastic menu of fresh bites to eat. Their pizza is a real highlight, sticking to traditional Neapolitan principles, so expect bubbles and charring from the wood fired oven.

Toppings such as smoked salmon or spicy salami are the cherry on top.

23. Your Pie – Wilmington

At At Your Pie, you control your “pizza destiny”, customising your perfect, 10-inch pie with whatever toppings you like. They’ll then cook it to order in their signature brick oven in less than four minutes!

Can’t decide what you want to add on? Go with one of their tasty combos, such as the Lineage with marinara sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, Italian sausage, red onions, mushrooms, black olives and green peppers.

24. Savage’s Wood Burning Pizzeria – New Bern

Savage’s Woodburning Pizzeria serves up authentic New York-style pizza from a proper wood-fired oven, for pizza with smokey charred crusts and a crisp base. There’s 20 different pies to choose from, including the tasty ‘Joe’s Drunken Savage’ pie. It’s a feast of pink vodka sauce, breaded chicken cutlet, mushrooms, bacon and garlic.

25. Side Street Pizza & Pasta – Tryon

Side Street is a family-owned pizza joint where you’ll always find fresh and tasty pies, laden with molten cheese and other delicious toppings. Everything is homemade, fresh and SO good.

Dig into a cheeseburger pizza with beef, cheese and pickle slices, or go gourmet with a mushroom pesto and chicken. Whatever you order, rest assured it will be out-of-this-world tasty.

Sarah Clayton-Lea

Co-founder of Big 7 Travel, Sarah created the company through her passion for championing the world's best food and travel experiences. Before her career in digital media, where she previously held roles such as Editor of Food&Wine Ireland, Sarah worked in the hospitality industry in Dublin and New York.


The 101 Best Pizzas In America


Photo Credit: Ravi Bangaroo

Arthur Bovino, the Executive Editor for The Daily Meal, announces the names of the '101 Best Pizzas in America' for 2015.

This is our fourth annual attempt to seek out America's best pizza, and our third 101 (our first list covered a mere 35 -- what were we thinking?). You know the expression, "It's a hard job, but somebody has to do it"? Well, we love pizza, but we make this list as hard on ourselves as we can. It's one of The Daily Meal's most compulsively tracked rankings. Why? Because Americans love pizza. It's a truly democratic food, an inexorable part of Americna life, something everyone knows (or thinks they know). People take pizza very seriously. So we do too.

Have you had a stranger tweet that he wants to take you on a pizza tour of Queens, drive you around in a truck for a classic Flushing slice, then pull out a med kit filled with fresh basil, oregano, and Parmigiano-Reggiano to "Dom DeMarco" it up? Have you ever collected a year's worth of pizza suggestions drenched in love and vitriol from hundreds and hundreds of readers? Tried to locate and make sense of every single national and local media list of America's best pizzas to ensure you haven't missed a pie? Arranged and rearranged travel schedules in an attempt to personally sample the purported best pizzas in as many American cities as possible? We've ridden in that truck. We've done all that, and more, since compiling last year's 101.

No list is perfect. And we have to remind ourselves at least once a year that other people are allowed to write about pizza, even when they're wrong (especially when they're wrong) -- even when, as TripAdvisor did this year (two years after naming San Diego America's Top 10 Cities For Pizza. San Diego?), they name Brooklyn's Juliana's (No. 41 on our list last year) the best pizza in America (tasty for sure, but really?) and round out the top three with places in St. Augustine, Florida, and Anchorage, Alaska. No such thing as bad press, right? (OK, we'll say it: Some people really should have their pizza-writing licenses revoked.)

So unlike many arbitrary lists, rankings diversified for the purpose of geographical engagement, and "expert" listicles chosen by a handful of New York's food writers, we approached our rankings methodically and comprehensively.

We started big, ordering extra-large, extra-cheese, considering 800 spots in every corner of the country -- about 100 more than last year. How did we narrow this number down to just 101? To begin with, we eat at as many pizzerias as we can ourselves. This editor has personally visited nearly half the places that made the list this year. The Daily Meal's in-house pizza experts -- including eight-time James Beard award winner and editorial director for The Daily Meal Colman Andrews, Eat/Dine editor Dan Myers, and Restaurant editor Kate Kolenda -- along with our city editors, Culinary Council experts, and Culinary Content Network bloggers, pitched in.

But we also called upon a blue-chip, geographically diverse list of pizza panelists -- chefs, restaurant critics, bloggers, writers, and pizza authorities -- asking them to share their considerable pizza experience with us, and to vote only for places where they've actually eaten. (If you're in food media or are a recognized pizza expert and you disagree with this list and didn't vote for it, send us an email with your pizza cred and we'll consider you for our panel in 2016.)

We're going out on a thin-crust slice to say there's never before been such a comprehensive list of pizzas voted on by such a large and qualified group of experts. Certainly, this year's 109-member panel is The Daily Meal's longest, most impressive, most star-studded pizza-expert roster ever, including 31 more pizza mavens from across America than we had last year.

So who says the 101 pizzas on this list are the country's best? How about "The Pizza King" Dan Janssen, for starters, the owner of an artisanal Maryland woodshop who last year revealed that he has survived on a diet of pizza alone for the last 25 years? Other panelists included television personality, chef, food writer, and lover of gas-station pizza Andrew Zimmern restaurant critic and wine columnist for the Los Angeles Times S. Irene Virbila 2012 Classic Italian first-prize winner at the World Pizza Championships in Naples (Italy) Elizabeth Falkner New York City pizza tour impresario, Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box author, and Guinness World Record holder for his pizza box collection Scott Wiener of Scott's Pizza Tours New York City's modernist cuisine pioneer chef Wylie Dufresne of Alder (chef of The Daily Meal's 2014 Restaurant of the Year) New Haven culinary walking tour expert Colin M. Caplan Broward Palm Beach New Times food critic Nicole Danna James Beard Award-nominated author of How Italian Food Conquered the World, How Italian Food Conquered the World author John Mariani of Mariani's Virtual Gourmet lead senior content strategist and managing editor at MSN Ilana Bergen USA Today's "Great American Bites" regional cuisine columnist Larry Olmsted and other experts from HuffPost, The Detroit News, Food Network, Thrillist, the Miami Herald, The Virginian-Pilot, and numerous pizza blogs across America. (Read on for this year's full panelist list.)

We also have a special expert this year: America's foremost authority on pizzaology (says it right there on the July 8th comic strip), "Blondie's" Dagwood Bumstead. That's right, Dagwood weighed in. Can't top that.


Photo Credit: Comics Kingdom

How about his take on what makes for the perfect pie? "An outer crust that is crispy but still bread-like and bubbly, not too much sauce but definitely homemade," advised Mr. Bumstead. "An emphasis on cheese, (lots of cheese!). It must have cheese dripping off the sides of the slice, so it makes a stretchy mess when you pull your slice away from the whole pizza. Last but not least, only the freshest ingredients to top it with! And how about some jalapeños to spice it up a little!" You knew there was a reason you always liked that guy, right?

This year, Dagwood and his fellow panelists finalized a list that spanned 24 states. The top 10 states for pizza (nine, technically, plus the District of Columbia -- "Pizza Without Representation") included New York (27) California (11) Connecticut (nine) Pennsylvania (seven) Illinois (six) Massachusetts (six) Washington, D.C. (four) New Jersey (four) Oregon (three) and Texas (three).

For the third year, the birthplace of American pizza, New York, featured the most pizzas. But for the first time, the Empire State's share of the pie diminished, with only 27 spots (it scored 30 spots in 2013 and 35 last year). And within the state, the percentage of places from New York City's five boroughs was also less than last year (85 percent in 2015 versus almost 90 percent in 2014). In 2014, Brooklyn reigned with 13 spots, leading Manhattan (11), Queens (four), Staten Island (three), and the Bronx (one). Those 31 spots fell to 23, with Brooklyn and Manhattan tied at nine, Staten Island and Queens ranking two spots, and the Bronx's tried-and-true Louie and Ernie's representing it once more

After New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia tied for second, featuring six spots each, with Boston and New Haven, Connecticut, not far behind with five apiece. Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., also tied with four spots each, and then seven cities tied with two pizzas per: Atlanta, Austin, Vegas, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Providence, and yes, Robbinsville, New Jersey (population 3,041).

Among out honorees, you'll find old standbys like Joe's in New York's West Village, Una Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco, and Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, and a few surprise climbs up through the ranks: Buddy's in Detroit and Chicago's Coalfire made it into the top 10. But you'll have to check out the full list below, then read the gallery captions to learn why each place landed where it did. We will say that the top two pies were separated by just one vote (this is a big year for both of the pizzerias that produced them: one 90 this year and the other is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary).

One last thing: We know who we and our many panelists think serves the best pizzas in America, but we'd also like to know who you think does. That's right, we'd like you to vote too. Check out the list, then click into our survey (learn more about the popular vote) and weigh in with the places we missed or that you think should have been ranked higher (or lower). We'll publish the results in a few weeks.

#101 Ghigiarelli's, Old Forge, Pa. (Red: Tomato, brick cheese)


Photo Credit: Arthur Bovino

The Twilight Zone of pizza.

You have to credit a town that calls itself the "Pizza Capital of the World," especially if no one would have heard of it otherwise. Not Naples, Italy. Not New York City or Brooklyn, not Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New Haven. Nope, Old Forge, Pennsylvania, claims this distinction, and on placards for the town, no less.

Some six places -- Anthony's, Arcaro & Genell, Brutico's, Revello's, Rinaldi's, and Ghigiarelli's -- make up the pizzerias that constitute this gutsy claim. This Twilight Zone of pizza, this pizza capital of its own fashioning, might as well be a different country, too -- they even have their own pizza language. Order by color (red or white) or by the cut or by the tray.

The mysterious cheese combination that covers the pizza in Old Forge is an enigmatic brick that coats your teeth and tongue in a curiously comforting yet puzzling way. The white pizza is calzone-like in that it has crust on top and bottom, but the way to go is the red pizza.

#100 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, Los Angeles, Calif. (Margherita)

California is one thing, but how will New Yorkers take to 60-second cooked Neapoltian pies?

New Yorkers are still waiting for the planned five New York City locations of the West Coast-based Chipotle of pizza that co-creator and former Michael Mina corporate chef Anthony Carron and Umami Burger founder Adam Fleischman announced in late 2013, promising they would start "opening within the next year."

Anyone doubtful of the possibility of quality, personalized, 60-second-cooked Neapolitan pies cooked by 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria and showing up next to the Starbucks in every neighborhood can nurture their chain-pizza skepticism, but they can't ignore the seven locations in California, two in Nevada, one in Illinois, and international offshoots in Dubai and Japan (where seven more are slated to open over the next decade).

#99 Piece, Chicago, Ill. (Pepperoni and banana peppers)

In a city known for deep-dish, Chicagoans long ago learned how to give Wicker Park brewery and pizzeria Piece a chance ("Pizza is good for you!"). Owner Bill Jacobs had already started, sold, and made Piece with moving beyond the successful Windy City bagel family business they sold in 1999 (you'd say "rest in Piece," but after his pizza success with Piece, he's actually now back into bagels too!) three years before this New Haven homeboy ventured into pizza in 2002.

The haters protested, but they were soon at Piece eating this New Haven-style joint's thin-crust red, plain (no mozz), and white (plain crust brushed with olive oil, diced garlic, and mozz) pizzas, all of which get at least a small Piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano, oregano, and olive. Ingredients. You can have a classic New Haven pie with fresh tomatoes or clams (of course), and, in some kind of pan-New Haven Piece accord, there's also a nod to Bru Room at Bar's signature mashed potato pizza (No. 61). Is it puzzling to see chips and salsa and warm spinach and tomato dip on the menu? Sure, but having brought quality New Haven-style pies to Chicago and bought out his lease so he can do so for years to come, Jacobs has brought Piece of mind to Windy City denizens, and delivery to boot.

#98 Artichoke Basille, New York, N.Y. (Artichoke Slice: Artichoke hearts, spinach, cream sauce, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano)


Photo Credit: Artichoke Basille

In 2008, using what they learned while working at their family's restaurant Basille's in Staten Island (now closed), pizzaiolos, cousins, and best friends Francis Garcia and Sal Basille took a party dip, put it on a pizza, and turned a sliver of a shop on New York City's 14th Street into a pizza icon and cash cow.

They now have five other New York City locations of Artichoke Basille's Pizza (and one in Berkeley, California), and there is still a line out the door, along with pizza fiends standing outside trying (unsuccessfully) not to burn the roofs of their mouths on the creamy, cheesy signature artichoke slice.

They've made it to The Tonight Show and even landed their own show on Food Network's Cooking Channel. Not bad at all. There are some who might argue that the crust isn't what it used to be, but (and we say this with love) "Cuz, you can't argue it's not a New York City pizza icon!"

#97 Tony's Place, Philadelphia, Pa. (Tomato Pie: mozzarella and tomato sauce)


Photo Credit: Matthew M/Yelp

You want fancy pizza? Yeah? Think you can handle fancy pizza? OK, go somewhere else. You won't find it at Tony's, thank all things holy. Like several great pizzerias on this list, Tony's started as a place that only served tasty, salty things in order for you to buy more booze. Yes, Tony Mallamaci opened a small bar on the corner of 10th and Jackson Streets in South Philly in the late 1940s. His brother Dominic joined him, and they started selling homemade sandwiches (specialties included roast beef and meatballs) as well as thin crusts with homemade tomato sauce on top (no mozz!).

Dominic and Tony moved to the present location in 1951, drawing customers in with free slices of tomato pie. The menu has long since expanded to include pasta dinners, burgers, chicken Parm, "filet of flounder," jalapeño poppers, and a variety of other doubtful bar menu, Italian-American, and Restaurant Impossible standards. But the pizza? As anyone from Philly will tell you, "Best. Tomato. Pies. Ever." You can top them with anchovies, pepperoni, green peppers, mushroom, sausage, and onion, and, for a limited time around Valentine's Day, they're even served in the shape of a heart.

#96 Micucci's Grocery, Portland, Maine (Sicilian Slab: San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, mozzarella)


Photo Credit: Arthur Bovino

Micucci Grocery was opened in 1951 by Leo and Iris Micucci, and has been family-operated ever since. It's more sandwich counter-meets-deli-meets-dry-goods store than pizzeria. But the reason to visit this Portland icon is in back, up the stairs to the left where "slabs" of American-interpreted Sicilian-style pizza are baked and set on shelves.

The word "slabs," doesn't do these slices justice -- a curious hybrid for sure, they're nowhere as heavy as the gut-bombs most descriptions convey. Half-again bigger than the conventional Sicilian slice, and just as thick if wetter and more doughy, Micucci's slabs may not be authentic Italian, but they feel like an idealized iteration of the focaccia style you've always sought, but never experienced.

Each is about a half-foot long. There's an uneven inch-and-a-half to ¾-inch cornicione, which is not much different from the rest of the slice, save that it's dryer for not being covered by the brush of sweet sauce and incomplete layer of mozzarella coating the rest of it.

"Pillowy" and "airy" have been used to describe these pizzas, and undoubtedly will be as long as Micucci continues to do things this way (the right way, mind you). Imagine a fluffy, light focaccia -- almost an inch high in some places but no thinner than one third of an inch anywhere -- that's doughy and a bit wetter than most with layers of bubbles. There's a scattering of Italian herbs on top, with cheese rivulets and sauce undercurrents around raised puffy sections of dough. There's no undercrust to speak of, but some crispy spots of cheese in places, especially along the edges.

It's not pizza in any other traditional regional American sense, nor can you say it's precisely Italian. But there's something intensely right and satisfying about it. Consider the warm, airy pleasure of freshly baked dough without much crust to speak of, the tang of sweet sauce, and the salty pull of just-melted cheese, and you get the idea of a fresh Micucci slice.

#95 Pizzeria Locale, Boulder, Colo. (Funghi: Mozzarella: pecorino, fontina, porcini, roasted white mushroom, garlic, shallot)


Photo Credit: Pizzeria Locale/Alex Joyce

It shouldn't be surprising that Frasca, one of America's best restaurants, launched an offshoot that serves some of the best pizza in the country. What happens now that restaurateurs Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson have teamed up with Chipotle to launch the restaurant as a fast-casual concept, however, remains to be seen.

There seems to be a thought out there that America needs a high-quality fast-casual Neapolitan pizza chain. Maybe it's true that there's a gap in a market dominated by somnambulant franchises that have been content to churn out doughy, overly sweet-sauced gut-bombs for years. Maybe there's really nothing wrong with the idea of rotational hearth ovens powered by gas and infrared of rotational hearth ovens powered by gas and infrared that largely take the human element out of cooking. Or maybe Americans will think pizza from a fast-casual spot should be able to be eaten with one hand and without a knife or fork, you know, like what New Yorkers would call "a slice."

What has been made clear so far is that this self-described contemporary pizzeria inspired by the traditional pizzerias of Naples knows how to bring it.

The full-service Pizzeria Locale in Boulder serves 14 pies (seven each white and red), among them the funghi, which, for $20, you can next-level with Umbrian black summer truffle. The menu at the "quick-serve" Pizzeria Locales in Denver (where there are two), Kansas City, and soon Cincinnati features 10 11-inch pies that are a little more mainstream (though a version of the mais pizza with sweet corn, ham, crème fraîche, and garlic did make the cut). But you can craft your own interesting combos with their 25 toppings.


Best-Dressed Eats and Drinks: Oscar-Worthy Recipes for an Academy Awards Party

In celebration of Hollywood's biggest night of big-screen honors, the stars of your favorite movies from the past year will come together at the 85th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday night to recognize the most outstanding performances in film — and the most fashionable styles, of course. While you may not be in Los Angeles this weekend to partake in the action on the red carpet, you can celebrate top nominees with the next best thing: an Oscars viewing party at your place, complete with fellow movie-buff friends and a spread of elegant yet comforting snacks and sips. We have a crowd-pleasing menu inspired by some of the most popular films, plus classic movie munchies and sweet concessions to help you pull off an award-worthy bash with ease. Check out Food Network's favorite movie-themed recipes below, then tell us in the comments: How will you be celebrating the Oscars this weekend?

As the celebrities make their way from limousines to red-carpet interviews, raise a glass to the evening to come with Food Network Magazine's bright, refreshing Red-Carpet Cocktails made with crimson-colored pomegranate juice and toppers of gin and champagne. Let guests help themselves to a concession-stand favorite — crunchy, salty popcorn — to help recreate the moviegoing experience in your living room. Food Network Magazine's Theater-Style Buttered Popcorn (pictured above) is a must-try recipe, boasting clarified butter instead of simple melted butter so that each kernel is coated with flavor but isn't soggy or greasy.

As a nod to Life of Pi, whose main character, Pi, survived more than 200 days adrift at sea on a tiny raft by eating freshly caught seafood, prepare Food Network Magazine's Baked Tilapia With Herb Butter. A family-friendly pick that's mild in taste and easy to prepare, tilapia is an inexpensive fish that pairs well with fresh flavors, like the celery, scallions and tarragon butter with which these fillets are baked. This recipe takes just 35 minutes to make from start to finish, and since the fish is baked in throwaway aluminum foil pouches, cleanup is a cinch.


Sure, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, and Domino's have different sauces and crusts. But if you've ever thought the cheese tasted the same at all three chains, you aren't wrong. A 2017 Forbes report revealed that Leprino Foods supplies the mozzarella for all three chains.

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Pizza has a bad reputation for being unhealthy, but when made right, it can be an amazing nutritional source. Check out these secrets for eating pizza the smarter way.


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