You can’t go wrong at America’s 10 best pizza parlors.
Photographs by Sean McCormick
EVER SINCE AMERICA’S
first licensed pizzeria began serving the masses in New York City in 1905, the humble peasant fare that originated in Naples, Italy, has become a staple of our national diet. It tops our list of comfort foods and, though not technically American, has taken its place alongside the proverbial baseball and apple pie as an institution that we have made uniquely our own.
With nearly 75,000 pizza parlors scattered across our vast landscape, you can be sure a fresh pie is never more than a phone call away. Its convenience, as much as anything, has made it a century-old winner for a society that doesn’t pause.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve visited thousands of pizzerias from coast to coast. From the oversize slices in the Northeast to the Left Coast’s gourmet inventions, I’ve tried pies from legendary establishments as well as from little-known shops that were taking their last breaths. I’ve loved every second of it, and I’ve tasted some truly amazing pizzas.
But while a good pizza is one thing, a truly memorable one is another subject entirely. When you want the best of the best, check out these 10 treasure troves of pizza bliss. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll never look at pizza the same way again.
GRIMALDI’S COAL BRICK-OVEN PIZZERIA, Hoboken, N.J.
Owner Patsy Grimaldi is as old-school as it gets on the American pizza scene. The venerable pizza maker no longer mans the counter on a daily basis, but he remains fanatical about his store’s quality and hasn’t softened his opinions on what makes a good pizza (by-the-slice, he’ll tell you, is a gimmick to which he’ll never resort). If you’re lucky enough to step foot inside his establishment and find him at the helm, don’t leave until you can’t eat another bite. The menu is spartan, and you won’t have to mull the topping choices long. Thankfully, it doesn’t matter what you order — it’ll blow your mind and actually make you wish you lived in Jersey.
What to order:
A plain pie. If you want toppings, go with pepperoni, spinach, garlic and roasted sweet red peppers — if they’ll let you add that many toppings, that is.
JOHN’S PIZZERIA OF BLEECKER STREET, New York
This is quintessential New York pizza executed at the highest level. The crust itself is a thing of beauty — charred and blistered, its crispy exterior gives way to an aromatic, yeasty interior. The slightly sweet, pronounced tomato flavor balances out the creaminess and mildness of the cheese, which provides texture and the perfect mouth-feel. When transplanted New Yorkers bemoan the pizza offerings of their new locales and wax poetically about the pies back home, this is quite possibly the best example of what they’re talking about.
What to order:
Go simple here — don’t even fool with pepperoni. Take a plain pie and see why New Yorkers are spoiled when it comes to pizza.