If You Love Pizza, You Need to Visit These 11 U.S. Cities
FROM AUTHENTIC NEOPOLITAN PIES TO NEW YORK-STYLE THIN CRUST SLICES, THESE PIZZERIAS HAVE IT ALL.
Is there anything better than a quality pizza pie—oozing with melty cheese and brimming with flavorful toppings? We think not. In fact, some say good pizza is even worth traveling for. After all, some cities are known for specializing in this particular food.
A 2021 survey of the best pizza cities revealed surprising results. According to the survey, the top five cities are Rochester, New York; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; New Haven, Connecticut; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Bridgeport, Connecticut. However, that survey is based on the percentage of pizza restaurants compared to all restaurants in that city, the number of pizza restaurants per square mile, and the number of pizza restaurants per 100,000 residents. In other words, it doesn't factor in the actual quality of the pizza in those cities.
So, we tapped the experts to get their take on which destinations have the best pizza—from thin-crust New York-style pies to thick and crunchy Sicilian slices.
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The Best Places for Pizza in the U.S.
1. Providence, Rhode Island
"Providence is home to a number of Sicilian-style pizzerias, which are known for their thick, square slices of pizza with a focaccia-like crust," says Matt James, founder of Visitingly. "The pizza is typically topped with a layer of cheese and tomato sauce, and it is often served with a side of marinara for dipping."
According to James, the best Sicilian-style pizzas in Providence can be found at Al Forno and Caserta Pizzeria. Al Forno made waves when it opened in 1980 by offering something totally unique—the dough is grilled, resulting in a distinctive char.
Other top-rated places for 'za in the city are Providence Coal Fired Pizza and figidini, the latter, known for its wood-fired Neapolitan-style pies, sources many of its ingredients directly from Italy. Whereas the former is Rhode Island's only coal-fired pizza restaurant using authentic Pennsylvania coal.
2. New York, New York
It's impossible to talk about the best pizza cities without giving a shoutout to the Big Apple.
"There's no denying the dominance of New York-style pizza," says Luke Xavier, the travel blogger behind USA Rover. "With a thin chewy, and foldable crust, these pies are easily identifiable by the large, floppy slices and the trademark tangy sauce."
According to Jon Stephens, director of operations at Snowshoe Vacation Rentals, legend has it that the particular balance of minerals in Manhattan's tap water is what makes this city's dough second to none.
Ashley Flores, a travel expert and writer for Tear-Free Travel, says Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn serves up one of the best pies she's had in the entire U.S.
"I love their classic Margherita pizza because it has a perfect combination of flavors," she explains. "The crust is always crispy and the toppings are always cooked to perfection."
Meanwhile, Brian Cicioni, the travel blogger behind I May Roam, says his personal favorite is the Sicilian pie at L & B Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn.
"I love the way the cheese is baked into the bread with the sauce on top," he explains. "I'm also a fan of the Neopolitan-style pizza at Luzzo's—the crust is crispier than most, but they get it right."
Other iconic pizzerias include John's of Bleecker Street, which has been slinging pies since 1929; Lombardi's, which has been recognized by the Pizza Hall of Fame as the first pizzeria in the U.S.; and Grimaldi's, which uses a 100-year-old dough recipe.
Another fun fact: many of the pizzerias in New York City now also offer tasty gluten-free slices, too—including Don Antonio and Kesté Pizza & Vino.
3. Detroit, Michigan
According to a 2022 study, Detroit is the best pizza city in the U.S.—in part because it boasts the most independent pizza restaurants per capita. And is that any surprise? After all, The Motor City is where two popular chains—Domino's and Little Caesars—originated.
Detroit-style pizza is known for its thick and chewy deep dish crust, square-shaped slices, and crispy cheese that extends all the way to the edges. Another unique aspect? The cheese is loaded directly onto the dough, underneath the sauce. But if that's not your thing, rest assured you can find just about any style of pizza in Detroit. For instance, Tomatoes Apizza specializes in New Haven-style pies, while Bigalora Cucina dishes up Neopolitan pizzas and Mootz Pizzeria and Bar serves up floppy, foldable New York slices.
If it's the authentic Detroit-style 'za you're craving, swing through Buddy's, which is the undisputed originator of this style. You can't go wrong with the hearty pizzas at Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant and Loui's, either. Como's Restaurant, meanwhile, crafts Detroit-style pizza with a tangy twist—they use a sourdough starter that's fermented for three days. As an added bonus, Como's offers vegan and gluten-free options.
On the hunt for more unique toppings? Try the shrimp and lobster loaded pie at Jed's Detroit, the vegan taco-themed pie at Pie-Sci, or the chicken carbonara pie at Palazzo Di Pizza.
4. San Francisco, California
It's no secret that San Francisco is a top destination for foodies, thanks to its flourishing, diverse culinary scene. But what you may not know is that pizza is one of this city's specialties. In fact, the head chef at local favorite Tony's Pizza Napoletana won Best Pizza Margherita at the World Pizza Cup in Naples.
This is just one of the dozens of pizzerias you'll find in the North Beach neighborhood, often referred to as Little Italy.
"The rich Italian culture and authentic cuisine in this neighborhood is unmatched," says Loran Posey, cofounder of the travel blog Poseys Go Places. "North Beach is home to nearly 20 pizzerias specializing in thin-crust pies topped with sustainably grown, locally sourced foods that change seasonally. Of those 20, we recommend Tony's for its unmatched taste and international reputation."
San Francisco is known for its Neapolitan-style pizza, which is made with a thin, chewy crust and cooked in a wood-fired oven, says James. "The pizza is typically topped with fresh, high-quality ingredients, such as San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, and basil," he adds.
Capo's and Pizzeria Delfina are just two of James' top picks in the Golden City. Whereas Capo's is known for serving authentic Detroit and Chicago-style pizza, the Neopolitan-style pies from Pizzeria Delfina will transport you straight to Naples.
Take a cue from Posey and follow your pizza dinner with an authentic gelato, cappuccino, or cannoli from one of the many Italian bakeries in North Beach. Then, take a stroll to Washington Square Park to admire the beautiful Saints Paul and Peter Catholic Church, known as the Italian Cathedral of the West.
"It's like being teleported to Italy, but you never have to leave the peninsula," says Posey.
5. New Haven, Connecticut
Despite being a somewhat smaller city than the other destinations on this list, this college town is actually home to some of the top-ranked pizza joints in the U.S.—including Frank Pepe Pizzeria. What sets this place apart is that they use a wood-fired oven and high-quality ingredients—and of course, they're famous for their unique white clam pie.
"New Haven pizzerias generally use high heat ovens in order to get that signature char," says Manny Salorio, founder of Go Ask A Local. "Something else unique is that many pizzerias will use parmesan or pecorino as the main cheese instead of mozzarella."
According to Salorio, New Haven pizza is like a cross between Neapolitan and New York-style.
"The crust is much thinner than Neopolitan, though, and the pizza is cooked at a higher temperature and for longer than you'd get in Naples, creating a lovely crispness," he explains. "Red pizzas will use a good portion of tomato sauce, and the pies generally feature a very thin layer of melty cheese."
Salorio says that while Frank Pepe's is the most well-known pizzeria in New Haven, his top favorites are Modern Apizza, which uses an oil-fueled brick oven, and Sally's Apizza, which uses a coal-fired oven. Both of these establishments tend to draw long lines, particularly on the weekends, but it may be well worth the wait for one of their delightfully chewy thin-crust pies.
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6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Even though Philly is known more for its cheesesteaks, experts say that its pizzas are highly underrated.
"In the City of Brotherly Love, there are two main types of pizza: traditional thin and crispy Italian-style pizza and slices of a large rectangular pizza," says Xavier.
Flores highly recommends visiting Pizza Brain, which not only serves innovative seasonal, vegan, and customizable pies—but also features the world's first pizza museum, with a variety of 'za-related memorabilia and collectibles. Whereas Pizza Brain is known for its quirky and creative options, you can find some old-school classic pies at Santucci's Pizza, which is a member of the Pizza Hall of Fame. Here, the pizzas are square and the sauce is layered on top of the cheese. Or, check out the no-frills, BYOB Tacconelli's Pizzeria, a family-run business now run by the fifth generation.
Not sure what kind of pie you're in the mood for? Pay a visit to Pizza Jawn, which offers a variety of different styles, from a Neopolitan/New York hybrid to Destroit-style with a cheesy crust and grandma-style with a sesame seed bottom.
7. St. Louis, Missouri
Frank and Helen's Pizzeria/Facebook
St. Louis-style pizza may not be for everyone—but its unique approach is certainly unlike anything you'll find elsewhere in the U.S. According to Raymond Cua, founder of the Travelling Foodie, what differentiates this city's pizza is the super thin cracker-like crust that's made without any yeast and is often cut into squares or rectangles. Not only that, but many pizzerias use Provel—a blend of cheddar, Swiss, and provolone cheeses that melts like a dream.
"This style of pizza was made famous by the St. Louis chain, Imo's, but for the best take on this style, try Frank & Helen's Pizzeria or Guido's Pizzeria," says Jessica Schmit, founder of Uprooted Traveler.
Frank & Helen's is one of the oldest pizzerias in St. Louis, established in 1956. Epic Pizza & Subs is known for its epic, unusual options—like the toasted ravioli pizza, which features a house-made meat blend. Pi Pizzeria's pies are made with a deep-dish cornmeal crust. And if you're not a fan of St. Louis-style pizzas, stop by Union Loafers, which combines New York and Neapolitan styles.
8. Chicago, Illinois
There's no denying that the Windy City boasts an impressive pizza scene. Of course, Chicago is famous for its deep dish style, with that thick, buttery crust and ooey-gooey layers of cheese topped with a pool of tomato sauce.
"The dough is made with a combination of cornmeal, olive oil, and butter, and it's baked in a deep pan for a thicker, denser crust," says Xavier. "Giordano's is a beloved Chicago staple, while Lou Malnati's and Pequod's are also popular spots."
James also gives a nod to Giordano's, which is known for its stuffed pizzas, and Lou Malnati's, which is known for boasting an ultra-flaky crust and high-quality ingredients. As for Pequod's, what sets this establishment apart is the layers of cheese between the dough and the cast-iron pan, which results in an irresistibly crispy caramelized crust.
9. Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles boasts a super vibrant food scene—and while traditionally, tacos and sushi have been the city's specialties, its growing pizza options are nothing to shrug at.
"Thin crust pies are all the rage in L.A., but there are other trends at play as well," says Xavier. "A few of the most popular pizzerias in L.A. are Pizzana and The Luggage Room. Pizzana, in particular, is known for its wood-fired Neapolitan-style pies, while The Luggage Room specializes in Detroit-style pizza."
Pizzana's long list of accolades includes a Michelin Bib Gourmand award, while another spot, the bustling Pizzeria Mozza, run by renowned chef Nancy Silverton, has been praised by critics for its tender, chewy, lightly charred crust that's bursting with sweet and smoky flavor from the wood-burning oven.
Another go-to for many locals is Ospi in Venice Beach, which is known for its Roman-style, ultra-thin crust pizzas with a California twist.
Pizzeria Sei, meanwhile, is a newer, hip hotspot where the pizza is inspired by Tokyo's neo-Neopolitan movement—which entails pinching the dough to give the crust an interesting two-dimensional texture that's both soft and crunchy at the same time.
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10. Seattle, Washington
Seattle is home to a variety of pizza styles—from Neapolitan pizza, Chicago-style pies, New York-style slices, and more—so you're bound to find a slice that satisfies your craving.
"The most popular style is Sicilian-style," says Xavier. "These pies are made with a thicker, doughier crust and are often baked in a rectangular pan."
According to Xavier, The Urban Oven and Delancey are two of the best places to find Sicilian-style pizza in Seattle. The Urban Oven is a pizza truck serving up authentic artisanal pizzas with an old-world crust. The intimate and trendy Delancey, meanwhile, is known for its wood-fired pizzas with long-fermented dough and high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients.
The kid-friendly Proletariat Pizza is an excellent option if you're looking for more creative toppings, while Sunny Hill Seattle is famous for Detroit-style square and round pies served fresh from a Wood Stone hearth oven. What sets Lupo apart is the sourdough base—and locals say the burrata soppressata pizza with hot honey and Calabrian chili pepper is a must-try.
11. Boston, Massachusetts
When most people think of Boston, lobster rolls, oysters, and fried clams may be some of the first foods that come to mind. But don't sleep on the pizza scene here—the North End neighborhood, known as the city's "Little Italy" is home to a bevy of authentic pizzerias that give Rome a run for its money.
Lines start forming at Galleria Umberto, a beloved cash-only North End spot, as early as 10:30 a.m.—a testament to just how crave-worthy their thick, chewy, Sicilian slices are. In fact, this pizza joint was named an American classic by the James Beard Foundation in 2018.
Pizzeria Regina, meanwhile, has been celebrated since its opening in 1926. The thin-crust brick oven pizza features local ingredients and the perfect sauce-to-cheese ratio. And when hunger pangs hit hard, you can't beat the size—or affordability—of the massive grab-and-go slices at Ernesto's, which are basically equivalent to a quarter of a pizza.
Lastly, locals will tell you that it's well worth the trek out to East Boston to grab a slice from Santarpio's, which is known for perfectly crispy, meat-heavy NYC-style pies—and overflowing pitches of beer to wash it all down with. At this legendary, centuries-old family-owned institution, the toppings are baked underneath the sauce and cheese.