The best pizza places in the U.S.

July 27, 2013
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Top chefs and legendary bakers are among the new breed of pizzaiolo who are just as fanatical about the temperature of their ovens as they are about the provenance of their ingredients. Here, Food & Wine names the best places for pizza around the country from new-guard spots — including a Bay Area pizzeria that uses locally-milled flour — to century-old East Coast institutions.

San Francisco: Del Popolo

Jon Darsky, a former pizzaiolo at San Francisco’s excellent Flour & Water, has repurposed a 20-foot shipping container to create his impressive mobile pizza restaurant. The setup includes a handmade wood-burning oven from Naples that’s protected with massive airbags during transit.

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Miami: Harry’s Pizzeria

Chef Michael Schwartz has always been great with a wood-burning oven; now he’s making pizzas in one at his new Design District outpost. His go-to cheese is Trugole, which melts like mozzarella but is more stretchy and gooey.

Portland, Ore.: Oven and Shaker

Pizza and cocktails get equal thought at this serious pizza bar. The Neapolitan-style pies pair with cocktails in three categories: Fresh, Dry and Strong.

New York City: Don Antonio by Starita

Roberto Caporuscio, of New York’s Kesté, has partnered with his mentor, Antonio Starita, a third-generation Italian pizzaiolo. Their midtown pizzeria serves 50 different pies — including fried montanara.

Chicago: Bar Toma

Chef Tony Mantuano lets his dough rise for 48 hours, which he says makes it lighter. Unusual toppings include goat cheese and dates.

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Austin: The Backspace

The wood-burning oven heats to 1,000 degrees, producing a super-blistered crust at this spot behind Parkside restaurant. The chefs spent months developing a special dough that would stand up to the heat.

Yountville, Calif.: Redd Wood

Richard Reddington, who runs the elegant Redd down the street, goes casual at this industrial-chic Napa trattoria. The focus is on salumi, antipasti, well-priced wines and rustic pizzas with crispy, ultra-thin crusts. “It’s a place for an impromptu meal or a reprieve from wine tasting,” says Reddington.

Los Angeles: 800 Degrees

From the folks behind Umami Burger: fast artisanal pizza. Each pie is made to order, cooks in 60 seconds and costs only $6.

New York City: Nicoletta

New York pizzerias love to tout their Italian bona fides, but chef Michael White’s new restaurant references a far less famous pizza destination: Wisconsin. White worked at Domenico’s in Beloit as a teenager and says the pies at Nicoletta resemble the crisp-crusted versions he ate there. “There’s no need to fold over the slice, like you do with floppy New York–style pizza,” says White. Even the mozzarella is from Wisconsin. “We’re all trying to capture those childhood tastes, right? I’m chasing the pizza of my youth.”

Santa Monica, Calif.: Stella Rossa

Mathematician-turned-chef Jeff Mahin tested 30 dough recipes before he settled on his salty, puffy crust. He’s no traditionalist, topping his pies with purple kale, chèvre and fennel.

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Providence, R.I.: Al Forno

In 1980, Johanne Killeen and George Germon launched a new era of ambitious cooking in Providence with their thin-crusted grilled pizzas topped with super-fresh ingredients. Their signature margarita pizza is topped with house-made pomodoro, fresh herbs, two cheeses and extra virgin olive oil.

Larkspur, Calif.: Pizzeria Picco

Pizzeria Picco’s wood-fired Neopolitan pies, like the margherita with house-pulled mozzarella, are rumored to be superstar chef Mario Batali’s favorite. Another draw: the quirky olive-oil-and-sea-salt-topped soft serve ice cream.

New York City: Forcella

Though it sounds like an abomination, montanara, or fried pizza, is a Neapolitan tradition. The dough is deep-fried, then topped and baked, adding a depth of flavor. Last year, Giulio Adriani introduced New Yorkers to the delicacy at Brooklyn’s Forcella; he’s since opened a Manhattan location.

St. Paul: Punch Pizza

Andrew Zimmern, host of “Bizarre Foods” and a Food & Wine contributing editor, names this “insanely good Neapolitan pizzeria” one of his top five best pizza spots in the country. His favorite salame e funghi pie is topped with salami from a secret source, earthy mushrooms, fresh garlic, Fontina cheese and dried oregano. “Eating it uncut is the way to go,” Zimmern says.

San Francisco: Casey’s Pizza Truck

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East Coast transplant Casey Crynes was making pizza on the street, using a modified 18-inch Weber grill, before outfitting a former laundry truck with a gas-fueled oven last year. His crust, a recipe two years in the making, gets perfectly crispy after four minutes in the 700-degree oven.

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