The event will feature $1 slices from some of the city’s best pizzerias
Di Fara slices generally run $5 per slice.
When we think of a $1 pizza slice, we usually think about those dime-a-dozen pizza parlors that use cheap ingredients and churn out pizza that’s bringing down quality across the board. But for one day only, Oct. 9, slices from some of New York City's finest pizzerias will be selling for just one buck.
Slice Out Hunger will be held on that day at 6 p.m. at St. Anthony’s Church on Sullivan Street, and at the annual charity event pizza from Di Fara (which usually sells for $5 per slice) will be sold for just $1, as well as pizza from more than 35 other pizzerias including Lombardi’s, Keste, John’s Pizzeria, Arturo’s, and Motorino, none of which typically sell pizza by the slice.
Every dollar raised at the event will be matched by Scott’s Pizza Tours and other sponsors, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to the Food Bank for New York City.
So wait, we can eat slices from some of the city’s top pizzerias, for $1, for charity? Where do we sign?
10 Restaurants You Must Visit In New York (& Their Most Popular Dish)
Trying to narrow down ten restaurants that can’t be missed in New York City is difficult, but these are the best of the best.
Trying to narrow down ten restaurants that can’t be missed in New York City is like trying to pick a favorite child. The incredible variety of cuisines leaves visitors with the good problem of figuring out which spot to stop for lunch. World-class chefs and award-winning restaurants line the street offering just about every type of meal that can satisfy even the most unique cravings. Take a look at the 10 restaurants you must visit in New York and get ready to dig in.
How is Brooklyn Style Pizza different from other pizza styles?
The Brooklyn style pizza originated from Italy. Despite having Italian origins, the pizza has become popular on the Indian shores and also the Big Apple. It is typically regarded as “American pizza.” It is unique and delicious compared to other pizzas. Here are some of the reasons why it is different:
The crust can be folded
Unlike other pizzas whose crusts are dense, the Brooklyn style pizza’s crust is thin, crunchier, and with an airier feel. Compared to the Chicago one with a soup-like quality, the Brooklyn style is more balanced when it comes to toppings. The ratio of the sauce to crust to toppings is balanced. As much as the crust is thin, it is still soft that you can sink your teeth into.
The slices are bigger compared to the regular pizza. Since the crust is thin, it can be folded in half and eaten. The size of the crust makes it portable. You can easily walk around with it wrapped in paper.
Easy to customize
It is easy to customize the Brooklyn pizza to your desired taste. You can decide to go the traditional way or choose to top your pizza with pepperoni and cheese. If you want, you can go crazy with the combination of toppings like sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, and bacon.
You are also free to choose the composition of your pizza. For instance, if you are allergic to some food substances like gluten, you can have gluten-free pizza. If you don’t take dairy products, ask for a Brooklyn style pizza without cheese. You will never miss any slice of pizza of your taste.
What would you say is your top five pizza must go-to's?
I'm dedicating a day to migrate around Brooklyn to purely eat pizza, a Pizza Pilgrimage if you will, and would love to here some suggestions. So far I have L&B for their square slice, Di Fara's because c'mon, and Williamsburg's Pizza since it was my favorite Brooklyn slice last time I visited (sorry Best Pizza, I still love you. ). I have been also considering Lucali's, Roberta's, Paulie Gee's, and Luigi's. But enough about me I'm interested in what yous guys' take.
*edit Been getting repeats on Totonnos here. I think I gotta visit now haha.
**edit So what I gather is that Di Fara's is not worth the wait and money and some of you think that Roberta's is overrated. So now I'm replacing Di Fara's with Archie's, since I'm hearing a lot of praise from that place as well as Paulie Gee's. My current stops are now Totonno's>L&B Spumoni Gardens>Archie's>Williamsburg Pizza>Paulie Gee's. Thanks for the feedback guys! Keep em coming if you have more suggestions.
The Best Pizza Ever – Di Fara’s Pizza
Dom finishes a square pie to go – a regular square pie (just cheese) is 32 dollars or 5 dollars a slice. A regular round pie is 28 dollars or 5 dollars a slice – it is worth every cent!
Pizza is one of the most popular food items in the culinary world and extremely hard to nail with its varied taste preferences, depending on who you ask: deep dish, pan pizza, Sicilian, thin crust, thick crust, cracker-thin crust, cheese in the crust (thanks Papa Johns), mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, fontina, fromage blanc, spicy sauce (thanks 2 Boots), sweet sauce, white sauce. For good measure, the best way to test a pizza maker’s ability is to order a regular plain pie – crust, tomato-based sauce, cheese and see what it does for you. If it knocks your socks off, then you know there is some serious skill involved. I admire anyone who can make a killer cheese pie. The toppings are just embellishments that add a wide variety of taste and textures. I like a nice salty anchovy pie or the quintessential “Meat Lover’s” (thanks Pizza Hut).
Each pizza made by Dom is slowly stretched, sauced, cheesed, topped and baked to imperfection. the classic round pie is cooked with a cheese blend of mozzarella and parmesan and then topped with parmesan, olive oil and fresh basil after cooking.
Midwood, where you will find Di Fara’s Pizza, isn’t exactly, “On The Grid”. Perhaps slightly more on the grid then L & B Spumoni Gardens but considerably less on the grid than Motorino. But as the proverbial wise old man would say “the best things in life, you have to work for” (or something like that) – which in this sense means you’ll have to take the D train to Avenue J and its right there when you come above ground – no biggie.
This isn’t some factory where pies are constantly going in and coming out. Dom takes his time – patting the dough, stretching the dough, saucing, shredding the mozzarella, spreading it around, topping with parmesan, putting it in the oven. He could probably do it faster, he says, but that just wouldn’t be right. There is no rush for him. His customers, the ones in the know at least, they don’t mind. A customer, a local from the neighborhood, laughs, “It’s like he’s Michelangelo the way he makes each pie”. This is what I respect, more than anything. This isn’t a place you come to order a pizza and sit down. This is a place to watch a man and his craft in action. Even if the pizza were to suck, watching the process would be interesting enough.
Di Fara’s Square or Sicilian Pie is a thick crusted pizza loaded with cheese The Line outside Di Fara’s Pizza just before opening for lunch. It started forming 1/2 hour before the restaurant opened, and before they opened the doors the line was already about 25 people deep.
This isn’t some trendy brunch spot in your favorite nyc neighborhood. It’s not a passing fad (he’s been making pizzas for over 50 years). This is the real deal and I don’t care what you say – if you haven’t had Di Fara’s pizza, you still haven’t had the best pizza.
Murray’s Cheese Bar Provides Comfort in LIC
1424 Avenue J
Brooklyn NY 11230
Read more about Di Fara’s Pizza on Snap Food
Eric Isaac is an American food and travel photographer based out of NYC. His blog, SnapFood, highlights food in and around new york as well as what he discovers in his travels throughout the world.
Back to Di Fara
I was never a regular reader of food blogs, bulletin boards or columns until I started writing Word of Mouth earlier this year. One of my greatest surprises when I did start following what other foodies were talking about, especially via Chowhound, was that a pizza place (that's the traditional, official New York term for "pizzeria") from my old Brooklyn neighborhood, Di Fara's, had achieved legendary status among pizza cognoscenti. Now the last time I had eaten at Di Fara's was probably in 1978, the year I left the old neighborhood, Midwood. Back then it was a good, solid, by-the-slice neighborhood pizza place, but I don't remember it being remarkable. So I wondered what all the fuss was about. And I'm talking fuss. At times the Di Fara devotees come across like a weird religious cult.
What I eventually pieced together, through Chowhound and coverage in other media, like the excellent pizza blog Slice, is that some time in the '80s Di Fara's owner, Dom DeMarco, who opened the place in 1964, got pizza religion and started devoting an almost obsessive artisanal attention to his pies, switching to quality imported ingredients unheard of in most neighborhood pizzerias. I was able to glean from the gospels that Dom achieved pizza divinity by about 1990, and that he continues to tinker with his recipes. Dom, however, plied his trade in relative obscurity until the internet revolutionized the nature of "word of mouth." Some give Chowhound's founder Jim Leff much of the credit, citing a 1997 kvell that caused an avalanche.
As far as the name is concerned, there was never a Mr. Di Fara. Two years ago Dom told the New York Times, "When I opened the store, my partner's name was Farina. My name is DeMarco. So when the lawyer made the paper, he put the two names together. Di Fara. Di for me, and Fara for him. I bought my partner out in 1978, I think." It appears that Farina and I left the neighborhood at about the same time.
As far as the recipe is concerned, Slice's Adam Kuban writes, "Mr. DeMarco uses a combination of fresh and canned San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce, which he makes daily—sometimes several times a day, from what we understand. Then there's the cheese: a combination of high-quality regular mozzarella, fresh buffalo mozzarella that he imports from Italy, and a dusting of sharp, slightly nutty-tasting grana padana. All this goodness sits atop a thin crust that Dom somehow coaxes to near-coal-oven crispness." There's also the extra-virgin olive oil.
Now the corner of Avenue J and East 15th Street in my old neighborhood is a major foodie destination. A once-quiet neighborhood pizzeria has become a constantly busy pilgrimage site. And as with any pilgrimage worthy of the name, there are trials to endure.
The long waits at Di Fara's are legendary, with forty-five minutes for a slice being perhaps the most cited average. A number of factors account for the long wait: Dom's care and precision the fact that he and he alone makes all the pizzas, from start to finish the fact that all the pies are freshly baked (i.e., no cold pizzas waiting to be reheated) the fact that only one level of the oven (your basic convection oven, by the way), the one closest to the flame, is used to bake the pies, meaning that there is room for only two at a time and, of course, the incredible popularity of the place. Another factor is that at times, apparently, Dom works alone, with no help to take orders or money from the patrons, or to grate cheese, or to fill the olive oil decanters.
Dizzy from the buzz, I figured I had to give Di Fara's a try, even though returning to my old neighborhood always gives me the creeps. Given my mistrust of all religions and mass movements, I was skeptical. I was sure Di Fara's couldn't live up to its reputation. I was also reluctant to wait in an interminable line for a couple of slices of pizza, so I put off my visit until I could get there at an "off hour," or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof. On Friday, August 4 I left the office early and headed out to Midwood on the Q Train. I got to Di Fara's at about 3:15 PM. It looked exactly the same as it had in the 70s—same crude, hand-painted sign, same grungy interior, same oven, I'm pretty sure, which looked like it had seen active battlefield duty. The only thing different was the fact there were articles, tributes and awards hanging all over the walls.
There were about three or four other patrons in the shop. I gave my order to Dom's daughter, whose assistance helps things, in a small way, to run more smoothly. I ordered one regular slice with artichokes, a house specialty, and one square slice. In less than five minutes a round pie came out. Dom's daughter spooned the sauteed artichoke hearts onto my slice. I brought it over to a table, along with my can of Limonata, and dug in.
Yes, it was good. It was very good. But was it transcendent? No. It was a very good slice of pizza, and the thin, dense, nutty crust was very impressive. Still, I wondered, is that all there is? Has buzz and momentum caused people to come from all corners of New York, not to mention the world, and wait in long lines for a non-transcendent, very good slice of pizza?
I finished the slice. There was no square pie in sight. I waited. People came and went, some for slices, some for whole pies to go. At about ten to four there was still no square pie in sight. A regular pie had just come out and, miraculously, there were still a couple of slices left after all the pre-orders were taken care of. I decided to claim one, to eat while I waited for my square. I ate it. It was very good, just like the last one. Still, I wasn't convinced it was worth all the trouble.
By 4 PM I had been there 45 minutes and still no square. So my quick, early slice was really part of the test. I now had endured the famous Di Fara 45-minute wait, wanting to try both types of pie, but I also had the option of leaving, relatively sated, and being able to say I had made the pilgrimmage. That just wouldn't do. I was determined to try a square. I figured I had waited 28 years to go back a couple of more minutes wouldn't kill me.
There was no square because Dom kept putting regular pies in the oven and hadn't started on a square in all the time I'd been there. Then some people came in and ordered a square pie to go. Dom's daughter asked him, "Are you going to do a square next? There are people waiting for slices, and there's another one to go." Dom kept working on round pies, and every five minutes his daughter reminded him that people were waiting for squares.
I started talking to some of the people who were waiting. A couple of guys who had been there almost as long as me were also waiting for square slices. One lived in Manhattan, but his friend was visiting from Dublin. The guy who had ordered the square pie to go, a former Brooklynite, had driven from Long Island with his teenage daughter. After Di Fara's they were off to Coney Island. I have no idea where they planned to eat their pizza.
Finally, at close to 4:30, Dom got the message and started working on a square pie. The crusts for the square pies are now partially pre-baked, apparently a recent change that keeps them from tying up the oven too long. Dom lifted the crust from the pan and poured a copious quantity of extra-virgin olive oil under it. Then he added the sauce and cheeses on top. Then it went in the oven. By this time I had been there for about an hour and fifteen minutes—during off-peak.
In a very hot oven, with the crust mostly pre-baked, it doesn't take too long to cook a square pie, once Dom gets around to it, that is. Dom's daughter served me my slice and I took it back to the table. It was oily and messy, so I used a fork and knife on it. I took a bite.
It was transcendent. It was unique. It was delicious.
Now for a disclaimer. While I like pizza, I'm not a pizza fanatic. I've enjoyed pizzas in Italy, but I don't tend to order them too often when I'm there. I also prefer Turkish pides and Alsatian tartes flambées to pizza. Still, as far as pizza goes, I can't think of any I've had that was better than the square slice at Di Fara. The major difference between the two kinds of pie is apparently the sauce. For the square Dom uses a sauce that has been simmered with prosciutto or pancetta. I think it is the heartiness of this sauce, along with the way the cheeses marry on top of it that perhaps makes the noticeable difference. In addition, Dom added fresh basil to the square slices, which gave another dimension to the flavor.
So now I'm a Di Fara's true believer, but a sectarian of the square. Nonetheless, It might be some time before I go back. Like I said, I'm not a pizza fanatic—just a humble pilgrim.
Brooklyn’s famed Di Fara Pizza now shipping nationwide
The best pizzas in New York City are found at its fringes—places that are a bit of a pain to get to if you don’t live close by. If you want to get to Lee’s Tavern in Staten Island or New Park Pizza in Howard Beach, you need a car. A well-done slice at Pizza Wagon is going to force you to take the R train to its next-to-last stop. Take the train down to Coney Island to have the religious experience of inhaling a pie from Totonno’s, and you’re still going to have to walk to the opposite side of the island from the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel, down to the glamorous strip where the auto body shops are found.
Getting to the legendary Di Fara Pizza used to require taking the B or Q trains to the Avenue J stop in Midwood, a predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Central Brooklyn. And then, once you finally arrived at its shabby corner storefront, you had to wait in line. A long line. When I was growing up in 1980s Brooklyn, the wait wasn’t too bad. Then the internet happened, and the wait times grew and grew until I found myself waiting an hour on a snowy Tuesday night for a small plain pie. What made the pizza so great was that every single pie made since the day they opened in 1965 was crafted by the hands of pizza master Dom DeMarco. As Di Fara’s popularity grew, Dom was growing older and slowing down, but still making every pie himself. The waits stretched longer and longer to the point where I stopped visiting Di Fara entirely. Sure, it was good pizza, but not hour-wait-in-a-snowstorm good. (I happen to think Totonno’s is better, but they’re closed on Tuesdays.)
Dom is now 83, and while he still makes the occasional pie, he’s mostly handed off the reins to his seven children. A second location has opened up in Williamsburg, the neighborhood that became famous as a hipster Bohemia and is now a playground for the ultra-wealthy. You can at last order their pizzas for delivery, thanks to GrubHub. And, starting today, you can order frozen Di Fara pizzas from anywhere in America , thanks to a partnership with Goldbelly. Two Nea politan pizzas (in Brooklynese: round pies) will set you back a cool $69 (nice) two Sicilian pizzas (square pies) will cost you $129. These are the prices before shipping, though the first 1,000 pies sold will have those fees waived. As I write this the pies have been available for a little over an hour, and already the limited edition discount packages are completely sold out.
I haven’t tasted a pie from Di Fara in over a decade and haven’t thought about it much. To me, Dom DeMarco is Di Fara. Unless I’m watching his weathered hands carefully snip fresh basil over those melted pools of buffalo mozzarella, fior di latte, and grated Parmagiano-Reggiano, it’s just a pizza. But if you haven’t had the good fortune of tasting a Di Fara pie at least once in your life , you might want to throw this on your bucket list.
Allison Robicelli is a writer, recipe czar, former professional chef, author of four (quite good) books, and The People's Hot Pocket Princess. Tweet me for recipe help: @Robicellis.
Chowzter Fast Feast Award winners…and my Bristol picks!
So, last weekend I was in London for the Chowzter Annual Awards – a celebration of the best fast feasts from across the globe. I’m one of almost 100 bloggers whose responsibility it is to curate a list of the best fast feasts in their own city, providing a handy, local guide to the best local and independent eats in cities across the globe.
I spent a couple of days in the capital with around 40 other bloggers from Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Australasia, checking out London’s bustling food scene and attending the awards ceremony at the soon-to-open L’Anima Cafe near Liverpool Street Station. The winners are all listed below, with photos – along with my Bristol picks for each category…
Tastiest Pizza On Earth – Pizza Slice @ Di Fara, Brooklyn, New York (nominated by Yvo Sin of The Feisty Foodie)
These handcrafted pizzas from Di Fara look truly fantastic – but my Bristol choice would be the Allegretto Pizza at A Cappella in Totterdown. Recently rated the best pizzeria in the UK by TripAdvisor, A Cappella serve up a feast of mozzarella, sauteed mushrooms, smoked pancetta, caramelised onions, Brie and an egg. A must-try!
Tastiest Seafood On Earth: Alaskan King Crab 5 Ways @ Dynasty, Vancouver (nominated by Mijune Pak of Follow Me Foodie)
February till April is the Alaskan king crab season in Vancouver, and Chinese restaurant Dynasty are renowned for their king crab dinner. My personal favourite seafood dish in Bristol has to be the Soft Tofu Seafood Soup at Surakhan on Park Row – a super-spicy soup served with rice and three different salads.
Tastiest Vegetarian On Earth – Falafel Special @ L’As du Fallafel, Paris (nominated by Mathilde Dewilde of Mathilde’s Cuisine)
I know what you’re thinking. You’re surprised that the best vegetarian dish came from France. So are we! Good falafel is always a winner in my book, though – which is why my top Bristol vegetarian fast feast is the Mezze Salad Box from Edna’s Kitchen, just off Castle Park. It’s a seriously filling meal, including (in my opinion!) the best falafel in Bristol.
Tastiest Noodles On Earth – Pad Thai @ Pad Thai Thip Samai, Bangkok (nominated by Mark Wiens of Eating Thai Food)
If you’re looking to try authentic Pad Thai in Thailand, then Pad Thai Thip Samai is the place to be – a restaurant that specialises in this delicacy. While it’s unlikely that any Bristol noodle dish will blow its Asian equivalents out of the water, we’ve still got plenty of great places to enjoy good noodles. My favourite? The Chicken Ramen at Noa Japanese Restaurant in Clifton Village. Clean and fresh in its flavours, I think Noa is by far the best place in Bristol to enjoy this Japanese noodle soup dish.
Tastiest Bird On Earth – Roast Goose @ Yat Lok, Hong Kong (nominated by Juliana Loh of bilbaobab: Chicken Scrawlings)
Sometimes the simplest dishes are the tastiest. Simply roasted with a delicious marinade, this roast goose took the top spot in the “Tastiest Bird” category. And in Bristol? Well, my vote goes to the Moroccan Chicken at Al Bab Mansour in St Nick’s Market: a steaming plate of chicken, rice and vegetables that will provide you with a filling lunch at a great price, and in a beautiful location.
Tastiest Sandwich On Earth – Caribbean Roast @ Paseo, Seattle (nominated by Naomi Bishop of The Gastrognome)
Pork, aioli and caramelised onions in a crusty baguette definitely sounds up my street! But in Bristol, we do sandwiches well, with a huge number of great places from which to get your lunchtime bread and fillings. My personal favourite is the Salt Beef Sandwich at Meat And Bread at the Three Tuns (he’s having a break at the time of writing but will be back soon!) – served with sauerkraut, pickles and Russian dressing. The best part is that owner Ben cures his own meats, pickles his own pickles and makes all of his own sauces too.
Tastiest Rice On Earth – Hainanese Chicken Rice @ Tian Tian Hainanese Rice, Singapore (nominated by Catherine Ling of Camemberu)
With Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay among its fans, it’s hardly surprising that this chicken and rice dish won its category! As with the noodles category, rice is probably a category where we’re unlikely to get a Bristol winner in next year’s awards! My local recommendation, though, would be the Seafood Rice at Yume Kitchen – a great fried rice dish with squid, salmon, prawns and vegetables.
Tastiest Pastry On Earth – Fried Jam Croissant @ Albion, London (nominated by Niamh Shields of Eat Like A Girl)
We tried this seriously calorie-laden treat when in London for the awards weekend, and it’s seriously naughty! Tastiest Pastry is a category that I’m struggling with for Bristol, as I’m not normally a breakfast person! If you have any suggestions, let me know and I’ll try them out so that I can add the category to my Chowzter list…
If you head over to the Chowzter website, you can see the regional winners from around the world – as well as the dish chosen as the world’s overall tastiest fast feast! You’ll also be able to watch video clips describing each of the winners – and if those don’t whet your appetite to sort out a foodie holiday or two, I’ll be surprised…
As for Bristol, you can see my current Chowzter list (which is a bit of a work in progress!) by clicking here. I have plenty more great dishes to add to the list – but if you feel that I’ve missed out something even tastier in the categories listed above, leave me a comment to let me know and I’ll give it a try! I really want to put Bristol on the map next year as a Chowzter award winner…
Re: My quest to replicate Di Fara's Square Pizza
Here is my first attempt on the Di Fara's Square Pizza. First, I rolled out my dough onto lightly oil (with light olive oil) aluminum pan (from Sam's Club) and let the spread-out dough rest for about 30 minute. I then spread out the sauce over the dough. When surface temperature of my WFO stabilized at 700 degree F, I loaded in the tray with dough and sauce. Within 3 minutes, I noticed that the pan warp up in the middle. Probably has to do with the damn cheap pan from Sam's.
After 5 minutes, I removed the tray and lift up the crust to check on the bottom. The bottom hardly had any color to it. I figured that perhaps it need more oil on the bottom to encourage some frying activity and I did just that. I then put some low moisture mozzarella cheese over it. Then I followed with fresh buffalo mozzarella. I used only about ? of fresh buffalo amount compare to low moisture mozzarella cheese. Didn’t want to use too much fresh buffalo because it is a very wet cheese and I don’t like my pizza to be too soggy. Pour some more red sauce over the cheese and put some fresh grated grana padano over everything. I skipped the olive oil step (before Dominic loaded the pan back oven for the second bake, he pour some olive oil all over) because I think I have more than enough oil on the bottom. Slide it back in the WFO. After 6 minutes, I noticed that crust looked done so I pulled it out. Lift up the crust to check on the bottom and it was still white. Apparently, the additional olive oil didn’t do any good. I decided to remove the whole thing out of the pan and let it cooked directly on the floor of WFO. Within 2 minutes, it bottom looked a lot better but the crust on the top at this point is brunt. Cut some fresh basil over the pizza and cut them up in square. Right off the bat, I noticed that I put too much of the low moisture mozzarella cheese because I couldn’t see the sauce. The bottom was too greasy for my taste. I needed more red sauce. Other than that, it tasted really good.
I tried again with a darker and smaller pan and the result was much better. I added some pepperino this time. I had no clue that the dark pan would make such a big difference. However, I was pretty low on the sauce for this particular square but it still tasted good. My two years old son was had three squares and he usually doesn’t care for my slice pizza. I am not there yet, but it was my best homemade pizza so far.
America's 15 best pizzas
15. South Brooklyn Pizza, New York City (New York Style): While known as a great pizza city, New York's state of the slice isn't what it you'd think, especially while it's in the grip of the Neapolitan craze and .99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />.99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />
Interested in this topic? You may also want to view these photo galleries:
13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina): Greenpoint, Brooklyn, isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas. (Photo: Paulie Gee's)
Pizza is about as varied and beloved a genre, as opinionated a subject, and also as accessible a food as there is, which makes determining the country's best pizzas a truly challenging task.
Yes, pizza is tough to rank responsibly. But once again, that's just what The Daily Meal set out to do.
1. Frank Pepe's, New Haven, Conn. (White Clam)
If you want to discuss the loaded topic of America's best pizza with any authority, you have to make a pilgrimage to this legendary New Haven pizzeria. Frank Pepe opened his doors in Wooster Square in New Haven, Conn., in 1925, offering classic Napoletana-style pizza. After immigrating to the United States in 1909 at the age of 16 from Italy, Pepe took odd jobs before opening his restaurant (now called "The Spot," next door to the larger operation). Since its conception, Pepe's has opened an additional seven locations.
What should you order at this checklist destination? Two words: clam pie ("No muzz!"). This is a Northeastern pizza genre unto its own, and Pepe's is the best of them all — freshly shucked, briny littleneck clams, an intense dose of garlic, olive oil, oregano and grated parmesan atop a charcoal-colored crust. The advanced move? Clam pie with bacon. Just expect to wait in line if you get there after 11:30 a.m. on a weekend.
2. Di Fara, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Di Fara Classic Pie)
Domenico DeMarco is a local celebrity, having owned and operated Di Fara since 1964. Dom cooks both New York and Sicilian-style pizza Wednesday through Sunday (noon to 4:30 p.m., and from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.) for hungry New Yorkers and tourists willing to wait in long lines, and brave the free-for-all that is the Di Fara counter experience. Yes, you're better off getting a whole pie than shelling out for the $5 slice. Yes, it's a trek, and sure, Dom goes through periods where the underside of the pizza can trend toward overdone, but when he's on, Di Fara can make a very strong case for being America's best pizza. If you want to understand why before visiting, watch the great video about Di Fara called The Best Thing I Ever Done. You can't go wrong with the classic round or square cheese pie (topped with oil-marinated hot peppers, which you can ladle on at the counter if you elbow in), but the menu's signature is the Di Fara Classic Pie: mozzarella, parmesan, plum tomato sauce, basil, sausage, peppers, mushroom, onion, and of course, a drizzle of olive oil by Dom.
3. Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix (Marinara)
"There's no mystery to my pizza," Bronx native Chris Bianco was quoted as saying in The New York Times. "Sicilian oregano, organic flour, San Marzano tomatoes, purified water, mozzarella I learned to make at Mike's Deli in the Bronx, sea salt, fresh yeast cake and a little bit of yesterday's dough. In the end great pizza, like anything else, is all about balance. It's that simple." Try telling that to the legions of pizza pilgrims who have made trip to the storied Phoenix pizza spot he opened more than 20 years ago. The restaurant serves not only addictive thin-crust pizzas but also fantastic antipasto (involving wood-oven-roasted vegetables), perfect salads and homemade country bread. The wait, once routinely noted as one of the worst for food in the country, has been improved by Pizzeria Bianco opening for lunch, and the opening of Trattoria Bianco, the pizza prince of Arizona's Italian restaurant in the historic Town & Country Shopping Center (about 10 minutes from the original). This is another case where any pie will likely be better than most you've had in your life (that Rosa with red onions and pistachios!), but the signature Marinara will recalibrate your pizza baseline forever: tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic (no cheese).
4. Una Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco (Margherita)
When Anthony Mangieri, pizzaiolo for the East Village's Una Pizza Napoletana, closed in 2009 "to make a change," move West, and open somewhere he could get "a chance to use his outrigger canoe and mountain bike more often," it was the ultimate insult to New Yorkers. You're taking one of the city's favorite Neapolitan pizzerias, defecting to a temperate climate, to people who denigrate New York's Mexican food? So you can canoe and mountain bike? Traitor! Good for Mangieri, and good for San Franciscans, who inherited one of the country's best Neapolitan pies (if only Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. until they're "out of dough"). A thin crust with chewy cornicione, a sauce that's tart and alive, an appropriate ratio of cheese . you could almost imagine yourself at the pantheon to pizza in Naples: Da Michele, a place where the pizza is poetry and pizza poetry is on the wall. Mangieri harkens that same ethos on his website — check out the pizza poem "Napoli" — and delivers the edible version to his patrons. There are only five pies, all $25 (a $5 hike since last year), plus a special Saturday-only pie, the Apollonia, made with eggs, parmigiano-reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, salami, extra-virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, sea salt and black pepper. But when you're this close to godliness, you don't need extras. Keep it simple with the margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil ,fresh basil, sea salt, tomato sauce) and know the good.
5. Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles (squash blossoms, tomato, burrata)
Renowned baker and chef Nancy Silverton teamed up with Italian culinary moguls Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich to open Osteria Mozza, a Los Angeles hot spot where the famous clientele pales in comparison to the innovative, creative fare. The pizzeria, which is attached to the main restaurant, offers a variety of Italian specialties, from antipasti to bruschetta, but the Neapolitan-style pizzas steal the show. Their list of 21 pies ranges from $11 for a simple aglio e olio, a classic cheese pizza, to $23 for a more unique pie with squash blossoms, tomato, and burrata cheese — a delicious and simple pizza that transports through the quality and nuance of its ingredients. So it's no surprise that Batali and Bastianich have taken a stab at duplicating the success of this model pizzeria, opening in Newport Beach, Singapore (!), and soon, San Diego.
6. Roberta's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)
Say Roberta's is in the new class of restaurants that has fanned the flames of the Brooklyn vs. Manhattan debate, call it a great pizza joint, recall it as a frontrunner of the city's rooftop garden movement, and mention that Carlo Mirarchi was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and you'd still be selling it short. Roberta's is in Bushwick six stops out of Manhattan on the L, and it's one of the city's best restaurants (it even serves one of the city's hardest-to-score tasting menus). In Bushwick! Pizza may not be the only thing at Roberta's, but its Neapolitan pies are at the high end of the debate about the city's best (and according to an interview with the blog Slice, inspired another great pizzeria on this list, Paulie Gee's). Yes, some of them have names like "Family Jewels," "Barely Legal," and - after disgraced New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener - "Carlos Danger," but you can afford not to take yourself seriously in an environment where Brooklyn hipsters and everyone else tolerate each other when your pizza is this good. As much as the Amatriciana and the Bee Sting (when Roberta's goes mobile) may tempt, the Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil) is Roberta's pizza Lothario.
7. Sally's Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Tomato Pie)
Sally's Apizza is a New Haven classic, operating from the same location where they opened in the late 1930s in New Haven's Wooster Square. Their pizza is traditionally thin-crust, topped with tomato sauce, garlic and "mozz." The pies look pretty similar to what you'll find down the street at Frank Pepe, which any New Haven pizza believer will note is because the man who opened Sally's is the nephew of the owner of Pepe. The folks at Sally's will be the first to tell you that Pepe makes a better clam pie, but their tomato pie (tomato sauce, no cheese), well, they have the original beat there.
8. Flour + Water, San Francisco (Margherita)
Although this San Francisco restaurant claims to specialize in house-made pastas, their pizza is formidable. Baked in a wood-fired oven, the thin-crust pizza at Flour + Water blends Old World tradition with modern refinement, according to chef and co-owner Thomas McNaughton. Pizza toppings vary depending on what's in season, making each dining experience unique, but Flour + Water's textbook Margherita is amazing. Heirloom tomatoes, basil, fior di latte, and extra-virgin olive oil . if only the simplicity implied by the restaurant's name could be duplicated in pizzerias across the country.
9. Motorino, New York City (Brussels Sprout)
Some spaces are cursed. Others? Blessed. When Anthony Mangieri shuttered Una Pizza Napoletana at 349 East 12th St. and headed West, Mathieu Palombino took over the lease, renamed the space Motorino, and the East Village pizza scene hardly skipped a beat. Motorino offers a handful of spirited pies, including one with cherry stone clams another with stracciatella, raw basil and Gaeta olives and the cremini mushroom with fior di latte, sweet sausage and garlic. But contrary to every last fiber of childhood memory you hold dear, the move is the Brussels Sprout pie (fior di latte, garlic, Pecorino, smoked pancetta and olive oil), something both Hong Kong natives and Brooklynites can now attest to since Palombino opened (and reopened) his Asian and Williamsburg outposts earlier in 2013.
10. Al Forno, Providence, R.I. (Margarita)
On South Main Street in the heart of Providence, R.I., Al Forno offers a quintessential Italian dining experience for those who can't afford the flight. Husband-and-wife owner-chefs George Germon and Johanne Killeen received the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano from the Italian government, a rare honor for Americans, attributable to their informed passion for pasta along with their invention of the grilled pizza. The restaurant bakes their pies in wood-burning ovens as well as on grills over hardwood charcoal fire. Their most notable grilled pizza? The Margarita. It's served with fresh herbs, pomodoro, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil.
11. Modern Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Italian Bomb)
Established in 1934 as State Street Pizza, Modern's coal-fired brick oven puts out pizza in the same thin-crust style. It's likely that you'll hear it spoken about as the place "the locals go instead of Pepe's and Sally's." That may be so. The atmosphere is great — wood paneling, friendly servers, a clean feeling — but it doesn't play third-string just because it's not on Wooster. Modern's pies are a little topping-heavy with less structural integrity. Given the focus on toppings, the iconic Italian Bomb is the pie to try: bacon, sausage, pepperoni, garlic, mushroom, onion and pepper.
12. Totonno's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)
By all accounts, Totonno's shouldn't be around anymore. Consider first that it was opened in Coney Island in 1924 (by Antonio "Totonno" Pero, a Lombardi's alum). Then factor in the fire that broke out in the coal storage area and ravaged the place in 2009. Add to that insult the destruction (and some reported $150,000 in repairs) incurred in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy when 4 feet of water destroyed everything inside the family-owned institution. You'll probably agree that Brooklyn (and the country) should be counting its lucky stars Totonno's is still around. And yet it does more than that.
It doesn't just keep a storied pizza name, or nostalgia for simpler times (and perhaps more authentic and consistent pies) alive. No. Owners Antoinette Balzano, Frank Balzano and Louise "Cookie" Ciminieri don't just bridge our modern era's festishizing of pizza to the days of its inception at Lombardi's. The coal-fired blistered edges, the spotty mozzarella laced over that beautiful red sauce . ah, fuggedabout all the teary-eyed try-too-much words, this is Neptune Avenue! This is Brooklyn! This is Totonno's. And this, is how you make pizza.
13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina)
With a love for pizza, little formal training, without finishing high school, with a career he has characterized as having "masqueraded as a computer geek," and a fear of becoming Shelley Levene from "Glengarry Glen Ross," Paulie Giannone struck out into the unknown, to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He ventured there before "Girls," before the condos, in a time when the dream of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment a 10-minute walk from the subway to Manhattan on the Polish word-of-mouth, no-lease real estate wire still went for less than $2,000.
This backyard do-it-yourselfing pizza passionista put it all on the line and earned every kind word he's gotten. Greenpoint isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas.
14. Apizza Scholls, Portland, Ore. (Apizza Amore)
Apizza Scholls has some of the best pizza in Portland, and some have argued, north of San Francisco — and that's using an electric oven! But they do have some guidelines for patrons interested in composing their own topping combinations on their 18-inch pies: only three ingredients, and no more than two meats per pie. So choose wisely from a list of toppings that in addition to classics like anchovies, red onions, garlic, pepperoni, sausage and basil includes capicollo, house-cured Canadian bacon, cotto salami, arugula, jalapeño and pepperoncini. Heads-up: bacon is "not offered for build your own toppings." If you aren't up to building your own pie, there are 10 classics to choose from, including the signature Apizza Amore: margherita with capicollo (cured pork shoulder). The signature Amore features a spicy kick offset a bit by the somewhat sweet mozzarella and balanced sauce. That's amore!