By Shane Mitchell
From traditional New York pizza parlors to next-generation California pies, the best slices in America.
Famous Joe's, NYC
According to Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana-the Naples, Italy-based trade group that promotes and certifies Neapolitan pizza-there are only two truly authentic styles: marinara and Margherita. Both have to be hand-kneaded and baked in a wood-fired oven. But since these archetypal napoletanas were introduced to our shores by Italian immigrants in the 19th century, pizza has become as American as, well, another type of pie.
And, like the U.S.A., pizza has adapted, with different regions giving their own spin to this Old World staple. Chicago has deep dish; California skews gourmet. Sicilian pies in Detroit (home to the Domino's and Little Caesars chains) are square. New Haven, CT, has a thin-crust pizza that's a type all its own. And even though no-name pie shops can be rigorous about crispy crust and the right distribution of sauce versus toppings, in the end, everyone agrees that a great pie, no matter what taste preferences dictate, takes time and talent to prepare.
While this list has a bit of hometown bias (four favorites are located in the greater New York area), ultimately the pizza makers who made the cut all have one thing in common. Nobody delivers. And yet, they all do. Here are 11 slices worth the wait.
Co. in Manhattan
New York (Manhattan): Co.
Pizza with a pedigree. Breadmaker Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery installed an EarthStone oven at his upscale Chelsea eatery, where patrons pay a premium for a sparely decorated white oak dining space and extensive wine list. However, the artisanal dough here is scorched (sometimes too much) authentically, and slightly radical ingredients range from zucchini blossoms to béchamel with caramelized onions.
Don't Miss: The minimalist Pizza Bianca for one.
Piecasso in Stowe, Vermont.
Stowe, VT: Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge
Pizza has always been the carb of choice for the Burton board set, and this groovy branch of a Sicilian family pizzeria chain earns black diamond status for its righteous pies. The young pie masters here can toss a round of dough as expertly as they carve runs on Mount Mansfield. Pair hearth-baked personal pies (four slices) with locally brewed Switchback Ale on tap in the bar, or strip off your downhill gear for table service in the dining room.
Best Toppings: Order the Tree Hugger, with fresh spinach, garlic, and red onions.
Antica in Marina del Rey.
Marina del Rey, CA: Antica Pizzeria
Another master toiling in a low-rent location. Even weight-conscious Hollywood flocks to this strip mall where the other tenants include a fitness club, Victoria's Secret, and the Gap, because owner Peppe Miele crafts perfect Neapolitan-style charred-crust pizza in a wood-fired oven at this second-floor branch of his original L.A. shop.
Best Toppings: The Pizza Siciliana has eggplant, smoked mozzarella, basil, and chopped tomato.
The Liberty Tavern in Arlington, Virginia.
Arlington, VA: The Liberty Tavern
For the Beltway crowd ready to loosen their belts, this all-American comfort food hangout is where chef Liam LaCivita keeps two wood-fired ovens roaring hot. Conservatives may be horrified by the Granny Smith apples, white Vermont cheddar, fried eggs, and pickled squash that grace his thin-crust pies, but the Classico will make a lobbyist on either side of the aisle happy.
Cheesiest Pie: The Four Cheese includes mozzarella, fontina, provolone, and Cabot white cheddar.
DiFara pizza restaurant in Brooklyn, New York.
New York (Brooklyn): Di Fara
Be prepared to wait. And wait. And wait. Since 1964, Domenico DeMarco has been making one pizza at a time at his shop in the melting pot of Midwood, Brooklyn. (Glatt kosher meets masala meets veal marsala.) Cognoscenti-ravenous single males-know to arrive prior to noon for lunch or again in the evening before six o'clock. Hover until you hear DeMarco's daughter Margaret, who takes orders at the counter, yell at the old man: "Pop! Make a square one next." The square Margherita is a chewy slice of heaven.
Best Toppings: Freshly cut basil and grated Grana Padano cheese.
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By Shane Mitchell