America's Best Cities for Pizza

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America’s Best Cities for Pizza
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America's Best Cities for Pizza

Neapolitan-style pizza is a nationwide passion, yet one U.S. city’s pizza stokes the deepest devotion, according to Travel + Leisure readers.

Image courtesy of: Coalfire Pizza

No. 1 Chicago

Is the classic deep dish the reason that Chicago topped the pizza category again this year? Perhaps, but the city deserves props for embracing a diversity of styles. At the local chain Pizano’s, you can get an authentic deep dish as well as a “tavern-style” thin crust, cut into strips or squares. The Neapolitan-style, brick-oven pies at Lincoln Park’s Pizzeria da Nella are a favorite of Heather Sperling, a Chicago-based editor at tastingtable.com. She also vouches for Coalfire in West Town (“my go-to for a meaty pie”) and Burt’s Place in the suburb of Morton Grove. “It’s legendary for its buttery, caramelized crust.”

Image Credit: iStock

No. 2 Providence, RI

The Rhode Island capital held onto its silver medal position from last year, perhaps because, like Chicago, it offers an only-in-Providence pie: grilled pizza, where the dough is cooked on one side, then flipped before the toppings are added. A great place to try it is downtown’s Bacaro, whose chef is from Al Forno, home of the original grilled pizza. To go a layer deeper into the city’s pizza culture, sample the pizza strips—topped with just sauce—found at LaSalle Bakery.

Image Credit: iStock

No. 3 New York City

While you can’t walk a few blocks in NYC without passing a pizzeria, many are tourist-trap knockoffs. Let the Slice of Brooklyn Pizza tour lead the way: you can dodge the lines at legendary Grimaldi’s near the Brooklyn Bridge, and try a Sicilian-style in Bensonhurst, then stick around post-tour for pies at Roberta’s. Back across the bridge, Adrienne’s Pizza Bar in Lower Manhattan gets raves for its square thin crust. Luckily, plenty of NYC pizzerias stay open late, which blends nicely with the city’s high rankings for cocktail lounges, live music, and wild weekends.

Image Credit: Kelly Bazely

No. 4 Philadelphia

Pizza may not have been part of the founding fathers’ diet, but it is the voters’ favorite food in present-day Philly, which ranked in the top 5 for its great museums and cultural attractions. History meets pie at Pizza Brain, the “pizza museum” in Fishtown that serves thin-crust pies and houses more than 500 pizza-related artifacts. Meanwhile, at purist favorite Nomad Pizza, they slice your pie at the table, to prevent sogginess, and show a movie every Sunday night.

Image Credit: iStock

No. 5 Boston

While Santarpio’s and Regina are classic Beantown pizzerias, you can get trendy pies with a twist at the Back Bay’s Salty Pig—topped with a rotating selection of “salty pig parts”—or at Scampo, in the Liberty Hotel, where you can order a decadent lobster pizza. Boston also offers proof that there is some correlation between a city’s great pizzas and its degree of team fanaticism: Boston won the second-place spots for both sports bars and sports-crazed fans.

Image Credit: iStockphoto

No. 6 Minneapolis/St. Paul

Readers may have just discovered the Twin Cities’ array of classic and quirky pizzas: the metropolis climbed nine slots since last year. Punch Pizza, with several locations, has serious VPN (Verace Pizza Napoletana) street cred, while Pizza Luce interprets the dish more loosely, offering a “western pizza” with scrambled eggs, bacon, and peppers for brunch. The hottest newcomer is artisan-style Pizzeria Lola, opened by a Korean-American chef and featuring a short-ribs-powered Korean BBQ pizza.

Image Credit: iStock

No. 7 San Diego

All that gorgeous weather makes people hungry: San Diego zoomed into the top 10 this year for its burgers, ice cream, and ethnic cuisine. Pizza purists often point to Hillcrest’s Bronx Pizza as delightfully foldable, East Coast–style pizza. The hottest newcomer, however, is Buona Forchetta in South Park, where the wood-fired oven looks like a blinged-out space pod, and where you can order white pizzas with crème fraîche and caramelized onions, or even a pizza fritte that is lightly fried before being baked.

Image Credit: iStock

No. 8 Savannah, GA

Pizza may tend toward the messy, but readers love this Georgia city first and foremost for its civilized aesthetics, ranking it No. 1 for quaint buildings, charming accents, and general peace and quiet. When locals crave pizza, favorite sources include Vinnie Van Go-Go, which does Neapolitan-style, and Screamin Mimi’s, which dubs itself as Jersey-style. Even if their pizza sensibilities hail from elsewhere, that doesn’t seem to affect Savannahians’ intense local pride.

Image Credit: iStock

No. 9 Nashville

Music City is home to the friendliest people in America, according to the survey, as well as an increasingly foodie-friendly scene that lifted its pizza ranking from last year’s No. 17. Just off Music Row you’ll find DeSano Pizza Bakery, which has Verace Pizza Napoletana status, while also tipping its hat to hearty southern appetites: the Lasagna Pizza features meatball, ricotta, and buffalo mozzarella. Five Points Pizza in East Nashville, meanwhile, takes its New York allegiance seriously, alongside a menu of local microbrews.

Image Credit: Brian Jannsen / Alamy

No. 10 Kansas City, MO

Pizza may seem like an afterthought in the No. 1 city for barbecue, yet the locals clearly need something to periodically cleanse their palates. The traditional favorite is Minsky’s, while the newest contender is Pizzabella, in the Crossroads Arts District. It has won over locals with chorizo-with-pesto or egg-and-pancetta pizzas, as well as drinks and floats from food truck Little Freshie Sodas. Readers love the accessibility of Kansas City, which won the survey for affordability.

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There are some things that exist only in New York, but the city's traditional foldable, thin-crust pizza is no longer one of them.

"These days, you can find decent, or even excellent, New York-style pizza in almost any medium-sized to large city in America," says Brooklyn-based writer Jeff Turrentine. "But finding even passable Chicago-style pizza outside of Chicago—that still poses a challenge."

That only-in-Chicago factor helps explain why the Windy City once again won the No. 1 spot for best pizza city, according to Travel + Leisure readers. This year's America's Favorite Cities survey—in which readers rank 35 cities for such enticements as luxury stores, live music, and good-looking locals—revealed voters' reverence for Chicago's deep-dish magic.

Check out the slideshow above to see if your city made the list.


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