PIZZA

PIZZA

When someone says “they have the best pizza”, the “best” is always very subjective. There are so many different styles of pizza from all over the world. There is traditional thin, crispy New York slice to the softer brick oven Napoletana, to the gourmet pizzas of today which include sweet and savory toppings like Buffalo chicken, apples, walnuts, even blue cheese in place of mozzarella.  We won’t even talk about the Chicago style deep dish pizza. It is good, but for us in the NYC Metro area, that is more of a focaccia lasagna.

This is a personal ranking of all the pizza that I have ever eaten all over the world.  My rating system is fairly simple.  I taste a pizza, if I like it more than any other pizza I’ve ever had, it goes to the top of the list.  If it is the worst slice of pizza I’ve ever had, it goes to the bottom of the list.  Here is the list in order from my personal favorite to those I probably won’t ever try again.  “The best” is completely subjective.  If you don’t like Neapolitana style pizza, you most likely are not going to like my top choices.  If you are more of an “American” traditional pizza person, read the notes next to it. There are some places that are starting to call the traditional American style slice “old school” or “old world” or even “old fashioned”. This is nonsense. It’s not. It is just a fancy way to call it something its not to sell more of it or make it sound more appetizing. It’s either Traditional, Specialty, or Neapolitan.

The other major issue is consistency. If it not the same every visit, it does not mean that it is bad, it is just means that I can’t put it at the top of the list as a “sure fire” or solid hit every time.  There are pizzerias that have been around for decades. They are not great, but they are solid, and consistency is the reason. So many places on here could be in the top ten, if it were not for the consistency or lousy service or attention to customer care.

This is a “reboot”, meaning, I am starting fresh from October 1st onward, but I am listing the very best, and the very worst on the list as a barometer.  Pizza in Aruba might not seem like a thing, but the family that owns Amore Mio are Sicilian immigrants. And, what can be bad when you are on the main strip of Aruba just by the beach in the distance?  On the other end is Bencotto in Boston’s Little Italy is shameful, so shameful the Italian waiter just said “it could have been cooked a little more”. Nonsense, it was just white bread with powder parmesan on top.

** Updated December 5, 2021 **

    1. Amore Mio (Aruba) Any of the pizzas here you get will be remarkable. I’ve been here at least a dozen times and never once was I disappointed.
    2. Razza (Jersey City NJ) Probably the best in NJ, even people from NY take the subway over for it.  It is that good.
    3. Kesté Pizza & Vino (Manhattan NY) The best outside of Italy, according to my cousin from Sicily who visits NYC.
    4. Arturo’s (Maplewood NJ) Same owner as Razza, so you know its one of the best.
    5. Dough Pizzeria (Caldwell NJ) They have seasonal pizzas based on availability of produce, but always a favorite.
    6. Angeloni’s (Caldwell NJ)  The Thinny Thin is the pizza to get here.  It is so thin, you cannot even measure it. It is delicious, and the cheese goes to the edge of the crust. Its almost guiltless since it is so thin, but with all of the flavor.
    7. Sette Wood Fired Pizza (Totowa NJ) These are real Italians. They don’t even speak English, but if pizza is your thing, they are speaking your language.  All of their pizzas are exceptional.Woodstack (Pine Brook NJ) On the former grounds of a Tiki Bar called South Pacific, this place has changed hands many time, but their pizzas are truly delicious due to the dough they make.
    8. Tony D’s (Caldwell NJ) for over 15 years, Tony himself has been behind the counter and never once have been disappointed in any of their pizza.  The Pizzalina is my favorite, but he makes a focaccia (rarely) and is only 2nd to my mother’s when she was still alive.
    9. Aquila Forno (Little Falls NJ) Great pizza but very small place with lousy service, even if you have reservations.
    10. King Umberto (Elmont NY) My first experience with the “Grandma” over 20 years ago. I have not been there in many years, but I have no doubt that the same family is keeping up the standards.
    11. Squared (Elmwood Park NJ) very thick on the bread, but this is good pizza, but more like focaccia, baked in a pan with crispy cheese crust, the dough is light and airy. Its a winner even if you do not like thick deep crust pizza.
    12. Pizza Terminal (Verona NJ) They make dozens of pizzas, so if you cannot find one you like, you probably do not like pizza. While they are known for the Sicilian, I much prefer the grandma or Margherita.
    13. Mama Lena’s (Perth Amboy NJ) Grandma’s is a really great slice, the crust underneath is fantastic, almost like my mother’s. Cheese is typical.
    14. Ralph’s (Nutley NJ) Nutley’s first and oldest pizzeria since 1961, get the double bakes pizza for sure.
    15. Bruno’s (Clifton NJ)  Their Sicilian is voted one of the best, not for me, but with trying.
    16. Ah Pizz (Denville & Montclair NJ) really good pizza, they give it good effort and results show.
    17. Teglia Pizza Bar (Montclair NJ) this replaced the Brick Oven Pizzeria that used to be there.  It could have been so much better, but they just opened. They deserve another chance.
    18. Rusillo’s (Caldwell NJ) I previously gave them a bad rap for their Sicilian pizza, but the plain is a great standard for others to follow. Nothing phenomenal, but a good, solid slice, even cold.
    19. Franco’s (West Caldwell NJ) good, solid slice, nothing special, but this place has been here over 50 years.
    20. Mr. Bruno’s (Saddle Brook NJ) The “old fashioned” truly is that. Thin layer of cheese on top of the dough with thin layer of tomato sauce on top. More like a focaccia, a bit dry, but I was there at an off-hour.
    21. Primo Bar (Short Hills Mall NJ), not authentic Italian but better than most bar pies
    22. Borino’s (Verona NJ) Small, local, reliable pizzeria
    23. Giuseppe (Cedar Grove NJ) Typical pizzeria, but it does the job.
    24. Villa Capri II (Sparta NJ) Typical pizzeria
    25. Frank’s Trattoria (West Caldwell NJ) basic pizzeria pizza. Not horrible, not noteworthy.
    26. Papa’s Tomato Pies (Robbinsville NJ) Voted one of the best in NJ, I just don’t get it, nothing compared to pizza in North Jersey
    27. Roost (Greenville SC) Not bad pizza for an outdoor hotel restaurant who specializes in typical continental food.
    28. Pezzeria Bel Giardino (Cranford NJ) Grandma slice looked good, $4, but was way too bready, too thick, not crisp, and way too much garlic.
    29. Anthony Franco’s (Sparta NJ) The Grandma Square slice with fresh mozzarella was not great but hit the spot
    30. Salugo Bistro & Pizzeria (Verona NJ) Once a favorite, but once they changed owners, quality dived.
    31. Forte’s (Caldwell NJ) Square Margherita left a lot to be desired, I think it was made too fast, some parts burned, the other barely cooked. I blame the guy on duty who seemed to be sitting in for the main pizza chef.
    32. Esposito’s (Cedar Grove NJ) A huge slice for just $2.50 (as of 10/30/21), but its a lot of cheese and the sauce was off. Not bad pizza, just par for the road for a pizzeria.
    33. Famous Ray’s Pizza (Verona NJ) $3.75 bought a “Grandma” slice. I don’t know any Italian grandmas that dump a pile of salsa on top of the cheese and don’t spread it around.
    34. Cedar Grill (Caldwell NJ) too much dough, too much cheese, little sauce, crust not cooked well.
    35. Avenue Bistro (Verona NJ) Typical bar food pizza
    36. Casa Mia (Sparta NJ) This $3 slice reminded me of cheap frozen pizza you can get for .99cents like Celeste Pizza for One in supermarkets.  Thin crust for sure, sauce and cheese did not taste like that of quality.
    37. The Italian Place (Washington DC) Typical pizza on a busy avenue when you need food and want to eat fast.
    38. Panera Flatbread (Chain) while their bread is good, their pizza is not. It is just some dough run under a broiler that melts the cheese. That being said, it is still better than a lot of places out there, but this is at the bottom of the list.
    39. Domino’s (Chain) Best of all the chain pizzerias.
    40. Pizza Hut (Chain)
    41. Blaze (Chain)
    42. Papa John’s (Chain) Worst of all the chain pizzerias.
    43. Bencotto (Boston MA) This is not pizza. The restaurant might be Italian, but the food there was not good and the pizza was especially disappointing.  White bread with a spread of tomatoes and dusted parmesan is not pizza, and if was fully cooked, it could not have been much better. Pure disappointment.

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