#28 Lucali

June 23rd, 2016

Brooklyn, NYC

After getting back from our pizza weekend, we had to take a short (one week) hiatus from eating pizza. When we were sufficiently recovered, we visited another of the top-ranking Brooklyn pizzerias on the list, Lucali.

Lucali may be the most romantic pizza place that we went to on the list, and there is a good reason why it is ranked so high. Tucked away in Carroll Gardens, the restaurant only seats a few tables at time, and it has a quiet ambiance, and makes amazing pizza.

The pizza here is kind of like if you were to smush all of the other NY greats together. The fresh basil on top from Di Fara,  minimal available toppings, like the classic slice joints (Joe’s), and a soft, Neapolitan-like crust.

Recommendations if you want to try the pizza here (and you really should!):

  1. Do NOT come here with a group of people – bring your husband, date, or best friend, but keep it small. Or you may never get a table.
  2. The restaurant officially opens at 6, but they start taking names for tables at 5:30. We didn’t realize this and showed up right before 6, and had over an hour wait to get a table. If you are on a time crunch, make sure to get your name in for the first seating. Like many of the other Brooklyn greats (see Emily or Paulie Gee’s), the line can be long. Otherwise, be prepared to wait AT LEAST an hour. We went on a Wednesday night. I’ve read about people who show up at 5:30 on a Friday and don’t get a table until 8 pm (just warning you!).
  3. BYOB! Do I have to say more? You probably have plenty of time after you put your name in to go find a bottle of wine.

When you have to wait for your pizza, your anticipation really grows. The longer the wait, the more you feel like the pizza has to live up to the wait. Well, you really don’t have to worry about that here. This pizza really lived up to the wait. We both rated this on our personal lists much higher in the top 20.

We ended up ordering half plain, half pepperoni. The pizza is expensive, and so we didn’t want to order two. We also were happy to not have too many topping selections – simple is sometimes best. We left happily full, but not stuffed.

After writing this, I think we need to go back here as soon as possible. We’d wait over an hour again for this pizza if we had to.

To visit:

Lucali
575 Henry Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

#100 Il Forno

November 4th, 2017

San Antonio, TX

We managed to get a bit of sleep after our first late-night pizza stop in Texas, but we couldn’t sleep too late because we had to make a detour to San Antonio before heading a bit further upstate to the wedding. It took us a little over an hour to drive to San Antonio from Austin and we showed up at Il Forno just after noon.

This restaurant is a newcomer to the 2017 list, and it has only been open for about a year and a half. We were a little skeptical that it would live up to the others (especially since Via 313 was taken off of the list in 2017), but we were really surprised here.

Il Forno is located in a quiet part of San Antonio, a little bit south of downtown and away from the crowds visiting the Alamo. From the outside, you couldn’t tell it was a pizza place because it is painted lime green and has an overgrown looking garden out front. As soon as we walked in, though, we saw the massive wood burning oven and we knew we were in the right place.

Although it has only been open a little over a year, Il Forno already produces their own sage and basil, and will expand the garden as the years go on. They have kumquat trees planted out front that will take a couple more years to produce fruit! All of their ingredients come from local Texas farms, and even more impressively, they cure all of their own meats in-house.

When we heard that, we had to order the Entero, which came with a “chef’s selection” of three meats. There was a spicy sausage, a spicier pepperoni, and a third pepperoni-ish meat as well. Sorry that I am not very good at meat identification – whatever it was, it was tasty! We also ordered a butternut squash salad that was topped with pistachios and goat cheese. We had to balance out that meat with some vegetable!

The crust on this pizza was awesome. Eric commented that it rivals some of the best Neapolitan crusts that we’ve had in NYC or San Fran. The cheese wasn’t loaded on too heavily, so all the flavors really shone through. We really approve of this addition to the 2017 list!

And since we ordered only one pizza here, we still had plenty of stomach space to enjoy an evening full of delicious wedding food 🙂

To visit:

Il Forno
122 Nogalitos St
San Antonio, TX 78204

#79 Area Four

June 3rd, 2016

Cambridge, MA

We usually try to take a camping trip every summer. Last year, we tied our camping trip into a birthday/pizza weekend for Eric and drove up to Maine. We found a nice campsite right outside of Portland, brought our canoe, and spent the whole weekend eating pizza and making s’mores. It was awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We planned to get up to our campsite by dark to set up our tent, but this left us plenty of time to stop just outside of Boston for some pizza for lunch. We decided to stop at Area Four, in Cambridge. The weather was beautiful, and we grabbed a table right out front of the restaurant.

The pizza at Area Four seems a bit out of place in Boston and feels like it belongs somewhere in Brooklyn or California. The dough is made from a 15-year old starter that rises for 36 hours. They use local ingredients, and the pizzas change seasonally. Nothing on the menu, from the bread and butter pickles appetizer to the Hawaiian pizza with roasted pineapple salsa, is traditional, but everything we’ve tried is delicious. One of the pizzas (the Carnivore) has been featured on the Food Network’s best pizza ever.

We went for the seasonal spring pie, which had arugula, peas, pickled red onion, mozzarella, and asparagus, and it tasted just like spring. We also tasted the more traditional Marinara pizza, which was topped with a decent amount of basil and roasted garlic. Both were fresh and tasty, and the crust here is perfectly bouncy and light from the wood fired oven. We may have liked the marinara pizza the best.

I was recently back in Cambridge for a work trip, and made a stop for dinner at Area Four again. I was reminded how good this pizza was, even though I opted for the simple Margherita pizza. The fall seasonal special was topped with corn and fresh tomatoes, which made me wish Eric was with me so that we could try that one too.

 

To visit:

Area Four
500 Technology Square
Cambridge, MA 02139

#46 Razza

September 16th

Jersey City, NJ

So, funny story: One day about three years ago I was preparing to leave New Haven and move down to Princeton, NJ. My friend in New Haven, knowing how much I liked pizza, told me about this restaurant, Razza, and said that he heard that it was very good. I saved the website in my bookmarks, but we never ended up going. Partly because we didn’t feel like driving to Jersey City, and partly because we started exploring the New York pizza scene instead.

Now, three years later, we read this article, which made the very bold claim that the best pizza in New York is actually in New  Jersey. Well, we knew that we had to try it as soon as possible to see what all the hype was.

We drove out to Jersey City on a Friday night last month. The restaurant was packed. It was right after the review came out, so I guess everyone wanted to see what the big deal was. There were certainly some locals who stopped by and were a little annoyed that all of these people from New York City had come and taken over their restaurant.

Eric dropped me off and I put our name in. It was a 2 hour wait.

A cautious note to anyone thinking of driving to check Razza out: parking is near impossible to find on a weekend or evening here. We spent over an hour driving around trying to find a spot. Luckily, we had plenty of time to kill before we were going to get to try the pizza.

We were finally seated at the bar and ordered our pizza and also the bread and butter appetizer, because we were quite hungry at this point. The bread is homemade, and the butter is cultured from “grass-fed Pennsylvania cows”.  For pizza, we tried the Bosco, with mushrooms, and the Garden State Margherita. The food took a while to come out, probably because they were so busy and weren’t used to the large number of customers.

The pizzas were OK, really. After all the hype, we were slightly disappointed. You can hopefully see in the photo (sorry about the horrible lighting!) that the crust was a little bit burnt and there wasn’t much sauce OR cheese on the margherita. I’m not sure if the pies are usually this toasty, and we generally do like a little char, but this was a bit too much.

Also, while it was great that the restaurant stresses local, in-season ingredients, they really sell this hard on the menu. We LOVE to see local ingredients being used, but also appreciate when restaurants do it in an unpretentious way. That being said, though, the ingredients did taste fresh and the bread and butter was actually very good.

Overall, we don’t think that this pizza is better than many pizzas in NYC. If you are looking for a Neapolitan pizza, we could list several that we liked better than this one. I mean, the pizza was good, for sure, but didn’t live up to the review. It is also completely possible that the night we tried Razza, the chefs were overwhelmed by the high volume of people. So, maybe the pizza wasn’t the best they’ve ever made. We’d be willing to try it again to see (after we get through the rest of the new list, of course!).

To visit:

Razza Pizza Artigianale
275 Grove Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302

 

 

#79 Punch Neapolitan Pizza

May 23, 2016

St. Paul, MN

After our second night in St. Louis, and our spur-of-the-moment trip to Memphis, we left bright and early for the drive to St. Paul/Minneapolis. This was one of our longer drives – about 8 hours north. We got in to St. Paul for dinner before checking in to our AirBnB.

Punch Neapolitan Pizza was the first stop on our list. They make true, Neapolitan-style pies that are quickly baked in a 900-degree oven. We went with the “Margherita Extra” pizza. This is a step up from the traditional margherita pizza because it is topped with mozzarella di bufala (fancy words for “buffalo mozzarella”, or mozzarella from an Italian breed of water buffalo). We should have had a taste test to compare with the regular margherita pizza (which I’m assuming was regular cow’s milk mozzarella, although I’m not really sure about this). We really liked the taste of this cheese, but we’d need to compare it side-by-side with regular mozz to tell if it’s worth the extra $5.

To round out our pizza, we also got an arugula salad that was served in a warm pita. We felt like we needed some vegetables to go along with our pizza, and this salad was awesome. We highly recommend trying it.

The pizza itself was good, but it wasn’t our favorite Neapolitan. It wasn’t as good as Hog & Hominy (but, yes, that wasn’t a VERIFIED Neapolitan pizza). On average, we find traditional Neapolitan pizzas too thin and flimsy. They can get a little watery with too many toppings or thin sauce. We definitely appreciated the freshness of the mozzarella and tomato sauce, and we like the taste of a doughy crust, but we also need our crust to have some weight. So, Punch gets points for staying true to its style, but loses some for letting the fancy mozzarella slide off the crust when we picked it up.

Another plus: the location that we went to had a really nice patio outside, which was so enjoyable after sitting in a car for 8 hours.

Fun fact learned while writing this post: Did you know that to make 2.2 pounds of mozzarella cheese, you need 18 pounds of cow’s milk, but only 11 pounds of buffalo milk? If you want to know more about buffalo mozzarella, this article was really fascinating.

To visit:

Punch Neapolitan Pizza
704 Cleveland Ave S
St Paul, MN 55116

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#59 Hog & Hominy

May 22, 2016

Memphis, TN

Picking up the story from my last post, we were staying in St. Louis and cheering on the St. Louis Cardinals, who were losing, on the first weekend of our epic pizza road trip. We were getting a little bored of the game and Eric had an amazing idea: we should drive down to Memphis!

Memphis has one pizza place on the 101 list, Hog & Hominy, and we weren’t planning on hitting it during this road trip. However, Eric pointed out that it was only a 4 hour drive from St. Louis, and it would save us a weekend of flying. If we left right then (it was around 3 pm), we’d be down there just in time for dinner. That sounded like a lot of driving to me, but Eric volunteered to do all of the driving so I couldn’t say no.

   

Of course, on our way into Memphis we had to stop at Graceland. We couldn’t really be tourists because Graceland had already closed for the day, but we got to stand outside and peer over the stone wall. We took a couple of pictures and then drove down to the restaurant.

Hog & Hominy is known for their wood-fired pizzas, but their other Southern-inspired vegetable and pork-based menu items also get rave reviews. We started out with the poutine (we were hungry!) and then moved on to two pizzas – the Prewitt, with fontina, mozzarella, sausage, and scrambled egg, and a Margherita. We really loved both of these. The “Prewitt” was the most interesting combination on a pizza that we’d had so far, and we do love egg on a pizza. The crust was also one of the best Neapolitan-style crusts that we’d had, being the perfect amount of fluffy and also having a nice char around the edge. Not too much cheese and not too much sauce to weigh the crust down – just how we like it!

Eric liked these pizzas so much that Hog & Hominy made it into his top 20. I ended up ranking it at a decent #36.

Their other pizzas all have really interesting combinations of toppings, too! If we were ranking some of the most unusual and delicious combinations of toppings on pizza, Hog & Hominy would be pretty high up on both of our lists. For example, the “Red Eye” is topped with pork belly, egg, fontina, celery leaf, and sugo and the “When I was in Tuscany” has tomato sauce, gorgonzola, spicy pork sausage, and fried capers. We could have tried all of them if we weren’t looking forward to 10 more days of eating pizza on this road trip.

Can we also just say how cute this restaurant was? It was very homey and rustic. They also have an outdoor patio and I’ve seen around the internet that they have bocce too, but I can’t personally confirm that because it was after 8 pm by the time we got there and we weren’t going to be playing bocce in the dark!

We were glad to have made it to Memphis for this pizza, although it would have been nice to explore the city a bit more. We drove through downtown on our way out and it was pretty raving and the neon lights were intense. Luckily, it was *only* a short 4 hour drive back to our hotel. 🙂 Maybe we will make it back there in the future.

To visit:

Hog & Hominy
707 W. Brookhaven Circle
Memphis, TN 38117

#71 Scuola Vecchia Pizza e Vino

May 7, 2017

Delray Beach, FL

This past weekend, Eric found himself down in Florida for a bachelor party, not too far away from Delray Beach. Of course, he had to stop at this new addition to the 2016 list, Scuola Vecchia Pizza e Vino, and he brought his brother and friend. He sent me the pictures, which made me immediately jealous that I was not there. I quizzed him about his trip and the pizza.

First of all, what pizzas did you order?

At first neither Jordon or Scott wanted pizza so I was upset I couldn’t try a bunch, but then I convinced them. I got a Regina Margherita (basic Neapolitan), Jordon got the Pizza con Pistacchio e Salsiccia, and Scott got the Keste’. Overall, I think a pretty good mix, but if you were there we could’ve gotten some veggies.

 

Did one stand out as the best? 

We all agreed the Pistacchio e Salsiccia was the best.  I think it was actually better than the one at Keste in Manhattan. The sausage was the crumbly kind and the pesto was delicious.

 

(Barbara says: This is saying something, because we are big fans of Keste in Manhattan).

Which pizza would I have ordered?

I think you would have gotten either a Margherita, or the Roberto (burrata).

(Barbara says: This is probably correct. Eric knows that I like my burrata.)

How do these pizzas compare to the other Neapolitan pies that we’ve eaten?

These were definitely cheesier. Since the center crust was thin (as it should be for Neapolitans), it made it tough to lift up without it drooping or having toppings fall.  But the crust was perfect (not as doughy as the one in San Fran or Sotto). The sauce was very good.  The place itself was also very Italian with a nice colorful wood oven in the back.

   

How was the bachelor party?

Tiring. It was hard to get everyone to agree on what to do, and everyone was being cheap so we didn’t go to Sunfest (which was the whole reason we went to West Palm last weekend). But it was nice seeing everyone.

Did you miss me eating pizza with you?

Yes. I couldn’t compare it to anything. And you are more well-versed in everything pizza so it could’ve been a better conversation over dinner.  I felt very snooty when talking to Jordon and Scott, I hope we don’t come across that way to everyone!

(Barbara says: We probably do. Sorry everyone.)

 

If we go back to Florida, would we make a stop here?

Probably not. I’d rather go to Atlanta for those pizzas and then just get other food in Florida.

Eric also found it funny that his brother pointed out that there was a book called “Where to Eat Pizza” and jokingly asked if we had it. And he could actually say “yes” because we do have it! Jordon, you obviously didn’t read my blog post last week.

Thanks, Eric, for checking this one out. Next time, I’m going to make you write the blog post.

To visit:

Scuola Vecchia Pizza e Vino
522 E Atlantic Ave
Delray Beach, FL 33483

 

#100 800 Degrees & #40 Gjelina

April 17th, 2016

Los Angeles, CA

After all of the biking on LA Day 1, we (Eric) were very excited to be able to walk to the next location on the 101 List. 800 Degrees  has a location right in downtown Santa Monica, about a 10 minute walk from where we were staying.

  

800 Degrees is as close as you can get to fast-food pizza. You pick a crust, a sauce (red, pesto, or no sauce), then customize with your choice of vegetables, meats, and cheeses. Or, you can pick one of the chef’s classic pizza combinations. They have a decent variety of appetizers and sides that you can try. Also, if you follow their instagram, they post a daily “Pizza of the Day”, which is half off the price of a normal pizza (so, about $4). We weren’t fans of whatever the PoTD was when we went, so we decided to try a regular Margherita (are you surprised?), and then ordered a second pie with a pesto base.

The pies were done so quickly, which was probably the best thing about this place. If you are in a rush, and want a fast, but decently good, Neapolitan pizza, this is a great place to stop. Does it compare to the other Neapolitan pies that we’ve eaten around LA (and the rest of the US)? No. Not at all. But it wasn’t bad, either.

   

We’ve been to other fast-casual pizzerias and this one is probably our favorite of the bunch, but it could never take the place of a real Neapolitan pie. The cheese was a little undercooked, and the crust was just nothing special, and apparently can be hit or miss.  It does have some things going for it, though, compared to other fast casual joints like MOD  Pizza and Blaze, including more toppings (43 vs 23 and 24) and a more Neapolitan-style crust. The toppings are all fresh, and there are some unique ones, like truffle cheese.

We aren’t surprised by the trend that fast casual pizzas are gaining in popularity. In 2015, 3 of the top 5 fastest growing brands in the top 500 chain restaurants were pizzerias (although, 800 Degrees wasn’t one of them). Our friend in LA swears by Blaze, but we didn’t have the chance to try that out this time around.                                             

Our final pizza stop in LA was at Gjelina, and we had made a dinner reservation beforehand. Since Eric had an early evening flight, we had to get in right as Gjelina opened for dinner in order to have enough time to eat and drive him to the airport. We were cutting it a bit close.

Since there were three of us, we were able to try a couple of different pies. We got a Pomodoro with burrata, and this shaved asparagus pie with leek, shallot, garlic, fontina, and an egg on top. It was awesome. It just felt like spring. I think we may have also had a salad (I seem to remember getting something with kale), but these pizzas must have overshadowed anything else that we tried, because I can’t remember eating anything else.

It was great to end our LA weekend with these pizzas, which gave Mozza a run for our favorite pies of the trip. A couple of tips if you decide to make the trip to Gjelina:

1) Make a reservation. Weeks in advance, if you are making a special trip. Unless you happen to enjoy queuing for a few hours.

2) Give yourself a lot of time to find parking around Abbot Kinney. You’ll be driving in circles.

3) Eat outside if you can, because the inside is pretty loud.

4) Bring a lot of money, because you will want to try ALL of the appetizers and pizzas. This is Los Angeles, so nothing is inexpensive.

5) As full as you are after eating here, you should make a stop for the amazing ice cream at Salt & Straw. Don’t worry – you will have time to digest your pizza because there will certainly be a line there too.

  

Oh, and they have a cookbook. And maybe a New York restaurant coming soon? Adding this to our list right now…

To visit:

800 Degrees
120 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(or other locations)

Gjelina
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291

Six of our favorite NYC pizzas NOT on the list

As we’ve been tackling the Daily Meal list, we’ve been accumulating a list on the side of other NYC pizza places that have gotten good reviews, either from other “Top NYC Pizza” lists around the internet, or personal recommendations from friends and family. Currently, our “other list” has about 20 pizzerias around NYC that we still would like to hit, but here I’ll highlight a couple that we’ve been to in the past year that we feel could be on any list.

  1. Franny’s

Franny’s is out in Brooklyn, and we ended up going there one night when we had plans to head down to J&V Pizzeria. If you remember my previous post, we got frustrated with various subway delays and got off earlier in Brooklyn, not too far from Franny’s. Franny’s has gotten a lot of press since it opened in 2013, and is found on most “Best Of” NYC pizza lists that we’ve seen. We split two pizzas here, one Margherita and one white pie with garlic and hot peppers. Both were good, and we would have also tried an appetizer if everything wasn’t priced so high. Also, you get to cut your pizza here with scissors. They really make you work for your dinner.

To visit:

Franny’s
348 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11238

 

2. Sottocasa

Sottocasa is also in Brooklyn, although they also have a location in Harlem. We first heard about it when we went to that pizza discussion night at the Brooklyn Brainery, where the owner of Sottocasa, Luca Arrigoni, told us all about his adventures starting the Neapolitan pizzeria, including a fascinating story of how they dropped the oven in to the backyard of the restaurant using a crane originally going to be used to lift an airplane at JFK, after flying it over from Naples (the things you must do for TRUE Neapolitan pizza!). They couldn’t get it through the door. Here, we also split two pies, one Burrata and the Parmigiana, which had tomatoes, eggplant, and spicy sausage. They were both awesome. If you are huge Burrata fans (like we are), you should know they only serve that pie from Friday-Sunday, so plan accordingly. Also, this is a great date-night spot.

To visit:

Sottocasa
298 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201

3. Juliana’s

Juliana’s is the third Brooklyn pizzeria we are going to mention here, and then I’ll move on to Manhattan. If you’ve ever been to Grimaldi’s, you may have noticed a second pizzeria right next door. Well, that one is Juliana’s  and if you don’t feel like waiting in line at Grimaldi’s, the pizza here is also very good (although I can’t guarantee that there won’t also be a line here). Juliana’s is named after Patsy Grimaldi’s mother, and it is a less-touristy version of Grimaldi’s. It has actually been listed as the best slice in NY before as well, but not by the Daily Meal. We went with a traditional pie here, which certainly could have been on any “Best pizza” lists.

To visit:

Juliana’s
19 Old Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

4. Marta

Moving on to a few good pizzas in Manhattan, we went up to Marta one evening after work.  This was another pizzeria that has gotten a lot of good press. It was a little difficult to find, because it is actually in the lobby of an old hotel, but the actual restaurant was very spacious. It also looked like it had a nice bar, although it wasn’t too crowded when we were there because we went a bit on the earlier side for dinner. This isn’t traditional NY-style pizza. Instead, the pizzas are very thin crust. We got the Mercato and the Carciofi, which had artichokes and garlic bread crumbs. If you like thin crust pizza, you should check this place out. And we also highly recommend the butternut fries to start.

  

To visit:

Marta
29 E. 29th Street
New York, NY 10016

5. Patrizia’s

Patrizia’s is famous on instagram for their star shaped “Stella” pies. We admit it, we went purely for the photo. But we’d go back again for the pizza, because it was really good. They have other locations in Brooklyn and around NYC, but we went to the location right in Manhattan. We got my sister to join us for pizzas (and wine), so we ordered a Margherita, one with a bunch of veggies, and Eric got one of the sausage pizzas. They were all very tasty. We were too full to eat a dessert pizza there, so they kindly made us two Nutella pizzas to go. We reheated one when we got home in the oven, and it satisfied our chocolate craving for sure.

 

To visit:

Patrizia’s of Manhattan
462 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10016

 

6. Bleecker Street Pizza

Finally, we want to mention one of our go-to slices places, Bleecker Street Pizza. We like these slices almost as much as Williamsburg Pizza, and Bleecker is ever closer to our office. It is actually right near Joe’s, and in our opinion, the slices are even better here. It is slightly different than your traditional NY slice because it has a thinner crust, but they always have a decent selection of pies to choose from for a quick lunch break. It’s tight inside, but if you go when it is nice out they also have a few small tables out front. When we just went back there for lunch, we grabbed a fresh cheese slice right from the oven, a buffalo chicken slice for  Eric, and two slices of the almost-Sicilian, the Nona Maria, which is our new favorite slice here. If you are wandering around Bleecker street, we’d recommend stopping here AND at Joe’s, just for the comparison.

To visit:

Bleecker Street Pizza
69 7th Ave S
New York, NY 10014

Let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorites!

#91 Monza and #97 EVO

February 3rd and 4th, 2017

Charleston, SC

To celebrate my 30th birthday, we took a weekend trip down to Charleston with two of our good friends (one who also had a birthday this week!). We had never been to Charleston before, and we loved it! We had a really cute AirBnB with uneven floors and an outdoor porch, although we would have enjoyed that more if it had been just a few degrees warmer.

We did have an ulterior motive for choosing Charleston as our weekend getaway. There are two new additions to the 2016 list based in Charleston. We hit the first one, Monza, on Friday afternoon.

    

We tried two pies here. The first was the Ciccio, which was a white four cheese pie with garlic, and it was incredible. The second one was the Von Trips, with fresh tomato sauce, sausage, and greens. In case you didn’t know, both of these pies are named after race car drivers from the 50’s. Monza is apparently named after the legendary Italian racetrack. We didn’t notice the racing theme of the restaurant until the very end of our lunch.

Even if we aren’t the biggest racing fans, we are absolutely fans of these pizzas. Unusually, we were split as to which was our favorite. I liked the white pizza, which surprised me because I’m generally a sauce person. Eric loved the sausage.

Both pies are true Neapolitan-style pizzas, baked in the wood fired 1000 degree oven using imported Italian flour. The pizzas are a big larger than some of the other Neapolitans that we’ve had along the way, and the crust was a little less chewy. They weren’t loaded with sauce, either.

Overall, we’d rate this one pretty high, and probably higher than a few of the Neapolitan pizzas that we had last year.

We had our second pizza for lunch on Saturday, and we were lucky to have our friends’ car because EVO is a little bit outside of downtown Charleston. EVO stands for “Extra Virgin Oven” (not to be confused with EVOO). Like Pizza Moto, this restaurant had its start in a pizza truck, and opened its doors in North Charleston in 2007.

All of these pizzas featured seasonal ingredients that were locally sourced, which we loved. We got to try four different pizzas here. Eric had the Calabrese and Squash, which was loaded with garlic pesto, spicy calabrese, roasted butternut squash, arugula, corn, feta, mozzarella, and parmigiano-reggiano. Even with this huge list of toppings, the pizza tasted perfectly balanced and you could taste every one of the flavors. We had to try the recommended Pork Trifecta, and the special of the day that had spring onions and roasted garlic. To round it out, we also had one of the Fresh Veg, with spinach, artichokes, red peppers, roasted garlic, sweet onion, olives, and cheese. And LUCKILY, one of our friends likes olives! We always need to have their company when we go pizza tasting.

These pies weren’t quite as good as Monza’s, and they reminded us a little of Metro Pizza in Vegas, or Pizzeria Locale in Denver. Which kind of makes sense because they are all ranked at pretty similar numbers. They definitely get points for toppings, though. I also wish we had gotten to try one of their salads, but our stomachs are only so big.

EVO also has beer on tap from several local breweries. We were too full of pizza to get beers with lunch, so instead we stopped at Coast Brewing Co. and Revelry for some local beers before dinner a bit later.

We loved Charleston (for more than just the pizza) and with its up-and-coming foodie scene, we aren’t surprised that it finally made it on to the list.

To visit:

Monza
451 King Street
Charleston, SC 29403

EVO
1075 East Montague
North Charleston, SC 29405