#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)

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

451 King Street
Charleston, SC 29403

1075 East Montague
North Charleston, SC 29405

#45 Varasano’s and #26 Antico

 January 14 and 15th, 2016

Atlanta, GA

We went on our first pizza road trip last January, when we drove down to visit Eric’s brother in West Palm Beach, FL. We went a couple of hours out of our way to make a stop in Atlanta, which had two pizza places on the list.

We left our house at 5:30 in the morning to begin our drive. Luckily, the drive was uneventful. We didn’t hit much traffic, except for a little bit around Washington, D.C. We listened toa lot of podcasts. As the day went on, we had to keep the stops to a minimum because we were really trying to get to Atlanta in time for dinner at Varasano’s.

We parked at the restaurant right at 9 pm, just about an hour before closing. We were two of the only people in the restaurant. After over 13 hours in the car, we were starving. We ordered the Nana (on the right – the traditional margherita) and the Chica Bella, which had arugula, ricotta, and a pinch of lemon juice. Both were very good, and you can see that the crust on these was chewy and slightly charred. You could really taste the sourdough. We could have used a glass of wine or two, but we still had to find our way to our hotel.


After a good night’s sleep, we got up and headed over for lunch at Antico. We were almost the first ones in line here (are you surprised?). We ordered one of the House Special pies. It was a white pie with mozzarella, caramelized onions, and roasted mushrooms topped with a drizzle of truffle oil. While the pizzas here all looked fantastic, it’s a very no-frills type of restaurant. You can’t get any half-toppings, only full pies, and you sit at family-style picnic tables in a back room. We heard later that the back room didn’t even used to have seating, and everyone would have to squeeze into the front. It is definitely not a big restaurant.

We certainly aren’t complaining about this, though. We liked the picnic-style seating because we had a great view of the pizza oven and the dough room. The pizza was amazing, and ends up pretty high on our personal lists (#22 on Barb’s and #39 on Eric’s). We also liked that it was served on a baking sheet, just like the New Haven pies that we are used to.

We were pleasantly surprised by how good Atlanta’s pizzas are. We’d go back to Antico anytime. It almost makes us want to drive down to Florida again, just so we could stop there. Although it would probably be easier to convince Eric to fly there after all the road tripping that we’ve done this year.

The 2016 list does have one new Georgia pizza place listed in Duluth. So who knows, maybe we will just have to go back!

To visit:

2171 Peachtree Road
Atlanta, GA 30309

Antico Pizza
1093 Hemphill Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30318

#29 Speedy Romeo

December 28th, 2016

Brooklyn, NY

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!!

We ended our 2016 with one last pizza stop from the 2016 list, Speedy Romeo. The city was so quiet this week, so we took advantage of the easy commuting and made our way over to Brooklyn after work. It was such a nice walk over from the office in SoHo across the Manhattan Bridge, although it was kind of a long walk (about 1.5 hours). Eric didn’t feel like walking, so he took the subway and just met me there 🙂

Speedy Romeo is on most of the “Best NY Pizzas” lists that we see circulating (like this one) but it didn’t make the 2015 list for some reason. The Daily Meal made up for that by ranking it pretty high on this years’. What makes Speedy Romeo unique and not just “another Brooklyn pizza place” is that they cook EVERYTHING over a wood flame. Not just the pizzas, but also the rest of the menu, including ribs, steaks, and wings. We didn’t get to try any of those (we were obviously there for the pizza) but we have read some rave reviews.

The pizzas certainly did not disappoint. Most of the pies are made with Provel cheese, which is very traditional for St. Louis-style pizza. Eric (and the Daily Meal) kept calling it “provolone” and needed to be reminded that they are not the same. We ended up with a Margherita and a pizza called the Kind Brother, which was a white pie topped with wild mushrooms, an egg, smoked mozzarella, and finished with a good sized handful of fresh sage.

We really liked these pies, but the mushroom and sage are both very strong on the Kind Brother. We’d recommend that you only order this one if you really like those flavors. The margherita pie had the perfect sauce-to-cheese ratio and the crust held up really well and was light and doughy. We also liked the pickled peppers that they give you on the side.

By this time, we have to conclude that Brooklyn makes some pretty awesome Neapolitan-style pies. We’d rank Speedy Romeo slightly above Motorino but we didn’t think that it is as good as Roberta’s or Pizza Moto. The location is great, though. It’s not too far from Emily, and its a bit more spacious inside, so it would be a great second choice if there is too much of a wait for the Emmy Burger.

Eric was very happy that I didn’t make him walk back to Manhattan afterwards.

To visit:

Speedy Romeo
376 Classon Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11238

#87 Pizzetteria Brunetti

December 22, 2016

New York City, NY

When we were at our family holiday party last week, our family members who live out on Long Island asked if we had been to their favorite pizza place, Pizzetteria Brunetti. We hadn’t, since it wasn’t on the 2015 list, but we did recognize the name from the 2016 list. We originally thought that the only location was out in Westhampton Beach, but we were excited when we found out that there is also a location in the West Village!

We walked up to Brunetti after work for a quick dinner before a show last Thursday evening. We actually walked right by it, probably because we were too distracted by the holiday decorations up around Chelsea Market, but we found it quickly after turning around and consulting Google maps. The restaurant was festively decorated for the holidays, and we were grateful for the warmth inside. Even though it was a bit on the early side for dinner, there were a few other people eating or at the bar, which has a nice view of the pizza oven.

We had a hard time picking out what pies to try here. I really wanted to try the Margherita, but the specialty pies sounded too good. We ended up going with the Funghi e cippole (mushrooms, caramelized onions, cheese, and finished with honey truffle oil) and the Spezie (broccoli rabe, spicy Italian sausage, burrata cheese, hot peppers, and a pepper puree drizzled over top). The two were nice paired together because the mushroom pie had a sweet aftertaste due to the honey oil, and the Spezie had a really great spicy kick to it. While I’m not a huge fan of really spicy pizza (Eric is, though), the burrata is what really got us. We also really liked how the crust on these held up a little better than a traditional Neapolitan pie.

Brunetti has a lot of great looking pizzas on the menu, including a clam pie that they say is their “specialty”. However, we have yet to have a clam pie that lives up to New Haven clam pie, so we tend to stay away from those when they are on the menu. Also on our list for next time: one of the salads. The farro one looks awesome. And we’d come back for thanksgiving next year if they end up doing this again.

To visit:

Pizzetteria Brunetti
626 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014

#66 Osteria

December 21, 2015

Philadelphia, PA

We found ourselves back in Philly for another holiday party  last year, so of course we decided to stop for pizza dinner beforehand. This time, we went to Osteria. Osteria is another restaurant founded by the Vetri family (also of Pizzeria Vetri), although it is a bit more upscale than Pizzeria Vetri, and is also much more spacious.

img_20151221_175532047         img_20151221_175504535

We got two pizzas here, as usual. The first was the Parma: mozzarella, fontina, arugula, and prosciutto, which was probably one of our favorite flavor combinations to date. We also had a regular margherita. The restaurant is a little more expensive than some of the others – each Neapolitan pie ran about 20$ and more, and appetizers were about the same. The restaurant also has a good looking non-pizza selection, although we don’t know why anyone would come here and not get at least one pizza.



The pizza crust was perfectly chewy and light, which meant that Eric was still hungry when we finished eating them. So, we had to try one of the desserts. Since I didn’t photograph it, I can’t remember exactly which dessert we ended up getting, but the menu rotates anyways. Knowing us, it was probably something chocolate. Also knowing us, Eric probably ate most of it.

Osteria would be a great place for a date night, or even a nice event if you wanted to rent out one of the rooms. We loved the atmosphere inside the restaurant, too (although not so much the poor lighting for pizza pics!).


To visit:

640 N Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130