#5 Sally’s Apizza

February 27th, 2016

New Haven, CT

If you know anything about New Haven pizza, you likely know that the major debate is over which pizza is better: Pepe’s or Sally’s? I have been asked this question SO MANY TIMES, and my answer: always Pepe’s.

Now that we’ve put that disclaimer out there, it is worth saying that Sally’s does make pretty good New Haven style pizza. So even though we’ve been loyal Pepe’s pizza eaters for years, we tried to be as objective as possible on this recent trip to Sally’s so that we could give it a fair ranking.

Sally’s Apizza is also found on the famous Wooster Street in New Haven’s “Little Italy”. It was started by none other than Frank Pepe’s nephew back in 1938. It is significantly smaller than Pepe’s, but like Pepe’s, it still uses the original coal oven, and it is in the original location and run by the descendants of the original owners.

We went here with my grandparents, who were excited to try an alternative to Pepe’s. Since we got there early, we only had to wait half an hour before getting our pizzas. We ended up getting one plain tomato pie and one garden special veggie, both larges. The grandparents were super impressed by how much pizza the two of us could eat.

 

Sally’s makes a really good pizza – there is definitely a reason why it is ranked so high on the list here, and gets a good ranking on our personal lists as well. It gets overshadowed because Pepe’s is just better. Both the sauce and the charred crust on the pies at Pepe’s just taste better. It is difficult to explain, unless you taste them both side-by-side (which we highly recommend that anyone do if they are in New Haven!).

A few other notes on Sally’s:

  1. They are closed Mondays AND Tuesdays, and they only open at 3 pm on the weekends. So if you get a pizza craving for lunch, you are out of luck.
  2. The lines at Sally’s can be just as long as Pepe’s, but since the restaurant is smaller, you’ll end up waiting longer. Not sure about the take-out times, but they are probably similar.
  3. The waitstaff is not usually friendly. They are known for this. If you go here, you should DEFINITELY bring your grandparents, because then they will be nice to you. (Side note: the staff at Pepe’s isn’t much better).
  4. They call cheese “mootz”. We completely understand that this is the traditional Italian slang for “mozzarella”, but for some reason, it annoys the heck out of us. Other New Haven pizza places do this too, but none so much as Sally’s. YES we know that you want to be authentic, but can’t you just call it “mozzarella” like a normal person?

 

I hope I haven’t completely dissuaded you from trying Sally’s if you are in New Haven. It is darn good pizza, and if Pepe’s ever is closed for repairs, we’d be over at Sally’s in a heartbeat.

And really, the side-to-side taste test is a genius idea, or even a blind taste test, so who wants to do that with us? We’ll even add in BAR and Modern to the lineup, to make it really complete.

To visit:

Sally’s Apizza
237 Wooster Street
New Haven, CT 06511

 

#34 Pizzeria Delfina and #62 Pizzaiolo

September 19th, 2016

San Francisco and Oakland, CA

This is Part III of our San Francisco trip. To see Part II and Part I, click on the links.

After a short walk through Muir Woods, we headed over to the first pizza of our final day in San Francisco, which was back in the Mission district. Pizzeria Delfina is a neighborhood restaurant that is “inspired by” Neapolitan and NYC pizza. We got there right when lunch was starting, and grabbed a great table right near the window.

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We ended up ordering two pies. The first was the 4 Formaggi (in the back of the photo to the left) and the second was the Panna, with shaved parmesan. We liked both, mostly because the cheese was so fresh.

We loved the feel of this place, and we probably would be regulars if we lived here. It has a really cute farm-to-table feel, and the rotating specials all looked delicious.

 

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After heading back to Dan’s for a Netflix break, we all went out for the final pizza in San Francisco. We made last minute reservations, but it turned out that we didn’t really need them. Pizzaiolo is located in Oakland, so wasn’t too far away from where we were staying.

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Since we were the first ones in (no surprise there!), our pizzas were some of the first to arrive. We were glad there were three of us, because all of the pizzas sounded great.

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Barb was a little tired of cheese at this point (yes, it really is possible to be tired of cheese), so she went with the marinara pizza.   We also tried the clam, which seems to be seasonal, because we are from New Haven, after all. We also tried the sausage and rapini, which was recommended by our waitress, as well as by the Daily Meal.

 

 

Like Pizzeria Delfina, the atmosphere here was really cute and farm-to-table. I guess this is the trend these days. It also had a nice outdoor seating area, which made it much less crowded than we thought it would be.

We thought the pies here were good, but a little pricey. For anyone familiar with Pepe’s clam pie, we wouldn’t recommend giving this one a try. But the topping combos were good and the crust was nice and fluffy. We give them bonus points for buying local with their toppings and meats.

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To visit:

Pizzeria Delfina
3621 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Pizzaiolo
5008 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609

#20 Tony’s Pizza Napoletana and #6 Flour + Water (and a bonus)

September 18th, 2016

San Francisco, CA

This is Part II of our San Francisco trip. To see Part I, click here.

On Saturday, we took a break from eating pizza to head to Napa and drink wine. On Sunday we were right back at it, though! Dan was our tour guide for the day, and we walked all around town, hitting all the touristy spots (Lombard Street, Chinatown, the sea lions on the pier). We worked up an appetite for our first pizza stop, Tony’s Pizza Napoletana.

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We got here right before noon, when it opened, and there was already a line out the door! We got seated quickly, though, and got a nice table outside.

 

The menu here is expansive. They have almost every style of pizza from across the country, including Detroit style, St. Louis style, and New York style. We settled on the award-winning traditional Neapolitan Margherita, since they only make 73 per day, and the California style Sausage and Stout, which they only make 23 of!img_20160918_124158416_hdr

Overall, we really liked the Margherita. It was probably Barb’s favorite Neapolitan of the trip, but the Sausage and Stout pizza really stole the show. It was a lot of crust, but we all agreed that the stout reduction that was drizzled on top made this pizza our favorite of the entire weekend.

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We decided to walk down to the Golden Gate Bridge after this, which ended up being a pretty far (and hilly) walk. By the time we got down there and relaxed a bit by the beach, we were ready to head up to the Mission district for our second stop of the day, and our (first) dinner at Flour + Water.

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We were the first ones in line here (as usual) because we didn’t have reservations, and we really wanted to make sure we had a seat early. Flour + Water serves Neapolitan pies, so we got the Margherita, of course, and the Salsiccia, which had kale, sausage, and mushroom.

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We heard that the pasta here is also amazing, but we had to save that for our next trip. The pizza was good, but we wouldn’t have ranked it at #6. We did like the char on the crust, though, and the crispy kale on the Salsiccia.

We finished these pies, and then headed out of the Mission district to meet our friend Dave again for Dinner #2.

Dinner #2 was a bonus from the 2016 Best Pizzas in America list. Capo’s is rated at #76 on this year’s list, and since it was right down the street, we had to try it.

 

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Capo’s is known for their deep dish, but since we were so full at this point, we opted for a cast iron pie, the Crown Point. According to their menu, this pizza won the World’s Best of the Best at the International Pizza Challenge in Las Vegas this year, so we thought it would be a safe bet.

It was a salad pizza, on a deep dish-like crust. Cheddar, mozzarella, broccolini, arugula, basil, red onion, peppadew peppers, balsamic reduction, and shaved parmesan. Barb loved it. Everyone else wished we got a regular deep dish.

 

 

To visit:

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana
1570 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94133

Flour + Water
2401 Harrison Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Capo’s
641 Vallejo Street
San Francisco, CA  94133

#23 Grimaldi’s

November 13th, 2015

Brooklyn, NYC

The weekend before we started this quest, we happened to go to Grimaldi’s for dinner. But we decided that we couldn’t count this as part of our challenge (because we didn’t photograph it). We were happy to go back, though, since the first time we only tried the traditional cheese pie. And we got some friends to join us!

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We ordered 3 large pies to split between the 5 of us, which ended up being almost a perfect amount. The ricotta was our favorite and we would definitely get that again. The crust was perfectly charred on the bottom due to the coal-fired brick oven, and the ratio of sauce to cheese on all three pies was excellent.

Interesting fact: Grimaldi opened his restaurant in Brooklyn because  coal ovens are apparently illegal in Manhattan, unless they’re pre-existing or unless building owners get a special exception. If you want to learn more about Manhattan coal ovens, this and this were interesting reads! Who ever knew that pizza ovens could cause so much controversy.

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At this point, we could see why Brooklyn pizza has such a following. It was worth the hour-long trek from Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge. Yes, Barb made Eric walk all the way there, in preparation for all of the pizza we were about to eat.

On the way home, we took a wrong turn and got lost trying to get back over the bridge. Eric clearly has a great sense of direction!

To visit:

Grimaldi’s
1 Front Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

#30 Lombardi’s

November 11th, 2015

Manhattan, NYC

We took another walk and lunch date to Lombardi’s, which is only a 15 minute walk from our office. Lombardi’s claims to be the first pizza in the United States (opening in 1905). It is not the longest-running open pizza place, though, since it closed down for 10 years in the mid-80’s and changed location. So the location where it sits today has only been open for the last 20 or so years.

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We got the traditional pie here, which was tomato sauce with fresh mozzarella. It had a nice coal oven bake to the crust. The sauce was good, and there was a lot of it, which we liked. We also had a side of breadsticks.

We understand that Lombardi’s is another one of these New York Pizza Places that’s on every tourists’ list, but we didn’t love it. Similar to how we felt about Joe’s – its a great NY pie, but it wasn’t anything special.

Also, it was a bit overpriced. We wish that we were back in 1905, when their pies sold for 5 cents!

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To visit:

Lombardi’s
32 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012

#88 Pizzeria Vetri

November 8th, 2015

Philadelphia, PA

We had our first driving trip down to Philadelphia, our hometown! We were excited that there were so many Philly pizzas that made it on to the list, and drove to Philadelphia just for this pizza at Pizzeria Vetri. For a Sunday night, it was pretty busy, so we got seats at the bar. This was fine with us, because we had a great view of the pizza making!

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We were hungry (as usual) and so split two pies. If you know us at all, you will easily be able to pick out which pie was Barb’s and which was Eric’s! That’s the Marinara on the left, and a fennel sausage on the right. It’s hard to compare a marinara pie like this to a traditional tomato pie (either New Haven or Philly style). Sauce just never tastes as good on a Neapolitan crust. But we did love the garlic on it, and the fennel sausage was definitely homemade.

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The two Philadelphia locations of Pizzeria Vetri are both relatively new – opening just in 2013 and 2015, but both have already been getting rave reviews. We wish we had room to try the nutella and marshmallow pizza for dessert.

Our first trip to Philly was successful, until the drive home. Eric got us lost getting back on the highway.  (This becomes a common theme in our pizza adventures.)

 

 

 

To visit:

Pizzeria Vetri
1939 Callowhill Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

#10 Joe’s Pizza

  November 4th, 2015

Manhattan, NYC

After our lunch at John’s of Bleecker, we walked right down the street to Joe’s for slices. We obviously were really hungry. It was pretty crowded for the lunch rush, so we took our slices outside to eat. The standing room inside was a little tight.

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We ended up getting a slice with fresh mozzarella, but also a classic cheese slice. We both liked the fresh mozzarella slice better, I think, although if you are looking for the classic NYC slice, we recommend the cheese.

Joe’s comes up regularly in lists of the “Best NY Slice”, and we do agree that it is worth listing because it is such a fixture in the NYC pizza scene. However, we have had better slices in the city, and so we can’t say that its our favorite.

 

 

 

It is safe to say that after this stop, we were definitely full. We were thankful that we got the medium pie at John’s, instead of the large!

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Our favorite location is the one on Carmine Street, although Joe’s has several locations around the city, including one on 14th Street in Manhattan and also in Williamsburg.

To visit:

Joe’s
7 Carmine Street
New York, NY 10014

#22 John’s of Bleecker

November 4th, 2015

Manhattan, NYC

Our second stop was John’s of Bleecker, for a traditional NY pie. This was actually our second time eating pizza here. A year or so ago, Eric bought me a gift certificate to John’s because he had heard that it was one of the oldest and best pizzas in the city. This time, we just walked up from our offices for a lunch date.

John’s of Bleecker is the third oldest pizza place in the city (after Totonno’s and Lombardi’s), and it was started back in 1929. Bleecker Street is not the original location, however, the pizza is still the same coal-fired brick oven pizza that it was back then.

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We went with the original cheese pie here with roasted tomatoes. A medium was just enough for the two of us to split, although last time we split a large pie.  As you will see, we have big pizza appetites.

The atmosphere at John’s is very no-frill. They don’t take reservations and the wait in the evening is always long. Diners over the years have scribbled names and dates on the booths. While they have some sides and salads, it really is all about the pizza. This is just as it should be, since the pizza is excellent.

 

First bites:

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The pizza scene in New York can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s safe to say that John’s of Bleecker is guaranteed a high ranking on our list.

To visit:

John’s of Bleecker Street
278 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10014

#11 Pizzeria Bianco

October 29th, 2015

Phoenix, AZ

I had plans to head out to Arizona for the weekend, so we decided that we would start our quest by visiting Pizzeria Bianco, which is located in downtown Phoenix. After a long flight into town, I was grateful that we had pizza on the agenda for dinner. Somehow, pizza just hits the spot after a long day of travel.

I persuaded Tess to join me here, although she didn’t need too much convincing. We decided on the Biancoverde (ricotta, arugula, mozzerella, parmesean) and a traditional margherita. The restaurant started out in a little grocery store in 1988, but has now expanded and has three locations around Arizona. It has been named the best pizza in the US in years past – in the NYT and Food & Wine. I had high expectations, as it was also highly ranked on the Daily Meal list.

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Being the first pizza place to be officially taste-tested from the list, I didn’t have anything to (officially) compare this to. The crust was nice and chewy, and the flavors of the Biancoverde were just perfect. I can’t say that the crust held up well in the center, though, and it sagged a bit under the cheese and toppings.

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Very happy to be eating pizza after a long flight!

 

The atmosphere at Pizzeria Bianco was really cozy. We got there pretty late into the evening, but it was still packed. Apparently, the usual wait time to be seated is 2-3 hours, but we luckily got in and had a table right away. It looked to have a beautiful outdoor seating area, but it had just rained when we got there, so it was unfortunately closed.

 

Eric is still sad that he missed this one! I would have tried to bring him home a piece, but I don’t think pizza flies very well. Besides, we didn’t have any leftovers!

 

 

To visit:

Pizzeria Bianco
623 E. Adams Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Our quest to find the best pizza in america

This past year, we started the ambitious quest of hitting the 101 Best Pizza Places in America, as named by the Daily Meal. While we have kept an Instagram account of our adventures (@101bestpizzaplaces), many of our stories have not been shared. So, we have started a blog to chronicle our quest to eat the best pizza around the country.

IMG_0027Some background on us, and our love of pizza:

Like most kids, we grew up on pizza delivery. Barb’s family always ordered Domino’s, and Eric has always loved Pizza Hut. And while we no longer eat from chain pizza restaurants, this is not because we don’t like their pizza! In fact, we both agree that one of the best meals we have ever eaten was at a Pizza Hut in Maui, Hawaii, after we both realized that we had gone 12 hours without eating (due to cross-country flights).

Our love of pizza grew into an obsession when Barb moved to New Haven, CT for graduate school. Pepe’s immediately became our favorite spot for a Sunday lunch or Friday night take out, although we quickly learned that it is hard to find bad pizza anywhere in New Haven. In the five years Barb lived there, we tried as many different pizza places as we could, and it became a hobby for us.

Today, we live in New Jersey, and both work in Manhattan. We make it a weekly goal to try a new pizza place in NYC, and it seems that we will never run out of options here!

Finding the best pizza in the US

So this leads us to our current quest. Last year we came across this list of the best pizza places in America, and Barb brought up the idea to visit them all to Eric, not really thinking that we would end up taking it seriously. But since last November, we have found ourselves constantly traveling to accomplish our goal. It has been fun and exhausting, but we are still not sick of pizza! How did we know that this list was legitimate and trustworthy? Well, #1 on the list was our personal favorite, Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven.

If you are interested, we have attached the entire list below. And feel free to leave us comments on your favorite pizza places across the country!

#101 – Ghigiarelli’s, Old Forge, PA
#100 – 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, LA, CA
#99 – Piece, Chicago, IL
#98 – Artichoke Basille, NYC, NY
#97 – Tony’s Place, Philadelphia, PA
#96 – Micucci’s Grocery, Portland, ME
#95 – Pizzeria Locale, Boulder, CO
#94 – Pizza Delicious, New Orleans, LA
#93 – The Backspace, Austin, TX
#92 – Cane Rosso, Dallas, TX
#91 – Zaffiro’s Pizza, Milwaukee, WI
#90 – Pizza Man, Milwaukee, WI
#89 – Tarry Lodge, Port Chester, NY
#88 – Pizzeria Vetri, Philadelphia, PA
#87 – New Park Pizza, Queens, NY
#86 – Margot’s, Brooklyn, NY
#85 – Sal’s Pizza, Mamaroneck, NY
#84 – Roseland Apizza, Derby, CT
#83 – Pizzeria Beddia, Philadelphia, PA
#82 – Star Tavern Pizza, Orange, NJ
#81 – Pi, St. Louis, MO
#80 – Otto Pizza, Portland, ME
#79 – Punch Neapolitan Pizza, St. Paul, MN
#78 – Amore Pizza, Queens, NY
#77 – Pizza Moto, Brooklyn, NY
#76 – Area 4, Cambridge, MA
#75 – Ernie’s Pizzeria, New Haven, CT
#74 – Ernesto’s, Boston, MA
#73 – Pizza Rock, Las Vegas, NV
#72 – Brooklyn’s Pizza, Hackensack, NJ
#71 – Metro Pizza, Las Vegas, NV
#70 – Barone’s Famous Italian Restaurant, LA, CA
#69 – Double Mountain Brewery, Hood River, OR
#68 – Pizzeria Uno, Chicago, IL
#67 – Domenick and Pia’s, Waterbury, CT
#66 – Osteria, Philadelphia, PA
#65 – Home Slice Pizza, Austin, TX
#64 – Ken’s Artisan Pizza, Portland, OR
#63 – The Original Tacconelli’s Pizzeria, Philadelphia, PA
#62 – Pizzaiolo, Oakland, CA
#61 – Bru Room at BAR, New Haven, CT
#60 – Pizzeria Lola, Minneapolis, MN
#59 – Hog & Hominy, Memphis, TN
#58 – Matchbox, Washington, D.C.
#57 – Zuppardi’s, West Haven, CT
#56 – Lee’s Tavern, Staten Island, NY
#55 – Coppa, Boston, MA
#54 – The Cheese Board, Berkeley, CA
#53 – Gino’s of Long Beach, Long Beach, NY
#52 – Regina Pizzeria, Boston, MA
#51 – Colony Pizza, Stamford, CT
#50 – Pizzeria Paradiso, Washington D. C.
#49 – Harry’s Pizzeria, Miami, FL
#48 – Galleria Umberto, Boston, MA
#47 – Providence Coal Fired Pizza, Providence, RI
#46 – Serious Pie, Seattle, WA
#45 – Varasano’s, Atlanta, GA
#44 – Pizza Domenica, New Orleans, LA
#43 – Sotto, LA, CA
#42 – Emily, Brooklyn, NY
#41 – Rubirosa, NYC, NY
#40 – Gjelina, LA, CA
#39 – Delorenzo’s Tomato Pies, Robbinsville, NJ
#38 – Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza, Washington D. C.
#37 – Umberto’s Pizzeria and Restaurant, New Hyde Park, NY
#36 – Santpario’s, Boston, MA
#35 – Denino’s, Staten Island, NY
#34 – Pizzeria Delfina, San Francisco, CA
#33 – 2Amy’s, Washington D.C.
#32 – Al Forno, Providence, RI
#31 – Lorenzo’s and Sons, Philadelphia, PA
#30 – Lombardi’s, NYC, NY
#29 – Una Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco, CA
#28 – Lucali, Brooklyn, NY
#27 – Apizza Scholls, Portland, OR
#26 – Antico Pizza Napoletana, Atlanta, GA
#25 – Lou Malnati’s, Chicago, IL
#24 – Keste, NYC, NY
#23 – Grimaldi’s, Brooklyn, NY
#22 – John’s of Bleeker Street, NYC, NY
#21 – Paulie Gee’s, Brooklyn, NY
#20 – Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco, CA
#19 – Motorino, NYC, NY
#18 – Co., NYC, NY
#17 – Gino’s East, Chicago, IL
#16 – Patsy’s, NYC, NY
#15 – Pequods, Chicago, IL
#14 – Totonno’s, Brooklyn, NY
#13 – Modern Apizza, New Haven, CT
#12 – Papa’s Tomato Pies, Robbinsville, NJ
#11 – Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix, AZ
#10 – Joe’s, NYC, NY
#9 – Coalfire Pizza, Chicago, IL
#8 – Buddy’s Pizza, Detroit, MI
#7 – Louie and Ernie’s, Bronx, NY
#6 – Flour + Water, San Francisco, CA
#5 – Sally’s Apizza, New Haven, CT
#4 – Pizzeria Mozza, LA,CA
#3 – Roberta’s, Brooklyn, NY
#2 – Di Fara, Brooklyn, NY
#1 – Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, New Haven, CT