Pizza is a personality trait for New Yorkers. Growing up eating pizza every Friday in the Big Apple, I realized access to quality pizza is a privilege. Here are the five pizza places I’ve found worth going to outside of NY!
Where’s the pizza?!
– Jennifer Lawrence
Growing up with my New York family, we ate pizza for dinner every Friday night. As a kid, it was celebratory. As an adult, it’s downright genius. Easy-peasy meal for the parents when the kids are super into it… on a FRIDAY? Well done, Mom and Dad. I’m adopting this tradition into my family one day.
Once I flew from my nest in New York, I’ve lived and traveled in many places, low-key in search of the best pizza across the United States.
In general, for a pizza place to bee worthy of my finances, the shop must serve pizza by the slice. Call me old-fashioned or a pretentious New Yorker, but if I walk in and you don’t have a counter showcasing your glorious bread, tomato, and cheese creations… then I’m out. Fully 180, out the door. Ciao.
Case in point: There is a spot in Fort Lauderdale, Florida called “Umberto’s of Long Island” that has the audacity to call itself a NEW YORK pizzeria that only serves pizza slices until 3PM… every day. Including weekends. Preposterous, amirite?! While the owners are allegedly the same as Umberto’s of New Hyde Park (which serves up the BEST Sicilian slice you’ll ever put in your mouth), I don’t trust a pizzeria that doesn’t serve slices. That simple. I walked in after a day of SCUBA diving for a slice, curious as to where their display was, and walked out when they said no slices anymore. They’re done after 3pm. “Do you want a pie, miss?” No, I did not want a pie. I wanted a dang slice of pizza.
They say you can take the girl out of New York, but you can’t take the New York out of the gal and it’s entirely true. I take my pizza seriously. So these are the pizza places I would actually make an effort to return to if I were in the area again.
Below, I use the following scale for rating a regular slice of pizza. This is a scale I completely made up just now because I figured it had to be measurable-ish in some way. I tried to find the “One Bite” pizza rating scale, but couldn’t… so here’s my own:
- 0-2.0: Is this cooked? Is this edible? I can’t even eat one bite… what is this?!
- 2.1-4.0: You call this pizza? Are you sure?
- 5.1-6.0: Okay, I’ll eat the whole slice. I paid for it anyways and I’m STAHVIN.’
- 6.1-7.0: Hm, this was convenient and I’d definitely get it again if I was in the area and hungry.
- 7.1-8.0: Okay, this was a legit slice of pizza. Would drive 15 minutes to get it again.
- 8.1-9.0: DAMN, this sh!t is delicious. I would drive 45 minutes to an hour to eat it again.
- 9.1-9.4: I would create an entire itinerary around adding this pizza stop to my trip. Eating this is like having a piece of forbidden fruit — it almost feels wrong it’s so good. Would drive >1 hour to eat.
- 9.5-10: I WOULD FLY ON A F#CKING PLANE TO EAT THIS AGAIN. I have never experienced such a slice of pizza in my LIFE. I dream about this slice of pizza on a regular basis and my mouth instantly waters when I think of it, even when I’m full from having an entire three-course meal.
Capiche? Mangiamo! With no further adieu, let’s get to the reviews!
The Old School Pizzeria, Olympia, WA
My first good slice of pizza outside of New York was from The Old School Pizzeria in Olympia, Washington. In fact, it was SO GOOD I made it my weekly Friday tradition to grab a slice (or three) for takeout, back in ’16 when I first moved to Washington. They have a sweet selection of beer to go, vegan pizza, AND gluten-free options. Unlike some other pizza joints, you can also get pineapple on your pizza. They have a bunch of options with Canadian bacon, which ain’t my jam, but have at it.
‘Keepin’ it old school since 1995,’ this pizza joint also has an EPIC mural painted on the side of its building. Superhero heaven = happy Kristen. Any of the specialty slices or just cheesy plain will make your belly smile.
Regular Slice Rating: 7.8/10
Brooklyn Bros. Pizza, Everett, WA
Address: 1919 Hewitt Ave, Everett, WA 98201 · Right across the street from Angel of the Winds Arena!
Phone: (425) 258-6900
Hours: TUES-THURS, SUN 11am-8pm / FRI-SAT 11am-9pm / MON Closed
Unlike South Florida’s Umberto’s “of Long Island,” Brooklyn Bros. Pizza can keep the New York reference in its name. I never thought I’d find such good pizza across the country from New York, but Washington’s pizza scene was surprisingly on point. At Brooklyn Bros., you’ll likely be greeted by someone in a NY Yankees hat and you may have to check your GPS to ensure you didn’t accidentally use a portkey to New York City. There is plenty of seating inside, with classing serving trays and a drink fountain. Be forewarned though — do NOT ask for pineapple on your pizza! There’s an explicit sign stating “No Pineapple Allowed.” Oh and don’t whine. They’ll charge ya $5 for it ‘cause ya deserve it.
I’ll allow Brooklyn Bros to boast “BEST NEW YORK PIZZA WEST OF THE HUDSON!” — because you can fuggedaboud other spots! While Everett was the original location in 2006, you can also find Brooklyn Bros. Pizza in Mukilteo (8326 Mukilteo Speedway Mukilteo, WA 98275 · Right on the way to the ferry!) and Mill Creek (15121 Main Street Mill Creek, WA 98012 · Next to Blazing Onion).
Slice Rating: 8.4/10
Stoked Pizza Company, Brookline, MA
Address: 1632 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446 (Steps away from the Washington Square T stop)
Phone: (617) 879-0707
Hours: MON-WED 11am-9pm / THUR 11am-9:30pm / FRI-SAT 11am-10:30pm / SUN 12-9pm
In the little sleepy town of Brookline where you can’t park your car on the streets overnight, there is a swanky pizza place serving up some incredible, wood-fired dough. I don’t know if it’s the slice of homemade rice krispie treats on the side that seals the deal, but Stoked Pizza has small business feels with BIG tastes. I love their buffalo sauce pizzas, but admittedly ask them to hold the gorgonzola cheese. Their 12-inch pizzas cost around $18 and is enough for two hungry people to share a pie. Hence the “swanky” price tag that comes along with being in a sleepy, expensive town. I also appreciate Stoked Pizza doesn’t try to be a New York pizzeria — they just serve GOOD pizza.
They have an entirely vegan menu, which would probably be a good choice for my lactose-intolerant self… but when I go for pizza, I usually go big… and take a Lactaid. A second location is in Cambridge near Harvard Square (1611 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138).
Slice Rating: 7.5/10
*It pains me to note Stoked Pizza does NOT serve pizza by the slice, but it’s still worth it!
Giordano’s Pizza, Chicago, IL
While I am a purist with my pizza, I couldn’t help but try the deep-dish style pizza when in the Windy City. Giordano’s is the first and most popular location for Chicago pizza, with over 40 locations around the city. They began serving in 1974 and now ship pizza anywhere in the continental United States on their website.
Deep-dish pizza is essentially pizza lasagne and I’m not mad about it. While it’s not my favorite type of pizza, I’d try it again.
Slice Rating: 6.7/10
New Haven Style Pizza
This is not a specific pizza place, but a pizza PHENOMENON. Being a New Yorkah through and TREW, I had a hard time grasping the idea of another region being competitive with the art of slappin’ sauce and cheese on flour. Boy-oh-boy was I wrong. New Haven-style pizza has a special spot in Heaven. What makes it special and where do you get it?
The History: Baked in a coal-fire brick oven, New Haven-style thin-crust apizza has roots in the 1920s. During this time, there were many Italian immigrants flocking to Elm City, craving the Neapolitan pizza of their home country. It all began with Frank Pepe, who opened a pizzeria on Wooster Street in 1925 after working in the New Haven bakery. He expertly crafting his own version of apizza (pronounced A-beets) from his hometown of Naples, walking around Wooster Square with pies atop his head before selling them in his pizzeria.
In 1939, Pepe’s nephew, Sal Consiglio, opened his own place on the same street called Sally’s and a rivalry was born. Their battle was ground zero for an incredible, oblong-shaped, CRISPY NOT BURNT apizza, topped with tomato sauce and mootz (that’s mozzarella ya know).
Oh, and you get New Haven-style pizza in *drum roll* New Haven, Connecticut — *gasp! Alternatively, you go to Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana outside of New Haven, such as in Chestnut Hill (currently ranked pretty dang high on the One Bite list with a 9.4/10).
What should you order? It’s 100% worth trying the white clam pizza, which was created by Frank Pepe in the ’60s whilst serving raw little neck clams from Rhode Island as an appetizer. If you order a medium or small pizza, it may be cut with absolutely no order in mind — pizza slices of rectangles, triangles, and no shape at all. A large pie, in contrast, will be sliced normally.
The original locations:
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
Address: 237 Wooster St, New Haven, CT 06511
Phone: (203) 624-5271
NOTE: CASH ONLY
Slice Rating: 9.5/10 (at Frank Pepe’s in New Haven, CT)
Let’s not forget New York is still the best.
Curious about the best pizza spots in New York City? Check out Time Out’s list of NYC’s 31 best, updated in August 2022.
Do you have a pizzeria you’d add to the list? Please comment below — I’d love to try it and add more locations over time!
Post Updated February 14, 2023… because you have APIZZA my heart ; )