While the pizza battle in the Northeast is long-standing, there are plenty of newer shops scattered throughout the country that are dishing up some pretty amazing pies—wood-fired, thin crust, thick crust, you name it. Sure, the west coast doesn’t hold a candle to the New York pizza legacy, but they do attract top-talent chefs that have brought their expertise straight from Italy. And maybe because they aren’t tied to old-school pizza tradition, the west coast is open to pizza experimentation that—however unorthodox to New Yorkers and Bostonians alike—has yielded some incredible results.
1. Santarpio’s, Boston, Massachusetts
Ask any true Bostonian where to find the best pizza in the city, and they will say—without even stopping to think—that it’s in East Boston. Still family-owned, the dynastic shop first opened in 1903, and though the pizza is legendary, it has always preserved the local-haunt feeling. This year, Santarpio’s will join the food offerings at Logan—so it’s safe to say the secret of Boston’s best pie is out. Still, for the true experience, wait in line at the Eastie location to dig into ‘Tarps’ classic mozzarella, garlic, and sausage pizza.
2. Serious Pie, Seattle, Washington
They call themselves a “pizzeria with a bread baker’s soul” and their pie dough is handmade over multiple days and topped with farm-fresh veggies and high-end imported cheese. Their herbs and vegetables are from their farm in Prosser, Washington, and their charcuterie is made in-house. So, really, it’s hard to go wrong at Serious Pie—especially with the expansive selection of craft beer to pair with your pizza. Their specialty is the seasonal mushroom pizza, because it’s topped with mushrooms foraged in the Pacific Northwest. In their words, “we lightly roast seasonal foraged mushrooms such as golden chanterelles and black trumpet and top them with a velvety layer of a Sottocenere truffle cheese.”
3. Little Dom’s, Los Angeles, California
A Silver Lake-adjacent LA institution, Little Dom’s is a known hot spot of Jon Hamm and James Marsden, among many other A-list Hollywood celebs. Their classic margarita is perfect as is—though adding house-made sausage and arugula certainly doesn’t hurt. And of course, their breakfast pizza is wildly popular during weekend brunch. Topped with house-made tomato sauce, a sunny-side-up egg, mozzarella, and speck, it was featured on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”
4. Pizzeria Beddia, Philadelphia
Unlike most of the best pizza shops in America, which require an hour-plus wait, Pizzeria Beddia accepts reservations—though they still leave half the restaurant open for walk-ins each night. The caveat, of course, is that reservations book out months in advance and you have to get there early for a chance to walk-in without waiting a very long time. A former hole-in-the-wall joint that only served 40 highly coveted pies a night, Pizzeria Beddia now has grown up into an elevated Fishtown haunt. But the pizza is still every bit as good, and Joe Beddia’s pizza legacy is alive and well in Philly.
5. Lou Malnati’s, Chicago, Illinois
A deep dish pizza sanctuary, Lou Malnati’s is no longer just one shop—there are now 56 in the Chicago area. Nonetheless, the quality remains, from their flaky deep dish crust to the California plum tomato sauce. If you have to choose one pie, go with the Malnati Chicago Classic, which has their signature lean sausage and enough Wisconsin cheese to feed the entire crowd at Wrigley.
6. Timber Pizza Co., Washington D.C.
The Neapolitan-inspired pizzas at Timber Pizza Co. first started gaining traction when they were served out of a mobile oven at D.C.-area farmer’s markets. The demand was so high in D.C. that they opened a brick-and-mortar pizza pie shop in Petworth in June 2016. When chef Dani Moreira founded Timber Pizza Co., she’d already studied at the Culinary Institute of America and worked at New York City’s Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park. In addition to elevating the pizza with her fine dining experience, she’s originally from Argentina and deliberately adds a slightly South American twist to the pies.
7. Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco, California
You’ll find Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco’s Little Italy (within North Beach), where the pizzas are fired in an oven brought over directly from Naples. Founder Tony Gemignani has a slew of awards, including his win for the Best Pizza Margherita at the World Pizza Cup in Naples. Many of the ingredients on Tony’s pies are either imported for Italy or grown in his rooftop garden. He imports products from Naples each week and most herbs used in the restaurant are from the garden.
8. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, New Haven, Connecticut
Serving up coal-fired pizzas since the 1920s, Frank Pepe started in New Haven and has since expanded to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York state. The pizza that put them on the map is their white clam pie, with fresh clams, grated cheese, garlic, oregano, and of course, liberal amounts of extra virgin olive oil. As the story at Frank Pepe goes, this became their signature pie because Frank also served raw Rhode Island little neck clams fresh as an appetizer—before raw clams rose to popularity on the New England foodie scene. (That being said, the clams on the pizza are, of course, steamed.)
9. Totonno's Pizzeria Napolitano, Coney Island, New York
Totonno’s has been operating in the same Coney Island spot since 1924 despite re-openings following two major fires and devastation from Hurricane Sandy. Their pizza is nationally acclaimed and has been praised by the James Beard Foundation, Zagat, and The New York Times as some of the best pizza in New York City. Each pizza has a perfectly crisped crust that only comes from 95 years of expertise and good olive oil. You can’t go wrong with the classic cheese, though mushrooms and pepperoni are also well worth the additional $2.50 per topping.