Eight of the best pizzerias in New York, according to experts and avid gourmets

Eight of the best pizzerias in New York, according to experts and avid gourmets

Pizza is a quick lunch, an after-school snack, and a pizzeria is a place where you can have lunch or stay late at night. After 14 years of tasting, writing about and ranking this traditional Italian dish in the city, expert Arthur Bovino has chosen the best pizzerias in New York and shared them with the BBC.

No other city has the culture that New York has, and no trip to the city of dreams would be complete without it. Pizza and New York are a source of pride and identity, born of Italian immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But not all pizza is the same. A $1 stuffed flatbread is uninspiring.

The most famous pizza in the five boroughs, Joe’s, is our starting point. Criteria for evaluation? An almost equal ratio of sauce and cheese, a flavorful crust (without the “gum line” – undercooked dough between the crust and the filling), which does not crack when folded. Great pizza can be an adventure and tell a story, but the best pizza is the one you’ll think about again and again.

1. Una Pizza Napoletana

There are many famous Neapolitan pizzerias in New York, but Anthony Mangieri’s Una in the East Village was a standard from 2004 to 2009, and his return from San Francisco in 2018 delighted all true pizza lovers. In the years of his absence, pizza in New York has shifted toward artisanal, sourdough, and regional styles. After opening Una Pizza Napoletana, it took some time before Mangieri’s Lower East Side venture was able to get back on its feet—but it certainly did.

A true Mangieri show: naturally leavened, wood-fired dough, kneaded in the morning, carefully prepared, often by Mangieri himself. It offers five classic options (marinara, margherita, bianca, filetti, cosacca), a weekly special, and a variety of toppings (pepperoni, parmesan, Calabrian long hot peppers and Italian anchovies). Simplicity and skill led to the fact that in 2023 this establishment was recognized as the best pizzeria in the United States.

On the subject: Top 16 iconic New York restaurants that you need to visit at least once

Plan your visit. The pizzeria does not offer takeout and is only open Thursday through Saturday (5 p.m. until dough runs out). Reservations (one pizza per person) open at 09:00 daily two weeks in advance, so it’s best to grab a seat at the bar.

Advice: on Saturdays from 09:00 to 13:00, the bar area in front of the pizzeria turns into Caffè Napoletana with Southern Italian style espresso, fresh citrus juice, Italian snack cakes and sourdough pizza sandwiches.

Address: 175 Orchard Street

2. John’s of Bleecker Street

This charcoal-fired West Village spot has a richer history than most American pizzerias. Lombardi’s, located one and a half kilometers away, has long laid claim to the title of “America’s first pizzeria.” Neapolitan pizza maker Filippo Milone (the driving force behind Lombardi’s) was also instrumental in the creation of John’s, which was originally called Pizzeria Port’Alba (hence its current name).

Although John’s moved to its current location in 1934, it remains one of the oldest pizzerias in the country. And her grumpiness, lack of reservations and “don’t cut it” mantra give her an old-school charm.

Pizzas – medium (35 cm) or large (40 cm) – thin and crispy. There are 16 toppings and eight specialty pizzas available. Among them is “Boom” with baked tomatoes, ricotta, garlic and basil. This is a staff favorite, but you can choose from three “Classic John’s Pizzas” – with tomato sauce, aged mozzarella and seasonings: pecorino Romano, oregano, black pepper crust and fresh basil.

Address: 278 Bleecker Street

3. Mama’s TOO!

More than a century has passed, and not a single New York pizzeria has received stars from the New York Times restaurant critics. Frank Tuttolomondo’s shoebox-sized pizzeria on the Upper West Side bucked that trend in 2018. She received a positive review a year after she became a branch of his family’s pizzeria next door.

Square slices are the place’s most common offering, and the 11 varieties combine the classic style of New York Sicilian pie (a less airy dough with a dense crumb) with the lightness and variety of Roman slices al taglio. Garlic confit with whipped ricotta, poached pear with Gorgonzola and spicy honey, cacio e pepe (mascarpone, aged mozzarella, pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano and black pepper) are a must. As is one of New York’s best slices with vodka sauce (pizza with a creamier, tangier alternative to tomato sauce).

But “Homemade Piece” is just a revelation! This is an artisanal take on the round, open-faced pie: a Neapolitan canotto (boat)-shaped crust and a thin but firm base. Low-moisture mozzarella is placed in the first layer and topped with sauce, which prevents the formation of a sticky crust and creates a magical aftertaste on the tongue that will leave you impressed for a long time.

It’s hard to go there and eat less than four slices. There’s a new West Village location opening soon, so bring your friends, share, and check out the restaurant on Wednesdays when Tuttolomondo serves sandwich specials on house-made bread.

Address: 2750 Broadway

4. L’Industrie Pizzeria

In 2017, Tuscan Massimo Lavella opened the 23-square-foot pizzeria L’Industrie in Williamsburg. m, which showed in a new way what New York pizza can be. L’Industrie uses levan starter and poulish leavening agent (65-67% hydration) for the filled flatbreads, which is much more than what is usually required for preparation, but the result is obvious.

A thin, pliable base that stands up to judicious additions of toppings (cremini mushrooms, bacon and caramelized onions) and a crisp, light crust edge that’s taller and fluffier than usual. The crust is covered in tiny bubbles that flake off when you bite into it, and minimal sauce (Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes). Finishing with basil, which nicely complements the Parmigiano Reggiano and EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) in balance.

The menu rotates daily with square slices, three whites and six reds (plus a whole tomato pie), but the signature dish is the burrata. Contrary to popular belief, burrata won’t make a lousy pizza good, but fresh burrata on a great pizza is the stuff of dreams.

L’Industrie has expanded in 2021, but the place is still constantly crowded. Stay tuned and follow Instagram for daily sandwiches that rival Mama’s TOO!.

Address: 254 S 2nd Street

5. Margherita Pizza

Some pizza aficionados argue that the old-school pizzerias in Queens (like Amore, Gloria, Pizza Garden, VIPizza and Brother’s) are heartier and cheesier than others. These establishments won’t win any awards, but what they lack in nuance, they make up for in taste. Of all these old-school establishments, Margherita Pizza is the best: fresh, juicy, cheesy and drizzled with butter.

The green awning and flashing lights of Margherita Pizza are just 10 blocks from Jamaica Station. Opened by Sicilian native Stefano DiBenedetto and his childhood friend Frank Gioliand in 1966, this narrow, brightly lit, underrated eatery has a long counter with no stools and “cheese toffee” slices hot and fast.

Address: 16304 Jamaica Avenue

6. Patsy’s

There’s something special about getting to tiny Patsy’s in East Harlem and eating a piece of an equilateral triangle with light sauce and cheese—it’s the perfect moment.

Patsy’s opened in 1933, presumably after founder Pasquale “Patsy” Lancieri left Lombardi’s, one of the city’s first pizzerias. They still bake on coal and sell pizza by the slice, which is rare elsewhere (most coal-fired pizzerias only sell whole pizzas). This is delicious.

The super-thin slice is shorter than usual, lightly seasoned with sauce, a scattering of creamy mozzarella and a crispy crust. And while you can eat it sitting or standing on the sidewalk, it’s actually an edible explanation of what happened to pizza after it migrated from Naples to New York in the early 1900s. And all this for $2.50.

Address: 2291 1st Avenue

7. L&B Spumoni Gardens

Founded in 1939 by Ludovico Barbati, an immigrant from the town of Torella dei Lombardi (an hour’s drive east of Naples), L&B began with Barbati learning to make pizza in a garage, then delivering it by horse and buggy (hence the logo), and then located at his present location in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

A pilgrimage to southern Brooklyn is worth trying for a square slice and Spumoni ice cream. Huge signature Sicilian pizzas are topped with a thin layer of mozzarella, rich sauce and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Some pizza lovers complain that L&B’s dough has too much of a gum line, but the appeal of the brioche-like bottom layer and the sweet-salty-acid punch you feel when you take a bite are undeniable.

Square pizzas are so big that you have to choose: the center (without crust) or the edge? Try both. And if you leave (even in winter) without trying the rich cremolata (sweetened ice milk), you’ll be missing out.

Address: 2725 86th Street

8. Louie & Ernie’s Pizza

There are other notable pizzerias in the Bronx, but Louie & Ernie’s, located in Uptown Schuylerville, has a reputation for having the best sausage pizza in New York City.

Louie & Ernie’s opened in East Harlem in 1947 and moved to its current location in 1959. In 1987, Cosimo and Johnny Tiso bought it from Ernie Ottuso and have been making pizza according to all the rules ever since.

The establishment is a narrow, secluded corner where sports matches are shown on TV and regulars are greeted by name. Pizza makers lay out their pies out front, smearing them with fennel sausage made from an 80-year-old recipe four blocks away at the S&D deli. Unlike other sausage pizzas, where the meat is cut into dry, bulky medallions, the juices from the torn, crumbled raw sausage leak onto the pizza. Mixed with the sauce and cheese, it creates something truly impressive.

Louie & Ernie’s is a 15-minute walk from the nearest metro (line 6), so you’ll have to walk to get here. But believe me, it’s worth it.

Address: 1300 Crosby Avenue

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