Table of Contents
- Brief History of Pizza in New York City
- What Makes New York Pizza Unique
- New York Pizza Guide
- Brooklyn Pizza Shops
- Manhattan Pizza Shops
- Queens Pizza Shops
- Staten Island Pizza Shops
- The Bronx Pizza Shops
- New York Pizza Video
- Hungry for More Pizza?
- Pin It for Later
- About the Authors
Wondering where to eat pizza it in NYC? Check out our epic New York Pizza Guide that spans the boroughs. We ate at dozens of New York City pizza shops in our quest for New York’s best pizza and share our 18 favorites in the guide.
Some businesses may revise their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Others may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check websites for updated information and make advance reservations where possible.
New York City is famous for many foods from cronuts to bagels, not to mention corn beef sandwiches and cheesecake. Locals and visitors can eat almost any global cuisine, much of it on a 24/7 basis if they look hard enough.
As for us, we’ve eaten a lot of great food in NYC over the years including the eight years when Mindi lived on the Upper East Side and the nine years when Daryl worked in the Garment District.
We’ve dined at many of the city’s top restaurants including Le Bernardin, Gramercy Tavern, Nobu and Keanes. We’ve also slurped soup dumplings, inhaled sushi and noshed on knishes.
After all these years and all this food – we are loud and proud with our love for New York pizza. We can’t get enough of the cheap eats New York favorite and never say no to the best pizza in NYC.
Brief History of Pizza in New York City
Far from a passing fad, pizza has a long history in New York City. Though Naples claims pizza glory after inventing Margherita pizza in 1889, New York joined the pizza party a few years later in 1905 when Napoli native Gennaro Lombardi opened the self-named Lombardi’s in New York’s Little Italy.
Lombardi prepared his pizzas in a coal-fired oven, a practice that the 100+-year-old pizzeria uses to this day, and sold them for a nickel each. However, much has changed in the NY pizza scene during the past century starting with the pricing.
Prices have risen, with posh pizza places in New York charging $20 and higher for hand-crafted, wood-fired pies throughout the city. Expect to spend a couple bucks or more for a single slice whether you eat-in, get takeaway or order pizza delivery.
Although modern-day pizza was invented in Naples and perfected at Pepe in Grani in Caiazzo, New Yorkers embrace the savory pie as their own. Thicker and cheesier than Neapolitan pizza, New York pizza is its own glorious thing.
What Makes New York Pizza Unique
New Yorkers typically eat pizza by the slice, each big enough to be a meal. Dainty diners nibble on slices after patting off extra grease, but real New Yorkers simply fold their slices in half before gobbling them down in one sitting.
New York pizzaiolos hand toss dough before adding tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese and optional toppings like pepperoni, mushrooms and sausage. For extra zing, pizza aficionados often sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, dried oregano and hot pepper flakes over their pizza slices.
New York Pizza Guide
New York City has hundreds if not thousands of pizzerias in all five boroughs, many selling single slices in addition to full 18-inch pies. Considering that NYC is 784 square kilometers, that’s a lot of space to cover in a search for the best pizza in New York!
Old school pizzerias like Lombardi’s and its spin-off Totonno’s still sling pies to hungry pizza lovers while young upstarts like Milkflower do the same with the kind of pies more typically eaten in Naples. Yes, Neapolitan pies are now readily available in New York City.
In our never-ending quest to experience the best pizza around the world and at home, we recently ate our weight in excellent pizza at respected pizzerias in all five boroughs. From the traditional to the sublime, we share our thoughts on each.
We plan to visit pizzerias every time our travels bring us home to New York. Check back often as we’ll update this guide accordingly.
Brooklyn Pizza Shops
Although New York’s first pizza shop (Lombardi’s) opened in Manhattan, Brooklyn is arguably the epicenter of the megacity’s vibrant pizza scene. This borough has the largest number of notable pizza shops – both pizza veterans like Totanno’s and a slew of modern creators – and enough hungry hipsters to keep them all in business.
After dipping our toes in Brooklyn’s pizza waters, we recommend the followings Brooklyn pizza shops:
Di Fara Pizza
Don’t expect to eat quickly at Di Fara Pizza, Brooklyn’s most lauded pizzeria.
Proving that New York pizza isn’t synonymous with fast food, octogenarian Dom DeMarco takes his sweet time when preparing round and square pizzas at his nondescript Midwood pizza institution. Outside, eager fans patiently wait in line for the chance to pay premium prices for slices of DeMarco’s premium pies.
DeMarco immigrated from Caizzaio, Italy before opening Di Fara in 1964. After creating 100+ pies daily for more than five decades, he has received pizza cult status as well as respect from food luminaries including the late Anthony Bourdain.
Not surprising considering his birthplace, DeMarco primarily uses Italian ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella from Caserta and extra virgin olive oil. He grows many of his own herbs at the pizza shop, snipping fresh basil sprigs on each pie.
Di Fara Pizza has multiple New York pizza locations. We ate at the original Midwood location at 1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn, NY 11230, USA.
Roberta’s is a Brooklyn pizzeria mashup that combines traditional Neapolitan techniques with modern American toppings. Open since 2008, the popular pizzeria is a firm part of its Bushwick neighborhood as well as a destination for pizza lovers who trek to the hipster haven.
Carlo Mirarchi helms the kitchen and creates sophisticated food that transcends pizza, earning a coveted James Beard nomination for Best Chef in New York City. But let’s focus on his pizza, the reason that we (and many others) eat at Roberta’s.
Expect to eat Neapolitan style pizza at Roberta’s made with housemade cheese, freshly grown herbs and a range of ingredients that run the gamut from the simple to the divine. Mirarchi and his team cook their pies in a wood oven, creating the kind of char more commonly experienced in Naples.
For our Roberta’s meal, we ordered takeaway pies and shared them with friends at their Bushwick apartment. Standout pies were the Bee Sting topped with tomato, mozzarella, basil, soppressata, chili and honey and the Speckenwolf topped with mozzarella, speck, mushroom, onion and oregano.
Roberta’s has multiple New York pizza locations. We ordered from the Bushwick location at 261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY 11206, USA
Artichoke Basille’s Pizza
New York pizzerias that serve slices are a dime a dozen, but ones serving slices with artichoke on top are less common. Far from traditional, Artichoke’s thick slices have funky toppings like artichoke dip and crab in addition to more standard accouterments like pepperoni and meatballs.
Francis Garcia and Sal Basille opened their first Artichoke pizza shop in the East Village back in 2008 and have become one of NYC’s most popular pizza chains with locations in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and outside NYC.
We shared a slice of artichoke pizza at Artichoke’s Bushwick location and liked it for what it was – a thick, dense yet tasty slice that left us full for hours.
Artichoke Basille’s Pizza has multiple New York pizza locations. We ate at the Bushwick location at 18 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11237, USA.
More than a character in Fellini’s 8 1/2, Saraghina is also a neighborhood restaurant in Bedford-Stuyvesant that serves pizza in an upscale setting. Inside diners get a front row view to the restaurant’s wood-fired oven, while outside diners enjoy a bucolic atmosphere in the middle of the city.
Edoardo Mantelli, Saraghina’s chef and co-owner, hails from Milan but his pies are straight out of Naples with a Brooklyn twist. Mantelli takes advantage of seasonal, local ingredients and combines them with more traditional toppings.
During our visit, we shared four pizzas among five people. Our favorite was the Coppa and Carciofi pie topped with mozzarella, hot coppa, roasted spicy artichokes and fresh basil. That being said, we also enjoyed the Napoli pie loaded with San Marzano tomatoes, house-made mozzarella, Sicilian anchovies, kalamata olives, garlic, oregano and basil.
Saraghina is located at 435 Halsey Street, Brooklyn, NY 11233, USA.
More Brooklyn Pizza
The more time you spend in Brooklyn, the more pizza you can eat. Here are additional options to keep you busy for a couple weeks of dedicated pizza dining:
Manhattan Pizza Shops
As Frank Sinatra sang in the iconic song about New York – if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. But when it comes to making pizza in New York, it’s best to leave it to the experts.
Since the first American pizzeria opened in Manhattan, eating pizza in this borough is a must for food travelers exploring this borough. And by exploring, we mean eating some of the best pizza in Manhattan.
The bottom half of Manhattan has a lot of good eats and pizza is no exception. We share our favorite pizza joints in this part of the city for those times when you want a slice of New York pizza or need an entire pie.
Joe Pozzuoli opened Joe’s Pizza in 1975 after immigrating from Naples years earlier. Not much has changed in over 40 years at Pozzuoli’s original location except a move down the block.
The barebones pizzeria is still selling plain slices as well slices with fresh mozzarella and Sicilian squares. Additional toppings are available, but nothing too fancy at this joint.
We shared a plain slice, cut in half and served on a paper plate, during our afternoon visit. We each folded our half slice and quickly devoured it. Was it remarkable? No. Did it taste like New York pizza should taste? Heck yes.
Joe’s Pizza has multiple New York City locations. We ate at the West Village location at 7 Carmine Street, New York, NY 10014, USA
Kesté Pizza & Vino
Robert and Giorgia Caporusicois are more than New York pizza makers with a Naples connection. This father-daughter pizza making team trained with Antonio Starita, a notable Neapolitan pizzaiola at Starita, before opening the original Kesté Pizza & Vino in the West Village.
Lauded by periodicals like New York Magazine, Food Network Magazine and Food & Wine, the team at Kesté channels Naples as they prepare pizza in a wood-fired oven. They then add special toppings like burrata, white truffle cream and Crespone salami.
We shared pizza and wine with friends when we dined at Kesté. Our pies were on point with crispy crusts and tasty toppings. We rarely say ‘no’ to burrata when it’s on a menu, and this meal was no exception.
Kesté Pizza & Vino has multiple New York pizza locations. We ate at the West Village location at 271 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10014, USA.
Two Boots Pizza
Two Boots Pizza is a New York pizzeria where Louisiana collides with Italy. The clash of cultures and cuisines seems odd on the surface, but the resulting Cajun-flavored, thin-crust pizza creations are winners.
With a name inspired by the boot-like shape of both Italy and Louisiana, Two Boots originally opened in the East Village back in 1987 before spreading its reach. Original owners Doris Kornish and Phil Hartman created a whimsical space and unique menu that have stood the test of time.
We ate at the original Two Boots back in the early 90’s when its funky menu was a revelation and recently returned with friends to try the fusion pizza again. After sharing a slice of Bayou Beast pie with spiced shrimp, crawfish, andouille, jalapenos and mozzarella cheese, our tingling taste buds thanked us for the blast to the past.
Two Boots Pizza has multiple New York locations. We ate at the location at East Village location at 42 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009, USA.
Taking wood-fire pizza preparation in a different direction, owners Todd Feldman and Justin Bazdarich have been serving St. Louis style pies since they opened their original Speedy Romeo location in Brooklyn back in 2012. Though a classically trained chef, Bazdarich’s menu skews toward the wacky when it comes to pizza toppings.
Traditionalists can order a Margherita pie here, but more adventurous diners will want to try a St. Louie pie with San Marzano tomato sauce, provel, Italian sausage, pepperoni and pickled chilies. Popular in St. Louis, provel is a processed cheese that combines cheddar, Swiss and provolone cheese for maximum meltiness.
Inspired by the Beastie Boys reference, we couldn’t resist sharing a ‘Paul’s Boutique’ pie with friends Vince and Larissa of Riss’ Knishes fame. To create this unique pie, Bazdarich tops an everything bagel crust with Katz’s pastrami, mustard-infused bèchamel, smoked red sauerkraut, fontina cheese and 1000 island dressing. The result is so wrong that it’s right.
Speedy Romeo has multiple New York pizza locations. We ate at the LES location at 63 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002, USA.
More Lower Manhattan Pizza
Manhattan Above 14th Street
It’s just a quick subway ride from downtown Manhattan to neighborhoods like Midtown, the Upper West Side and Harlem. Check out these uptown Manhattan pizza shops after you head north and cross the city’s invisible line at 14th Street.
Don’t look for a wood-fired oven when you dine at the original Patsy’s, an East Harlem pizza institution since Pasquale ‘Patsy’ and Carmella Lanceri opened it in 1933. No flash in the pan, Patsy’s has been charring its pies in a coal-fired oven for more than 80 years.
Due to prohibitive environmental regulations, pizzerias with coal ovens like Patsy’s are a charming rarity in today’s New York. The restaurant’s basic pie keeps it simple with a thin crust, grated mozzarella cheese and tomato. Non-purists can add a variety of toppings or order specialty pies instead.
Although Patsy’s has a proper dining room, we chose to scarf down slices on the sidewalk right outside the popular pizzeria. Since Patsy’s allegedly introduced the slice concept to New York and is the only NYC pizzeria currently cooking slices in a coal oven, it seemed like the right thing to do.
Patsy’s Pizzeria has multiple New York pizza locations. We ate at the Harlem location at 2287 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10035, USA.
Nick Angelis creates formidable Neapolitan pizza creations at Nick’s Pizza without a coal-fired oven or even a wood-fired oven. After opening his original pizzeria in Forest Hills in 1993, he eventually expanded to New York’s tonier Upper East Side.
Nick’s specializes in thin-crust, brick-oven-style pizza topped with fresh mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and basil. In addition to offering over 20 toppings, the restaurant offers a unique option – pies that are half red and half white.
We shared a signature half and half pie with our friend Kate when we dined at Nick’s. As we alternated between tangy white slices and sweet red slices, we wondered why more pizzerias don’t offer this option.
Nick’s Pizza has multiple New York pizza locations. We ate at the Upper East Side location at 1814 2nd Avenue New York, NY 10128, USA.
San Matteo Pizzeria e Cucino
Fabio Casella and Vincenzo Scardino recreated the flavors of Salerno, a scenic port city 50 kilometers southeast of Naples, when they opened San Matteo Pizza and Espresso Bar in 2010. In addition to creating Neapolitan pies in a wood-fired oven, the Salerno natives produce sweet and savory panuozzi with ingredients procured locally and from their homeland.
Their panuozzi, a puffy pizza dough sandwich, has become quite the rage in NYC. Whatever you order, nab a window seat and enjoy an excellent streetside view with your meal.
San Mateo Pizzeria e Cucino is located at 1559 2nd Avenue New York, NY 10028, USA.
More Upper Manhattan Pizza
Queens Pizza Shops
Queens isn’t the borough with the most pizza shops or the most famous pizza shops. However, don’t skip this diverse borough during a dedicated NYC pizza crawl.
We’re not gonna lie. We ended up at Milkflower in our quest to eat pizza in all five boroughs. We typically eat other cuisines when we visit Queens, but we were game to give Queens pizza a try.
The parking gods were on our side as we pulled our car into a parking space right by the restaurant. Within moments of entering, we got a good vibe. It all came together when we bit into a Willy Mo pie topped with broken up meatballs, tomato, garlic confit, mozzarella, basil and grana padano.
Pete and Danny Aggelatos opened their Neapolitan pizza shop in Astoria back in 2013 and immediately earned respect for their wood-fired pies made with top quality ingredients. The duo seamlessly blends traditional toppings like sausage and mozzarella with new-fangled options like kale and brussel sprouts.
Milkflower is located at 34-12 31st Avenue, Astoria, NY 11106, USA.
More Queens Pizza
Staten Island Pizza Shops
Staten Island lives under the radar when it comes to New York boroughs, perhaps because it’s the only borough not connected to the city’s main subway system. However, Staten Island is easily a highlight of any NYC pizza crawl starting with a ferry ride from lower Manhattan and ending with the main event – pizza.
Joe & Pat’s Pizzeria & Restaurant
A ferry trip to Staten Island would be incomplete without a stop at Joe & Pat’s, the borough’s thin crust pizza institution. Despite a fire in 1999, the spot has been a popular destination since Naples transplants Giuseppe (Joe) and Pasquale (Pat) Pappalardo opened the shop in 1960.
As an ode to the owners’ heritage, Joe & Pat’s produces cracker-like Neapolitan style pizza right in the restaurant for all to see. Workers pull dough and add toppings in rapid motion to keep up with a stream of mostly local customers.
During our visits, we enjoyed the pizzeria’s famous vodka pizza, a tangy pie with vodka, tomatoes, cream and mozzarella. However, our favorite slice was the crunchy, pepperoni loaded with cuplike pepperoni slices.
Joe & Pat’s Pizzeria & Restaurant has multiple New York pizza locations. We ate at the original location at 1758 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314, USA.
Nonna’s Old Fashioned Pizzeria
We didn’t see any nonnas or Italian grandmothers cooking at Nonna’s Old Fashioned Pizzeria in Staten Island when we ate there. However, we felt right at home at the Staten Island pizzeria near Great Kills Park.
Nonna’s is known for their Alfredo Bacon specialty pizza and square Sicilian slices, but we opted to share a sausage pie with our friend Marie, a Pennsylvania native with Staten Island ties. We did our best to finish the pie while sitting in Nonna’s back dining room but eventually raised a white flag in gluttonous defeat.
Nonna’s Old Fashioned Pizzeria is located at 27 Brower Court, Staten Island, NY 10308, USA.
Tony’s Brick Oven
Not surprisingly, Tony’s Brick Oven uses a brick oven to prepare authentic New York pizza plus garlic knots and other Italian specialties. Popular among Staten Island locals, the neighborhood pizzeria welcomes strangers to their daily pizza party.
As for us, we stopped at Tony’s to cap off our Staten Island pizza crawl. Full already, we managed to squeeze in a slice of Margherita pizza though we only planned on eating a bite or two.
Tony’s Brick Oven is located at 1140 Bay Street, Staten Island, NY 10305, USA.
More Staten Island Pizza
The Bronx Pizza Shops
As the classic song goes, “New York, New York, a wonderful town. The Bronx is up and The Battery’s down.” Anybody who forgets The Bronx during a comprehensive pizza crawl will miss an integral part of the New York pizza experience.
With almost 1.5 million residents, many of them pizza eaters, The Bronx hosts its fair share of the city’s pizza shops. Though many are in Belmont, the bulk are spread around the borough for all to enjoy.
Zero Otto Nove
Like many of the best New York pizza restaurants, Zero Otto Nove has a Campania connection. Owner and Chef Roberto Paciullo was born in Salerno, less than an hour from Naples, moved to the US in 1970 and opened his original Zero Otto Nove in 2007.
Zero Otto Nove literally translates to 089, Salerno’s area code. Living up to the name, the upscale Belmont restaurant calls on its Italian connection with a full menu featuring fresh ingredients like olives, anchovies, smoked mozzarella and cured meats.
Arthur Avenue may be more know for old school Italian eateries, but Zero Otto Nove is a thoroughly modern restaurant that creates authentic Neapolitan pies and calzones in a wood-fired oven. Crowds come from near and far to experience the trattoria’s atmosphere and food.
We shared a Margherita pie with family members Linda and Max during a calorie-loaded Bronx pizza crawl. After we sat in Zero’s chic dining room and cut into the Neapolitan classic, we didn’t put our utensils down until the last bites were gone.
Louie & Ernie’s Pizza
Unlike many of the top Bronx pizzerias, Louie and Ernie’s Pizza isn’t on or near Arthur Avenue. Instead, the old-school NYC pizza joint is located in residential Pelham Bay next to Schuylerville and not far from the Westchester border.
Don’t let this remote location impact your decision to visit Louie and Ernie’s. This casual pizzeria has been wowing customers since 1959 when brothers Louie and Ernie opened the joint until today when brothers John and Cosimo continue the fraternal tradition.
During our visit, we shared a large crunchy, thin-crust pie topped with meatballs on one side and mushrooms on the other. Though the mushroom side was tasty, the beefy, porky meatballs were the more favorable topper for our classic New York pie.
While enjoying our meal in the bright, frill-free, booth-filled dining room, we were joined by a large group of NY highway patrolmen. This classic pizza joint is obviously a local go-to spot for those in the mood for solid pizza.
The short menu at Louie & Ernie’s includes calzones and slices in addition to pies. The servers are friendly and efficient, even serving us utensils with our meal. Though we used a knife and fork to separate the pie’s eight loaded slices, we happily ate the slices with our hands.
Louie & Ernie’s Pizza is located at 1300 Crosby Ave, The Bronx, NY 10461, USA.
Emilio’s of Morris Park
Just a few miles from Belmont and Arthur Avenue, Emilio’s of Morris Park has been serving pizza, pasta and other food to Morris Park locals since 1989. Specialties at this Bronx pizzeria include chicken vodka pizza and ricotta (white) pies.
Bronx native Richie DiNardo bought Emilio’s in 2006. He has kept the pizzeria on course for the past decade.
During our visit, we sampled two sizable slices – plain and white. While we found the plain slice to be ordinary, the white slice was a revelation with strong garlic flavor and plenty of ricotta atop a mozzarella base.
Emilio’s of Morris Park is located at 1051 Morris Park Avenue, The Bronx, NY 10461, USA.
Our Bronx pizza stop at Mario’s Pizzeria was a happy accident. We had asked our nephew Max to map us to Mario’s Restaurant and somehow ended up at the wrong Mario’s. Oops!
Despite our circuitous arrival, we enjoyed eating classic slices at the no-frills Wakefield pizza shop. We felt at home in the friendly Bronx spot among a crowd of pizza-loving locals.
Next time we’ll try the ‘other’ Mario’s, but for now we’re happy to have eaten at this Mario’s.
Mario’s Pizzeria is located at 3824 Dyre Avenue, The Bronx, NY 10466, USA.
More Bronx Pizza
New York Pizza Video
But wait, there’s more! Watch our YouTube video to see us eat pizza in lower Manhattan.
Pin It for Later
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
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