Bucket List: “America’s Best Pizzas”

So while browsing various Yahoo! articles… I came across one that dealt specifically about some of the best pizzerias all over the country. Originally what I would have done was click on the link and send it to my twitter feed with the hash tag “bucketlist” because I wanted to keep it in mind for when I travel to various places all over the Continental U.S. and I would make sure to make a stop in some capacity.

But after reworking my personal website and keeping up to date with the blog I decided putting ideas up as a post might be a better option… So here it is the first of the series of posts dedicated to places that I would love to travel to before I die…

So what to expect? Instead of essentially reposting what would already be in the article I would probably focus on particular places that are either in Chicago (since that is where I am from) and other areas that pique my interest where I may actually be able to go to. And if I have already gone to a certain restaurant / location I would provide a link to that particular post and provide my own thoughts of the food, service and restaurant in general.


Chicago is well known as being the inventor of the “deep dish pizza” but according to Yahoo! Its pizzarias only managed to make it to fourth at highest out of twenty… so which locations does Yahoo! recommend?

4. Pizano’s
With four locations and another one on the way, you know that Pizano’s has a loyal fan following among Chicago’s intense deep-dish market. But Pizano’s offers both deep-dish pizza and a thin-crust version that many would claim to even make most New Yorkers happy.

For the deep-dish crowd, the restaurant offers the Rudy’s Special, a pie that the restaurant requests guests’ patience for in advance. This monstrous concoction, topped with cheese, sausage, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers, takes up to 30 minutes to cook all the way through.

5. Vito & Nick’s
In a city dedicated to deep-dish pies, this family-owned restaurant has been serving up thin crust pizzas to Chicago residents for decades, and as the note on their website demonstrates (“If you don’t know about us, you will”), the owners are fairly confident in their popularity. The thin crust and generous cheese and sauce covering will likely leave you in agreement.

8. Gino’s East
Gino’s may be the ultimate in Chicago deep-dish, with a history dating back nearly 50 years. The story starts with two taxi drivers and their friend, who became frustrated with rush hour traffic and decided to open up their own pizza place. Just off the famed Michigan Avenue strip in the heart of downtown, the restaurant has been considered a city mainstay since its conception. The walls of the restaurant are covered with graffiti, as it’s a tradition of Gino’s to carve your name on the wall if you’re a dedicated patron.

Pies begin with a buttery crust that crumbles as soon as you take a bite, and it’s then stuffed with a layer of fillings (ranging from sweet Italian sausage to pineapple), then topped with a more-than-healthy serving of mozzarella cheese, and finished with crushed vine-ripened tomatoes. Their success has led them to open 11 locations, even expanding into neighboring Wisconsin for all those cheese lovers.

If Chicago only made it to fourth at best… who has Chicago beat? It is not a surprise when the top three places recommended by Yahoo are all from
New York City
Who knew that New York City would have so many pizzarias? Or strong ones for that matter? In any case, for someone like who goes to NYC frequently enough, the below is probably something to keep in mind, but not 100% necessary to stop by…

1. Di Fara (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Domenico DeMarco is somewhat of a local celebrity, having owned and operated Di Fara since 1964. Dom cooks up both New York and Sicilian-style pizza Wednesday through Sunday to hungry New Yorkers and tourists willing to wait on long lines, and brave the free for all that is the Di Fara counter experience. Yes, you’re better off getting a whole pie than throwing down money on the $5 slice. Yes, it’s a trek, and sure, Dom goes through periods where the underside of the pizza can trend toward overdone, but when he’s on, Di Fara can make a very strong case for being America’s best pizza.

2. Motorino (New York City)
Some spaces are cursed. Others are blessed. When Anthony Mangieri shuttered Una Pizza Napoletana at 349 East 12th St. and headed out to San Francisco, Mathieu Palombino took over the lease, renamed the space Motorino, and the East Village pizza scene hardly seemed to skip a beat. In addition to the traditional varieties of marinara and Margherita pizza, Motorino offers a handful of more spirited pies, including one with cherry stone clams, and another with Brussels sprouts. (And while it has nothing to do with the quality of their pies, Motorino also happens to serve one of the best octopus appetizers in the city.)

3. John’s Pizzeria (New York City)
Yes, John’s of Bleecker is on the tourist rotation, but there’s a reason this place has become such an institution. The pizza is cooked in a coal-fired brick oven, the same way it’s been done there since 1929. You can choose from their available toppings (pepperoni, sausage, sliced meatball, garlic, onions, peppers, mushrooms, ricotta, sliced tomato, anchovies, olives, and roasted tomatoes), and you can scratch your name into the walls like the droves before you, but what you can’t do is order a slice. Pies only, bud.

6. Joe’s (New York City)
Joe’s Pizza is as synonomous with New York City as the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. The infamous shop has placed in nearly every Best Pizzas list, including GQ’s Top 25 Pizzas, Shecky’s Best in New York, and New York Magazine’s Best Pizza in New York.

The key to Joe’s success is their traditional New York City-style pizza with thin crust, great sauce, and just the right ratio of cheese, sauce, and crust (just a bit less of the first two). Since 1975, Joe’s has served tourists and residents alike, making it a truly iconic New York landmark.

9. Co.
Located in the heart of Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, Co. (pronounced Company) opened in 2009 in a competitive pizza market. With nearly a dozen different restaurants at every corner, Co. was up against some stiff competition. But these quality pies proved to have staying power. Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery, opened Co. to offer his spin on Roman-style pizza to Chelsea residents, and focusing on the communal dining experience. 

Co. serves up the traditional options but also offers pies with flare. The mushroom and jalapeño pie gives some kick, while the ham and cheese is almost decadent with pecorino, Gruyère, mozzarella, prosciutto, and caraway. And when Lahey goes egg? Order two.

15. Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza (Chain that includes New York)
Chef and company founder Anthony Bruno brings classic flavors with an urban spin to pizza lovers with Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza at his 34 different locations spanning Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut.

The pizza is cooked at 800° in a coal-burning oven for a crisp crust that provides a “well done favor,” the chain’s trademark phrase. Unlike many restaurants on this list, Anthony’s was inspired by Brooklyn-style pizzerias that value ambiance almost as much as the taste of the pie. Bruno opened his first location in South Florida and quickly expanded throughout the state before expanding nationally.