Pizza, like sky-high rent and giant subway rats, is every New Yorker's birthright. Each of us harbor strong feelings about our neighborhood slice joints, whether they're still in business or been transformed into a Jacques Torres shop (R.I.P., Vinnie's on Amsterdam Avenue). So, we've once again painstakingly ranked our favorite pizzerias in the five boroughs. As always, leave your recommendations, condemnations and "issues" with the phrase "pizza place" in the comments; we'll be holed up in a troll-repellant bomb shelter with a Juliana's pie until December.
LOUIE & ERNIE'S: This Schuylerville pizzeria is the absolute tops, boasting classic slices that hit the crust/sauce/cheese/toppings marks with ease. You can't go wrong with a plain slice ($3), but if you're looking for something extra special and aren't scared of huge chunks of meat, the sausage pizza here is the stuff of the Gods. A $4 sausage slice gets you a cheesy triangle topped with huge hunks of savory pig meat sourced from a local butcher. You will never deign to eat a $1 slice again, no matter how drunk or cash-strapped you are.
Louie and Ernie's is located at 1300 Crosby Avenue in the Bronx (718-829-6230).
WILLIAMSBURG PIZZA: We were impressed, but not blown away, when this pizza spot opened up on Williamsburg's Southside back in 2012. Over the years, though, Williamsburg Pizza's pie strength has grown significantly, and once its even better LES outpost opened in 2013, we were sold. You can get funky pies here, with favorites including the mushrooms-and-white-truffle topped Tartufo ($25), the Paesano ($25), which comes with italian sausage, mushrooms and roasted red peppers; and the Apple Bacon ($28), which has crushed walnuts, gorgonzola and apples in addition to its titular topping.
But your best bet here is still a basic Brooklyn or Grandma slice, depending on whether you prefer your pizza shaped like a triangle or square—the $4 ditties will stuff you with fresh tomatoes, cheese and an extra-hearty crust, as has been mandated by the pizza powers that be.
Williamsburg Pizza has two locations in NYC: 265 Union Avenue at South 3rd Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-855-8729, williamsburgpizza.com), and at 277 Broome Street between Allen and Eldridge Streets on the Lower East Side (929-344-5505, williamsburgpizza.com).
PIZZA SUPREMA: Pizza Suprema was ranked the number one slice in the city by pizza enthusiast Slice Harvester, and though we don't necessarily agree with all his rankings, he's got a point about this place. A plain slice here runs $3, and is exactly what a slice of pizza should be—cheesy, crusty, and doused with a not-too-sweet, not-too-oniony tomato sauce. The Grandma and white pies are also quite good, if you're looking to complement your classic slice with something slightly quirkier.
Pizza Suprema is located at 413 8th Avenue between 30th and 31st Streets in Midtown (212-594-8939, nypizzasuprema.com).
JOE'S PIZZA: Joe's doles out exactly what you expect from a classic slice joint—$2.75 gets you a piping hot, gooey cheese and savory tomato sauce spread atop a floury, chewy crust. That's pretty much all you need to know—you can get toppings for an extra 75 cents or so, but seriously, come for the plain stuff, dried pepper flakes not included. Note that a Joe's opened on 14th and 3rd a few years back, followed by a newer outpost in Williamsburg and though neither have quite the same bite as the original, they're still pretty, pretty good. You will use up many napkins blotting both the pizza and your face, so be forewarned.
Joe's Pizza is located at 7 Carmine Street between 6th Avenue and Minetta Lane in the West Village (212-366-1182, joespizzanyc.com). There's also an outpost at 1150 East 14th Street near 3rd Avenue in Gramercy, and another at 216 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
BROADWAY JOE'S: Broadway Joe’s may be a local haunt, but it’s no hidden gem. While its inconspicuous storefront by Van Cortlandt Park in Kingsbridge is easy to miss, the classic joint is popular among students from neighboring Manhattan College and the nearby Fieldston School for its hefty, foldable slices and accompanying garlic knots. Joe’s is unconcerned with both ambiance and innovation, but its fluorescent-lit interior houses some of the best no-frills ‘za this side of the suburbs. (Roxie Pell)
Broadway Joe's is located at 5983 Broadway in the Kingsbridge section of The Bronx (718-796-0376)
SAL & CARMINE: For a minute there, we thought we lost this one—but thankfully, this Upper West Side institution is still going strong. The joint still serves up a spectacular $3 plain slice, just like a proper city pizzeria should. Basic toppings like sausage, spinach and pepperoni are also worth a try, though the plain is the real star here, and note that while co-founder Sal passed away a few years ago, his partner Carmine is still going strong, and will still glare at you when you attempt to order.
Sal & Carmine is located at 2671 Broadway between 101st and 102nd Streets on the Upper West Side (212-633-7651).
TONY'S PIZZA: Bushwick might be dotted with Puerto Rican flags and hip bars these days, but once upon a time this neighborhood was heavily Italian, with the pizzerias and bakeries to prove it. This Knickerbocker Avenue slice joint is one such holdover, serving up spectacular Sicilian and classic slices since the 1970s.
A basic slice runs around $2.75, as one should, and you can't expect it to be served to you with a smile—it can also get a little noisy in there after school lets out, so you're best off taking your meal on a walk through Maria Hernandez post-purchase. Still, if you're looking for a no-frills feast, this is the spot—if you need a little something sweet after your slice, head to nearby Circo Pastry Shop, another remnant from Knickerbocker's Italian-dominated days, for a treat.
Tony's Pizza is located at 336 Knickerbocker Avenue between Dekalb Avenue and Hart Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn (718-456-7020).
BEST PIZZA: You've got to have some balls and dough-throwing skills to name a joint "Best Pizza," but thankfully this Williamsburg eatery, helmed by former Roberta's pizziaolo and Bensonhurst native Frank Pinello, has got the slices to back the title up. The real treat here is the white slice, which is appropriately cheesy and boasts sesame seeds and caramelized onions as an added flavor bonus. Of course, if white's not your thing, the classic cheese slices are equally satisfying, and you can opt to have them topped with everything from meatballs to pepperoni to pickled veggies for an extra cost—if you live in North Brooklyn, you're lucky enough to live in this spot's delivery zone and can score some slices at home.
Best Pizza is located at 33 Havemeyer Street between North 7th and 8th Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-2210, best.piz.za.com).
PERCY'S PIZZA: Dollar slices aren't usually much to crow about, and even the drunkest of dabblers would rate most offerings as middling at best. But this Bleecker Street joint makes a $1 slice that rivals even some of the city's more expensive offerings, swapping out the cheap cheese and sweet sauce you might find at your local 2 Bros for ingredients that far outpace the price point. An extra dollar gets toppings like meatballs or pepperoni—do note that slices here are thin, so you might need added protein or two plain ones to fill you up.
Percy's is located at 190 Bleecker Street between 6th Avenue and Downing Street in Greenwich Village.
PAULIE GEE'S: You may have to wait a small lifetime for a table here, but once you're seated, pizzaiolo Paulie Giannone and crew will treat you to a cheesy feast of epic proportions. This Greenpoint spot's real prowess in its toppings, creatively piled atop doughy, flaky crust. The Cherry Jones ($18) is outstanding— the white pie is covered in melted mozzarella and gorgonzola cheeses, and topped with Prosciutto di Parma, dried bing cherries and orange blossom honey. The Hellboy ($17) is another killer pie, made with a meaty mix of fresh mozzarella, parmigiano Reggiano, Italian tomatoes and sopressata piccante and drizzled with Mike's HOT Honey.
And for the veggies-only set, Paulie Gee's offers a slew of vegetarian and vegan pies, including the Vegan Greenpointer (Baby Arugula, Olive Oil, Post Oven Fresh Lemon Juice and Nutritional Yeast, $14) and a Simply Red vegan pie ($10) that can be topped with housemade vegan fennel sausage, cashew ricotta and other herbivore-friendly additions for an added few bucks.
Paulie Gee's is located at 60 Greenpoint Ave between West Street and Franklin Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (347-987-3747, pauliegee.com).
KESTE PIZZA & VINO: Kesté's Master Pizzaiolo Roberto Caporuscio was born on a dairy farm an hour outside of Naples, where he grew up producing and selling the lactose that would ultimately steer him toward his creamy destiny. Think about it: the man was literally born to make cheese. Indeed, surrounded by nature’s own soft mucus, wouldn’t any of us be similarly inspired? Caporuscio went on to complete his pizza studies under some of Naples’ most esteemed masters of the regional method. Additional evidence that Caporuscio is in fact a member of the Pizza Illuminati includes his ascent in the ranks of the Association of Neapolitan Pizzaiuoli, an “elite Italian governing body” passing down pizza-making secrets through the generations. Now U.S. President of the association, Caporuscio is regularly summoned to all corners of the country for “private pizza consultations,” which is coincidentally what I call my Friday evenings alone.
Starch fiends can expect pizza made the Naples way using a bonafide Neapolitan pizza maker and topped with homemade mozzarella. Dairy heaven aside, vegans (and vegetarians) need not worry—Kesté offers vegan options as well as an unusually broad gluten-free selection including a Pistachio and Sausage variety and a version of the day’s special that has been exorcised of wheat demons. The restaurant provides lighter alternatives like “lentil salad” for diners who prefer to lead a joyless life. (Roxie Pell)
Keste is located at 271 Bleecker Street between Jones and Morton Streets in the West Village (212-243-1500, kestepizzeria.com).
MOTORINO: Motorino's been Williamsburg's reigning Neapolitan pizza king since 2008, not counting a brief, tragic closure in 2011. For the last couple years, though, the restaurant's relocated to new digs South Williamsburg, where it serves up the spectacular, floppy-crusted pies that made it famous long before the neighborhood gained a Starbucks.
If you aren't averse to Brussels Sprouts, the so-named pizza ($16) is particularly good, made with fior di latte, garlic, pecorino, smoked pancetta and extra-virgin olive oil. The fierce Soppressata Piccante ($16) is another favorite, topped with tomato sauce, fior di latte, chili flakes, orgeano, pecorino, olive oil and the spicy soppressata that lends the pie its name. The East Village location also boasts a $14 pizza brunch on weekends, if you like to kick off your day with carbs, eggs and bacon.
Motorino is located at 139 Broadway between Driggs Ave and South 6th Street in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718) 599-8899, motorinopizza.com), and at 349 East 12th Street between First and Second Ave in the East Village (212-777-2644, motorinopizza.com).
ROBERTA'S: Not only does Roberta's whip up some of the tastiest pizzas in the city, but they've managed to slice their miserable wait time down considerably, having opened a take out spot next door to their Bushwick pie mecca last year. This is a good thing indeed—pre-take out Roberta's could rack up 3+-hour waits, though the pizza payoff was (usually) worth it.
As for the goods, the currently off-menu Bee Sting ($16) is a personal favorite, topped with tomatoes, mozzarella and soppressata and doused in delectable sweet honey. Then there's the feisty Beastmaster ($17), made with tomato, mozzarella, gogonzola, pork sausage, onion & jalapenos; the cheesy Achilles Last Stand ($17), topped with ricotta, alpine cheddar, and double guanciale; or the basic Famous Original ($14), made with mozzarella and caciocavallo. Note that pizzas rotate regularly, and some of your favorites may still be available off-menu, so be sure to check with your server.
Roberta's is located at 261 Moore Street between White and Bogart Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn (718-417-1118, robertaspizza.com).
EMILY: This little Clinton Hill pizzeria's made a name for itself in its few short years on earth. Chef Matt Hyland, who runs the restaurant with wife Emily (get it?), whips up spectacular thin-crust pies in a wood-fired oven, with outstanding offerings including the $20 namesake pizza made with mozzarella, pistachios, truffle sottocenere and honey. The Colony ($18) is another worthy pie—made with red sauce and mozzarella and topped with pepperoni, pickled chili and honey—as is the carnivore-friendly pepperoni, sausage and ham-topped RM3! ($19). Prices are steep here if you go beyond the basics (some of the plainer pies run $14-and-under), but the pizza's made so lovingly you can taste it. Save room for dessert—the Hylands make a killer marshmallow and chocolate S'Mores calzone ($10) and an even better Banana Crème Pudding ($14).
Emily is located at 919 Fulton Street between Waverly and Clinton Avenues in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn (347-844-9588, pizzalovesemily.com).
LUCALI: This cash-only Carroll Gardens restaurant usually fills to the gills thanks to its no reservations policy, but like the aforementioned Paulie Gee's, those few hours (possibly less on a weeknight!) of waiting at Bar Bruno only amplify the pure pizza deliciousness that will be bestowed upon you once seated. Plump, steaming wood oven-baked Neapolitan pies come packed with the usual suspects—mushrooms, pepperoni, onions, peppers, basil and other classics, most of which are grown in Lucali's backyard garden—and run about $24-a-pie plus toppings.
If the pizza's not enough for you, Lucali's calzones are among the best in the city, stuffed with exquisite ricotta—bring your preferred bottle of wine (the restaurant is BYOB) and eat until your waiter is forced to roll you toward the F train.
Lucali is located at 575 Henry Street between Carroll and Summit Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (718-858-4086).
DI FARA: Mayor de Blasio heralded this Midwood pizzeria as the best in the city back during his campaign days, and for good reason. The pizza itself is old school goodness, with thick basic slices all topped with fresh basil and drizzled olive oil—you can get basic toppings like sausage, pepperoni and mushrooms, in addition to speciality offerings like porcini mushrooms, broccoli rabe and prosciutto. Don DeMarco, who's owned this delectable spot since 1964, still mans the pizza station behind the counter, making a visit to Di Fara (and a long wait on a line, though now there's fun stuff to eat while you wait!) well worth it. Do note, though, that legends come with a price tag—a square slice here runs a whole $6, and pies are $28 to $38, so do with that what you will.
Di Fara is located at 1424 Avenue J in Midwood, Brooklyn (718-258-1367, difara.com).
TOTONNO'S: Totonno's is another old school spot, serving up basic pies out of its stripped down, 90-year-old Coney Island space. There's nothing artisanal or precious here—pick a small or large pie, choose a topping (mushroom, pepperoni, anchovies, etc.), sit at a small red table and eat absolutely perfect, cheesy coal-fired slices until your gut explodes. Small pies run $16.50 and large pies are $19.50, with toppings clocking in at an extra $2.50 each. Note that they're closed Mondays through Wednesdays and they don't sell pizza by the slice here, so come hungry and bring cash.
Totonno's is located at 1524 Neptune Ave between 15th and 16th Streets in Coney Island, Brooklyn (718-372-8606).
DENINO'S: This Staten Island spot doesn't pretend to be anything it's not: a no-frills, family pizzeria that let's the pies—and not the atmosphere—do the heavy lifting. And that's part of what makes it so lovable. Sure, hip hotspots might boast a candlelit table and an ex-president clientele, but here the most noteworthy piece of decor might be that there really is no decor, save for some photos of yesteryear Staten Island.
That's all to say that when you visit, let the beautiful, heavily-cheesed pies be the source of your focus. The crusts are thin, absorbing just enough cheese grease to still have a bit of crunch on the edges while delivering a stomach-coating carb bomb ideal for soaking up pitchers of Budweiser. For us, it's all about the sausage pie: crumbly, fennel-flecked bits of meat almost melting into a sea of sauce and mozzarella. Eat quickly so you can fit in as many slices as possible. (Nell Casey)
Denino's Tavern is located at 524 Port Richmond Avenue in Elm Park, Staten Island, (718-442-9401, deninos.com).
L&B SPUMONI GARDENS: The thick square pies served up at this Gravesend stronghold are the picture of perfection, super-doughy, cheesy and sauce heavy like a Sicilian slice should be. L&B even makes their pizzas with the tomato sauce on top of the cheese for an added unique spin, spoiling many a pristine white shirt in the process. Worth it! Pies here run $2.75 a slice, and are served family style for $21 per half-tray and $40 for a full tray. You can also get a round pie if you so desire, but c'mon, it's not like you go to Nathan's for the cheeseburger.
L&B Spumoni Gardens is located at 2725 86th Street between 10th and 11th Streets in Gravesend, Brooklyn (718-449-1230, spumonigardens.com).
Pizzas here, cooked in Grimaldi's s original coal-fired oven, are fairly basic, with margherita ($17, $20), white ($17, $20) and marinara ($16, $19) pies on tap. They've also got a few "pizza specials," like the No. 1 ($27, $30), made with housemade mozzarella, Scarmorza affumicata, pancetta, scallions and white trufles; and the No. 3 ($21, $24), made with mozzarella, sausage, broccoli rabe and garlic. You can opt for a slew of specialty toppings on your pie, plus there's a take-out menu if you feel like getting your pies-of-heaven to go.
Juliana's is located at 19 Old Fulton Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn (718-596-6700, julianaspizza.com).
PATSY'S PIZZERIA: Patsy's is one of the city's oldest pizzerias, having opened its East Harlem location in 1933. And though a number of imitations have sprung up over the past 82 years, Pasquale and Carmella Lancieri's original joint is still the best. The paper-thin crust pies are hearty and coal-fired so they've got just the right charred hint. They've got specialty pizzas like the fresh-tasting Margherita ($18) and the meatball-topped Polpette pie ($20), or you can opt for a $12 plain pie and choose from an assortment of toppings for $3-$5.50 each. If you're in a rush, Patsy's also has a takeout counter a few doors down from the main restaurant; there, piping-hot plain slices run a cheap $1.75 each. Cash only, y'all.
The original Patsy's is located at 2287 First Ave between 117th and 118th Street in East Harlem (212-534-9783, thepatsyspizza.com).
LEE'S TAVERN: While not as much of a "destination" pizzeria as Denino's, this quaint Staten Island pub has a fiercely loyal clientele who will defend the tavern's crisp bar pies loudly and often to anyone planted near the bar. In fact, it's really more of a bar than a pizza joint, but one that takes its responsibility to feed people very seriously.
There are personal-sized bar pies and larger pies for sharing, like their beloved white clam pie topped with succulent chopped clams, or a simple pepperoni for everyone else. Seats in the tiny dining area can get cramped, especially when a New York team is on the tube; sitting at the bar means a guaranteed conversation with an SI old timer. Choose wisely! (Nell Casey)
Lee's Tavern is located at 60 Hancock Street in Dongan Hills, Staten Island (718-667-9749).
BROTHER'S PIZZERIA: Brooklyn might boast big pizza names like Grimaldi's and the aforementioned Di Fara, but don't think that Queens doesn't know good pizza. This old school spot, housed in an easy-to-miss hole-in-the-wall by the Long Island Expressway, has been serving up pies, slices and Sicilian squares for decades, and they don't look like they'll be slowing down anytime soon. Brother's' plain slices cost only $2.50, and they will fill your insides with joy—don't be surprised if you end up shoving three or four down your throat for good measure.
Brother's Pizzeria is located at 18504 Horace Harding Expressway in Fresh Meadows, Queens (718-445-7888).
NEW PARK PIZZA: If the New York pizza system’s tendency to reward seniority has any merit, New Park Pizzeria has earned its stripes. The beloved neighborhood mainstay has been serving up slices to Howard Beach residents and JFK airport escapees alike for 55 years, and while many New Yorkers might find the eastward trek daunting, New Park’s location right off the Belt Parkway makes it fairly accessible to citizens of all boroughs.
Like all respectable American institutions, New Park is run by a family dynasty, in this case one that truly cares about its community—the restaurant offered up two free slices per person in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The menu sticks to the classics with a standard roster of reds and whites prepared in a brick oven. A plain slice will set you back $2.75, but be prepared to shell out $4.50 for a calzone, should you prefer your pizza toppings wrapped in even more bread. (Roxie Pell)
New Park Pizzeria is located at 15671 Crossbay Boulevard in Howard Beach, Queens (718-641-3082, newparkpizza.com).