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New York’s Best Pizzas

Pizza is high on our list of comfort foods, be it spring, summer or even winter (but let’s not think about that season right now). There’s just something about the right combination of gooey cheese and crispy crust that takes us to our happy place. Of course, we have Naples to thank for this ingenious invention, but Americans have had over one hundred years to perfect our own variations, and we like to think New York’s pizza joints take the cake (or pie). New York’s home to enough slices to try a different slice every week.  But who wants to waste time on a mediocre slice?  We volunteered our tastebuds and to share our favorites.  From a classic New York-style slice at Joe’s Pizza to fried dough at Don Antonio by Starita or a more traditional Neapolitan slice at Keste, here’s a list of our top picks…

Don Antonio by Starita  
Address: 309 West 50th St., btwn 8th & 9th Aves.
Phone: (646) 719-1043
Just when you thought it couldn’t get better pizza fritte – that’s Italian for fried pizza dough — entered the New York pizza scene and things have never been the same.  Earlier this year, Robert Caporuscio of Keste teamed up with Antonio Starita (the third generation owner of one of Naples’s most famous pizzerias, Pizzeria Starita a Materdei) to bring Naples’s most famous export to midtown Manhattan.  Caporuscio and Starita both hold positions in the Association of Neapolitan Pizza Makers, so you know they’re serious about their pizza. If you’re going to try one dish here, make it a “Pizze Fritte,” lightly fried pizza dough topped then baked. Their signature pie, “Montanara Starita,”  is a strong choice, and comes topped with tomato sauce and smoked buffalo mozzarella. Then, there’s the the “Noci and Porcini,” paved with a luscious mix of cream of walnut, porcini mushrooms pecorino cheese and basil, or what they dub the “Diavola” with tomato sauce, homemade mozzarella, hot sopressata and basil.  There’s even a gluten free menu – good news for anyone who usually has to pass on pizza.

Address: 334 Bowery St., at East 3rd St., and 485 Lorimer St. (Brooklyn)
Phone: (212) 466-3300 and (718)388-8820
Another city spot serving up a taste of Naples is Forcella.  Besides being sticklers for the traditional Neapolitan pizza-making techniques, Forcella’s mozzarella and burrata cheeses are made in-house and they’re equally delicious. You’ll find a few of the newly popular “Pizze Fritte” here along with classic options, like the “Margherita” or the “Fuorigrotta”with mozzarella, pecorino, arugula and lemon. We recommend sampling the “Pignasecca,” scattered with a delicious mix of caramelized fennel, smoked mozzarella and sausage.  You can get your pizza fix any time of day at Forcella.  Come in for brunch and taste the “Pizza alla Carbonara” with egg, pecorino, black pepper and pancetta, or the “Pizza alla Nutella,” a pizza stuffed with nutella and almonds.  If you’re the savory breakfast type, you can save the nutella pie for dessert post-dinner.

Address: 261 Moore St., nr. Bogart St. (Brooklyn)
Phone: (718) 417-1118
Located in a former garage, Roberta’s might not look like much from the outside, but it’s become a dining destination for locals and tourists alike.  It’s even got its own garden and that means garden fresh toppings on all their pies.  First things first, grab a table outside (if there’s room) and start with their meat plate, a selection of domestic salumi, including La Quercia Prosciutto, Biellese Finocchiono, and Alps Sweet Sopressata. Then focus your attention on the pizzas, which are anything but run-of-the-mill and all worth a go.  Especially the “Specken Wolf,” made with mozzarella, speck, mushroom, onion and oregano, or the “W.T.F” with taleggio, finocchiono salami, watercress, garlic and black pepper.  You can even design your own pizza here – choose from toppings like roasted peppers, capers, jalapenos, guanciale, and plenty more.

Keste Pizza & Vino
Address: 271 Bleecker St., near Jones St.
Phone: (212) 243-1500
Keste’s authentic Neapolitan pizza have been at the top of plenty of pizza lists since they first opened in 2009. Forget New York standards, Robert Caporuscio makes sure his ingredients,and even his oven meet the Neopolitan Pizza Association’s standards, so you get a taste of Naples without the obligatory, eight-hour flight. The menu steers towards the classics, like the “Regina Margherita Pizza” with buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil, or the “Capricciosa” with ham, mushroom, artichoke, tomatoes and mozzarella.  Lest we forget the “Mast’Nicola,” topped with lardo, pecorino romano, and basil, which is definitely worth a try, too.

North End Grill
Address: 104 North End Ave., near Vesey St.
Phone: (646) 747-1600
You might not expect to find a killer pizza at an American bar and grill, nevermind from an Indian chef, but the clam pizza at North End Grill is well worth the trip to Battery Park.   And there’s plenty of other dishes to sample at Danny Meyer and Floyd Cardoz’s new grill, like soft shell crab with a green papaya, carrot and daikon salad, or the grilled rabbit with roasted turnips and mustard greens.  But the best way to begin a meal here is with a scotch flight (they’ve got a huge list) and a grilled clam pizza.  Cardoz’s tops his pie with fresh littleneck clams, chopped parsley, garlic,  olive oil and a kick of chili.

Address: 231 Mott St., btwn Prince and Spring St.
Phone: (212) 966-1234
Emporio’s menu combines the best of local ingredients with Italian imports. It’s the best of Italy and New York under one roof, but the biggest draw is the Roman-style pies —  super-thin, super-crispy, wood-fired pizza. One of our favorites is the Amatriciana, which takes a traditional Roman pasta sauce with tomato, guanciale, pecorino and onions, and slathers it on dough instead.   Or try their dreamy speck and mushroom pie with black truffles and stracchino cheese, their spicy sopressata with fior de latte and mozzarella, burrata… you really can’t go wrong here.

Joe’s Pizza
Address: 7 Carmine St., near 6th Ave.
Phone: (212) 366-1182
Okay, so there are plenty of options for Neapolitan and Roman pizza around these parts, but sometimes only a slice of real deal New York pizza will do.  That’s where Joe’s Pizza comes in.  Expect a short line at this divey looking joint with a traditional, no frills slice that’s kept it in business for more than 35 years.  What’s their secret?  A perfect ratio of cheese to sauce, with that crisp but chewy crust that’s essential to a good New York slice.  Keep it old school here with a simple topping-free slice or a piece of pepperoni.

Address: 69 West 55th St., btwn. 5th and 6th Aves.
Phone: (212) 247-3936
How about a little culture with your pizza? PizzArte is the brainchild of a lawyer and a consultant from Naples, who decided to combine their love of food and art into one space.  The food pays homage to their hometown, while the walls feature artwork from a rotating selection of artists from all over Italy. You can skip the museum and head here where there’s plenty of contemporary art to study while you tuck into a “Pizzarte,” their signature pie scattered with zucchini, speck (cured ham) and burrata.  We’re also big fans of the “Pulcinella,” with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, prosciutto, arugula and shaved parmigiano as well as the “Verace” with Italy’s prized san marzano tomatoes, burrata and basil.

Address: One 5th Ave., at East 8th St.
Phone: (212) 995-9559
After nearly ten years, Otto continues to draw crowds for its extensive wine selection from all over Italy, and for its impeccable, thin crust pizzas.  We’re partial to the Pizza Romana – a gloriously spicy, briny mix of tomato, anchovy, capers, chilies and mozzarella. There are a few Otto originals worth sampling, including the “Fennel and Bottarga”, with tomato, raw fennel, bottarga, pecorino and mozzarella, and of course the Otto Lardo, topped with lardo in true Batali style.  And definitely don’t miss dessert here, especially not the Olive Oil Coppetta, olive oil gelato with pine nut brittle and passion fruit granita.

RG Writer: Donata Calefato

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