New York and Chicago constantly vie for top honors in the best-pizza category. Sure, I love pies in both cities, but I think some of the best pizzerias are found elsewhere.
704 Cleveland Ave. S., St. Paul (the original location); 651-696-1066 or punchpizza.com.
Insanely good Neapolitan pizzeria that is a national candidate for Top Five. Eating it uncut is the way to go; the salame e funghi is my favorite.
5557 Xerxes Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-424-8338 or pizzerialola.com.
Yes, it’s true, Minnesota has the best pizza in America. Let the debate begin! Better than NYC and Chicago put together. Now if that doesn’t get food writer Ed Levine and me booked on Anderson Cooper 360, I don’t know what will. But seriously, the Sunnyside at Lola’s is phenomenal: olive oil, guanciale, leeks, caramelized in the cured pork fat. Topped with a hint of cream, a sprinkle of Pecorino Romano and a fresh egg. Pizza perfection.
316 Virginia St., Seattle; 206-838-7388 or tomdouglas.com.
Tom Douglas’s killer, bready dough recipe, a not-too-hot oven, macho ingredients and a bistro vibe. It’s an original in a sea of derivative pizzerias. The potato pizza is divine.
623 E. Adams St., Phoenix; 602-258-8300 or pizzeriabianco.com.
The one and only. Who would’ve thought you could make world-class pie in the desert? Even though chef Chris Bianco isn’t there every day, the pizza is in my Top Five. The marinara pie (sans cheese) is the gold standard for bread-and-tomato foods.
237 Wooster St., New Haven, CT; 203-624-5271 or sallysapizza.com.
Coal-fired brick-oven pies, baked with tomato sauce, garlic and hard cheeses. Family-owned for three generations. Legendary waits for tables and service. Why is it so crowded? ’Cause it’s AWESOME. I get the plain pie here; it’s perfect.
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
157 Wooster St., New Haven, CT (the original location); 203-865-5762 or pepespizzeria.com.
The line is as long as the one at Sally’s. The white clam pizza here is one of my favorite pizzas anywhere in the world. And yes, that makes me a Pepe’s guy, if you held a gun to my head.
641 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles; 323-297-0100 or pizzeriamozza.com.
Best pizza in L.A., and these days, that’s saying a lot. Nancy Silverton, Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali have created something special. I love any of the pizzas with Armandino Batali’s cured meats on it, but it’s Silverton’s crust that takes the star turn here.
111 Chelsea St., East Boston; 617-567-9871 or santarpiospizza.com.
Well-done pizza, always cooked a minute longer than it should be, is the hallmark of this 108-year-old Beantown institution. I eat the front of the slice on its own, and use the crust to mop up the grilled sausage and lamb that come as side dishes. You heard me right. Also, keep complaints to a minimum. Most of the regulars take exception to them.