New York City needs pizza the same way a plant needs sunlight or a subway needs a conductor. In other words, it’s important - and that’s why we spent several months looking for the best pizza in the city. Throughout our research, we consumed several hundred slices and many dozens of pies, and, at one point or another, most of us had thoughts like “That’s enough” and “I’d like to never eat pizza again.” After that, we went through grueling rounds of discussion, deliberation, and voting. And that’s how we ended up here: with a definitive list of the top 20 pizza places in NYC, ranked.
Before you get into this top 20, however, you should know that it only applies to the individual pizzas - it’s not a ranking of the restaurants on the whole (if you want to know how we feel about those, you can refer to their ratings). Now that we’ve provided this disclaimer, go read about (and eat) some incredible pizza.
We could tell you about the way the chefs at Lucali roll out the dough with empty wine bottles in front of a wood-fired oven. We could tell you that this restaurant is BYOB, and that the little room feels like a spiritual place of pizza worship. But we’re not here to talk about those details that make Lucali an excellent place to eat. We’re here to talk about pizza. The thin-but-not-too-thin crust is the exact right balance of soft and crunchy, and the tomato sauce is the platonic ideal of tomato sauce: a little sweet, a little tangy, and good enough to eat with a spoon. Besides that, it’s just cheese and basil. If you want to add more toppings, you can, but you don’t need to. This pizza is absolutely perfect on its own, and the best one we’ve had in New York. And if you don’t think it’s worth waiting several hours for, then we don’t have anything in common.
“F*ck that - it’s not even in New York.” This reaction is to be expected from a lot of New Yorkers who see a Jersey City Pizza spot ranked this high. But even if Razza weren’t in the New York Metropolitan area (it is), and even if it weren’t closer to downtown Manhattan than most spots on this list (it is), the pizza here is so good that it belongs in the Top 20 for New York and New Jersey and Mars. The crust is super thin and light, but it never sags like some Neapolitan pies, and each bite is salty, sweet, and charred. We’d gladly eat it plain, but the locally-sourced toppings, like housemade cheeses and specially-bred hazelnuts, are also phenomenal. Before your next heated discussion about the best pizza in existence, take the Path train two stops to Razza. It’s a lot easier than trying to hitch a ride on one of Elon’s spaceships.
Di Fara opened in 1964, and the same man has been behind the counter ever since. His name is Dom DeMarco, and, if you come here, you’ll see him making every pie himself. This means that your pizza might take a little longer - but this also means that your pie will be excellent, bordering on perfect. The round one comes covered in several kinds of cheese and olive oil, the crust is slightly crunchy and salty, and the fresh basil will make you wonder why every pizza isn’t covered in fresh basil. And if you want something a little more intense, get the square pie. It has an excessive amount of cheese and sauce, and the crunchy crust tastes like it was soaked in butter. One slice will make you incredibly happy, and a second will make you want to get into a sleeping bag and watch a romcom.
You probably have a lot of associations with Roberta’s: the first time you went to Bushwick for a restaurant, your favorite lunch if you work in Midtown, the Whole Foods frozen food section, and Frances McDormand. That last one might be specific to us - Frances once sat next to us, but the point is - when people think Roberta’s, they think about a whole lot of other stuff. When it comes down to it though, all of that other stuff is just a distraction from the most important thing: the pizza. It’s chewy and fluffy and what we think longingly about when we eat almost every other Neapolitan pizza. But Roberta’s doesn’t just have the #4 spot because of its crust - the toppings are just as good. In fact, if we had decided its ranking based on the off-menu Bee Sting pie (with pepperoni and hot honey) alone, it might even be #1.
Imagine a steaming hot plate of penne a la vodka at your favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant. Now imagine that, but with the vodka sauce spread on a cracker-thin pizza crust, topped with fresh mozzarella. If you can’t imagine why this would taste incredible, you clearly haven’t had the vodka pie at Rubirosa. In addition to serving this perfect Staten Island-style pie, Rubirosa is also an overall fantastic restaurant and we can think of few places we’d rather spend an evening eating carbs. The plain pie and tie-dye, which adds pesto the mix, are excellent as well.
In 1924, Calvin Coolidge became president, Marlon Brando was born, and Totonno’s opened in Coney Island. And, after 90 years, they still make an extremely good pizza. This place is just one small room with a big oven in the back, and the only two menu items are small and large pies. The crust is on the thinner side, and each pizza comes covered in equal parts cheese and tomato sauce, almost like a red-and-white leopard print. Just be sure to eat your pizza quickly, because the crust won’t stay crispy forever. This is, of course, a metaphor for life, and it’s yet another thing this old-school place in Coney Island has to offer.
You’re an adult, which means responsibility and taxes and all that, but it also means you can eat whatever you want. If you want pancakes for dinner, nobody is going to stop you. And if you want an insanely rich pizza with crust covered in molten, melted cheese - the people at Emmy Squared will just ask if you want some waffle fries doused with mayo on the side. The fluffy, cheesy Detroit-style pies have a fried and crispy crust, and they’re topped with things like banana peppers and thick ranch dressing. Sure, you will probably (definitely) eat your way to a stomach ache without your mom around to stop you, but that’s a risk we’re always willing to take for this pizza.
When Prince Street Pizza opened up in 2012 and replaced a Ray’s outpost that had been around for decades, it looked like a normal neighborhood pizza place where you’d get a regular slice at the end of a late night. And while you can certainly use it as such, it’s the thick, pepperoni-topped Spicy Spring that wins PSP its spot on this list - and it’s also why there’s now a long line here on weekends. It’s a thick-crust Sicilian slice with spicy tomato sauce, stretchy mozzarella, spicy little oil-collecting cups of pepperoni, and possibly some kind of witchcraft. All that said, the plain slice is pretty excellent too.
Unlike some of the pizza on this list, the stuff at Ops is the kind you want to take your time with - the crust alone is like a piece of buttery sourdough bread. But you’re not shoveling pizza into your mouth at a 9th birthday party before getting back in the pool, so the more moments you have with this pizza, the better. The Neapolitan pies are excellent, but our favorite thing here is the grandma pie, with housemade mozzarella, olives, basil, tomatoes, and a square crust that is thick enough to replace (and upgrade) the walls of your apartment.
When you go to L&B Spumoni, you get the Sicilian pizza. It’s thick and rectangular, with a crispy base and a large amount of dough that would be classified as medium rare if it were a steak. On top, you’ll find tomato sauce, melted cheese, then even more tomato sauce - producing something that almost feels like a lasagna, but better. There are layers to this pizza, and every slice is so substantial that you won’t ever need to add toppings. You do, however, need to end your meal with spumoni, and you should come at least once during the summer to eat takeout slices at one of the many tables outside.
The Vitruvian Man and affordable West Village apartments and a classic New York slice. These are theoretical ideals of the perfect form, rather than actual realities. There are slice shops on every street in the city striving for that mix of foldable crust, stretching mozzarella, sweet tomato sauce, and droplets of grease - but none of them achieve the optimal balance like Joe’s. The Carmine Street pizza spot makes the best New York slice in New York. They fold like they’ve been constructed to have a perforated edge through the middle, and the evenly-coated mozzarella and sweet tomato sauce are in ideal proportion to the crust.
Emily makes our favorite burger in NYC. So it’s slightly unfair that they make one of our favorite pizzas as well. The crust on the pizza here is super thin, crispy (and somehow soft on top), but what this place really excels at is toppings. They use super-high quality ingredients, and they know how to combine them in ways that make you want to quit your job and dedicate the majority of your time to eating food here. Their Colony pie is a perfect example, with thick pepperoni, honey, and pickled jalapeno. One is probably too much for a single person, but you will be sad to share it.
When it comes to cool spaces to eat pizzas topped with creative ingredients, New Yorkers are more spoiled than your rich sister’s asshole nephew. Someday you’ll teach Logan not to be such a jerk, we’re sure of it. In the meantime, be spoiled yourself and go eat a pizza topped with blue cheese, cherries, and prosciutto or hot honey at Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint. While Roberta’s takes a slight edge for its crust, Paulie Gee’s is the king of inventive, unexpected pairings of toppings. The huge barn-like space and entertaining interactions with Paulie himself, who’s always roaming around the room, also makes this one of our absolute favorite places to have a meal in Brooklyn.
Pasquale Jones does two things better than the vast majority of restaurants: wine and pizza. Pasquale Jones does one thing better than every other restaurant: clam pizza. We’ve never eaten a better one, and we’d bet a lot of money that you haven’t either. It’s creamy and salty, and if you do it right, you will squeeze the fat lemon wedge they give you over the entire thing and then add some of the peppers they give you on the side. We’ve found that it tastes even better if you give it a couple minutes to cool off, so you can really taste all the flavors, but we also understand that’s going to be hard to do. That’s where the margherita pie comes in. It’s almost as good as the clam, and if you eat it as soon as it hits the table (while your clam comes to the perfect temperature), you might even briefly forget that other food exists.
The name sounds like the product of asking someone on level one of Rosetta Stone English what they thought of their first visit to New York. But you won’t care that typing the name into Google pulls up every pizza spot in the city, or that they only offer a few different kinds - because the wood-fired slices here are so good that you’ll keep burning the roof of your mouth instead of waiting two minutes for them to cool off. The classic cheese and the grandma square are both great, but the white pie with ricotta and caramelized onions is easily one of the best individual slices you can buy. It’s a good thing they didn’t spend more time on decor or workshopping their name. Clearly they were focused on more important things.
Denino’s isn’t fancy. It’s just a big, plain sit-down pizza spot on Staten Island, and when you stop by, there will probably be a bunch of kids in soccer uniforms shouting about things. But that’s part of the charm of this place, and it helps that the pizzas here are exceptional. They have a very thin crust, and they’re just big enough that you know you wouldn’t feel well if you ate a whole pie (which is an ideal size). Plus, the clam pie is the perfect beginners version for anyone who is skeptical of clam pies, and it should absolutely be on your table.
This pizza looks like the results of a Google image search of “NYC pizza.” But if you called it ordinary, that would be very wrong. When you’re at the original East Harlem location, it doesn’t matter if you’re getting a whole pie or just a slice from the counter. What does matter is that you’ll need to order the plain – it’s thin and soft but holds up the bright red sauce and big circles of mozzarella cheese, and it’s the reason you’re coming to Patsy’s.
Lee’s Tavern is a Staten Island sports bar institution with excellent, crackery thin crust pizza. The pies have slightly charred bottoms and you could break the crust bubbles with a single little tap. Get the clam pizza (or do half and half with the cheese or pepperoni pie). The cheese, clams, and briny sauce have the exact right level of saltiness, with crust so thin that you’ll feel okay eating four slices while watching the end of a Yankees game. And then you’ll ask yourself if that was really necessary. The answer is yes, especially because you’re now an accidental Yankees fan.
St. Louis-style pizza is a thing, and Speedy Romeo’s signature pie - the Saint Louie - is a take on it. It involves a cheese called Provel, a bunch of sausage and pickled peppers, and slices that are cut into squares rather than triangles. It’s delicious and different from anything else in the city, and a must-order at this great Clinton Hill pizzeria (which we prefer to the second Lower East Side location). We also love the Dick Dale, which is like a grown-up Hawaiian pizza that you’ll like even if you think Hawaiian pizza is a travesty.
If you never leave Manhattan, you might think that Rubirosa is the only place that makes a super-thin-crust pie with excellent vodka sauce. This is not, however, the case. The vodka pie at Joe & Pat’s is only slightly inferior to the one at Rubirosa - and by that we mean that it’s one of the best pizzas you can eat in this city. Due to the thinness of the crust here, you probably don’t want to get more than one additional topping on any one pie, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It means you can eat more pizza, which you will inevitably want to do here. If you don’t live in Staten Island, this place alone is worth the trip.