The 21 Best Pizza Places In NYC guide image


The 21 Best Pizza Places In NYC

The top 21 pizzas in NYC, according to us.

How exactly did we rank the pizza in a city that claims to be the birthplace of America’s first-ever pies? A city where even the pigeons have slice preferences? First, we ate a lot of pizza. We revisited the classics, checked out the newcomers, and debated which spots best represent their genre. Pizza preference will always be deeply personal, so read through this list and find the pie that sounds right for you. Maybe it's a thick Detroit-style one with cheese-encrusted edges, maybe it's a perfect Neapolitan pizza with a pool of EVOO in the center, or maybe it's our personal favorite, the first pie on this list.



We could tell you about the way the pizzaiolo at this cash-only, BYOB restaurant rolls out the dough with empty wine bottles on a marble countertop in the candlelit dining room. But those details, along with the fact that eating at this Carroll Gardens institution requires lining up at 4pm, don’t matter for this guide. We’re here to talk about Lucali's thin New York-style pies, which have crunchy crusts, a serious sprinkle of minced garlic, and tomato sauce that’s a little sweet, a little tangy, and good enough to eat with a spoon. This pizza is absolutely perfect, and it’s the best we’ve had in NYC.

Going to L&B is a rite of passage, and if you haven’t made the trip out to Gravesend for a square slice, we don’t think you can really call yourself a New Yorker. This place has been around since 1938, with an over-the-top Rococo interior for sit-down meals, and an always-bustling outdoor seating area with grab-and-go windows for slices, sandwiches, and spumoni. Don’t bother with round pizza here, you want their signature sauce-on-top square that achieves textural perfection.

This is the sixth iteration of Una Pizza Napoletana, and we know exactly why this place won’t die. It’s serving the best Neapolitan pies in NYC—and possibly the world. Open three days a week, Una Pizza is now in a remodeled, candlelit room on the Lower East Side. Our go-to order is the margherita, but if you’re in the mood for something without sauce, try the bianca with anchovies and dip torn-off pieces of crust into the fishy and salty pool of olive oil that forms in the middle of the pie. Since all the pizzas have the same otherworldly crust, you can’t go wrong with whatever you order.

Di Fara opened in 1965, and they’ve been making legendary pies in their tiny South Brooklyn ever since. The late owner Dom DeMarco made the pizzas himself right behind the counter for most of that time, but now the pizza-making torch has been passed on to his family. The pizza here is still being prepared with several different kinds of cheese, olive oil, and plenty fresh basil. It has a crunchy crust that's notably salty, and each slice will offer a satisfying crackle as you fold it. One slice will make you incredibly happy, and a second will make you want to get into a sleeping bag and watch a rom-com.

L’Industrie sets the new standard for New York’s great slice. Each bite of blistered thin crust puffs then crunches, tasting more like bakery bread than typical pizza thanks to a long fermentation process. Minimal tomato sauce and spot-on oven temperatures ensure that a layer of rich mozzarella stays perfectly in place, while a proper stream of orange grease drips down your wrist when you fold a slice. The difference between this Williamsburg spot and most other slice shops is that they prioritize ingredients imported from Italy. Their pizza has a thin crust, basil and grated parmesan on every slice, and toppings like almost-sweet pepperoni and velvety burrata.

Pizza pop-ups are all the rage these days, and until recently, Chrissy’s was perhaps the most well-known of the bunch. Now Chrissy's has a permanent home in the East Village, and they’ve spent the summer doing pre-orders for pick-up while preparing to fully open. Naturally, it’s been impossible to secure a pie. Eventually, we just showed up and begged some guy to give us a slice in exchange for a pint of Superiority Burger ice cream. Thankfully, he obliged. A Chrissy’s pepperoni slice is thin, crisp, and has little pools of orange grease in each pepperoni cup—one bite and you’ll understand just why we were quite so desperate.

Ops perfected their sourdough long before everyone jumped on the naturally leavened dough-train. Each time we eat here, their wood-fired pizzas seem to get tangier. In terms of style, Ops’ pies fit somewhere between crispy New York and soppy-in-the-middle Neapolitan: each slice remains straight when you hold it in the air, but the crust puffs up like a balloon. Truthfully it doesn’t matter what you call the style. What matters is that you’re going to want to come to their dimly lit, sexy sourdough pizza emporium in Bushwick every week, like you owe them starter money.

The greatest places to grab a slice are generally not establishments where you want to stay and hang for a while. Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop is different though. It’s a counter-service spot that looks like a neighborhood pizza parlor from the 1970s, and it’s where you’ll find some excellent, foldable New York-style slices with crust that’s equal parts chewy and crispy. Their “Hellboy” slice—with hot honey and spicy pepperoni—is one of the finest things in New York City that you can purchase for $5, and their garlicky white slice (called “The Mootz”) proves that several layers of rich cheese and a drizzle of olive oil can do just fine without tomato sauce.

We once went to Mama’s Too to eat their gas-oven Sicilian squares when it was 15 degrees outside. We had to wear pants under our pants, and it was 100% worth it. That was the first time we tried their 'shroom and sausage slice as well as the cacio e pepe pizza with its four types of cheese and cracked black pepper—both of which will enrich your life in ways you have yet to fathom. And those aren’t even the best slices here. The square pepperoni is worth a trip across the city, and the house triangular slice with fresh basil is just about as noteworthy as the one at Di Fara. This tiny counter-service spot on the UWS has already become an NYC classic.

We tried to get an employee at this Flushing spot to tell us the secret to their pizza. They gave us a one-word answer: consistency. Open since the 1970s, this fluorescent-lit shop is still churning out simple, perfect New York-style pies for a steady stream of customers. Stop by for a whole cheese pizza, or try to snag a slice fresh from the oven. The crust is thin and crispy with a little bit of chew, the sauce is thick and not-too-sweet, and the hefty layer of cheese on top is bright orange with grease. Grab a table in the small, barebones space so you can eat your pizza as soon as it exits the oven.

It’s almost impossible to resist the gravitational pull of Scarr’s, both because of the hypebeast-y LES crowd that lingers out front, and because a Scarr’s slice will make you want to investigate how crust can taste so flavorful. Part of the reason the pizza is so good: Scarr’s mills their own grains in-house. Browned cheese blankets the surface of the slightly yeasty crust, with a zesty tomato sauce underneath. Stick with thin-crust slices, as we’ve found the square slices to be inconsistent, and you’re in for the best pizza you can find on the LES. Scarr’s recently relocated to their new space on Orchard Street, and there’s really only one big notable change: more seating.

Ace’s in Williamsburg makes the best Detroit-style pizza in the city. Their shop might look like any old slice joint, but it’s somewhere you can hang out, sip some wine or beer, and play Mario Kart on N64. While they also do Sicilian pies and slices, your first move at Ace’s should unquestionably be some iteration of Detroit-style. Keep it simple, and get your pizza topped with pepperoni—and if you’re with one other person, order a small. You’ll get four airy slices with a crispy cheese-webbed crust that will fill you with profound joy.

If you want to eat at Lucia Pizza in Sheepshead Bay five days a week, that sounds like a fine idea, and we aren’t going to stop you. Just make sure that one of those days is Friday. That’s when you can try the clam pie, a weekly special made with chopped cherry stones, translucent cross-sections of garlic, and a white wine butter reduction. Like the rest of the pies at this retro-inspired slice joint, it has a thin, crisp, slightly chewy crust that’s puffy around the edges like a fresh-made zeppole. Squeeze a lemon wedge over the top, and enjoy. The slice with whipped ricotta and crumbled local Italian sausage is another box you need to check, and the spinach one with bechamel is highly underrated. 

This Bed-Stuy spot sets itself apart from other slice shops by offering a bunch of uncommon toppings. You’ll see varieties like chicken & waffle, black truffle alfredo shrimp, and lasagna, but the oxtail pies are the main attraction. There are three different kinds, and the sweet chili one comes loaded with crispy, tender shredded oxtail. The chewy crust will remind you of a buttermilk biscuit (in taste, not texture), and it’s a good, understated vehicle for all the aggressively-flavored toppings. Most people get their food to go, but there are a couple of tables and a counter for standing. Lines often snake out the door, so it’s a good idea to get here early. They have a new location in Queens, which we hear is just as busy.

Wizard Hat Pizza thinks it’s okay if you dip your pizza in ranch. We know that might anger some pizza purists, but we'd encourage them to try. A bite of Wizard Hat’s pizza dipped in their tangy buttermilk ranch has the power to alter the brain chemistry of anti-ranch-on-pizza New Yorkers permanently. The naturally leavened pies are crispy, chewy, and showered in basil—and in an ideal world, you'd have stomach space for all seven variations. Try the spicy pepperoni first, and get a caesar salad. This pop-up is now operating regularly out of a space in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, and we’d recommend ordering ahead for same-day pick-up, so that you can eat at least one hot slice on the sidewalk.

You might think that Rubirosa is the only place that makes a super-thin-crust pie with excellent vodka sauce. News flash: Rubirosa borrows their recipes and style from legendary Staten Island spot Joe & Pats. (The owner of Rubirosa is related to the team who started Joe & Pats.) The crust here is almost as thin as matzoh, so we don’t recommend weighing it down with more than one topping. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means you can eat more cracker-thin pizza, which you will inevitably want to do. If you don’t live on Staten Island, this old-school restaurant is worth the trip, but there's also a location in the East Village.

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. Patsy's uses a coal oven, which gives each slice a heavy char, and they claim to have invented the concept of selling pizza by the slice in the 1930s. When you’re at the original location, though, 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.

This pizza spot opened in East Harlem in the 1947, then moved into a tiny brick building on the first floor of a house in Pelham Bay about a decade later. We don’t know who lives in that house, but we hope they get Louie & Ernie’s New York-style pizza as often as their digestive tract allows. Whether you order a whole pie or a slice on a paper plate, be sure to get your pizza with crumbly-salty sausage on top. Like the pies at NYC’s best old-school spots, these edges crisp up while the middle stays soft.

Rubirosa is one of Manhattan’s top Italian restaurants, and they've earned this distinction almost purely due to the quality of their pizza. In addition to serving perfect Staten Island-style, crackery crust pies, they also have gluten-free pizza that's somehow just as good. Whichever route you go, prioritize the vodka-sauce and tie-dye varieties. Reservations at this dark, bustling Nolita restaurant are inevitably tough to get, but you can always stop by and put your name in for a table. You'll probably have to wait for an hour or two before you're seated, but consider that time an investment into your happiness and wellbeing.

Lee’s Tavern feels like it’s frozen in an era before cell phones were invented. Every table at this 1940s-founded sports bar on Staten Island features at least one pitcher of light beer and a couple of thin-crust pizzas oozing cheese onto paper plates. The pies here are some of our favorite in the Staten-Island style, with slightly charred bottoms and crust bubbles you could break with a single little tap. Always order the clam pie, even if you were raised to think that mollusks and cheese don’t belong together. The mild, low-moisture cheese, fresh hunks of garlic, and briny clams work so well together that they should form an LLC.

In 1924, Calvin Coolidge won a presidential election, Marlon Brando was born, and Totonno’s opened in Coney Island. And, after 90+ years, they still make an extremely good coal-oven pizza. The spot was originally opened by someone who worked at NYC’s first-ever pizza place (Lombardi’s in Nolita), and his family still runs the show. The coal-fired crust leans on the thinner side, and each pizza comes covered in equal parts cheese and tomato sauce, almost like a red-and-white leopard print. After shuttering during the pandemic, Totonno seems to have reopened for weekend pick-ups—we'll be headed there soon to check in.

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photo credit: Teddy Wolff

The 21 Best Pizza Places In NYC guide image