Imagine a town that is so confident in the superiority of its pizza that when officials dare to eat with knives and forks. The locals seem to fall apart, the highest elected officials engage in a heated debate on social media. And some people attribute mystical powers to the local tap water that aids in the formation of the dough. Pizza Town, or more formally New York City, is that.
And it’s true; New York City produces the best pizza in the nation. We cheer for other places to place second and third. But the top spot has always gone to these five boroughs, which come together to make a flawless whole. It’s virtually universally accessible, made to fit every taste and fashion preference. And there probably is something to the whole water thing. This is New York City’s best pizza, whether you call it a pie, a slice, or just dinner.
We might describe how the pizzaiolo at Lucali stretches out the dough in front of a brick oven on a marble countertop using empty wine bottles as rollers. We could tell you that this cash-only establishment allows BYOB and that the little space has a sacred pizza worship vibe about it. For this guide, it doesn’t important about those specifics or the bothersome reality that waiting in line to eat at this Carroll Gardens staple frequently starts at 4pm. We’re here to speak about pizza, namely the thin New York-style pie with the perfect amount of floppy and crispy crust and tomato sauce that is tasty enough to eat with a spoon.
Low-moisture mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella, a generous amount of minced garlic, and a generous amount of basil. Al influenced by Dom DeMarco at Di Fara are all part of Lucali’s usual menu. You don’t have to add more toppings, but you can if you want to. This pizza is the greatest we’ve ever had in New York, and it’s just wonderful on its own. We don’t have a lot in common if you don’t believe it’s worthwhile to wait several hours.
Di Fara Pizza
Since its founding in 1965, Di Fara has been producing renowned Neapolitan pizzas in South Brooklyn. For the majority of that time, owner Dom DeMarco prepared the pizzas himself from behind the counter. But in more recent years, he’s handed the baton to his sons. You’ll wonder why fresh basil isn’t used on every pizza when you taste the one that is still being made here with a variety of cheeses, olive oil, and fresh basil. Each practically weightless slice will deliver a pleasant crackling as you fold it to swallow it. The crust is particularly salty and crunchy. You’ll feel ecstatic after your first slice and after your second. You’ll want to curl up in a sleeping bag and watch a romantic comedy.
Before society in 2020 boarded the naturally-leavened-dough bandwagon, Ops had mastered their sourdough. Since they began serving food here in 2016, their wood-fired, puffy-crusted pizzas have gotten tangier each time we’ve visited. Each slice stays straight when you hold them up in the air, but the crust expands out like a balloon. Giving Ops‘ pies a style that falls between crispy New York and soppy-in-the-middle Neapolitan. Actually, it makes no difference what you label the style. It’s important that you feel compelled to go to their dimly lit Bushwick sexy sourdough pizza emporium (DLBSSPE) on a weekly basis as you owe them a starter check. Try the “Cicero,” which is properly described on the menu as having “many onions,” and the “Pops,” which is topped with guanciale and pecorino.
Do your best to follow any pie where mozzarella is included because Ops pulls their own mozzarella virtually every day in-house. If you’re dining with a party, we’d also recommend a calzone or the thicker square pie. Both of which proudly display the funk of the dough.
L’Industrie establishes a new benchmark for outstanding slices in New York. Due to a protracted fermentation process, each bite of blistered thin-crust puffs and crunches, tasting more like bakery bread than traditional pizza. A layer of rich mozzarella stays properly in place thanks to minimal tomato sauce and ideal oven temperatures. While a proper stream of orange grease flows down your wrist when you fold a piece. This slice shop in Williamsburg differs from most others in that they place a higher priority on Italian imports.
Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop
The best spots to get a slice are typically not places you want to hang out and stay for a while. But Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop is unique. It’s a counter-service restaurant that has the appearance of a local pizzeria from the 1970s, and it serves delicious, foldable New York-style slices with dough that is equally chewy and crispy. You must not miss their pretty tasty square slices with sesame-crusted underskirts.
Their garlicky white slice (called “The Mootz”) demonstrates that several layers of rich cheese and a drizzle of olive oil can do just fine without tomato sauce, and their “Hellboy” slice, with hot honey and spicy pepperoni, is one of the best things in New York City that you can buy for less than $5. Grab an orange booth, gather some pals, and enjoy an authentic pizza party.
Leo is a member of the group behind Ops in Bushwick, another outstanding restaurant on this list. The pizzeria specializes in acidic sourdough pies like their sister establishment, but with a totally distinct selection of toppings. Since the sourdough crust gives the shucked littlenecks a combination of acidic and sweet flavor, their briny clam pie will cause you to reevaluate any loyalty to bivalve mollusk pizza you may have previously appreciated. Grab the provola and potato square slice at Leo’s slice shop if you’re in the neighborhood and want a slice or two to go. You get a delightful char in every mouthful of Leo’s pizza.
The Pasquale Jones restaurant in Nolita is all modern clean lines and right angles, the antithesis of the city’s rustic Italian dining rooms. The majority of visitors in the cozy, light-filled area are stylish downtowners who care about food. The menu’s modern twist on Italian-inspired meals mirrors the atmosphere. And the comprehensive wine list features wines from every region of Italy. Most visitors come for the pizza, and the best option is the littleneck clam pizza. When you want to check out the thriving Nolita scene, bring a friend or two.
Joe & Pat’s
If you were a resident of lower Manhattan in 2012, you might have assumed that the only eatery that serves a pie with an exceptionally thin crust and superb vodka sauce is Rubirosa. News flash: Joe & Pats, a famed restaurant on Staten Island, inspired Rubirosa’s dishes and aesthetic (for context. The owner of Rubirosa is related to the team who started Joe & Pats). We advise against adding more than one additional topping to any given pie because the crust is practically as thin as matzoh. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing because it means you can eat more of the cracker-thin pizza you’ll want to devour here.
Louie & Ernie’s New York-style Pizza
This pizzeria opened in East Harlem in 1947 before moving. Some ten years later, into a small brick building on the first floor of a white house near Pelham Bay. We don’t know who resides in that home, but we hope they often consume Louie & Ernie’s New York-style pizza. Our preferred topping at this establishment is a cheese pie with crumbly-salty sausage on top. Whether you order a full pie or a slice on a paper plate. These pies’ borders crisp up while the interior remains soft, just like the pies at NYC’s best old-school eateries.
Long lines are still common at Rubirosa, one of Manhattan’s top Italian restaurants, but the pizza is still worth it. There is a complete menu of gluten-free beauties that are shockingly thin and have all the same delicious toppings. In addition to providing exquisite Staten Island-style, crackery crust vodka, and tie-dyed swirl pies.