Pizza may have Mediterranean origins, but modern pizza is pure American. Pizza was originally sold as street food by Italian immigrants during the turn of the century, and Americans came to love it, change it (deep dish anyone?) and cultivate it into a multi-billion dollar industry. Many recent polls (including our own) list pizza as American’s favorite food. Here are the best contemporary restaurants in major cities across the U.S. as selected by the editors of LocalEats, in no particular order…
32 Spring St, New York, New York 10012
(212) 941-7994: MORE DETAILS
Presiding over New York’s illustrious pizza pedigree, Lombardi’s has more than just its famed clam pizza to recommend it. Pies come with a slice of history as well as sweet Italian sausage, imported anchovies and house-made meatballs. Undisputed godfather of NY-style pizza Gennaro Lombardi founded this Nolita mainstay in 1905, just a few doors down from the current digs, making it the first licensed pizzeria in Manhattan. Loyalists would duel anyone denying the heavenly powers of the smoky, slightly charred crust, sumptuous beefsteak tomatoes and freshly sliced mozzarella.
2355 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 771-2216: MORE DETAILS
Named after the main highway in the Campania region of Italy, the Marina District’s critically exalted A16 restaurant features upscale Neapolitan cuisine and wood-fired pizzas in a casual, well-designed environment. Cork walls and cozy bay windows attract well-dressed patrons to the bar area — a boisterous place to see and be seen with a date — while larger dining parties tend to migrate to the back, near the open kitchen. The seasonal menu features simple pizzas such as the Funghi with mushrooms, smoked Mozzarella and Grana Padano cheeses, dandelion greens, garlic, oregano and olive oil. Pastas have included ricotta gnocchi and squid ink tonnarelli, and entrees have included local halibut with roasted garlic, zucchini, squash blossoms and basil Genovese.
623 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
(602) 258-8300: MORE DETAILS
Move over Chicago and New York: Phoenix is the new heavyweight in the fight for the title of greatest pizza in the land, thanks to downtown’s Pizzeria Bianco. Chris Bianco, a James Beard Foundation award-winning chef (that’s right: for pizza), combines his Italian heritage and New York upbringing with a zen-like approach of balance and simplicity to his national attention-garnering gourmet pies. Using farmer’s market-fresh vegetables, house-made mozzarella and bakery-worthy bread from the wood-burning oven, the establishment crafts a small selection of pizzas that includes the Wiseguy – fennel sausage, mozzarella and wood-roasted onion – and the Rosa with red onion, parmigiano reggiano, rosemary and pistachios. A few bites into the chewy, puffy, yet still somewhat thin and crispy crust will make you banish the pizza delivery number from your speed dial forever.
3715 Macomb St NW, Washington, DC 20016
(202) 885-5700: MORE DETAILS
A law in Naples, Italy, states that pizza that is called “Neopolitan” must meet certain criteria, and 2 Amys is among the parlors that meets the specifications. In this case, that’s an assurance of great pizza – soft-grain flour, fresh yeast and fresh garlic cooked in a wood-burning oven only. The Norcia has salami, sweet peppers, garlic and mozzarella. The fantastic Vongole captures everything you love about linguine with clam sauce. The pizza is tomato-less but spread with salty bits of grana (hard Italian cheese) and sweet cockles (mollusks) in their shells, with capers, parsley and fiery peppers. And there’s more than pizza. Try the deviled eggs with green sauce, suppli (fried rice balls stuffed with cheese) and polpettone (meatballs in marinara).
119 N 4th St, Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 333-7359: MORE DETAILS
Perhaps the United Nations should find out what’s in the sauce here. Pizza Lucé brings together vegans and omnivores, singles and families, early-lunch eaters and late-night noshers. An offbeat, tattooed and pierced waitstaff works in elegant, old-oak surroundings. Something about the clash of styles creates harmonious success, as Pizza Lucé is consistently voted best pizza in local media polls. The restaurant opened in 1993 in the city’s downtown Warehouse District. Today,several locations offer the same 50-topping menu, a list that includes categories that keep the vegetarians coming back: Unmeat and Uncheese. (Mock duck and soy cheese, anyone?) For the gourmand, there’s smoked Gouda, roasted eggplant, salami and basil pesto. And for the kids, there’s good old pepperoni. The baked potato pizza is the most popular pie.
261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY 11206
(718) 417-1118: MORE DETAILS
Brooklyn’s much-praised and wildly popular Roberta’s features terrific pizzas and Italian-inspired contemporary dishes such as beef carpaccio, fluke with Tuscan melon and tarragon, and scallops with carrots, pistachio and yogurt. Critic Sam Sifton of the New York Times summed it up perfectly, “Roberta’s pizzas are marvelous things.”
Nothing elicits a more spirited foodie debate than regional barbecue. Wet or dry rub? Pork butt, brisket, or whole hog? Memphis or Texas? Our editors tackled the idea of creating a list 30 of the best barbecue joints in America. Of course, prominent on the list are heavy hitters from Kansas City, Memphis, North Carolina and Texas. But also represented are fantastic smoke shacks from Louisiana, New York, Detroit, Southern California and even the Pacific Northwest. From timeless institutions run by old-school pitmasters who rarely sleep, to the innovative, newer joints building on family and regional traditions. Each of these 30 establishments embody the passion and patience required to produce outstanding barbecue. Listed in no particular order, please enjoy…
1782 Madison Ave, Memphis, TN 38104, Memphis, Tennessee
901-272-1277: MORE DETAILS
The “Home of the Dancing Pigs,” this charming Midtown classic delivers ample portions of their signature barbecue spaghetti as well as excellent chopped pork shoulder with buttery Texas Toast. The heavily seasoned dry ribs are as good as any in Memphis (and therefore, among the world’s best).
10 US Highway 29/70 S, Lexington, NC 27295
336-249-9814: MORE DETAILS
The bodacious barbecue at Lexington Barbecue, established in 1962 by Wayne “Honey” Monk, is the quintessential Western North Carolina ‘cue, with impeccable slow-smoked pork shoulder, vinegar-based red barbecue sauce, and their signature red slaw (no mayonnaise). Guests can even select which part of the shoulder they’d like on their sandwich, and hushpuppies are a crowd favorite as well.
1782 Madison Ave, Memphis, TN 38104
901-272-1277: MORE DETAILS
Founded in 1938, Clyde Cooper’s Barbecue is as much a historic landmark as a casual joint for top quality ‘cue. One step through the door verifies the appeal and popularity of this downtown Raleigh darling, with old-timey photographs, a buzzing service counter and the sweet aroma of down-home cooking. Dive into your complimentary basket of crunchy pork skins before moving on to the main attraction. Barbecue comes chopped, sliced or spare-ribbed, and chicken barbecued, fried or chopped. The Brunswick stew remains a popular alternative to traditional barbecue plates.
1205 E 85th St, Kansas City, MO 64131
816-822-7427: MORE DETAILS
Besides wonderful barbecue from a more than 60-year-old pit, owner Lindsay Shannon’s BB’s Lawnside Blues & BBQ restaurant and nightclub dishes out Louisiana favorites such as gumbo, jambalaya, and red beans and rice. Smoked specialties include pork spare ribs, pulled pork and Italian sausage.
2138 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216
313-962-9828: MORE DETAILS
Slows opened in Corktown in 2005 and brought some much needed revitalization to the neighborhood. The thriving bar scene (with a variety of local beers on tap) and unique, modern design – heavy on the wood and exposed brick – are a definitely a draw, but it’s the quality barbecue and creative menu that keeps the place consistently on a wait. St. Louis style ribs, thinly sliced brisket, jambalaya and mac-and-cheese are among the highlights.
701 Mazant St, New Orleans, LA 70117
504-949-3232: MORE DETAILS
The Crescent City may not traditionally be thought of as a barbecue town, what with the abundance of other wonderful cuisines represented, but The Joint has been changing perceptions and building a devoted following since 2004. In February 2012, this premier New Orleans ‘cue spot moved a few blocks into a spiffier, more expansive location on Mazant Street in the Bywater neighborhood. Smoked specialties include the likes of baby back ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken, and locally made Cajun sausage.
206 W Second St, Taylor, TX 76574
512-352-6206: MORE DETAILS
Rubbed with salt and pepper then slow cooked four to six hours in 50 year-old pits, the brisket at Louie Mueller’s is legendary. This iconic Texas eatery also serves up sausages by the link and meat by the slice or pound, while a thin, tomato-based sauce is meant to “complement, not coat.” The prestigious James Beard Foundation honored Louie Mueller Barbecue with the America’s Classics Award in 2006.
3185 S Highland Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89109
702-836-3621: MORE DETAILS
Though gluttony is not necessarily the first vice you’d associate with Sin City, one could hardly be blamed for overindulging at wildly popular West Side standout Rollin Smoke Barbeque. Chef Trey Holland imparts his southern roots into hickory-smoked barbecue — pulled pork, smoked hot links, ribs and short ribs — and down-home sides including jalapeño coleslaw, yams and bacon potato salad.
354 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
718-963-3404: MORE DETAILS
As barbecue became just another precious food trend in the Big Apple, many novelty restaurants with kitschy Southern décor, martinis and multiple novelty sauces sprouted up. Fette Sau was among the first in New York to give barbecue its proper due. Emphasizing their dry rub and maintaining meticulous smoking practices, Fette Sau boasts a fantastic variety of smoked pork and beef with some exotic cuts to boot. Bonus points for the fantastic bourbon list.
3106 Olive St , St Louis, MO 63103
314-535-4340: MORE DETAILS
The world’s best barbecue doesn’t always come from a century-old shack with an origin story about an eccentric (and possibly toothless) great uncle who didn’t sleep for tending the pit. A relative newcomer, Pappy’s Smokehouse opened in 2008 and has stolen the hearts (and stomachs) of St. Louis, as the long line attests. The star of the show would be their dry-rubbed Memphis-style ribs, slow-smoked over apple and cherry wood. They sell their fair share of pulled pork and barbecue turkey breast as well, accompanied by sweet potato fries and fried corn on the cob. When the meat is gone, they close up shop, so call ahead or plan your visit accordingly.