Don’t ever bet against pizza. If there’s one food that continues to get better and better around New York, besides burgers, it’s pies and slices. They range from truly Italian in creation and spirit to idiosyncratic pizzas that celebrate the terrific styles around America. (You can find what might be the best bar pizza in the country right here in Brooklyn.) You might say we are currently in New York’s golden age of the pie.
So, we asked a dozen top chefs—from the man who has accrued innumerable Michelin stars to the owner of one of the city’s most popular mainstream pizza spots—to reveal their favorite pies. The answers are amazing: From a supremely satisfying $2.75 slice to a $70 pie covered with truffles—we found the absolute best places to eat pizza right now in New York City
The wait can be an hour or more. To say the place is no frills is generous. To say it’s out of the way is also an understatement. And yet—or because of this—the legend of Di Fara difarapizza.com pizza continues. The reason is not just the straight up New York pizza, topped with sweet tomato sauce, a salty mix of cheeses and a drizzle of oil, is the guy who makes them, Domenico DeMarco who has been making this pie since the early ‘60s. Andrew Carmellini approves. “The pizza is good no question. The platonic ideal of a NYC pie, but it’s the shrouded mystery surrounding Dom snipping the basil over the top that makes the destination. I go with the pepperoni pizza ($34).”
Franny’s is simultaneously a great neighborhood place and a destination pizza spot. Jonathan Waxman, legendary chef of Barbuto in the West Village, often makes the trip to Brooklyn for the pizza. “I just love it. Franny’s pies are not too thin, nor too thick. Not too big, nor too small. In a way, the pizzas remind me of Nancy Silverton’s: light, crisp crust that’s perfectly charred with just the right amount of flavorful toppings.” More so than most places, owner Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg are fanatical about sourcing their ingredients; their toppings are seasonal and never overcrowded on top of the pie Waxman’s favorite order is the tomato, sausage and fior di latte, or cow’s milk mozzarella ($22).
—chosen by Chef Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto, New York.
“Here is my order at my favorite, Joe’s pizza,” says American comfort food expert Alex Guarnaschelli. “One plain slice ($2.75) and one pepperoni slice ($3.50). Douse them both in an obscene amount of powdered garlic and oregano. It’s that old school NYC slice type pizza that takes me back to childhood.” Indeed, if there’s a quintessential New York city slice it comes from Joe’s, which has been around since 1975. Star sushi star chef Daisuke Nakazawa picks Joe’s plain slice as his favorite in the city, too. “I like Joe’s because the crust is so thin,” he reveals. In fact, he often picks up a slice on his way to work behind the counter at his nearby Sushi Nakazawa.
—chosen by Chef by Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter, New York; judge on Chopped; also chosen by Chef Daisuke Nakazawa of Sushi Nakazawa, New York.
By all accounts, Alain Ducasse is one of the world’s great chefs with a worldwide restaurant empire and 21 Michelin stars total. Yet he has carefully watched Keste’s owner Roberto Caporuscio make the prized wood-oven-baked Neapolitan pizzas at Kesté. (Convenient for pizza tourists: It’s across the street from John’s above.) Here’s Ducasse on the process: “Pizzaiolo Caporuscio forms and punches dough, tops it with San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella—the classic!— and fires quickly in a wood-fired oven built by experts from Naples. Charred with desirable air pockets, this pizza proves that perfection can be found in simplicity and it’s a New York City favorite.” ($13).
—chosen by Chef Alain Ducasse of Alain Ducasse restaurants.
Back in the day in New York, if you wanted garlic on your pizza, you reached for the garlic salt. Yet John’s, the 87-year-old Greenwich Village institution with graffiti-scarred wooden booths, has had a fresh garlic topping option forever. The soulful Italian-American cook Missy Robbins has a deep appreciation for John’s New York style pizza. Robbin orders the fresh garlic and cheese pie. “I’ve been eating this pizza for 20 years. The crust is reliable - chewy and crunchy at the same time. The flavor from a coal oven that’s been in use for years builds up; it adds a particular flavor; you know it’s John’s when you taste it. And then the crushed garlic toppings brings in a zing.” ($17.50 for a small pie; $19.50 for large)
—chosen by Chef Missy Robbins of Lilia, Brooklyn.
Matthew Hyland, chef and owner of Emily pizza, explains why you’ll be instantly addicted to Adam Kuban’s bar pizza. "It’s a super thin crust pie baked in a pan with a crispy frico cheese edge,” he says. “It reminds me of bowling alley pizza, except that Adam puts so much hard work and care into the dough, sauce. And he adds Kublend Cheese—a melty, intense mixture of cheese that is so secretive that even I don't know what's in it.” (The Kublend is Kuban’s signature blend of cheeses that he mixes himself to keep the details top secret.) Margot’s pizza isn’t available every day. In fact, you can only find it once a month when Kuban pops up at Emily pizza in Brooklyn. Tickets to the event sell out fast, every time (They’re $25 per person, including a drink.) The Ranchero is a favorite of Hyland’s, topped with cheese and more cheese, plus pickled jalapeños, a pretty green swirl of buttermilk ranch dressing, so it’s nicely oily with a great tangy spicy hit.
—chosen by Chef Matthew Hyland of Emily and Emmy Squared, Brooklyn.
Lucali, the miniscule, old school joint tucked away on a residential Brooklyn block, has some notable fans. David Beckham has Instagrammed his love for it multiple times. Jay-Z and Beyonce made it their Sunday night date spot and Hugh Jackman ran out to get beer around the corner because the place is BYOB. David Chang, is likewise a big booster of the Mark Iacono’s pizzas, which are pretty much classic Neapolitan style, with a small selection of toppings like peppers, shallots and pepperoni. Chang’s order is a straight up cheese pizza ($24). Says Chang: “It's my favorite pizza in New York exactly because it's not over the top. it's cared for more than others. You can see it in everything from the basil on every pie that Mark grows himself to the insanely delicious calzones. Mark simply cares more about his pizza and that’s what makes it great.” Chang’s pro move is a side order of meatballs, cooked in four hour sauce.
—chosen by Chef David Chang Momofuku founder.
Daniel Humm runs the kitchen at the epic Eleven Madison Park in the early evenings, but hangs out at cozy Pasquale Jones in Soho during his off hours. His favorite dish is their signature pie. “Their Little Neck Clam pizza: It’s the best. Tons of garlic, lots of acidity, and briny clams. It’s a great modern day version of a classic. I love Pasquale Jones, and its great food, wine and hospitality. I frequent it more than any other place right now.” To make that pizza, chef/owner Ryan Hardy and Tim Caspare cover the sturdy crust with an unlikely sounding—but fantastic—sauce of whipped cream spiked with reduced clam cooking juices; it makes the pie decadent and doubles down on the clam flavor; the random pieces of sautéed broccoli rabe help cut the richness too. ($27)
—chosen by Chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park, New York.
Crispy, thin-crusted pizza fans, here’s your pie. Marta, the Italian restaurant near Madison Park from Danny Meyer’s restaurant group, has two imposing wood ovens to meet the demand for Nick Anderer’s pizzas. He has two categories, Pizze Rosse and Pizza Bianche, plus occasional indulgent specials like one showered with white truffles. Pastry king Dominique Ansel loves it: "One of my favorite pizzas I’ve had in NYC. Super fragrant white truffle sliced for you tableside that covers almost the whole pie, with fresh mozzarella and olive oil. Their crust is always spot on. It used to come with a bottle of red wine too!” ($75) When truffle season is over, Ansel orders the Funghi pizza, covered with chanterelles and Hen of the Woods, mozzarella and fontina cheese; $23.)
—chosen by Chef Dominique Ansel of Dominique Ansel Bakery and Dominique Ansel Kitchen, New York.
This is what you need to know about the pizza at Motorino, which has branches from Williamsburg to the UWS and Singapore: The crusts are obscenely good, blistered with bubbles from their time in the wood-burning oven. There’s an array of toppings like meatballs, cured anchovies, arugula, and soppressata, but nothing too crazy. Michael Symon, the Cleveland-based star chef, heads to the East Village outpost for the pizza topped with creamy mozzarella-styled fior di latte: brussels sprout leaves, chunks of smoky pancetta and garlic slices ($16). Symon adores everything about it: “It’s not overly thin Naples style where it dissolves under the toppings. The crust has the perfect chew, and It is as balanced as a pizza can be.”
—chosen by Chef Michael Symon of Mabel’s BBQ and Lola; co-host of The Chew talk show
Everyone has a favorite dish at Roberta’s, the Bushwick compound that encompasses a vast rowdy indoor-and-outdoor drinking and dining area with a 2-star Michelin chef’s counter and a radio station. But it all started as a pizza place and that’s still what Roberta’s is most famous for. “They make pizza in the same style that we make pasta,” says Michael Anthony, the esteemed chef at Gramercy Tavern. “It’s not authentic. In fact, it’s almost like you’re picking a fight with an Italian. He or she might say, ‘you’re gilding the lily; this isn’t authentic.’ But at Roberta’s, they make great dough and they cook it really well in a wood oven, with crazy toppings, and its fantastic American pizza.” Anthony likes the Nun on the Run; it’s covered with two cheeses (mozzarella and the Swiss alp Blossom), then gets hit of flavor from sweet caramelized onions, piquant capers and hot chiles. ($19)
—chosen by Chef by Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern and Untitled, New York.
"I love Prince Street pizza. The pepperoni grandma pie will knock you on your ass,” declares Josh Capon. Prince Street calls itself ‘Home of the Soho Square’ and their Roman-style pizzas, sold in over-sized squares, have a fluffy base of dough, that’s crispy on the bottom. The mozzarella is sprinkled on the dough and finished with the tomato sauce and, if you’re smart, pepperoni rounds. “The perfect little cups of pepperoni that hold the perfect amount of spicy chile oil in each one. Check out the golden crust, especially the corner piece, and the sweet but yet spicy tomato sauce.” ($30.50)
—chosen by Chef Josh Capon of Bowery Meat Company and Lure Fish Bar, New York.