1. Di Fara Pizza — Brooklyn
Why you should try it: Dom DeMarco is a living legend in pizza, who hand crafts each pie that is served in the restaurant. Getting to watch him work — from hand-stretching the dough to sprinkling the parmesan cheese on top — is worth the (sometimes very long) wait. Plus, many of the ingredients (like the canned tomatoes) are specially imported from Italy.
2. Pepe’s — New Haven, Conn.
Why you should try it: Frank Pepe’s is a New Haven institution, credited with the invention of the New Haven-style white clam pizza pie, which is delicious in its simplicity: no mozzarella, just plain pie, with a few fresh ingredients (white clams, garlic, oregano, olive oil, and some grated cheese).
Why you should try it: For their award-winning Tequila Pizza, which won “World’s Best Pizza” at the International Pizza Expo in 2012. It’s not hard to see why: This pizza combines basically every amazing flavor you love about summer and adds bacon to it, which makes it immune to boringness.
4. Pizzeria Mozza — Los Angeles
Why you should try it: Pizzeria Mozza was not only co-founded by famed crocs-wearer Mario Batali, but it is home to a beautiful Squash Blossom Pizza, which takes something ordinary like the flowers that grow on squash vines and turns them into crispy, fried, tasty little containers for cheese — and that’s even before they go on a beautiful pizza.
5. Pizzeria Bianco — Phoenix
Why you should try it: For the Wiseguy Pizza, which is a white pie with fennel sausage and thinly sliced mozzarella (which is smoked in-house) and topped with caramelized onions.
Plus, you know your pizza is something special when Chef Nancy Silverton (one of the co-founders of Pizzeria Mozza) is one of your biggest fans.
6. Satchel’s Pizza — Gainesville, Fla.
Why it’s worth trying: For both the incredibly tasty pizza and the unique atmosphere — it’s what TGI Friday’s wishes it were. There’s unique art on the walls, a play area for kids, and one of the tables is actually inside of an old van (which is lovingly covered in years of customer graffiti). Satchel’s is basically a Gainesville institution, plus they make their own sodas!
7. Benny Tudino’s — Hoboken, N.J.
Why you should try it: Because they have slices as big as your baby — and a wall of pictures that (sort of) proves it. But seriously: If you are a hungry person and you feel as though normal, wimpy-sized pizza is not your jam, you owe it to your personal growth as a human to attempt to wolf one of these slices down.
8. Fireside Pies — Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas
Why you should try it: For The Thirteenth Pie, which is like the omakase of pizzas. It’s a chef’s choice pizza that changes daily, and could contain any combination of tasty ingredients that the restaurant is loving that day. You could get a pie with brie, green apples, and prosciutto; one with shrimp, garlic, and pesto; or even one with lovely, lovely lobster.
9. Nice Slice — Providence, R.I.
Why you should try it: For the Cranberry Picnic Pizza, a sweet and savory combination of cranberries, almonds, and spinach with a mozzarella cheese blend underneath. Plus, there are gluten free and vegan options, if that is more your speed.
10. Fazzarri’s — Clarkston, Wash.
Why you should try it: For The Shotsy, which has mustard sauce, swiss and mozzarella cheese, polish sausage, sauerkraut, and beautiful, beautiful onions. It’s a pie that takes the deli sandwich of your dreams and merges it seamlessly with pizza.
Why you should try it: Pequod’s is the type of Chicago deep-dish pizza that makes a believer out of people who don’t like deep dish, or heaven forbid, don’t think it’s pizza at all. The secret is the crispy cheese crust. For those people who think deep-dish crust is too dry or flavorless, it’s the solution to your problems.
12. Bar — New Haven, Conn.
Why you should try it: For the Mashed Potato Pizza — a delicious variation on New Haven-style pizza that combines the glorious beauty of mashed potatoes and BACON and puts it all on a white pie. Plus, they make their own beer!
13. The Cheeseboard Collective — Berkeley
Why you should try it: Not only is The Cheeseboard an awesome worker-owned collective, but they also serve a different pizza every day, with each week’s listings up on their website. The topping combinations are no joke, either. You probably aren’t going to find anywhere else that does a pie with summer squash, onion, mozzarella, Valbreso feta cheese, and basil pine nut pesto.
14. Zante’s Indian Pizza — San Francisco
Why you should try it: For the amazing Indian Pizzas. Indian flavors are basically foolproof: They all mix and match with each other well, and putting them directly onto bread is what you’d be doing with your naan, anyway. Plus, these pizzas come with delicious chutneys to dip the crust in, which is an excellent use of both chutney and crust.
15. Joe’s Pizza — New York
Why you should try it: If you want to taste a perfect specimen of New York-style pizza, Joe’s Pizza is where you go. It’s the poster child for by-the-slice, foldable crust, no frills, and just good flavors kind of pizza. It’s simple stuff, but it’s what makes them an institution.
16. Paulie Gee’s — Brooklyn
Why you should try it: If you’re tired of plain red pepper flakes, or you just think pizza is too bland, you should come for the Hellboy, a uniquely spicy pie featuring mozzarella cheese, Italian tomatoes, Berkshire Sopressata Piccante, parmigiano reggiano, and most importantly, Mike’s HOT Honey drizzled on top.
17. Two Boots — New York and Los Angeles
Why you should try it: All of the pizzas have great names — the Newman (for Seinfeld) and the Dude (for The Big Lewboski), for example — but the V For Vegan pie is the type of vegan pizza even non-vegans will love. Topped with veggies and a special criss-cross of basil and red pepper pestos, it’s spicy and sweet and surprisingly addictive.
18. Ian’s Pizza — Madison, Wis.; Milwaukee; Denver
Why you should try it: For the mac ‘n’ cheese pizza, DUH. It’s mac ‘n’ cheese. ON PIZZA. From the state that does cheese better than any other. This is basically what you’ve been hoping for your entire life.
An earlier version of this article stated that Fireside Pies was in Dallas, Texas. Fireside Pies is actually located in both Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.