The Hottest Pizzerias Around the U.S.

By Zagat Staff  |  December 2, 2014

In many cities across the U.S., the best and most beloved pizzeria is also the oldest. It's one foodstuff where tradition often trumps hotness. But, that doesn't mean there aren't any new pizza spots worth paying attention to. After all, local icons like LA's Mozza and Brooklyn's Roberta's were newcomers once. Read on for a list of some of the hottest new pizzerias around the country, from a Boston spot built around a 6,000-pound wood-fired oven to a San Diego restaurant where the dough ferments for a full three days. 

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    Bay Area: Oak & Rye

    Oak & Rye (opened at the end of 2013) is a destination-worthy pizza stop, worth trekking down to the laid-back, upscale town of Los Gatos for stellar pies from Angelo Womack of famed Roberta’s in Brooklyn.

    Insider Tip: Their classic cocktails are also some of the best in the South Bay. Try a Five-Spice Daiquiri or a boilermaker, shots of craft spirits with a bottle of craft beer.

  • New York City: GG's

    Though not solely a pizza joint, this neighborhood hot spot in the former Goat Town space puts pie front and center thanks to double-deck ovens. Chef Bobby Hellen churns out New York-inspired slices like the Grandma Pie, the 1986 and even two different breakfast pizzas for brunch.

    Insider Tip: A shaved brussels sprouts, chicken liver and Tasso ham pie is going on the menu soon.

  • Miami: Siena Tavern

    Top Chef alum Fabio Viviani brings his Chicago-based Italian spot to South Beach, offering a modern industrial feel with cozy leather banquettes and thin-crust wood-fired pizzas that are right up there with his signature meatballs.

    Insider Tip: A large lot on top of the restaurant makes for easy self-parking.

  • Credit: Darlene Horn

    San Diego: Napizza

    With the original Little Italy location buzzing at all hours, it made sense to bring Roman-style pizza by the slice to the 4S Ranch neighborhood. Organic ingredients, bubbly crust (fermented for a full 72 hours) and several rotating varieties like the truffle porcini have made this a suburban neighborhood favorite. A third location is planned for Hillcrest in early 2015.

    Insider Tip: Stop in on the weekends for their breakfast pizza studded with cherry tomatoes, an egg over-easy and, of course, crisp bacon.

  • Austin: Bufalina

    Chef and owner Steven Dilley has mastered the Neapolitan pie, and Austin’s hipsterati can be found waiting at this fun (but tiny) spot every night of the week.

    Insider Tip: Check out the eclectic wine list, carefully curated by Dilley himself.

  • New York City: Houdini Kitchen Laboratory

    This industrial-chic pizzeria way out in the wilds of Ridgewood has garnered considerable buzz since opening earlier this year. The wood-fired pies here are not as paper thin as others of the ilk and are creatively topped in varieties such as the Houdini Green (zucchini, eggplant, shallots, escarole and goat cheese) and the Guido BK Pizza (wine-cured sausage, broccoli rabe, tomato sauce and mozzarella).

    Insider Tip: In warmer months, this spot has a large outdoor patio that provides added seating.

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Denver: Cart-Driver

    Inspired by the auto-grills that dot Italy's Autostrada, this sliver of a space from chef and co-owner Kelly Whitaker (Basta) rewards patrons with superlative Neapolitan pizzas that emerge from the wood-fired oven with lightly singed, chewy crusts smeared with a white sauce scented with garlic or a vine-ripened, organic tomato sauce. They're crested with high-end toppings, including littleneck clams, Asian pears, terrific sausage from Western Daughters, a local butchery and finished with mists of cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil.

    Insider Tip: Despite its fast-casual setup, there are plenty of reasons to hang out, including excellent oysters, batched cocktails, impressive beer and wine rosters and organic soft-serve gelato.

  • Credit: Michael Young

    Boston: Pastoral

    Chef Todd Winer's Fort Point newcomer features a swath of rural Italian-inspired plates, but pizzas are a focal point. They'll come from this 6,000-pound wood-fired beauty, imported from Naples and made from the stone and sand of famed Mt. Vesuvius. 

    Insider Tip: Pastoral is only the second Massachusetts restaurant currently certified by the U.S. and Canadian branch of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the international board governing authentic Neapolitan pizza-making. (The first: Posto.)

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Philadelphia: Brigantessa

    Chef Joe Cicala is taking his first restaurateur-ship seriously; in preparation for partnering with the Le Virtu owners on this East Passyunk Neaopolitan pizzeria, he traveled to Italy and became officially certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.

    Insider Tip: Authentic doesn’t have to mean boring, which you’ll find out if you try one of the alt-shaped pies coming out of the oven: styled after a cannoli, a tennis racquet or a star.

  • Chicago: Stella Barra

    Operated by chef-partner Jeff Mahin and Lettuce Entertain You, this is the third location for the West Coast-based pizzeria (the first two are in Hollywood and Santa Monica). It offers pies with a thin, bubbly crust and fresh toppings, accompanied by a 40-bottle wine list focused on varietals from Southern Italy. Like so many others on this list, great pizza starts with great dough — made with California-milled flour, filtered water, sea salt and yeast to create a crisp crust with a chewy center.

    Insider Tip: The must-order pie is the Rossa — arugula, roasted garlic, Calabrian chiles, sweet basil, herbs and extra-virgin olive oil.

  • Credit: Christopher Hassiotis

    Atlanta: Don Antonio by Starita

    The city's crowded Neapolitan pizza scene gets another excellent entrant with this Buckhead spot serving dozens of varieties of the "light, flaky" crusts, "scrumptious" flash-fried pizza and other "excellent" selections that have New York pizzaphiles ecstatic. The spacious brick building is tucked away and tough to spot, but once discovered there are plenty of indoor and outdoor tables and multiple seats with engaging views of the mozzarella station and twin imported wood-fired ovens. 

    Insider Tip: The pizzeria does offer a special gluten-free crust, so ask if you are interested.

  • Credit: Taverna Houston

    Dallas: Taverna Rossa

    Local craft beers, cocktails and thin-crust pizza play well together at this rustic-chic Plano destination known for sourcing top local ingredients.

    Insider Tip: Live music on the indoor stage spices up weekend evenings.

  • Los Angeles: Prime Pizza

    For anyone missing Damiano’s on Fairfax, the guys behind the number-on burger spot The Golden State opened a small white-tiled, by-the-slice pizza joint on the block. Well, it’s not just by the slice, both from round and square pies. You can get whole pies, garlic knots and chopped salads, too.

    Insider Tip: There’s now delivery for the lucky hungry people within the zone between La Cienega Boulevard and La Brea Avenue and Sunset and Wilshire boulevards.