By Devorah Lev-Tov
Searching for the best pizza in New York City is kind of like looking for the best sand at the beach: Almost anything you find is going to be pretty satisfying, and it’s hard to go wrong. Even the 99-cent slices are better than the so-called “best” pizza in a lot of other cities. That said, there are clearly some standouts worth seeking out. Brooklyn is home to a large chunk of the top pizzerias, but the other boroughs each have solid representation—pizza is an equal-opportunity presence across the city.
Read on for the absolute best pizza places in the city, from thin crust to square pies to Neapolitan style. (And a word of advice: If you want to look like a true New Yorker while eating your slice, fold it in half before chowing down. Trust us on this one!)
1. Di Fara
Unfortunately, the pizza world lost a legend when Dom DeMarco, who was 85, passed away earlier this year in March. He founded Di Fara in 1965, on a quiet corner in Midwood, Brooklyn, after moving there from Italy. Until recent years, he was a familiar sight behind the counter, working slowly and methodically distributing the cheese, sliding pizzas in and out of the oven, and tearing fresh basil and drizzling high-quality olive oil on top of the finished pies. His children run things now, and they have opened other locations, but it’s still worth making the pilgrimage to the original institution near the Avenue J subway stop, even though there is zero ambience and a consistently long line. And if you only feel hungry enough for a slice, we still suggest ordering a whole pie. After the journey and wait, it’s a shame to spend $5 a slice when you can get a whole pie for $30. Morning-after cold pizza for the win.
The owner of Lucali was inspired by old school pizza joints like Di Fara that he enjoyed while growing up in Carroll Gardens, and it shows with his use of impeccably fresh ingredients for toppings and a stellar dough. But where Di Fara isn’t a place for a romantic date night, Lucali has a rustic farmhouse coziness complete with flickering candles in all the right places—and it’s BYOB. The bad news is they don’t take reservations and it’s consistently packed. The good news is a host will take your phone number (starting at 4 p.m.) and call when your table’s ready. When you score a seat, a round pie with your choice of various toppings and a single calzone are the only choices to make, and whatever you order will be incredible.
DUMBO in Brooklyn was famous for a while as the home of Grimaldi’s Pizza. But those in the know know that Juliana’s is the true original, even though Grimaldi’s is still there, just a few doors down. Interestingly, Juliana’s is owned by Patsy Grimaldi, who is not involved in Grimaldi’s Pizza anymore, and he is back in the original Grimaldi’s space with his original coal oven, under the name Juliana’s—after his mother. Thin crust pies are the thing here, and they’re perfectly charred in the beautiful oven you’ll see in the back of the restaurant. Add an egg cream to drink and you’ll have a perfectly Brooklyn experience.
4. Joe’s Pizza
For a quick and classic New York slice, Joe’s Pizza can’t be beat. The Greenwich Village is an institution (though expect to eat your slices while standing), but you can score their thin crust slices at two other NYC locations now, too (and, randomly, Ann Arbor, Michigan). Started in 1975 by Naples native Joe Pozzuoli, the man is responsible for providing Manhattan with a cheap and delicious slice on the go for nearly 50 years. Thanks, Joe!
If you’re in the Village and you don’t just want a slice from Joe’s, grab a table at John’s, which serves full pies only. John’s was also founded by a Naples immigrant—all the way back in 1929—so you know it’s legit. Giovanni “John” Sasso even moved his coal-fired oven brick by brick when he moved a few blocks away to the current Bleecker Street location. Although no longer owned by the Sassos, it’s still family-owned and operated, using the original oven. You’ll also see pastas and appetizers on the menu, but remember, you came for the classic New York style pizza!
6. Paulie Gee’s
Paulie Gianonne first made a name for himself as a prolific commenter on various pizza blogs. He used to work in IT, until he pursued his passion and opened up his shop in Greenpoint in 2010, where he makes a point of serving pizza and an experience, referencing the old school Brooklyn pizza shops of this youth, with the twist of new and funky flavor and topping combinations. Expect pizzas like Hellboy, with fresh mozzarella, Italian tomatoes, Berkshire soppressata picante, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Mike’s Hot Honey and Grapeful Dead with Gouda, Parmagiano Reggiano, baby spinach, olive oil, and house pickled red grape halves. If you just want a slice and not a whole pie, head around the corner to Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop.
Miriam Weiskind left her job in advertising to learn how to make pizza from Paulie Gee, and learn she did. When the pandemic started and everything shut down, she started making pizza pies out of her apartment for her neighbors, simply to share a little joy (and dinner). Soon, she found herself baking off pies day and night for people coming in from as far afield as the Bronx and New Jersey. These days, she takes her operation on the road, popping up at various bars in the city. She’ll be at Strong Rope and Velvette in Park Slope on select nights over the next few months as she works to save up to open her very own shop. Follow her on social to see where she’ll be popping up next!
While Roberta’s may have put Bushwick on the map for its pizza back in the day, Ops is currently making the best pizza in Bushwick (don’t @ us). Co-owners Marie Tribouilloy and Mike Fadem spend days perfecting their chewy sourdough crust, and then top it with items like mortadella, broccoli rabe, and “many onions.” Pair it with some natural wine that takes up the other half of the menu, and you’ll be happy indeed.
9. Baby Luc’s
After years of making customers wait in line for pies only, the owners of Lucali opened Baby Luc’s in 2021. While it’s not the same pizza—here they sell only square slices, while at Lucali it’s only round—it has the same pedigree of excellently-sourced ingredients and Mark Iacono and his acolytes in front of the oven.
This Williamsburg spot combines Italian and New York style pizza in the best ways possible. It’s most known for putting globs of creamy fresh burrata on top of its pies, but even without the gratuitous indulgence, the pizza here still stands up to the competition and then some. And when you do add in the burrata? Well, it’s really no contest.
11. Mama’s Too!
The Upper West Side did not used to be a pizza destination. Mama’s Too! changed that when it opened its diminutive space in 2018, and suddenly people were traveling uptown from Brooklyn for pizza, instead of the other way around. Round, square, tomato sauce, vodka sauce, or any of the inventive specialty pies (Cacio e Pepe, we see you), you really can’t go wrong—as long as you don’t try and make any substitutions to menu items or are not prepared to wait.
Located deep in South Brooklyn, this landmark red sauce spot is an 83-year-old neighborhood joint where you’ll see people celebrating birthdays and special occasions as much as grabbing a slice to eat on one of the picnic tables outside. If you’re eating inside, try the roasted artichokes and garlic bread in addition to the justifiably famous square Sicilian pies (be ready for sauce on top of the cheese). And, of course, finish with the tricolored frozen dessert found in the restaurant’s name, spumoni.
13. Upside Pizza
If you feel like you walked onto the set of Saved by the Bell (the original ‘90s version), then you’ve found Upside. Now with four locations, this slice joint makes a perfect New York pie (both round and square), as well as ones with creative topping combinations. Don’t expect a seat (it’s really grab and go), but do leave time to stop here before catching your train at Penn Station if you hit up the original location.
14. Best Pizza
If you name your pizzeria Best Pizza, you have confidence and nerve. But in the case of Frank Pinello, you’d also be right. This Williamsburg spot feels super old school, but the traditional thin crust New York slices coming out of the wood-burning oven feel as timeless as ever. High quality ingredients, top-notch dough, and a menu that includes delicious salads (really) and tasty Italian heroes all combine to make this place at the very least one of the best in the city.
Pizzaiolo Anthony Mangieri first opened his pizza shop in the East Village back in 2004, at the beginning of the Neapolitan-style pizza renaissance in New York. That shop closed and he moved to San Francisco for a while, bringing Una with him, until 2018 when he reopened on the Lower East Side…until the pandemic shut him down again. This latest iteration opened in March 2022 with a menu of five pies and one rotating special, four toppings, and two appetizers and desserts, and we’re happy to report that the pizza is better than ever.
16. Louie & Ernie’s
Pizza in the Bronx is often relegated to Arthur Avenue, the center of Little Italy. And while there are several great pizza places there, we’re partial to this little joint that feels like it’s trapped in amber in 1959, when it first opened. The menu has slices, pies, and calzones, and they’re all excellent offerings of a classic New York pizza joint.
The Rockaways was put on the pizza map by Nicole Russell when she began making pizza out of her home there during the recovery from Hurricane Sandy in 2013. Named after her favorite movie The Last Dragon, Russell (aka The Master) has since won awards, became a host on Pizza Wars (currently on season four), and sold her creative pies (see her jerk chicken and Asian BBQ pies) at various pop-ups in Queens. You can get your hands (and mouth) on her pizza on Saturdays in July by ordering for pick up only. Follow Last Dragon on social to get all the deets.
18. Don Antonio
Midtown is a bit of a pizza desert, but Don Antonio is a haven for traditional Neapolitan style pies made by a master. Naples natives and master pizzamakers Roberto Caporuscio and Antonio Starita originally opened Don Antonio’s in 2012, and today, it’s owned and operated by Roberto’s daughter Giorgia Caporuscio, who is a World Champion Pizzaiola. The menu has 45 Neapolitan pizzas, including montanara, a deep fried pizza, alongside a solid list of antipasti and salads.
19. Smillie Pizza
Justin Smillie cut his chef teeth at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria before leaving in 2014 to become the executive chef at Upland, where the pizzas quickly became a highlight. When the pandemic struck, Smillie headed back to Il Buco, and launched Smillie Pizza inside it, where his pies are available for takeout and delivery only. The excellent pies include Green Chorizo, Cacio e Pepe, and Kale + Anchovy, in addition to a traditional Margherita.
Staten Island has several solid pizza joints that can easily compete with their Brooklyn counterparts, and Joe & Pat’s is at the top of the list. Opened in 1960, the cheesy, thin crust pies share menu space with red sauce Italian pastas, paninis, seafood, and entrees like veal parmigiana and chicken rollatine. But it’s the pizza you want (with more than 15 types to choose from), and you won't be disappointed.