Pizza is a serious business in New York. In his book Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box, writer Scott Wiener even described the city as a “slice town”. Brought to the U.S. by Italian immigrants in the late 1800s, pizza was originally sold in New York by the slice – whole pies were too expensive for both first-generation Italian Americans and adventurous New Yorkers who crossed the borders of Little Italy to buy ethnic foods.
The first American pizzeria, Lombardi, opened in 1905 in the heart of New York’s Little Italy and it’s still an institution for Italian American cuisine. Today, the Big Apple is not only home to classic New York-style pizza (thin and crunchy), but also to authentic Neapolitan pizza (with a softer, puffier crust). In this post, I’ve put together a list of my favorite Manhattan & Brooklyn pizzerias to show you some of the best places to eat pizza in NY.
The best pizza in New York
Co. (230 9th Ave, New York).
This Chelsea pizzeria is run by Jim Lahley, “the man who can do wonders with flour and water” according to the New York Times. His pizzas are Roman-style, fluffy and crunchy at the same time and have inventive toppings. Don’t miss the meatball pie (an irresistible pizza rossa with tiny veal meatballs, caramelized onions and olives) and the Popeye (garlicky spinach, pecorino cheese and mozzarella).
Roberta’s (261 Moore St, Brooklyn).
Roberta’s is a hip pizzeria in Brooklyn. Pizza here is wood-fired and ingredients are seasonal. Roberta’s signature pizzas include the Four Emperors (arrabbiata sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, asiago and sesame seeds) and the Boo Radley pie (mozzarella, parmigiano, radicchio, pancetta, scallion and jalapenos).
Marta (The Redbury Hotel, 29 E 29th St, New York).
Marta is an Italian restaurant run by chef Joe Tarasco and inspired by Roman pizzerie. As Roman tradition commands, the menu is divided into pizze rosse (red) and pizze bianche (white). On the “red” side the Coda alla Vaccinara pizza is one of my favorites – the blending of flavors, warm and comforting, is just right. For a “white” pizza, try the Patate alla Carbonara.
Motorino (349 E 12th St).
The Brussels sprouts and pancetta pizza at Motorino in NY has attracted both fierce criticism and praise. Like it or not, Motorino serves one of the city’s best pizzas. The New York Times described the dough of this Brooklyn/East Village pizzeria as “a Neapolitan fantasy of crispness that is also pillowy and soft, sweet but not sugared, tangy without too much salt”. The perfect New York pizza.
Kesté (271 Bleecker St, New York).
This tiny West Village pizzeria is helmed by Roberto Caporuscio, an acclaimed pizzaiolo dedicated to offer authentic Neapolitan pizza. If you go, try the pizza salsiccia and friarielli or the pizza toscana (a Tuscan-inspired pie with kale, pecorino cheese and finocchiona salami).
John of Bleecker Street (278 Bleecker St, New York).
If you’re looking for New York-style pizza, go to John of Bleecker Street. This pizzeria has been serving delicious pies since 1929.
Pasquale Jones (187 Mulberry St, New York).
Pasquale Jones is a tiny Italian restaurant in the heart of Manhattan’s Little Italy. Pizzas here have a crispy, bready crust and high-quality ingredients. Get the littleneck clam pizza, a “white” pizza with garlicky, lemony clams.
Di Fara Pizza (1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn).
According to food guru Anthony Bourdain, Di Fara Pizza is “the best of the best”. I’m not sure I agree with him, but I’m positive it’s worth it to eat at this Brooklyn Italian American institution (Domenico Di Marco opened the pizzeria in 1965). The atmosphere is genuine and cozy. Pepperoni pizza is the dish to order.
Speedy Romeo (63 Clinton St, New York).
At Speedy Romeo pizzas are baked in a hardwood fired Italian pizza oven. The result is a Neapolitan-style pizza with a thick-bready crust and innovative toppings that often include bechamel (pizza elitists won’t approve).
Lucali (575 Henry St, Brooklyn).
Lucali’s pizza has long been acclaimed as one of NY’s greatest pizzas. What I love about Lucali pizza is its perfect balance between crunch and chewy. This pizzeria only accepts cash and welcomes customers to bring their own drinks.