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The pizzerias you gotta try in Baltimore

Think Baltimore’s food scene is just about crab cakes? Clay Davis might have something to say about that.

Here are the pies to try in Baltimore:

Joe Squared 

After a visit to Joe Squared, you’ll be left wondering why there isn’t more sourdough pizza in the world. Baked in a coal-fired oven, their thin square pizzas hit all the right angles and parts of your soul. Their slightly charred and subtly complex crust doesn’t need to be fancified, but it’s also the perfect canvas for their innumerable combos. 

Hard to pick a fave, but we’re partial to the Coalhouse, topped with roasted garlic cream, tomatoes, and eggplant, plus fresh mozz. Or, for the indecisive, there’s the Flag, trisected to include three of Joe2‘s greatest hits.         

Matthew’s Pizzeria

For more than 75 years, Matthew’s has served up some of Baltimore’s most talked about pizza. Lately, they’ve been topping more and more of them with jumbo lump crab. There’s about ¼ lb of the locally sourced sweet meat on every Crab Pie, built upon their trademark rich, thick, and buttery dough. 

Hersh’s

Owner Josh Hershkovitz is obsessive about his food and his wine list. It shows. Since 2011, he’s garnered praise for homemade pizzas and pastas showcasing Maryland’s best in-season produce.  

Joe Benny’s

If you want their delicious focaccia pizza, you might want to bring a good book to read. That’s not a jab – they readily admit that on their site:

“We got a small space. There’s almost always a wait. We barely pick up the phone. We’re walk-in only NO RESERVATIONS (caps theirs). We’re understaffed and we’re not fancy,” the About Us section reads. 

“If you’re okay with all that, we’d love to have you.”

Verde

Canton’s Verde draws inspiration from Italy’s traditional trattorias while constantly evolving the Neapolitan pie. Among their smash hits: Sausage with pistachio pesto (Pistacchio e Salsiccia; at dinner) and smoked buffalo mozzarella with pancetta and eggs (Pancetta e Oliva; brunch).

Primo Pasta Kitchen 

The ideal meal here is a group dinner, family style. There’s solid pizza – both round and flatbread style – but you’ll want a little bit of everything. With the whole gang together, you can sample a bit of their calamari, blackened Waldorf salad, and world-class cannolis. If no one’s around, you could order all of those yourself for one memorable meal and a lifetime of our admiration.            

Zella’s Pizzeria 

Zella’s reflects the eclectic spirit of West Baltimore with a wide-ranging menu and vivid paintings that could be spotted all the way from Dundalk* (*not really). They’ve got the portabella mushroom and roasted eggplant pizzas that you’d expect from a place like this, but they also dish out the St. Magnus’ Meat Classic – pepperoni, bacon, ham, and Italian sausage – for the carnivores.    

Johnny Rad’s Pizzeria Tavern

With skeeball, legitimately fantastic pizza, and no germy ball pits full of screeching brats, Johnny Rad’s is a big kid’s dream destination.

Bella

Can’t decide between Indian and Italian? Why choose? Bella fires dosas and richly spiced kabobs of all types in the tandoor with a full roster of pizzeria staples in the oven rotation. What truly sets them apart, however, is the merger of the cuisines. 

“Fusion” is sometimes the f-word of the restaurant world; a turnoff that can stop an enjoyable meal in its tracks. Not the case here – their palak paneer and butter chicken pizzas will win you over. 

Pizza John’s

Not to be confused with you-know-who, Pizza John’s offers cafeteria nostalgia in the confines of its Spanish Colonial setup. The food may or may not be for you, but you oughta take in the experience at least once.  

Giovanna’s Italian Kitchen

Giovanna’s serves up solid pies and daily specials worthy of a spot in your dinner rotation. Last Thursday, a generous cut of lasagna, anchored by their bright house-made marinara, was their entrée du jour.  

Isabella’s

At Isabella’s in Little Italy, the crust is puffy, like a Neapolitan. But, the hefty layers of cheese will quickly remind you that this is Baltimore, Maryland, USA. It’s saluted by many as one of Charm City’s finest. 

Angelina’s Pizza & Pasta

Family owned and operated, this Odenton fave nails the beloved old-school Italian red sauce dishes. They’ve got the aesthetic, too; just a bit newer, and more refined. We also like their approach to the pepperoni pie; the outer circle of ‘roni slices overlaps the outer crust.    

Paulie Gee’s

One of Brooklyn’s best arrived in Hampden in 2016. Make sure you get the perfectly-christened Stinger Bell with Mike’s Hot Honey, smoked mozzarella, lemon, olive oil, and fresh basil.

BricknFire

Catch Baltimore’s best pizza truck whenever you spot it, or find them permanently parked at Camden Yards.

Iggies

Bring your own hooch and admire the pizza-tossing pooch painting at checkout. Hard to go wrong with anything on the chalkboard, but The Funghi with mushroom ragu, leeks, mozzarella, and goat cheese – tangy, umami, and tasty – would be a quality pick.

Birroteca

Birroteca is a strong choice for date night. Whet your appetite for pizza with one of their killer charcuterie boards. 

Angeli’s

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Angeli’s set up shop in Little Italy. The transplants have been welcomed with open arms for their New York-style, gluten-free, and cauliflower crust pizzas, all of which can be customized with vegan cheese.

TinyBrickOven

Not just a cute name – they bake in “the world’s most portable brick oven,” which gets the job done in about 80 seconds. TinyBrickOven is still shy of its first birthday, but it’s gradually building buzz for its charred crust, original vegan sausage, and creamy gelato.    

Gil’s Pizzas

If extra cheese is a thing, why aren’t there lots of pizzerias offering double dough? Chew on that while you enjoy Gil’s ~$2 upgrade for extra thick crust.  

Piazza 27 Baltimore 

The arrival of Piazza 27 halted the long-running revolving door of tenants at 900 Cathedral St. Tons of solid choices to be had on their expansive menu, but you might want to make their giant strombolis your first priority. They’re latticed like a streusel and every gap is filled with clouds of ricotta and/or strings of mozz. 

Brendali 

Since 2014, Brendali has served up homestyle Italian pies and entrees in Federal Hill with cannolis, tiramisu, and other delectable desserts to close out the meal in style.

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