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Your Next Great American Pizza Road Trip

Buckle up, we’ve got pizzas to eat

Built from humble origins and perfected over trials and recipes, the pizza has retained its integrity throughout the years of consumption and reinvention. Its beloved status as one of America’s favorite foods carries an unparalleled level of fervor. So much that there are still countless and more times than not, heated debates regarding the perfect pie amongst its variations. This enthusiasm comes from loyalty to regional variations that have sprung up between coasts. With creative freedom and innovative spirit, these pizzas have landed a spot on our list of ones to watch out for.

Bring an overnight bag and your stomach, we’ve got a few pit stops ahead of us.

 

New York

They say that even a bad New York slice is a good one anywhere else. Pizza has become the city’s unofficial mascot and it’s easy to see why: you can’t throw a rock without hitting a pizzeria. The New York slice is known for its crisp yet chewy crust that is engineered to fold perfectly in half. That’s how you’ve got to eat it when you’re always on the go in a city that never sleeps.

New Haven

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Had to go once. Served cold apparently.

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New Haven will tell anyone who wants to hear it that they’re the inventors of pizza. And honestly, they’re pretty convincing with their signature crispy coal oven-cooked pies. New Haven’s pizzas aren’t known to be pretty but their reputation for smoky crusts, white sauce, and clam toppings stretches far and wide. Sometimes referred to as “apizza” (pronounced “ah-beets!”) around town, it’s a wink to the dialect found around Naples, the “home” of pizza. Though New Haven style can include a variety of ingredients, it’s largely associated with white sauce, clams, and its originator, Frank Pepe.

  • Sally’s Apizza – 237 Wooster Street, New Haven CT 06511
  • Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana – 157 Wooster Street, New Haven, CT

Detroit

Detroit style is notable for its thick crust made from the pizza’s signature steel pan tied to the city’s industrial history. The pizza usually comes in squares, smothered with thick layers of sauce and cheese. This pizza originated at Buddy’s during Prohibition and was served with drinks, a tradition we are content to keep.

  • Buddy’s Pizza – 17125 Conant St., Detroit, MI
  • Niki’s Pizza – 734 Beaubien St., Detroit, MI

St. Louis

Looks can be deceiving; at first glance, this looks like any other thin crust pizza, but the dough is unleavened! It’s not exactly what one would automatically think of when pizza comes to mind but don’t knock it till you try it. A thin cracker-like crust coupled with a regionally-popular Provel cheese blend (swiss, provolone, and white cheddar) offers a new mixture of textures. It’s also heavily seasoned with oregano which gives it an extra kick.

  • Imo’s Pizza – 1000 Hampton Ave, St. Louis, MO
  • Master Pieza Gourmet Pizza – 2846 Cherokee St, St Louis, MO
  • Cecil Whittaker’s – 6018 S Grand Blvd, St. Louis, MO

California

More a philosophy than a recipe, California pizza seems to work on a whim when it comes to ingredients. Though usually cooked in a wood-fired oven, the crust plays second fiddle to the toppings. Pizzas in California are loaded with fresh ingredients, seasonal vegetables, and sometimes even flowers! It truly is the Wild West out there as chefs experiment with different combinations and flavor profiles, preferring creative license over tradition.

  • Sotto – 9575 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
  • Prova – 8729 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
  • D’Amore’s Famous Pizza – 1136 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

Trenton Tomato Pie

 

New Jersey is stepping out of New York’s shadow with their tomato pie. No, not pizza, tomato pie. All the components–dough, cheese, toppings–are there, just the crushed tomato sauce goes on top. Known for its density, bold tomato flavor, and crunchy crust, this variation is gaining a loyal following.

  • DeLorenzo’s Pizza – 147 Sloan Ave, Trenton, NJ
  • Papa’s Tomato Pies – 19 Robbinsville Allentown Rd, Robbinsville, NJ

Chicago Deep Dish

You’ll need a knife and fork to dig into its signature deep thick crust and layers of mozzarella, vegetables, and meat. Think of it as the cousin of the lasagna. And in the age-long battle between Chicago deep dish and the NYC slice, we say why bother choosing?

  • Giordano’s – 130 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL
  • The Art of Pizza – 3033 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL
  • Bartoli’s Pizzeria – 1955 W Addison St, Chicago, IL
  • Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria – 1120 N State St, Chicago, IL

Chicago Thin Crust

We’ve mentioned Chicago’s deep dish but what about its lesser-known sibling? The unsung hero of Chicago, this recipe does a full 180 from its more famous kin with a super thin and flaky crust that’s pastry-like. And hold onto your hats: the toppings go under the cheese. Normally cut into bite-size squares, this pizza is perfect for sharing though we would understand if you didn’t.

  • Candlelite Chicago – 7452 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL
  • Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria – 8433 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL

Ohio Valley State

Hear us out on this one. If there was a way to “reimagine” pizza, this is it. Named for the region that covers most of Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, southwestern Pennsylvania, and northwestern West Virginia, this regional dish is a square pie that’s halfway between a deep dish and thin crust. Raising a few eyebrows, Ohio Valley Style keeps the toppings uncooked and cheese unmelted. It’s as if pizza married a charcuterie board!

  • DiCarlo’s – 318 Adams St, Steubenville, OH
  • Giannamore’s – 407 Cadiz Rd, Wintersville, OH

DC Jumbo Style

Not big. Not even huge. It’s jumbo. It’s a classic New York style slice but caters to those looking for more bang for their buck. Popular amongst the late-night crowd stumbling out into the AM, these pizzas are a powerful antidote.

  • Pizza Mart – 2445 18th St, Washington, DC
  • Duccini’s Pizza – 1778 U St NW, Washington, DC

 

Simply put, pizza isn’t what it used to be. It’s better. Inspired by this list? Hit up your local pizzeria for a taste of what’s up and coming!

– Amanda Yam