Mona Lisa Coal Oven Pizza. For some Godfather with your pie
Adorned in pics of mafioso -- some of them after they'd been shot -- this shop is beloved for its Godfather-inspired charm, house-made cannolis, and the pizza, of course. Former critic John Linn swoons
over the crust at this pizza joint from a Bensonhurst family that hung it up in New York to move to Florida six years ago. "Mona Lisa's proficiency with dough is the sort of artistry that can come only with time, passed down over three generations of kneading, proofing, and baking."
I'm in love with the cracker-thin crust from a New Haven pie, with salty mozzarella seasoned with seafood elixir and a healthy serving of roasted garlic. According to Slice over on Serious Eats, the style is among the best-preserved
American pies -- though this one isn't the oblong thing you'd see at Pepe's.
Cafe La Buca has zero ambiance. It can be pricey. You likely need a reservation. And it's BYO. The food here is so delicious that it's a crime to order just the pizza, so consider it one of many courses. The wood-fired margherita is among the pizzas, with its blistered crust and authentic ingredients: San Marzanos, fresh mozzarella, and superfine Italian flour that translates to transcendent pies.
Thin-crust, wood-fired pizza at Tucci's has culled a band of loyalists for its consistency. Points for a respectable pie, but like Anthony's, the ingredients are applied with a heavy hand. That said, it's not bad either.
Made with a blend of superfine 00 flour and the standard stuff, Anthony's crust is blistered by the superhot coal-fired oven, yet it's thicker and less pillowy: all the better for holding up to a smothering of toppings. No grease, no soupy center, or fold-over crusts here.
The only blisters this crust has are those it creates on the roof of your mouth when you fail to wait for the slice to cool. This is the go-to slice for a round of people-watching after a thousand beers. Pittsburgh-based Primanti Brothers offers a firm crust and a greasy, gooey mess of cheese by the beach any time of the day or night.
Nino's. For Sicilian aficionados
Cheese before sauce on this Nino's signature pizza for thick-dough lovers. Slices are available until 3 p.m. daily, though a whole, giant pie is available to go anytime -- just don't expect a fast turnaround. Thicker pies take more time.
D'Angelo offers an extensive menu, terrific service, an open dining room for people-watching, and a solid pie from Elia D'Angelo and his pizziaolo. "There are those among us who, unable to return to our normal lives, have to deal with the constant pangs of addiction," wrote John Linn in the review, "our inner monologues pleading for pizzas made with creamy stracchino and speck, or figs with black pepper, or pungent taleggio with porcini mushrooms. There should be a support group for this."
Luigi's Coal Oven Pizza. For Luigi
Luigi's Neapolitan style pie is among the best around even if it's not DOC certified. Thin, blistered crust, a soupy center, and ingredients so fresh you can taste the difference characterize a pie from this restaurant that's open until midnight every night. Luigi's hospitality is also the draw, as he's known to accommodate special orders and send a round of homemade limoncello to everyone at the bar.
These wood-fired pies cook slower than their coal-oven siblings. And while many coal-fired ovens have sections for wood to impart flavor, there's nothing like a pie from a wood-fired oven that's been properly tended to; i.e. it's hot enough and the pizza is positioned in the oven in an ideal spot. The result here is a chewy crust with a pillowy lip and a delicious interplay of tart tomatoes and creamy cheese.
What did we miss? Weigh in with your favorite pizzas in the comments.
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