Looking for good pizza is never an easy task. With so many styles to choose from and personal preferences to consider, it's often difficult to narrow down the options. Individual pies may differ, but there's always a set of requirements that must be met: a beautiful crust, just the right amount of cheese, a tasty sauce, and the perfect toppings. More than any other food, pizza is perhaps the most subjective of fare.
In Palm Beach County, a handful of late-night spots off the downtown strips in cities like West Palm Beach and Lake Worth serve standard slices. In Delray Beach and Boca Raton, specialty coal- and wood-fired restaurants dish out varying versions of what each spot considers the perfect pizza. A few follow the old-world techniques, delivering Neapolitan-style pies using imported flour and artisan ovens.
But, no matter what style, shape, or size, a good slice of pie is a good slice no matter which way you, um, slice
To help navigate Palm Beach County’s selections, New Times
teamed up with WorstPizza.com
founder and South Florida pizza expert Craig Agranoff to find the area’s best slices. Here are our picks for the best pizzerias in Palm Beach County.
1501 NW Boca Raton Blvd., Boca Raton; 561-368-1330; augys.com.
A family-style and family-run spot, Augy's Restaurant and Pizza has been baking up some pretty stellar round and square pies for decades. The deep-dish Special Sicilian is a favorite, baked hot and fresh with a boatload of toppings including pepperoni, mushrooms, hamburger meat, sausage, green peppers, bacon, and onion. It's a mouthful, to say the least, but these pizzas hit home with a flavorful, tangy sauce. Arrive during the day and you can pick up a slice, rather than a whole pie. Fancy a thinner crust? Each of Augy's several specialty pizzas can be made with a traditional, thin crust. That includes everything from the white pie, with homemade ricotta and mozzarella cheese, to the Bellagio, with toppings like chicken breast, roasted red peppers, and artichoke hearts.
14466 S. Military Trl., Delray Beach; 561-638-6442; bambinisgardenpizza.com.
If you're the type that likes to dine and dash (while paying, obviously), look no further than Bambini's Pizza Garden in Delray Beach. From the same owner of the Girls and the Boys Market, the walk-in eatery offers a large selection of grab-and-go pizza by the slice — plus Italian subs, both hot and cold. You can eat in as well at any of the tables next door at the Girls' sit-down dining area or at one of the two-seat tables where walk-in customers place their orders. Regular slices come in a variety of toppings — a total of 20 to choose from — each prepared with homemade cheese and sauce. They also have a stellar Sicilian that can be ordered plain or with pepperoni and meat, always with a doughy crust that arrives with a layer of toasty-melted cheese atop a thin layer of sauce.
10. Hot Pie Pizza
123 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach; 561-655-2511.
Hot Pie Pizza, located near Clematis Street on South Olive Avenue in West Palm Beach, is a favorite for many late-night diners. The owner, who hails from Queens, New York, headed south to be near family
after selling off a couple of pizzerias in his home state. While you can be easily confused by other places named Hot Pie, this is the original that the chef currently owns. He's also building a new establishment on Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. So what makes these pies so good? Hot Pie uses a hybrid oven that burns gas and coal, a heating style that keeps the temperature at approximately 550 degrees, the coal used to add a smokey flavor to the crust. The sauce is made from crushed San Marzano tomatoes with a touch of basil, salt, and pepper that marries beautifully with the fresh-grated mozzarella. The regular pie is the crowd pleaser, but if you prefer fresh cheese, try the Johnny’s New Yorker. Pro tip: Don’t go after lunch between 2 to 5 p.m., when they close to take a break and freshen up the place before dinner service.
9. Pizza de Roma
5615 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach; 561-547-2348; pizzaderoma.net.
Sometimes you find the best food in the most unlikely places. That's how you'll feel when you walk into Pizza de Roma off Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. The restaurant has been faithfully serving up slices to area residents — many of whom hail from Palm Beach Island nearby — since 1998. Today, the chef-owner who runs the business for his late father-in-law may be Albanian by birth, but his pizza is straight-up Italian American. The plain cheese pies he bakes up offer the golden ratio of dough (thin and crispy on the bottom but strong enough to hold its own), sauce (not too sweet and not too tangy), and cheese (a thin veil of melted Grande that is neither greasy nor burnt). There are a half-dozen specialty pies on the menu, including a salad pie with lettuce, tomato, onion, black olive, and gorgonzola cheese, but the plain is good enough to hold its own against area competitors.
8. Manhattan Joe's
5030 Champion Blvd., Boca Raton; 561-995-6563; manhattanjoespizzeria.com.
Manhattan Joe’s has yet to be discovered by the masses. It is located in the Polo Club Shoppes just outside of the Polo Club in Boca Raton, near the Delray Beach Border on Military Trail. Owner Joe Chiapetta opened the pizzeria by way of New York, then Beverly Hills. Although the regular slices are great here and the Sicilian is topnotch, the best is an off-menu pizza Vannuchio makes only on Thursdays called the Long Island Sicilian. The pizza has a small coating of sauce layered across the square-shaped dough. From there, it's topped with quality sliced mozzarella cheese and then another layer of sauce. Bread crumbs, fresh garlic, and parmesan cheese provide the final layer, along with some extra virgin olive oil as a finishing touch. You'll know when the pie is ready; a heady aroma of fresh-baked cheese and garlic wafts from the oven. A new East Boca location is slated to open later this year, so you won't have to head out west for a taste of these spectacular pies.
7. Motor City Pizza
1538 SW Eighth St., Boynton Beach; 561-736-3000; motorcitypizzandeli.com.
With so many transplanted New Yorkers calling South Florida home, it's easy to find a slice of NY-style pie. But deep dish is a little harder to come by. And Detroit-style deep dish? Forget it. You probably didn't even know that was a thing, unless you're from the Midwest. The square pies are just one of many Detroit-inspired dishes you'll find at newly opened Motor City Pizza & Deli in Boynton Beach. According to co-owners Amy Pozzi and Jeff Emming — who opened the business alongside Pozzi's cousin Mark Tocco and his wife Vanessa — the three-week-old restaurant offers a little bit of everything from their home state of Michigan, including more than a dozen deep-dish pizza options prepared by Tocco himself. Each features a perfect deep-dish crust: a light, porous dough that's spongy and soft at the center, framed by a crispy bottom and cheese-baked crusty top. Motor City's deep-dish pies are baked in rectangular-shaped industrial steel pans and topped with a combination of Wisconsin brick and mozzarella cheeses. The blend allows the cheese to remain gooey at the center while the cheese at the edge of the pan caramelizes into the crust. Pozzi says customers have already compared the pies to Buddy's, the Detroit-based restaurant credited with introducing the city's deep-dish pizza recipe in the early 1940s. It's a huge compliment, especially coming from Michigan natives.