These Are the Cities With America's Favorite Pizza 2016
New York City, a hallmark of American pizza culture, didn’t crack the top five this time around. Quintessential by-the-slice stands in Midtown, Neapolitan mainstays in the Village, and hip Instagram-worthy pies in Brooklyn will forever make the city a popular place for pizza exploration. But the bronze, silver, and gold pizza medals have been relocated.
In the 2016 America’s Favorite Places survey, T+L readers cast their votes on their favorite towns and cities across the country, ranking everything from the friendliness of the people to their enthusiasm for Christmas lights.
Just shy of the top three spots this year, Chicago's famed deep dishes still earn the Windy City a high rank on the list. And Providence, Rhode Island, the birthplace of the grilled pizza, also ranks high.
Elsewhere in New York, Buffalo is proving the state's second largest city also has some great pizza, thanks to its distinct medium crust pizza—best topped with the city's signature Buffalo chicken. And Detroit, where major pizza chains Domino's and Little Caesars were founded, is also home to a unique Detroit-style pie: a thick, Sicilian-style dough and reverse-stacked ingredients with sauce on top.
But the No. 1 city in the United States seems to have taken the cake—or rather, the pie—by offering a slice for every pizza preference. In Phoenix, locals and visitors can enjoy classic thin crust joints and James Beard award-winning margheritas, or order gourmet Neapolitan, wood-fired pies, traditional deep-dishes and yes, even drive-through pizza by the slice. This Southwestern city even has an annual pizza festival.
There are plenty of newcomers to the 2016 list, including Indianapolis, Richmond, and Albuquerque. Though there are plenty of notable absences, too. See if your hometown made the cut, and find out what pizza paradise you need to visit next.
Travel + Leisure’s America’s Favorite Places survey opened on 10/8/2015 and closed on 04/15/2016. It was open to everyone, and ran alongside a sweepstakes. The open-response survey asked respondents to submit their favorite place and rate it in over 65 categories, including affordability, notable restaurants, and public parks. Cities are defined as governed bodies with a population over 100,000.
No. 15 Indianapolis, Indiana
Bazbeaux (an Indy staple since the 1980s) and Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza are both local favorites. Try the Quattro Formaggio at Bazbeaux (in addition to four kinds of cheese, there’s bacon and mushroom, too) and the Cheese Louise at Jockamo. Check out Pearl Street Pizzeria and Pub for more downtown pizza spoils.
No. 14 Virginia Beach, Virginia
No. 13 Richmond, Virginia
In the Museum District, Belmont Pizza is famous for serving the largest slices in Richmond. Try Bottom’s Up for out-of-the-ordinary options, like the Remolcado Renegade with spinach, artichoke hearts, and fresh crabmeat. For a more upscale take, order one of Nota Bene’s wood-fired pizzas (just not on Sundays).
No. 12 Albuquerque, New Mexico
For easy cafeteria-style slices, try Giovanni’s, while travelers seeking a downtown vibe should head to Farina (they have gluten-free options and a strong coffee, beer, and wine list). And Dion’s is an Albuquerque favorite for incredible garlic bread while Il Vicino serves an a spot-on wood-fired pesto pizza.
No. 11 San Antonio, Texas
Honored with the VPN-designation by Naples’ Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, Dough Pizzeria Napoletana even has its own homemade mozzarella and burrata bar. Check out Big Lou’s Pizza, for real Texas style fare where brisket doubles as a topping, BBQ Pizza is its own section on the menu, and “Texas-size” means 42 inches of pizza. If you dare try a ghost pepper, habanero, and jalapeno topping: venture to Prospect Hill’s Gallo Pizza.
No. 10 Knoxville, Tennessee
Hard Knox Pizzeria celebrates the local cuisine in the form of wood-fired pies, like the Barbed Wire creation with piles of pulled pork, applewood-smoked bacon, and a bourbon reduction. Visitors can also opt to build their own at Seargent Pepperoni’s or The Tomato Head, which offers more than 40 toppings.
No. 9 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Explore the quirky Pizza Brain, which serves thin crust pies in a setting decorated with hundred of pizza-related artifacts, or catch a movie while dining at Nomad Pizza on Sundays. Get something wood-fired and unusual at WM. Mulherin’s Sons (think speck and egg with garlic cream) or opt for old-school strombolis and red-tops at Charlie’s in Swede Square.
No. 8 Wilmington, North Carolina
No. 7. Madison, Wisconsin
Get the margherita at Pizza Bruta, which specializes in traditional Neapolitan-style pies (topped with house-made mozzarella) or seek out something with a decidedly Wisconsin flair, like the famous mac and cheese slice at Ian’s. You can even add local cheese curds to your pie at Glass Nickel, or order a pizza covered in cheddar and wedge-cut fries.
No. 6 New York City, New York
In Manhattan, dodge the mediocre dollar-slice options and splurge for a $4 slice at Artichoke Basille’s in the Village. Hop over to Brooklyn for the borough’s new favorite, Emmy Squared, or the tried-and-true Roberta’s in Bushwick. And Grimaldi’s, by the Brooklyn Bridge, has connections to the very first pizzeria in the states.
No. 5 Providence, Rhode Island
Try the city’s signature grilled pizza (they flip the dough while it’s cooking, just before adding the toppings) at the new Bacaro in downtown, or the classic Al Forno. If you’re only looking for a taste, sample bready pizza strips with sauce at LaSalle Bakery, or stop by historic Caserta in Federal Hill for a casual Sicilian-thick slice.
No. 4 Chicago, Illinois
Order the classic deep dish at Bartoli’s or Lou Malnati’s, which serves a recipe that hasn’t changed a lick since 1971. For thin crust—yes, it exists in Chicago—Coalfire in West Town has become one of the most popular places for a meat-topped slice (think: Berkshire sausage, mortadella, prosciutto, sopressata, and even speck).
No. 3 Buffalo, New York
Buffalo’s own pizza is a distinct mix between Chicago and New York-style pies. Try the medium-crust version at Vera Pizzeria (a T+L editor's favorite spot in Buffalo for a cocktail and a slice) or pull double-duty with Buffalo-style wings and pizza at Just Pizza & Wing Co. Another popular option is Romeo & Juliet’s Café. To truly experience Buffalo’s distinct food scene, order a Buffalo-style pizza topped with Buffalo chicken.
No. 2 Detroit, Michigan
It’s impossible to confuse a Detroit–style pizza with anything else: the ingredients are stacked in reverse order. You’ll probably need a fork and knife to manage the pies at Buddy’s, where doughy focaccia is topped with pepperoni and Wisconsin brick cheese (like cheddar, but with a sharper bite) with red sauce on top.
No. 1 Phoenix, Arizona
Head to Pizzeria Bianco to see the origins of Phoenix’s artisanal pizza trend (the wait will be worth it) or try Oregano’s for a stuffed deep dish pie. In downtown, Cibo Urban Pizzeria has gourmet Neopolitan pies, and an excellent arancini as a starter. In Glendale, La Piazza Al Forno has perfected the wood-fired pizza, and travelers will love trying Mamma Spinato's Signature Fresh Spinach pie (made with a secret blend of spices) on the patio of the North Phoenix location of Spinato's.