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America's 25 Best Pizza Chains (Slideshow)

America's 25 Best Pizza Chains (Slideshow)

You voted. Here are the results

California Pizza Kitchen/yelp

25) Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom

Alexander C./Yelp

Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom was founded in 1976 in Boulder, Colo., by a few friends who wanted to bring good pizza and beer to the people. Years later, they’re up to nearly 100 locations nationwide, and serve a wide variety of small plates, pastas, burgers, and sandwiches along with a host of pizzas, served on either a thick or thin crust, and a wide selection of beer.

24) Giovanni’s Pizza Power

With locations throughout West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee, Giovanni’s serves five different sizes of pizza made to order, topped with your choice of toppings and a mixture of provolone and mozzarella cheese. They also sell sandwiches (including ones made with pizza bread), pastas, salads, and sides including garlic bread topped with bacon and cheese.

23) Marco’s Pizza

Founded in 1978 and based in Toledo, Ohio, Marco’s boasts more than 400 locations in 30 states, and their rapid expansion is due primarily to an emphasis on fresh ingredients: the sauce is made from vine-ripened tomatoes, the cheese is a three-cheese blend, dough is made from scratch every day, and toppings are fresh, thick-sliced, and abundant. Don’t leave without getting some CheezyBread and CinnaSquares.

22) Pizza Inn

The first Pizza Inn was opened in 1958 by two brothers, near Southern Methodist University’s Dallas campus. Today there are more than 300 locations, most of which are in the Southern U.S. The buffet-style approach allows guests to sample many different types of pizza, including their crackery trademark Original Thin Crust in varieties like Bacon Cheddar Ham and Chicken Fajita.

21) Chuck E. Cheese’s

Chuck E Cheese/Yelp

What do we all remember about those childhood visits to Chuck E. Cheese’s? The arcade games, the slides and climbing equipment, and borderline creepy animatronic characters, and, of course, the pizza. While for most the pizza is a way to refuel after redeeming your tickets, it’s actually pretty darn good. And at more than 500 locations, you can get it gluten-free as well.

20) Donatos Pizza

Donatos was founded by Jim Grote in 1963 and today there are nearly 200 locations across seven states, most of them in Ohio. They're famous for their thin crust and "edge-to-edge" toppings (more than 100 pieces of pepperoni come on each pie), and specialty toppings include the Serious Meat with pepperoni, sausage, ham, ground beef, bacon, and aged provolone, and the Chicken Spinach Mozzarella, topped with fresh mozzarella, chicken breast, roasted garlic, Roma tomatoes, chopped spinach, and a Romano-Parmesan blend. Gluten-free, hand-tossed, and thicker-crust pizzas are also available, along with oven-baked sandwiches, salads, and wings.

19) Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs

Hungry Howie's Pizza and Subs/Yelp

Hungry Howie’s, founded in Taylor, Mich., in 1973, prides itself on being home to "the original flavored crust pizza," and this unique twist has helped it to expand to more than 545 locations in 21 states. Those crust flavors include Butter Cheese, Cajun, Garlic Herb, and Onion, and pizzas are made to order using dough made in-house daily and real mozzarella. Oven-baked subs, salads, and "Howie Breads" topped with cheese, Cajun seasoning, or cinnamon-sugar are also available.

18) Jet’s Pizza

With more than 300 locations in Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and several other states, this chain, started by brothers Eugene and John Jetts in 1978, has become famous for its signature square deep-dish pizza. Go for the Jet 10, topped with mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, ham, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, hamburger, Italian sausage, bacon, and black olives, or the 8 Corner Pizza, where every slice has a corner.

17) Round Table Pizza

Round Table Pizza/Yelp

Round Table Pizza was founded in 1959 in Menlo Park, Calif., and today there are about 500 locations nationwide. Dough is made from scratch on-premises daily, and their three-cheese blend contains aged Cheddar, whole milk mozzarella, and provolone. They’re known for applying toppings all the way to the edge of the pie, as well as for their wide selection of innovative combinations, like the King Arthur’s Supreme, with pepperoni, Italian sausage, Italian dry salami, linguica, mushrooms, green peppers, yellow onions, black olives, three cheeses, and red sauce.

16) Shakey’s Pizza Parlor

Shakey’s Pizza Parlor/Yelp

Established in Sacramento, Calif., in 1954, Shakey’s has locations worldwide but the highest concentration is in Southern California. There’s an emphasis on fun as well as pizza, and all locations have a game room for kids. The pizza is also quite good: go for the Shakey’s Special, with salami, pepperoni, Italian sausage, ground beef, mushrooms, and black olives. And don’t forget to get some of their battered and fried Mojo Potatoes.

15) Monical’s Pizza

With the majority of its locations in Illinois and Indiana, Monical’s has developed quite a cult following in the region. While there’s a wide variety of pizzas (including stuffed pizza and "oven-ready" frozen pizza), calzones, pepperoni rolls, salads, pastas, and sandwiches, it’s the "Family Pleaser" that’s been the menu mainstay for more than 40 years: a reasonably priced pizza or pasta, salad, and pitcher of soda.

14) Godfather’s Pizza

This mob-themed chain is celebrating its 40th birthday this year, but it’s not resting on its laurels. The wide menu features four crust varieties: Original, Golden, Thin, and "Mozza-Loaded," and there’s a wide variety of toppings and specialty pies. Unlike many other chains, they offer both "lighter" slices containing less than 200 calories per slice and gluten-free options.

13) CiCi’s Pizza

This Texas-based chain is renowned for its reasonably priced buffet, which boasts nearly 30 varieties of fresh-baked pizza as well as pastas, soups, salads, and desserts. The first location opened in Plano, Texas, in 1985, and today there are more than 500 locations in 34 states, with a rapid expansion plan in place.

12) Giordano’s Restaurant & Pizzeria

The recipe for Giordano’s famous stuffed pizza dates back nearly 200 years, to a double-crusted Italian Easter pie served every year in Torino, Italy, but the recipe didn’t make its way stateside until 1974, when Italian immigrants Efren and Joseph Boglio opened the first location of this chain in Chicago. Today there are more than 40 locations in Chicago and its environs, as well as three in Florida, and their massive, deep-dish pies are a Chicago must-eat.

11) Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant

Every pizza made at Bertucci’s, which got its start in Somerville, Mass., in 1981, is cooked in a brick oven, which is on display at each one of their 90 locations, all of which are on the East Coast. You can craft your own pizza or try one of their unique topping combinations, like Balsamic BBQ Shrimp and Blue Cheese, Roasted Mushroom and Asiago, and the Ultimate Bertucci, where each quarter has a different topping: sweet Italian sausage, meatballs, rosemary ham, and chicken. Calzones, Roman-style long pizzas, and a whole slew of starters, salads, and pastas are also available.

10) Papa Murphy’s

Vancouver, Wash.-based Papa Murphy’s, which just announced its 1,400th location, takes a novel approach to pizza: "Take 'N' Bake." You choose your pizza, they prepare it using fresh-made dough and other fresh ingredients but don’t cook it, and then you take it home and pop it in your oven to cook it the rest of the way when you’re ready to eat it. There are meat-stuffed stuffed options as well as lighter ones, and there are also desserts you can bake at home, like dessert pizza and chocolate chip cookie dough.

9) Mellow Mushroom

Mellow Mushroom/Yelp

Founded in Atlanta in 1974, Mellow Mushroom currently has more than 150 locations nationwide. There’s a big emphasis on the bar and craft beer, and there are some extremely creative pizzas on the menu, like the Bayou Bleu (spicy blue cheese base topped with all-natural grilled shrimp and Andouille sausage covered in mozzarella cheese and garnished with chives), the Magical Mystery Tour (pesto base with button and Portobello mushrooms, feta and mozzarella cheeses, spinach, and jalapeños on a pesto-basted crust), and the House Special (mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, ham, applewood-smoked bacon, mushrooms, black olives, Roma tomatoes, green peppers, and onions).

8) Little Caesars

Little Caesars was founded in 1959 in the Detroit suburbs, and today is perhaps best known for its mascot’s catchphrase, "Pizza Pizza!," which was originally intended to advertise a deal where two pizzas were served for the price of one competitor's pie. Today there are locations all over the world, selling round and deep-dish "Hot-N-Ready" pizzas made with dough made in-house daily, as well as wings, Italian Cheese Bread, and Crazy Bread.

7) Sbarro

Sbarro got its start in 1956 Brooklyn, N.Y., when the Sbarro family opened an Italian market. Eleven years later the first modern-style Sbarro opened in the borough’s Kings Plaza Shopping center, selling self-serve Italian fare, with an emphasis on the pizza. Today there are close to 1,000 locations in 30 countries, and Sbarro is still serving New York-style pizzas on hand-stretched dough with a wide variety of toppings, as well as salads and classic Italian-American pastas and entrées.

6) Papa John’s

"Papa" John Schnatter opened the first Papa John’s in the back of his father’s tavern in 1984, and today it’s the third-largest pizza chain in the U.S., behind Pizza Hut and Domino’s, with about 4,200 locations in all 50 states. The emphasis on fresh dough, fresh-cut vegetables, and high-quality never-frozen ingredients has attracted a rabid fan base (as have offerings like a Double Bacon 6-Cheese pizza), and the cheese sticks and dipping sauces alone are crave-worthy.

5) Uno Chicago Grill

Formerly Pizzeria Uno, this chain’s origin story is probably the best known of the bunch. Ike Sewell opened Pizzeria Uno in Chicago in 1943, and it’s there that he essentially invented the Chicago-style pie, with a buttery crust piled high with cheese, sauce, and toppings and baked for more than an hour, and it blew people away. Today there are more than 140 Uno locations in 24 states and around the world, spreading the deep-dish gospel. Along with pizza, they also serve appetizers, steaks, sandwiches, burgers, seafood, and even (gasp!) thin-crust pizza.

4) Pizza Hut

The first Pizza Hut was opened by brothers Dan and Frank Carney in Wichita, Kan. in 1958, at a time when pizza parlors in the region were still a rarity. It took off, and soon the trademark red roof, which has since been retired, was sprouting up all across the country, and today it’s the country’s largest pizza chain. Never afraid to experiment with new pizza-esque products like the P’Zone, the Cheesy Bites Pizza, and the much-missed, two-crusted Priazzo, they’ve occasionally hit gold, like with their now-ubiquitous Stuffed Crust Pizza. They’ve even recently added flatbread-style pizzas to their menu. If there’s one chain that’s not afraid to get a little silly sometimes, it’s Pizza Hut.

3) Ledo Pizza

Ledo Pizza, with locations primarily in Virginia and Maryland, has nowhere near as many locations as its other rivals at the top of this list, but the chain, and its trademark square pizza, has a fiercely devoted following. The distinctive pizzas have a thin crust, thick-cut pepperoni, and a sweet sauce, and are available in several sizes as well as gluten-free varieties. Served by waitstaff instead of over a counter, the wide menu also includes appetizers, salads, subs, and entrées including fettuccini Bolognese (using an original family recipe) and shrimp fettuccini Parmesan. The reason for the square pies? Round baking sheets were very tough to come by when the company was founded in 1955.

2) Domino’s Pizza

Founded in 1960, Domino’s is today the second-largest pizza chain in the U.S., after Pizza Hut, and the largest worldwide. The three dots on their logo represent the three stores that were open in 1969, and a plan to add a new dot for every new store never materialized, for obvious reasons. They offer pizzas with a variety of toppings (as well as rectangular "Artisan" pizzas like Chicken & Bacon Carbonara), toasted sandwiches, stuffed cheesy bread, wings, and a build-your-own-pasta option. It’s greasy, tasty, and just about everything you’d want in a fast-food pizza chain.

1) California Pizza Kitchen

California Pizza Kitchen/Yelp

By a stunning two-vote margin, California Pizza Kitchen can officially claim to be America’s favorite pizza chain. Founded in 1985 in Beverly Hills, Calif., by attorneys Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax, the casual dining chain is renowned for its innovative pizzas, including the barbecue chicken pizza, which is now ubiquitous but was basically invented there. They’re constantly expanding and also do a lot of community outreach and fundraising, and the menu is loaded with gourmet pizza offerings like Thai Chicken, Habanero Carnitas, and California Club, and seasonal offerings take advantage of what’s in season. Small plates, wine flights, and salads like caramelized peach with pecans, cranberries, and gorgonzola have a distinctly fine-dining feel, but the approach is always casual and fun. So congratulations, CPK, you’re America’s Best Pizza Chain!


America's 15 best pizzas

15. South Brooklyn Pizza, New York City (New York Style): While known as a great pizza city, New York's state of the slice isn't what it you'd think, especially while it's in the grip of the Neapolitan craze and .99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />.99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />

Interested in this topic? You may also want to view these photo galleries:

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina): Greenpoint, Brooklyn, isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas. (Photo: Paulie Gee's)

Pizza is about as varied and beloved a genre, as opinionated a subject, and also as accessible a food as there is, which makes determining the country's best pizzas a truly challenging task.

Yes, pizza is tough to rank responsibly. But once again, that's just what The Daily Meal set out to do.

1. Frank Pepe's, New Haven, Conn. (White Clam)

If you want to discuss the loaded topic of America's best pizza with any authority, you have to make a pilgrimage to this legendary New Haven pizzeria. Frank Pepe opened his doors in Wooster Square in New Haven, Conn., in 1925, offering classic Napoletana-style pizza. After immigrating to the United States in 1909 at the age of 16 from Italy, Pepe took odd jobs before opening his restaurant (now called "The Spot," next door to the larger operation). Since its conception, Pepe's has opened an additional seven locations.

What should you order at this checklist destination? Two words: clam pie ("No muzz!"). This is a Northeastern pizza genre unto its own, and Pepe's is the best of them all — freshly shucked, briny littleneck clams, an intense dose of garlic, olive oil, oregano and grated parmesan atop a charcoal-colored crust. The advanced move? Clam pie with bacon. Just expect to wait in line if you get there after 11:30 a.m. on a weekend.

2. Di Fara, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Di Fara Classic Pie)

Domenico DeMarco is a local celebrity, having owned and operated Di Fara since 1964. Dom cooks both New York and Sicilian-style pizza Wednesday through Sunday (noon to 4:30 p.m., and from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.) for hungry New Yorkers and tourists willing to wait in long lines, and brave the free-for-all that is the Di Fara counter experience. Yes, you're better off getting a whole pie than shelling out for the $5 slice. Yes, it's a trek, and sure, Dom goes through periods where the underside of the pizza can trend toward overdone, but when he's on, Di Fara can make a very strong case for being America's best pizza. If you want to understand why before visiting, watch the great video about Di Fara called The Best Thing I Ever Done. You can't go wrong with the classic round or square cheese pie (topped with oil-marinated hot peppers, which you can ladle on at the counter if you elbow in), but the menu's signature is the Di Fara Classic Pie: mozzarella, parmesan, plum tomato sauce, basil, sausage, peppers, mushroom, onion, and of course, a drizzle of olive oil by Dom.

3. Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix (Marinara)

"There's no mystery to my pizza," Bronx native Chris Bianco was quoted as saying in The New York Times. "Sicilian oregano, organic flour, San Marzano tomatoes, purified water, mozzarella I learned to make at Mike's Deli in the Bronx, sea salt, fresh yeast cake and a little bit of yesterday's dough. In the end great pizza, like anything else, is all about balance. It's that simple." Try telling that to the legions of pizza pilgrims who have made trip to the storied Phoenix pizza spot he opened more than 20 years ago. The restaurant serves not only addictive thin-crust pizzas but also fantastic antipasto (involving wood-oven-roasted vegetables), perfect salads and homemade country bread. The wait, once routinely noted as one of the worst for food in the country, has been improved by Pizzeria Bianco opening for lunch, and the opening of Trattoria Bianco, the pizza prince of Arizona's Italian restaurant in the historic Town & Country Shopping Center (about 10 minutes from the original). This is another case where any pie will likely be better than most you've had in your life (that Rosa with red onions and pistachios!), but the signature Marinara will recalibrate your pizza baseline forever: tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic (no cheese).

4. Una Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco (Margherita)

When Anthony Mangieri, pizzaiolo for the East Village's Una Pizza Napoletana, closed in 2009 "to make a change," move West, and open somewhere he could get "a chance to use his outrigger canoe and mountain bike more often," it was the ultimate insult to New Yorkers. You're taking one of the city's favorite Neapolitan pizzerias, defecting to a temperate climate, to people who denigrate New York's Mexican food? So you can canoe and mountain bike? Traitor! Good for Mangieri, and good for San Franciscans, who inherited one of the country's best Neapolitan pies (if only Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. until they're "out of dough"). A thin crust with chewy cornicione, a sauce that's tart and alive, an appropriate ratio of cheese . you could almost imagine yourself at the pantheon to pizza in Naples: Da Michele, a place where the pizza is poetry and pizza poetry is on the wall. Mangieri harkens that same ethos on his website — check out the pizza poem "Napoli" — and delivers the edible version to his patrons. There are only five pies, all $25 (a $5 hike since last year), plus a special Saturday-only pie, the Apollonia, made with eggs, parmigiano-reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, salami, extra-virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, sea salt and black pepper. But when you're this close to godliness, you don't need extras. Keep it simple with the margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil ,fresh basil, sea salt, tomato sauce) and know the good.

5. Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles (squash blossoms, tomato, burrata)

Renowned baker and chef Nancy Silverton teamed up with Italian culinary moguls Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich to open Osteria Mozza, a Los Angeles hot spot where the famous clientele pales in comparison to the innovative, creative fare. The pizzeria, which is attached to the main restaurant, offers a variety of Italian specialties, from antipasti to bruschetta, but the Neapolitan-style pizzas steal the show. Their list of 21 pies ranges from $11 for a simple aglio e olio, a classic cheese pizza, to $23 for a more unique pie with squash blossoms, tomato, and burrata cheese — a delicious and simple pizza that transports through the quality and nuance of its ingredients. So it's no surprise that Batali and Bastianich have taken a stab at duplicating the success of this model pizzeria, opening in Newport Beach, Singapore (!), and soon, San Diego.

6. Roberta's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

Say Roberta's is in the new class of restaurants that has fanned the flames of the Brooklyn vs. Manhattan debate, call it a great pizza joint, recall it as a frontrunner of the city's rooftop garden movement, and mention that Carlo Mirarchi was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and you'd still be selling it short. Roberta's is in Bushwick six stops out of Manhattan on the L, and it's one of the city's best restaurants (it even serves one of the city's hardest-to-score tasting menus). In Bushwick! Pizza may not be the only thing at Roberta's, but its Neapolitan pies are at the high end of the debate about the city's best (and according to an interview with the blog Slice, inspired another great pizzeria on this list, Paulie Gee's). Yes, some of them have names like "Family Jewels," "Barely Legal," and - after disgraced New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener - "Carlos Danger," but you can afford not to take yourself seriously in an environment where Brooklyn hipsters and everyone else tolerate each other when your pizza is this good. As much as the Amatriciana and the Bee Sting (when Roberta's goes mobile) may tempt, the Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil) is Roberta's pizza Lothario.

7. Sally's Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Tomato Pie)

Sally's Apizza is a New Haven classic, operating from the same location where they opened in the late 1930s in New Haven's Wooster Square. Their pizza is traditionally thin-crust, topped with tomato sauce, garlic and "mozz." The pies look pretty similar to what you'll find down the street at Frank Pepe, which any New Haven pizza believer will note is because the man who opened Sally's is the nephew of the owner of Pepe. The folks at Sally's will be the first to tell you that Pepe makes a better clam pie, but their tomato pie (tomato sauce, no cheese), well, they have the original beat there.

8. Flour + Water, San Francisco (Margherita)

Although this San Francisco restaurant claims to specialize in house-made pastas, their pizza is formidable. Baked in a wood-fired oven, the thin-crust pizza at Flour + Water blends Old World tradition with modern refinement, according to chef and co-owner Thomas McNaughton. Pizza toppings vary depending on what's in season, making each dining experience unique, but Flour + Water's textbook Margherita is amazing. Heirloom tomatoes, basil, fior di latte, and extra-virgin olive oil . if only the simplicity implied by the restaurant's name could be duplicated in pizzerias across the country.

9. Motorino, New York City (Brussels Sprout)

Some spaces are cursed. Others? Blessed. When Anthony Mangieri shuttered Una Pizza Napoletana at 349 East 12th St. and headed West, Mathieu Palombino took over the lease, renamed the space Motorino, and the East Village pizza scene hardly skipped a beat. Motorino offers a handful of spirited pies, including one with cherry stone clams another with stracciatella, raw basil and Gaeta olives and the cremini mushroom with fior di latte, sweet sausage and garlic. But contrary to every last fiber of childhood memory you hold dear, the move is the Brussels Sprout pie (fior di latte, garlic, Pecorino, smoked pancetta and olive oil), something both Hong Kong natives and Brooklynites can now attest to since Palombino opened (and reopened) his Asian and Williamsburg outposts earlier in 2013.

10. Al Forno, Providence, R.I. (Margarita)

On South Main Street in the heart of Providence, R.I., Al Forno offers a quintessential Italian dining experience for those who can't afford the flight. Husband-and-wife owner-chefs George Germon and Johanne Killeen received the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano from the Italian government, a rare honor for Americans, attributable to their informed passion for pasta along with their invention of the grilled pizza. The restaurant bakes their pies in wood-burning ovens as well as on grills over hardwood charcoal fire. Their most notable grilled pizza? The Margarita. It's served with fresh herbs, pomodoro, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil.

11. Modern Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Italian Bomb)

Established in 1934 as State Street Pizza, Modern's coal-fired brick oven puts out pizza in the same thin-crust style. It's likely that you'll hear it spoken about as the place "the locals go instead of Pepe's and Sally's." That may be so. The atmosphere is great — wood paneling, friendly servers, a clean feeling — but it doesn't play third-string just because it's not on Wooster. Modern's pies are a little topping-heavy with less structural integrity. Given the focus on toppings, the iconic Italian Bomb is the pie to try: bacon, sausage, pepperoni, garlic, mushroom, onion and pepper.

12. Totonno's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

By all accounts, Totonno's shouldn't be around anymore. Consider first that it was opened in Coney Island in 1924 (by Antonio "Totonno" Pero, a Lombardi's alum). Then factor in the fire that broke out in the coal storage area and ravaged the place in 2009. Add to that insult the destruction (and some reported $150,000 in repairs) incurred in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy when 4 feet of water destroyed everything inside the family-owned institution. You'll probably agree that Brooklyn (and the country) should be counting its lucky stars Totonno's is still around. And yet it does more than that.

It doesn't just keep a storied pizza name, or nostalgia for simpler times (and perhaps more authentic and consistent pies) alive. No. Owners Antoinette Balzano, Frank Balzano and Louise "Cookie" Ciminieri don't just bridge our modern era's festishizing of pizza to the days of its inception at Lombardi's. The coal-fired blistered edges, the spotty mozzarella laced over that beautiful red sauce . ah, fuggedabout all the teary-eyed try-too-much words, this is Neptune Avenue! This is Brooklyn! This is Totonno's. And this, is how you make pizza.

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina)

With a love for pizza, little formal training, without finishing high school, with a career he has characterized as having "masqueraded as a computer geek," and a fear of becoming Shelley Levene from "Glengarry Glen Ross," Paulie Giannone struck out into the unknown, to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He ventured there before "Girls," before the condos, in a time when the dream of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment a 10-minute walk from the subway to Manhattan on the Polish word-of-mouth, no-lease real estate wire still went for less than $2,000.

This backyard do-it-yourselfing pizza passionista put it all on the line and earned every kind word he's gotten. Greenpoint isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas.

14. Apizza Scholls, Portland, Ore. (Apizza Amore)

Apizza Scholls has some of the best pizza in Portland, and some have argued, north of San Francisco — and that's using an electric oven! But they do have some guidelines for patrons interested in composing their own topping combinations on their 18-inch pies: only three ingredients, and no more than two meats per pie. So choose wisely from a list of toppings that in addition to classics like anchovies, red onions, garlic, pepperoni, sausage and basil includes capicollo, house-cured Canadian bacon, cotto salami, arugula, jalapeño and pepperoncini. Heads-up: bacon is "not offered for build your own toppings." If you aren't up to building your own pie, there are 10 classics to choose from, including the signature Apizza Amore: margherita with capicollo (cured pork shoulder). The signature Amore features a spicy kick offset a bit by the somewhat sweet mozzarella and balanced sauce. That's amore!


America's 15 best pizzas

15. South Brooklyn Pizza, New York City (New York Style): While known as a great pizza city, New York's state of the slice isn't what it you'd think, especially while it's in the grip of the Neapolitan craze and .99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />.99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />

Interested in this topic? You may also want to view these photo galleries:

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina): Greenpoint, Brooklyn, isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas. (Photo: Paulie Gee's)

Pizza is about as varied and beloved a genre, as opinionated a subject, and also as accessible a food as there is, which makes determining the country's best pizzas a truly challenging task.

Yes, pizza is tough to rank responsibly. But once again, that's just what The Daily Meal set out to do.

1. Frank Pepe's, New Haven, Conn. (White Clam)

If you want to discuss the loaded topic of America's best pizza with any authority, you have to make a pilgrimage to this legendary New Haven pizzeria. Frank Pepe opened his doors in Wooster Square in New Haven, Conn., in 1925, offering classic Napoletana-style pizza. After immigrating to the United States in 1909 at the age of 16 from Italy, Pepe took odd jobs before opening his restaurant (now called "The Spot," next door to the larger operation). Since its conception, Pepe's has opened an additional seven locations.

What should you order at this checklist destination? Two words: clam pie ("No muzz!"). This is a Northeastern pizza genre unto its own, and Pepe's is the best of them all — freshly shucked, briny littleneck clams, an intense dose of garlic, olive oil, oregano and grated parmesan atop a charcoal-colored crust. The advanced move? Clam pie with bacon. Just expect to wait in line if you get there after 11:30 a.m. on a weekend.

2. Di Fara, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Di Fara Classic Pie)

Domenico DeMarco is a local celebrity, having owned and operated Di Fara since 1964. Dom cooks both New York and Sicilian-style pizza Wednesday through Sunday (noon to 4:30 p.m., and from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.) for hungry New Yorkers and tourists willing to wait in long lines, and brave the free-for-all that is the Di Fara counter experience. Yes, you're better off getting a whole pie than shelling out for the $5 slice. Yes, it's a trek, and sure, Dom goes through periods where the underside of the pizza can trend toward overdone, but when he's on, Di Fara can make a very strong case for being America's best pizza. If you want to understand why before visiting, watch the great video about Di Fara called The Best Thing I Ever Done. You can't go wrong with the classic round or square cheese pie (topped with oil-marinated hot peppers, which you can ladle on at the counter if you elbow in), but the menu's signature is the Di Fara Classic Pie: mozzarella, parmesan, plum tomato sauce, basil, sausage, peppers, mushroom, onion, and of course, a drizzle of olive oil by Dom.

3. Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix (Marinara)

"There's no mystery to my pizza," Bronx native Chris Bianco was quoted as saying in The New York Times. "Sicilian oregano, organic flour, San Marzano tomatoes, purified water, mozzarella I learned to make at Mike's Deli in the Bronx, sea salt, fresh yeast cake and a little bit of yesterday's dough. In the end great pizza, like anything else, is all about balance. It's that simple." Try telling that to the legions of pizza pilgrims who have made trip to the storied Phoenix pizza spot he opened more than 20 years ago. The restaurant serves not only addictive thin-crust pizzas but also fantastic antipasto (involving wood-oven-roasted vegetables), perfect salads and homemade country bread. The wait, once routinely noted as one of the worst for food in the country, has been improved by Pizzeria Bianco opening for lunch, and the opening of Trattoria Bianco, the pizza prince of Arizona's Italian restaurant in the historic Town & Country Shopping Center (about 10 minutes from the original). This is another case where any pie will likely be better than most you've had in your life (that Rosa with red onions and pistachios!), but the signature Marinara will recalibrate your pizza baseline forever: tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic (no cheese).

4. Una Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco (Margherita)

When Anthony Mangieri, pizzaiolo for the East Village's Una Pizza Napoletana, closed in 2009 "to make a change," move West, and open somewhere he could get "a chance to use his outrigger canoe and mountain bike more often," it was the ultimate insult to New Yorkers. You're taking one of the city's favorite Neapolitan pizzerias, defecting to a temperate climate, to people who denigrate New York's Mexican food? So you can canoe and mountain bike? Traitor! Good for Mangieri, and good for San Franciscans, who inherited one of the country's best Neapolitan pies (if only Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. until they're "out of dough"). A thin crust with chewy cornicione, a sauce that's tart and alive, an appropriate ratio of cheese . you could almost imagine yourself at the pantheon to pizza in Naples: Da Michele, a place where the pizza is poetry and pizza poetry is on the wall. Mangieri harkens that same ethos on his website — check out the pizza poem "Napoli" — and delivers the edible version to his patrons. There are only five pies, all $25 (a $5 hike since last year), plus a special Saturday-only pie, the Apollonia, made with eggs, parmigiano-reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, salami, extra-virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, sea salt and black pepper. But when you're this close to godliness, you don't need extras. Keep it simple with the margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil ,fresh basil, sea salt, tomato sauce) and know the good.

5. Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles (squash blossoms, tomato, burrata)

Renowned baker and chef Nancy Silverton teamed up with Italian culinary moguls Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich to open Osteria Mozza, a Los Angeles hot spot where the famous clientele pales in comparison to the innovative, creative fare. The pizzeria, which is attached to the main restaurant, offers a variety of Italian specialties, from antipasti to bruschetta, but the Neapolitan-style pizzas steal the show. Their list of 21 pies ranges from $11 for a simple aglio e olio, a classic cheese pizza, to $23 for a more unique pie with squash blossoms, tomato, and burrata cheese — a delicious and simple pizza that transports through the quality and nuance of its ingredients. So it's no surprise that Batali and Bastianich have taken a stab at duplicating the success of this model pizzeria, opening in Newport Beach, Singapore (!), and soon, San Diego.

6. Roberta's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

Say Roberta's is in the new class of restaurants that has fanned the flames of the Brooklyn vs. Manhattan debate, call it a great pizza joint, recall it as a frontrunner of the city's rooftop garden movement, and mention that Carlo Mirarchi was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and you'd still be selling it short. Roberta's is in Bushwick six stops out of Manhattan on the L, and it's one of the city's best restaurants (it even serves one of the city's hardest-to-score tasting menus). In Bushwick! Pizza may not be the only thing at Roberta's, but its Neapolitan pies are at the high end of the debate about the city's best (and according to an interview with the blog Slice, inspired another great pizzeria on this list, Paulie Gee's). Yes, some of them have names like "Family Jewels," "Barely Legal," and - after disgraced New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener - "Carlos Danger," but you can afford not to take yourself seriously in an environment where Brooklyn hipsters and everyone else tolerate each other when your pizza is this good. As much as the Amatriciana and the Bee Sting (when Roberta's goes mobile) may tempt, the Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil) is Roberta's pizza Lothario.

7. Sally's Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Tomato Pie)

Sally's Apizza is a New Haven classic, operating from the same location where they opened in the late 1930s in New Haven's Wooster Square. Their pizza is traditionally thin-crust, topped with tomato sauce, garlic and "mozz." The pies look pretty similar to what you'll find down the street at Frank Pepe, which any New Haven pizza believer will note is because the man who opened Sally's is the nephew of the owner of Pepe. The folks at Sally's will be the first to tell you that Pepe makes a better clam pie, but their tomato pie (tomato sauce, no cheese), well, they have the original beat there.

8. Flour + Water, San Francisco (Margherita)

Although this San Francisco restaurant claims to specialize in house-made pastas, their pizza is formidable. Baked in a wood-fired oven, the thin-crust pizza at Flour + Water blends Old World tradition with modern refinement, according to chef and co-owner Thomas McNaughton. Pizza toppings vary depending on what's in season, making each dining experience unique, but Flour + Water's textbook Margherita is amazing. Heirloom tomatoes, basil, fior di latte, and extra-virgin olive oil . if only the simplicity implied by the restaurant's name could be duplicated in pizzerias across the country.

9. Motorino, New York City (Brussels Sprout)

Some spaces are cursed. Others? Blessed. When Anthony Mangieri shuttered Una Pizza Napoletana at 349 East 12th St. and headed West, Mathieu Palombino took over the lease, renamed the space Motorino, and the East Village pizza scene hardly skipped a beat. Motorino offers a handful of spirited pies, including one with cherry stone clams another with stracciatella, raw basil and Gaeta olives and the cremini mushroom with fior di latte, sweet sausage and garlic. But contrary to every last fiber of childhood memory you hold dear, the move is the Brussels Sprout pie (fior di latte, garlic, Pecorino, smoked pancetta and olive oil), something both Hong Kong natives and Brooklynites can now attest to since Palombino opened (and reopened) his Asian and Williamsburg outposts earlier in 2013.

10. Al Forno, Providence, R.I. (Margarita)

On South Main Street in the heart of Providence, R.I., Al Forno offers a quintessential Italian dining experience for those who can't afford the flight. Husband-and-wife owner-chefs George Germon and Johanne Killeen received the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano from the Italian government, a rare honor for Americans, attributable to their informed passion for pasta along with their invention of the grilled pizza. The restaurant bakes their pies in wood-burning ovens as well as on grills over hardwood charcoal fire. Their most notable grilled pizza? The Margarita. It's served with fresh herbs, pomodoro, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil.

11. Modern Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Italian Bomb)

Established in 1934 as State Street Pizza, Modern's coal-fired brick oven puts out pizza in the same thin-crust style. It's likely that you'll hear it spoken about as the place "the locals go instead of Pepe's and Sally's." That may be so. The atmosphere is great — wood paneling, friendly servers, a clean feeling — but it doesn't play third-string just because it's not on Wooster. Modern's pies are a little topping-heavy with less structural integrity. Given the focus on toppings, the iconic Italian Bomb is the pie to try: bacon, sausage, pepperoni, garlic, mushroom, onion and pepper.

12. Totonno's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

By all accounts, Totonno's shouldn't be around anymore. Consider first that it was opened in Coney Island in 1924 (by Antonio "Totonno" Pero, a Lombardi's alum). Then factor in the fire that broke out in the coal storage area and ravaged the place in 2009. Add to that insult the destruction (and some reported $150,000 in repairs) incurred in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy when 4 feet of water destroyed everything inside the family-owned institution. You'll probably agree that Brooklyn (and the country) should be counting its lucky stars Totonno's is still around. And yet it does more than that.

It doesn't just keep a storied pizza name, or nostalgia for simpler times (and perhaps more authentic and consistent pies) alive. No. Owners Antoinette Balzano, Frank Balzano and Louise "Cookie" Ciminieri don't just bridge our modern era's festishizing of pizza to the days of its inception at Lombardi's. The coal-fired blistered edges, the spotty mozzarella laced over that beautiful red sauce . ah, fuggedabout all the teary-eyed try-too-much words, this is Neptune Avenue! This is Brooklyn! This is Totonno's. And this, is how you make pizza.

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina)

With a love for pizza, little formal training, without finishing high school, with a career he has characterized as having "masqueraded as a computer geek," and a fear of becoming Shelley Levene from "Glengarry Glen Ross," Paulie Giannone struck out into the unknown, to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He ventured there before "Girls," before the condos, in a time when the dream of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment a 10-minute walk from the subway to Manhattan on the Polish word-of-mouth, no-lease real estate wire still went for less than $2,000.

This backyard do-it-yourselfing pizza passionista put it all on the line and earned every kind word he's gotten. Greenpoint isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas.

14. Apizza Scholls, Portland, Ore. (Apizza Amore)

Apizza Scholls has some of the best pizza in Portland, and some have argued, north of San Francisco — and that's using an electric oven! But they do have some guidelines for patrons interested in composing their own topping combinations on their 18-inch pies: only three ingredients, and no more than two meats per pie. So choose wisely from a list of toppings that in addition to classics like anchovies, red onions, garlic, pepperoni, sausage and basil includes capicollo, house-cured Canadian bacon, cotto salami, arugula, jalapeño and pepperoncini. Heads-up: bacon is "not offered for build your own toppings." If you aren't up to building your own pie, there are 10 classics to choose from, including the signature Apizza Amore: margherita with capicollo (cured pork shoulder). The signature Amore features a spicy kick offset a bit by the somewhat sweet mozzarella and balanced sauce. That's amore!


America's 15 best pizzas

15. South Brooklyn Pizza, New York City (New York Style): While known as a great pizza city, New York's state of the slice isn't what it you'd think, especially while it's in the grip of the Neapolitan craze and .99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />.99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />

Interested in this topic? You may also want to view these photo galleries:

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina): Greenpoint, Brooklyn, isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas. (Photo: Paulie Gee's)

Pizza is about as varied and beloved a genre, as opinionated a subject, and also as accessible a food as there is, which makes determining the country's best pizzas a truly challenging task.

Yes, pizza is tough to rank responsibly. But once again, that's just what The Daily Meal set out to do.

1. Frank Pepe's, New Haven, Conn. (White Clam)

If you want to discuss the loaded topic of America's best pizza with any authority, you have to make a pilgrimage to this legendary New Haven pizzeria. Frank Pepe opened his doors in Wooster Square in New Haven, Conn., in 1925, offering classic Napoletana-style pizza. After immigrating to the United States in 1909 at the age of 16 from Italy, Pepe took odd jobs before opening his restaurant (now called "The Spot," next door to the larger operation). Since its conception, Pepe's has opened an additional seven locations.

What should you order at this checklist destination? Two words: clam pie ("No muzz!"). This is a Northeastern pizza genre unto its own, and Pepe's is the best of them all — freshly shucked, briny littleneck clams, an intense dose of garlic, olive oil, oregano and grated parmesan atop a charcoal-colored crust. The advanced move? Clam pie with bacon. Just expect to wait in line if you get there after 11:30 a.m. on a weekend.

2. Di Fara, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Di Fara Classic Pie)

Domenico DeMarco is a local celebrity, having owned and operated Di Fara since 1964. Dom cooks both New York and Sicilian-style pizza Wednesday through Sunday (noon to 4:30 p.m., and from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.) for hungry New Yorkers and tourists willing to wait in long lines, and brave the free-for-all that is the Di Fara counter experience. Yes, you're better off getting a whole pie than shelling out for the $5 slice. Yes, it's a trek, and sure, Dom goes through periods where the underside of the pizza can trend toward overdone, but when he's on, Di Fara can make a very strong case for being America's best pizza. If you want to understand why before visiting, watch the great video about Di Fara called The Best Thing I Ever Done. You can't go wrong with the classic round or square cheese pie (topped with oil-marinated hot peppers, which you can ladle on at the counter if you elbow in), but the menu's signature is the Di Fara Classic Pie: mozzarella, parmesan, plum tomato sauce, basil, sausage, peppers, mushroom, onion, and of course, a drizzle of olive oil by Dom.

3. Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix (Marinara)

"There's no mystery to my pizza," Bronx native Chris Bianco was quoted as saying in The New York Times. "Sicilian oregano, organic flour, San Marzano tomatoes, purified water, mozzarella I learned to make at Mike's Deli in the Bronx, sea salt, fresh yeast cake and a little bit of yesterday's dough. In the end great pizza, like anything else, is all about balance. It's that simple." Try telling that to the legions of pizza pilgrims who have made trip to the storied Phoenix pizza spot he opened more than 20 years ago. The restaurant serves not only addictive thin-crust pizzas but also fantastic antipasto (involving wood-oven-roasted vegetables), perfect salads and homemade country bread. The wait, once routinely noted as one of the worst for food in the country, has been improved by Pizzeria Bianco opening for lunch, and the opening of Trattoria Bianco, the pizza prince of Arizona's Italian restaurant in the historic Town & Country Shopping Center (about 10 minutes from the original). This is another case where any pie will likely be better than most you've had in your life (that Rosa with red onions and pistachios!), but the signature Marinara will recalibrate your pizza baseline forever: tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic (no cheese).

4. Una Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco (Margherita)

When Anthony Mangieri, pizzaiolo for the East Village's Una Pizza Napoletana, closed in 2009 "to make a change," move West, and open somewhere he could get "a chance to use his outrigger canoe and mountain bike more often," it was the ultimate insult to New Yorkers. You're taking one of the city's favorite Neapolitan pizzerias, defecting to a temperate climate, to people who denigrate New York's Mexican food? So you can canoe and mountain bike? Traitor! Good for Mangieri, and good for San Franciscans, who inherited one of the country's best Neapolitan pies (if only Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. until they're "out of dough"). A thin crust with chewy cornicione, a sauce that's tart and alive, an appropriate ratio of cheese . you could almost imagine yourself at the pantheon to pizza in Naples: Da Michele, a place where the pizza is poetry and pizza poetry is on the wall. Mangieri harkens that same ethos on his website — check out the pizza poem "Napoli" — and delivers the edible version to his patrons. There are only five pies, all $25 (a $5 hike since last year), plus a special Saturday-only pie, the Apollonia, made with eggs, parmigiano-reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, salami, extra-virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, sea salt and black pepper. But when you're this close to godliness, you don't need extras. Keep it simple with the margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil ,fresh basil, sea salt, tomato sauce) and know the good.

5. Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles (squash blossoms, tomato, burrata)

Renowned baker and chef Nancy Silverton teamed up with Italian culinary moguls Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich to open Osteria Mozza, a Los Angeles hot spot where the famous clientele pales in comparison to the innovative, creative fare. The pizzeria, which is attached to the main restaurant, offers a variety of Italian specialties, from antipasti to bruschetta, but the Neapolitan-style pizzas steal the show. Their list of 21 pies ranges from $11 for a simple aglio e olio, a classic cheese pizza, to $23 for a more unique pie with squash blossoms, tomato, and burrata cheese — a delicious and simple pizza that transports through the quality and nuance of its ingredients. So it's no surprise that Batali and Bastianich have taken a stab at duplicating the success of this model pizzeria, opening in Newport Beach, Singapore (!), and soon, San Diego.

6. Roberta's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

Say Roberta's is in the new class of restaurants that has fanned the flames of the Brooklyn vs. Manhattan debate, call it a great pizza joint, recall it as a frontrunner of the city's rooftop garden movement, and mention that Carlo Mirarchi was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and you'd still be selling it short. Roberta's is in Bushwick six stops out of Manhattan on the L, and it's one of the city's best restaurants (it even serves one of the city's hardest-to-score tasting menus). In Bushwick! Pizza may not be the only thing at Roberta's, but its Neapolitan pies are at the high end of the debate about the city's best (and according to an interview with the blog Slice, inspired another great pizzeria on this list, Paulie Gee's). Yes, some of them have names like "Family Jewels," "Barely Legal," and - after disgraced New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener - "Carlos Danger," but you can afford not to take yourself seriously in an environment where Brooklyn hipsters and everyone else tolerate each other when your pizza is this good. As much as the Amatriciana and the Bee Sting (when Roberta's goes mobile) may tempt, the Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil) is Roberta's pizza Lothario.

7. Sally's Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Tomato Pie)

Sally's Apizza is a New Haven classic, operating from the same location where they opened in the late 1930s in New Haven's Wooster Square. Their pizza is traditionally thin-crust, topped with tomato sauce, garlic and "mozz." The pies look pretty similar to what you'll find down the street at Frank Pepe, which any New Haven pizza believer will note is because the man who opened Sally's is the nephew of the owner of Pepe. The folks at Sally's will be the first to tell you that Pepe makes a better clam pie, but their tomato pie (tomato sauce, no cheese), well, they have the original beat there.

8. Flour + Water, San Francisco (Margherita)

Although this San Francisco restaurant claims to specialize in house-made pastas, their pizza is formidable. Baked in a wood-fired oven, the thin-crust pizza at Flour + Water blends Old World tradition with modern refinement, according to chef and co-owner Thomas McNaughton. Pizza toppings vary depending on what's in season, making each dining experience unique, but Flour + Water's textbook Margherita is amazing. Heirloom tomatoes, basil, fior di latte, and extra-virgin olive oil . if only the simplicity implied by the restaurant's name could be duplicated in pizzerias across the country.

9. Motorino, New York City (Brussels Sprout)

Some spaces are cursed. Others? Blessed. When Anthony Mangieri shuttered Una Pizza Napoletana at 349 East 12th St. and headed West, Mathieu Palombino took over the lease, renamed the space Motorino, and the East Village pizza scene hardly skipped a beat. Motorino offers a handful of spirited pies, including one with cherry stone clams another with stracciatella, raw basil and Gaeta olives and the cremini mushroom with fior di latte, sweet sausage and garlic. But contrary to every last fiber of childhood memory you hold dear, the move is the Brussels Sprout pie (fior di latte, garlic, Pecorino, smoked pancetta and olive oil), something both Hong Kong natives and Brooklynites can now attest to since Palombino opened (and reopened) his Asian and Williamsburg outposts earlier in 2013.

10. Al Forno, Providence, R.I. (Margarita)

On South Main Street in the heart of Providence, R.I., Al Forno offers a quintessential Italian dining experience for those who can't afford the flight. Husband-and-wife owner-chefs George Germon and Johanne Killeen received the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano from the Italian government, a rare honor for Americans, attributable to their informed passion for pasta along with their invention of the grilled pizza. The restaurant bakes their pies in wood-burning ovens as well as on grills over hardwood charcoal fire. Their most notable grilled pizza? The Margarita. It's served with fresh herbs, pomodoro, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil.

11. Modern Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Italian Bomb)

Established in 1934 as State Street Pizza, Modern's coal-fired brick oven puts out pizza in the same thin-crust style. It's likely that you'll hear it spoken about as the place "the locals go instead of Pepe's and Sally's." That may be so. The atmosphere is great — wood paneling, friendly servers, a clean feeling — but it doesn't play third-string just because it's not on Wooster. Modern's pies are a little topping-heavy with less structural integrity. Given the focus on toppings, the iconic Italian Bomb is the pie to try: bacon, sausage, pepperoni, garlic, mushroom, onion and pepper.

12. Totonno's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

By all accounts, Totonno's shouldn't be around anymore. Consider first that it was opened in Coney Island in 1924 (by Antonio "Totonno" Pero, a Lombardi's alum). Then factor in the fire that broke out in the coal storage area and ravaged the place in 2009. Add to that insult the destruction (and some reported $150,000 in repairs) incurred in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy when 4 feet of water destroyed everything inside the family-owned institution. You'll probably agree that Brooklyn (and the country) should be counting its lucky stars Totonno's is still around. And yet it does more than that.

It doesn't just keep a storied pizza name, or nostalgia for simpler times (and perhaps more authentic and consistent pies) alive. No. Owners Antoinette Balzano, Frank Balzano and Louise "Cookie" Ciminieri don't just bridge our modern era's festishizing of pizza to the days of its inception at Lombardi's. The coal-fired blistered edges, the spotty mozzarella laced over that beautiful red sauce . ah, fuggedabout all the teary-eyed try-too-much words, this is Neptune Avenue! This is Brooklyn! This is Totonno's. And this, is how you make pizza.

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina)

With a love for pizza, little formal training, without finishing high school, with a career he has characterized as having "masqueraded as a computer geek," and a fear of becoming Shelley Levene from "Glengarry Glen Ross," Paulie Giannone struck out into the unknown, to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He ventured there before "Girls," before the condos, in a time when the dream of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment a 10-minute walk from the subway to Manhattan on the Polish word-of-mouth, no-lease real estate wire still went for less than $2,000.

This backyard do-it-yourselfing pizza passionista put it all on the line and earned every kind word he's gotten. Greenpoint isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas.

14. Apizza Scholls, Portland, Ore. (Apizza Amore)

Apizza Scholls has some of the best pizza in Portland, and some have argued, north of San Francisco — and that's using an electric oven! But they do have some guidelines for patrons interested in composing their own topping combinations on their 18-inch pies: only three ingredients, and no more than two meats per pie. So choose wisely from a list of toppings that in addition to classics like anchovies, red onions, garlic, pepperoni, sausage and basil includes capicollo, house-cured Canadian bacon, cotto salami, arugula, jalapeño and pepperoncini. Heads-up: bacon is "not offered for build your own toppings." If you aren't up to building your own pie, there are 10 classics to choose from, including the signature Apizza Amore: margherita with capicollo (cured pork shoulder). The signature Amore features a spicy kick offset a bit by the somewhat sweet mozzarella and balanced sauce. That's amore!


America's 15 best pizzas

15. South Brooklyn Pizza, New York City (New York Style): While known as a great pizza city, New York's state of the slice isn't what it you'd think, especially while it's in the grip of the Neapolitan craze and .99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />.99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />

Interested in this topic? You may also want to view these photo galleries:

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina): Greenpoint, Brooklyn, isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas. (Photo: Paulie Gee's)

Pizza is about as varied and beloved a genre, as opinionated a subject, and also as accessible a food as there is, which makes determining the country's best pizzas a truly challenging task.

Yes, pizza is tough to rank responsibly. But once again, that's just what The Daily Meal set out to do.

1. Frank Pepe's, New Haven, Conn. (White Clam)

If you want to discuss the loaded topic of America's best pizza with any authority, you have to make a pilgrimage to this legendary New Haven pizzeria. Frank Pepe opened his doors in Wooster Square in New Haven, Conn., in 1925, offering classic Napoletana-style pizza. After immigrating to the United States in 1909 at the age of 16 from Italy, Pepe took odd jobs before opening his restaurant (now called "The Spot," next door to the larger operation). Since its conception, Pepe's has opened an additional seven locations.

What should you order at this checklist destination? Two words: clam pie ("No muzz!"). This is a Northeastern pizza genre unto its own, and Pepe's is the best of them all — freshly shucked, briny littleneck clams, an intense dose of garlic, olive oil, oregano and grated parmesan atop a charcoal-colored crust. The advanced move? Clam pie with bacon. Just expect to wait in line if you get there after 11:30 a.m. on a weekend.

2. Di Fara, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Di Fara Classic Pie)

Domenico DeMarco is a local celebrity, having owned and operated Di Fara since 1964. Dom cooks both New York and Sicilian-style pizza Wednesday through Sunday (noon to 4:30 p.m., and from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.) for hungry New Yorkers and tourists willing to wait in long lines, and brave the free-for-all that is the Di Fara counter experience. Yes, you're better off getting a whole pie than shelling out for the $5 slice. Yes, it's a trek, and sure, Dom goes through periods where the underside of the pizza can trend toward overdone, but when he's on, Di Fara can make a very strong case for being America's best pizza. If you want to understand why before visiting, watch the great video about Di Fara called The Best Thing I Ever Done. You can't go wrong with the classic round or square cheese pie (topped with oil-marinated hot peppers, which you can ladle on at the counter if you elbow in), but the menu's signature is the Di Fara Classic Pie: mozzarella, parmesan, plum tomato sauce, basil, sausage, peppers, mushroom, onion, and of course, a drizzle of olive oil by Dom.

3. Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix (Marinara)

"There's no mystery to my pizza," Bronx native Chris Bianco was quoted as saying in The New York Times. "Sicilian oregano, organic flour, San Marzano tomatoes, purified water, mozzarella I learned to make at Mike's Deli in the Bronx, sea salt, fresh yeast cake and a little bit of yesterday's dough. In the end great pizza, like anything else, is all about balance. It's that simple." Try telling that to the legions of pizza pilgrims who have made trip to the storied Phoenix pizza spot he opened more than 20 years ago. The restaurant serves not only addictive thin-crust pizzas but also fantastic antipasto (involving wood-oven-roasted vegetables), perfect salads and homemade country bread. The wait, once routinely noted as one of the worst for food in the country, has been improved by Pizzeria Bianco opening for lunch, and the opening of Trattoria Bianco, the pizza prince of Arizona's Italian restaurant in the historic Town & Country Shopping Center (about 10 minutes from the original). This is another case where any pie will likely be better than most you've had in your life (that Rosa with red onions and pistachios!), but the signature Marinara will recalibrate your pizza baseline forever: tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic (no cheese).

4. Una Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco (Margherita)

When Anthony Mangieri, pizzaiolo for the East Village's Una Pizza Napoletana, closed in 2009 "to make a change," move West, and open somewhere he could get "a chance to use his outrigger canoe and mountain bike more often," it was the ultimate insult to New Yorkers. You're taking one of the city's favorite Neapolitan pizzerias, defecting to a temperate climate, to people who denigrate New York's Mexican food? So you can canoe and mountain bike? Traitor! Good for Mangieri, and good for San Franciscans, who inherited one of the country's best Neapolitan pies (if only Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. until they're "out of dough"). A thin crust with chewy cornicione, a sauce that's tart and alive, an appropriate ratio of cheese . you could almost imagine yourself at the pantheon to pizza in Naples: Da Michele, a place where the pizza is poetry and pizza poetry is on the wall. Mangieri harkens that same ethos on his website — check out the pizza poem "Napoli" — and delivers the edible version to his patrons. There are only five pies, all $25 (a $5 hike since last year), plus a special Saturday-only pie, the Apollonia, made with eggs, parmigiano-reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, salami, extra-virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, sea salt and black pepper. But when you're this close to godliness, you don't need extras. Keep it simple with the margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil ,fresh basil, sea salt, tomato sauce) and know the good.

5. Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles (squash blossoms, tomato, burrata)

Renowned baker and chef Nancy Silverton teamed up with Italian culinary moguls Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich to open Osteria Mozza, a Los Angeles hot spot where the famous clientele pales in comparison to the innovative, creative fare. The pizzeria, which is attached to the main restaurant, offers a variety of Italian specialties, from antipasti to bruschetta, but the Neapolitan-style pizzas steal the show. Their list of 21 pies ranges from $11 for a simple aglio e olio, a classic cheese pizza, to $23 for a more unique pie with squash blossoms, tomato, and burrata cheese — a delicious and simple pizza that transports through the quality and nuance of its ingredients. So it's no surprise that Batali and Bastianich have taken a stab at duplicating the success of this model pizzeria, opening in Newport Beach, Singapore (!), and soon, San Diego.

6. Roberta's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

Say Roberta's is in the new class of restaurants that has fanned the flames of the Brooklyn vs. Manhattan debate, call it a great pizza joint, recall it as a frontrunner of the city's rooftop garden movement, and mention that Carlo Mirarchi was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and you'd still be selling it short. Roberta's is in Bushwick six stops out of Manhattan on the L, and it's one of the city's best restaurants (it even serves one of the city's hardest-to-score tasting menus). In Bushwick! Pizza may not be the only thing at Roberta's, but its Neapolitan pies are at the high end of the debate about the city's best (and according to an interview with the blog Slice, inspired another great pizzeria on this list, Paulie Gee's). Yes, some of them have names like "Family Jewels," "Barely Legal," and - after disgraced New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener - "Carlos Danger," but you can afford not to take yourself seriously in an environment where Brooklyn hipsters and everyone else tolerate each other when your pizza is this good. As much as the Amatriciana and the Bee Sting (when Roberta's goes mobile) may tempt, the Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil) is Roberta's pizza Lothario.

7. Sally's Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Tomato Pie)

Sally's Apizza is a New Haven classic, operating from the same location where they opened in the late 1930s in New Haven's Wooster Square. Their pizza is traditionally thin-crust, topped with tomato sauce, garlic and "mozz." The pies look pretty similar to what you'll find down the street at Frank Pepe, which any New Haven pizza believer will note is because the man who opened Sally's is the nephew of the owner of Pepe. The folks at Sally's will be the first to tell you that Pepe makes a better clam pie, but their tomato pie (tomato sauce, no cheese), well, they have the original beat there.

8. Flour + Water, San Francisco (Margherita)

Although this San Francisco restaurant claims to specialize in house-made pastas, their pizza is formidable. Baked in a wood-fired oven, the thin-crust pizza at Flour + Water blends Old World tradition with modern refinement, according to chef and co-owner Thomas McNaughton. Pizza toppings vary depending on what's in season, making each dining experience unique, but Flour + Water's textbook Margherita is amazing. Heirloom tomatoes, basil, fior di latte, and extra-virgin olive oil . if only the simplicity implied by the restaurant's name could be duplicated in pizzerias across the country.

9. Motorino, New York City (Brussels Sprout)

Some spaces are cursed. Others? Blessed. When Anthony Mangieri shuttered Una Pizza Napoletana at 349 East 12th St. and headed West, Mathieu Palombino took over the lease, renamed the space Motorino, and the East Village pizza scene hardly skipped a beat. Motorino offers a handful of spirited pies, including one with cherry stone clams another with stracciatella, raw basil and Gaeta olives and the cremini mushroom with fior di latte, sweet sausage and garlic. But contrary to every last fiber of childhood memory you hold dear, the move is the Brussels Sprout pie (fior di latte, garlic, Pecorino, smoked pancetta and olive oil), something both Hong Kong natives and Brooklynites can now attest to since Palombino opened (and reopened) his Asian and Williamsburg outposts earlier in 2013.

10. Al Forno, Providence, R.I. (Margarita)

On South Main Street in the heart of Providence, R.I., Al Forno offers a quintessential Italian dining experience for those who can't afford the flight. Husband-and-wife owner-chefs George Germon and Johanne Killeen received the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano from the Italian government, a rare honor for Americans, attributable to their informed passion for pasta along with their invention of the grilled pizza. The restaurant bakes their pies in wood-burning ovens as well as on grills over hardwood charcoal fire. Their most notable grilled pizza? The Margarita. It's served with fresh herbs, pomodoro, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil.

11. Modern Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Italian Bomb)

Established in 1934 as State Street Pizza, Modern's coal-fired brick oven puts out pizza in the same thin-crust style. It's likely that you'll hear it spoken about as the place "the locals go instead of Pepe's and Sally's." That may be so. The atmosphere is great — wood paneling, friendly servers, a clean feeling — but it doesn't play third-string just because it's not on Wooster. Modern's pies are a little topping-heavy with less structural integrity. Given the focus on toppings, the iconic Italian Bomb is the pie to try: bacon, sausage, pepperoni, garlic, mushroom, onion and pepper.

12. Totonno's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

By all accounts, Totonno's shouldn't be around anymore. Consider first that it was opened in Coney Island in 1924 (by Antonio "Totonno" Pero, a Lombardi's alum). Then factor in the fire that broke out in the coal storage area and ravaged the place in 2009. Add to that insult the destruction (and some reported $150,000 in repairs) incurred in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy when 4 feet of water destroyed everything inside the family-owned institution. You'll probably agree that Brooklyn (and the country) should be counting its lucky stars Totonno's is still around. And yet it does more than that.

It doesn't just keep a storied pizza name, or nostalgia for simpler times (and perhaps more authentic and consistent pies) alive. No. Owners Antoinette Balzano, Frank Balzano and Louise "Cookie" Ciminieri don't just bridge our modern era's festishizing of pizza to the days of its inception at Lombardi's. The coal-fired blistered edges, the spotty mozzarella laced over that beautiful red sauce . ah, fuggedabout all the teary-eyed try-too-much words, this is Neptune Avenue! This is Brooklyn! This is Totonno's. And this, is how you make pizza.

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina)

With a love for pizza, little formal training, without finishing high school, with a career he has characterized as having "masqueraded as a computer geek," and a fear of becoming Shelley Levene from "Glengarry Glen Ross," Paulie Giannone struck out into the unknown, to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He ventured there before "Girls," before the condos, in a time when the dream of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment a 10-minute walk from the subway to Manhattan on the Polish word-of-mouth, no-lease real estate wire still went for less than $2,000.

This backyard do-it-yourselfing pizza passionista put it all on the line and earned every kind word he's gotten. Greenpoint isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas.

14. Apizza Scholls, Portland, Ore. (Apizza Amore)

Apizza Scholls has some of the best pizza in Portland, and some have argued, north of San Francisco — and that's using an electric oven! But they do have some guidelines for patrons interested in composing their own topping combinations on their 18-inch pies: only three ingredients, and no more than two meats per pie. So choose wisely from a list of toppings that in addition to classics like anchovies, red onions, garlic, pepperoni, sausage and basil includes capicollo, house-cured Canadian bacon, cotto salami, arugula, jalapeño and pepperoncini. Heads-up: bacon is "not offered for build your own toppings." If you aren't up to building your own pie, there are 10 classics to choose from, including the signature Apizza Amore: margherita with capicollo (cured pork shoulder). The signature Amore features a spicy kick offset a bit by the somewhat sweet mozzarella and balanced sauce. That's amore!


America's 15 best pizzas

15. South Brooklyn Pizza, New York City (New York Style): While known as a great pizza city, New York's state of the slice isn't what it you'd think, especially while it's in the grip of the Neapolitan craze and .99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />.99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />

Interested in this topic? You may also want to view these photo galleries:

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina): Greenpoint, Brooklyn, isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas. (Photo: Paulie Gee's)

Pizza is about as varied and beloved a genre, as opinionated a subject, and also as accessible a food as there is, which makes determining the country's best pizzas a truly challenging task.

Yes, pizza is tough to rank responsibly. But once again, that's just what The Daily Meal set out to do.

1. Frank Pepe's, New Haven, Conn. (White Clam)

If you want to discuss the loaded topic of America's best pizza with any authority, you have to make a pilgrimage to this legendary New Haven pizzeria. Frank Pepe opened his doors in Wooster Square in New Haven, Conn., in 1925, offering classic Napoletana-style pizza. After immigrating to the United States in 1909 at the age of 16 from Italy, Pepe took odd jobs before opening his restaurant (now called "The Spot," next door to the larger operation). Since its conception, Pepe's has opened an additional seven locations.

What should you order at this checklist destination? Two words: clam pie ("No muzz!"). This is a Northeastern pizza genre unto its own, and Pepe's is the best of them all — freshly shucked, briny littleneck clams, an intense dose of garlic, olive oil, oregano and grated parmesan atop a charcoal-colored crust. The advanced move? Clam pie with bacon. Just expect to wait in line if you get there after 11:30 a.m. on a weekend.

2. Di Fara, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Di Fara Classic Pie)

Domenico DeMarco is a local celebrity, having owned and operated Di Fara since 1964. Dom cooks both New York and Sicilian-style pizza Wednesday through Sunday (noon to 4:30 p.m., and from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.) for hungry New Yorkers and tourists willing to wait in long lines, and brave the free-for-all that is the Di Fara counter experience. Yes, you're better off getting a whole pie than shelling out for the $5 slice. Yes, it's a trek, and sure, Dom goes through periods where the underside of the pizza can trend toward overdone, but when he's on, Di Fara can make a very strong case for being America's best pizza. If you want to understand why before visiting, watch the great video about Di Fara called The Best Thing I Ever Done. You can't go wrong with the classic round or square cheese pie (topped with oil-marinated hot peppers, which you can ladle on at the counter if you elbow in), but the menu's signature is the Di Fara Classic Pie: mozzarella, parmesan, plum tomato sauce, basil, sausage, peppers, mushroom, onion, and of course, a drizzle of olive oil by Dom.

3. Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix (Marinara)

"There's no mystery to my pizza," Bronx native Chris Bianco was quoted as saying in The New York Times. "Sicilian oregano, organic flour, San Marzano tomatoes, purified water, mozzarella I learned to make at Mike's Deli in the Bronx, sea salt, fresh yeast cake and a little bit of yesterday's dough. In the end great pizza, like anything else, is all about balance. It's that simple." Try telling that to the legions of pizza pilgrims who have made trip to the storied Phoenix pizza spot he opened more than 20 years ago. The restaurant serves not only addictive thin-crust pizzas but also fantastic antipasto (involving wood-oven-roasted vegetables), perfect salads and homemade country bread. The wait, once routinely noted as one of the worst for food in the country, has been improved by Pizzeria Bianco opening for lunch, and the opening of Trattoria Bianco, the pizza prince of Arizona's Italian restaurant in the historic Town & Country Shopping Center (about 10 minutes from the original). This is another case where any pie will likely be better than most you've had in your life (that Rosa with red onions and pistachios!), but the signature Marinara will recalibrate your pizza baseline forever: tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic (no cheese).

4. Una Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco (Margherita)

When Anthony Mangieri, pizzaiolo for the East Village's Una Pizza Napoletana, closed in 2009 "to make a change," move West, and open somewhere he could get "a chance to use his outrigger canoe and mountain bike more often," it was the ultimate insult to New Yorkers. You're taking one of the city's favorite Neapolitan pizzerias, defecting to a temperate climate, to people who denigrate New York's Mexican food? So you can canoe and mountain bike? Traitor! Good for Mangieri, and good for San Franciscans, who inherited one of the country's best Neapolitan pies (if only Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. until they're "out of dough"). A thin crust with chewy cornicione, a sauce that's tart and alive, an appropriate ratio of cheese . you could almost imagine yourself at the pantheon to pizza in Naples: Da Michele, a place where the pizza is poetry and pizza poetry is on the wall. Mangieri harkens that same ethos on his website — check out the pizza poem "Napoli" — and delivers the edible version to his patrons. There are only five pies, all $25 (a $5 hike since last year), plus a special Saturday-only pie, the Apollonia, made with eggs, parmigiano-reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, salami, extra-virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, sea salt and black pepper. But when you're this close to godliness, you don't need extras. Keep it simple with the margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil ,fresh basil, sea salt, tomato sauce) and know the good.

5. Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles (squash blossoms, tomato, burrata)

Renowned baker and chef Nancy Silverton teamed up with Italian culinary moguls Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich to open Osteria Mozza, a Los Angeles hot spot where the famous clientele pales in comparison to the innovative, creative fare. The pizzeria, which is attached to the main restaurant, offers a variety of Italian specialties, from antipasti to bruschetta, but the Neapolitan-style pizzas steal the show. Their list of 21 pies ranges from $11 for a simple aglio e olio, a classic cheese pizza, to $23 for a more unique pie with squash blossoms, tomato, and burrata cheese — a delicious and simple pizza that transports through the quality and nuance of its ingredients. So it's no surprise that Batali and Bastianich have taken a stab at duplicating the success of this model pizzeria, opening in Newport Beach, Singapore (!), and soon, San Diego.

6. Roberta's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

Say Roberta's is in the new class of restaurants that has fanned the flames of the Brooklyn vs. Manhattan debate, call it a great pizza joint, recall it as a frontrunner of the city's rooftop garden movement, and mention that Carlo Mirarchi was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and you'd still be selling it short. Roberta's is in Bushwick six stops out of Manhattan on the L, and it's one of the city's best restaurants (it even serves one of the city's hardest-to-score tasting menus). In Bushwick! Pizza may not be the only thing at Roberta's, but its Neapolitan pies are at the high end of the debate about the city's best (and according to an interview with the blog Slice, inspired another great pizzeria on this list, Paulie Gee's). Yes, some of them have names like "Family Jewels," "Barely Legal," and - after disgraced New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener - "Carlos Danger," but you can afford not to take yourself seriously in an environment where Brooklyn hipsters and everyone else tolerate each other when your pizza is this good. As much as the Amatriciana and the Bee Sting (when Roberta's goes mobile) may tempt, the Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil) is Roberta's pizza Lothario.

7. Sally's Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Tomato Pie)

Sally's Apizza is a New Haven classic, operating from the same location where they opened in the late 1930s in New Haven's Wooster Square. Their pizza is traditionally thin-crust, topped with tomato sauce, garlic and "mozz." The pies look pretty similar to what you'll find down the street at Frank Pepe, which any New Haven pizza believer will note is because the man who opened Sally's is the nephew of the owner of Pepe. The folks at Sally's will be the first to tell you that Pepe makes a better clam pie, but their tomato pie (tomato sauce, no cheese), well, they have the original beat there.

8. Flour + Water, San Francisco (Margherita)

Although this San Francisco restaurant claims to specialize in house-made pastas, their pizza is formidable. Baked in a wood-fired oven, the thin-crust pizza at Flour + Water blends Old World tradition with modern refinement, according to chef and co-owner Thomas McNaughton. Pizza toppings vary depending on what's in season, making each dining experience unique, but Flour + Water's textbook Margherita is amazing. Heirloom tomatoes, basil, fior di latte, and extra-virgin olive oil . if only the simplicity implied by the restaurant's name could be duplicated in pizzerias across the country.

9. Motorino, New York City (Brussels Sprout)

Some spaces are cursed. Others? Blessed. When Anthony Mangieri shuttered Una Pizza Napoletana at 349 East 12th St. and headed West, Mathieu Palombino took over the lease, renamed the space Motorino, and the East Village pizza scene hardly skipped a beat. Motorino offers a handful of spirited pies, including one with cherry stone clams another with stracciatella, raw basil and Gaeta olives and the cremini mushroom with fior di latte, sweet sausage and garlic. But contrary to every last fiber of childhood memory you hold dear, the move is the Brussels Sprout pie (fior di latte, garlic, Pecorino, smoked pancetta and olive oil), something both Hong Kong natives and Brooklynites can now attest to since Palombino opened (and reopened) his Asian and Williamsburg outposts earlier in 2013.

10. Al Forno, Providence, R.I. (Margarita)

On South Main Street in the heart of Providence, R.I., Al Forno offers a quintessential Italian dining experience for those who can't afford the flight. Husband-and-wife owner-chefs George Germon and Johanne Killeen received the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano from the Italian government, a rare honor for Americans, attributable to their informed passion for pasta along with their invention of the grilled pizza. The restaurant bakes their pies in wood-burning ovens as well as on grills over hardwood charcoal fire. Their most notable grilled pizza? The Margarita. It's served with fresh herbs, pomodoro, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil.

11. Modern Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Italian Bomb)

Established in 1934 as State Street Pizza, Modern's coal-fired brick oven puts out pizza in the same thin-crust style. It's likely that you'll hear it spoken about as the place "the locals go instead of Pepe's and Sally's." That may be so. The atmosphere is great — wood paneling, friendly servers, a clean feeling — but it doesn't play third-string just because it's not on Wooster. Modern's pies are a little topping-heavy with less structural integrity. Given the focus on toppings, the iconic Italian Bomb is the pie to try: bacon, sausage, pepperoni, garlic, mushroom, onion and pepper.

12. Totonno's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

By all accounts, Totonno's shouldn't be around anymore. Consider first that it was opened in Coney Island in 1924 (by Antonio "Totonno" Pero, a Lombardi's alum). Then factor in the fire that broke out in the coal storage area and ravaged the place in 2009. Add to that insult the destruction (and some reported $150,000 in repairs) incurred in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy when 4 feet of water destroyed everything inside the family-owned institution. You'll probably agree that Brooklyn (and the country) should be counting its lucky stars Totonno's is still around. And yet it does more than that.

It doesn't just keep a storied pizza name, or nostalgia for simpler times (and perhaps more authentic and consistent pies) alive. No. Owners Antoinette Balzano, Frank Balzano and Louise "Cookie" Ciminieri don't just bridge our modern era's festishizing of pizza to the days of its inception at Lombardi's. The coal-fired blistered edges, the spotty mozzarella laced over that beautiful red sauce . ah, fuggedabout all the teary-eyed try-too-much words, this is Neptune Avenue! This is Brooklyn! This is Totonno's. And this, is how you make pizza.

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina)

With a love for pizza, little formal training, without finishing high school, with a career he has characterized as having "masqueraded as a computer geek," and a fear of becoming Shelley Levene from "Glengarry Glen Ross," Paulie Giannone struck out into the unknown, to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He ventured there before "Girls," before the condos, in a time when the dream of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment a 10-minute walk from the subway to Manhattan on the Polish word-of-mouth, no-lease real estate wire still went for less than $2,000.

This backyard do-it-yourselfing pizza passionista put it all on the line and earned every kind word he's gotten. Greenpoint isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas.

14. Apizza Scholls, Portland, Ore. (Apizza Amore)

Apizza Scholls has some of the best pizza in Portland, and some have argued, north of San Francisco — and that's using an electric oven! But they do have some guidelines for patrons interested in composing their own topping combinations on their 18-inch pies: only three ingredients, and no more than two meats per pie. So choose wisely from a list of toppings that in addition to classics like anchovies, red onions, garlic, pepperoni, sausage and basil includes capicollo, house-cured Canadian bacon, cotto salami, arugula, jalapeño and pepperoncini. Heads-up: bacon is "not offered for build your own toppings." If you aren't up to building your own pie, there are 10 classics to choose from, including the signature Apizza Amore: margherita with capicollo (cured pork shoulder). The signature Amore features a spicy kick offset a bit by the somewhat sweet mozzarella and balanced sauce. That's amore!


America's 15 best pizzas

15. South Brooklyn Pizza, New York City (New York Style): While known as a great pizza city, New York's state of the slice isn't what it you'd think, especially while it's in the grip of the Neapolitan craze and .99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />.99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />

Interested in this topic? You may also want to view these photo galleries:

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina): Greenpoint, Brooklyn, isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas. (Photo: Paulie Gee's)

Pizza is about as varied and beloved a genre, as opinionated a subject, and also as accessible a food as there is, which makes determining the country's best pizzas a truly challenging task.

Yes, pizza is tough to rank responsibly. But once again, that's just what The Daily Meal set out to do.

1. Frank Pepe's, New Haven, Conn. (White Clam)

If you want to discuss the loaded topic of America's best pizza with any authority, you have to make a pilgrimage to this legendary New Haven pizzeria. Frank Pepe opened his doors in Wooster Square in New Haven, Conn., in 1925, offering classic Napoletana-style pizza. After immigrating to the United States in 1909 at the age of 16 from Italy, Pepe took odd jobs before opening his restaurant (now called "The Spot," next door to the larger operation). Since its conception, Pepe's has opened an additional seven locations.

What should you order at this checklist destination? Two words: clam pie ("No muzz!"). This is a Northeastern pizza genre unto its own, and Pepe's is the best of them all — freshly shucked, briny littleneck clams, an intense dose of garlic, olive oil, oregano and grated parmesan atop a charcoal-colored crust. The advanced move? Clam pie with bacon. Just expect to wait in line if you get there after 11:30 a.m. on a weekend.

2. Di Fara, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Di Fara Classic Pie)

Domenico DeMarco is a local celebrity, having owned and operated Di Fara since 1964. Dom cooks both New York and Sicilian-style pizza Wednesday through Sunday (noon to 4:30 p.m., and from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.) for hungry New Yorkers and tourists willing to wait in long lines, and brave the free-for-all that is the Di Fara counter experience. Yes, you're better off getting a whole pie than shelling out for the $5 slice. Yes, it's a trek, and sure, Dom goes through periods where the underside of the pizza can trend toward overdone, but when he's on, Di Fara can make a very strong case for being America's best pizza. If you want to understand why before visiting, watch the great video about Di Fara called The Best Thing I Ever Done. You can't go wrong with the classic round or square cheese pie (topped with oil-marinated hot peppers, which you can ladle on at the counter if you elbow in), but the menu's signature is the Di Fara Classic Pie: mozzarella, parmesan, plum tomato sauce, basil, sausage, peppers, mushroom, onion, and of course, a drizzle of olive oil by Dom.

3. Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix (Marinara)

"There's no mystery to my pizza," Bronx native Chris Bianco was quoted as saying in The New York Times. "Sicilian oregano, organic flour, San Marzano tomatoes, purified water, mozzarella I learned to make at Mike's Deli in the Bronx, sea salt, fresh yeast cake and a little bit of yesterday's dough. In the end great pizza, like anything else, is all about balance. It's that simple." Try telling that to the legions of pizza pilgrims who have made trip to the storied Phoenix pizza spot he opened more than 20 years ago. The restaurant serves not only addictive thin-crust pizzas but also fantastic antipasto (involving wood-oven-roasted vegetables), perfect salads and homemade country bread. The wait, once routinely noted as one of the worst for food in the country, has been improved by Pizzeria Bianco opening for lunch, and the opening of Trattoria Bianco, the pizza prince of Arizona's Italian restaurant in the historic Town & Country Shopping Center (about 10 minutes from the original). This is another case where any pie will likely be better than most you've had in your life (that Rosa with red onions and pistachios!), but the signature Marinara will recalibrate your pizza baseline forever: tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic (no cheese).

4. Una Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco (Margherita)

When Anthony Mangieri, pizzaiolo for the East Village's Una Pizza Napoletana, closed in 2009 "to make a change," move West, and open somewhere he could get "a chance to use his outrigger canoe and mountain bike more often," it was the ultimate insult to New Yorkers. You're taking one of the city's favorite Neapolitan pizzerias, defecting to a temperate climate, to people who denigrate New York's Mexican food? So you can canoe and mountain bike? Traitor! Good for Mangieri, and good for San Franciscans, who inherited one of the country's best Neapolitan pies (if only Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. until they're "out of dough"). A thin crust with chewy cornicione, a sauce that's tart and alive, an appropriate ratio of cheese . you could almost imagine yourself at the pantheon to pizza in Naples: Da Michele, a place where the pizza is poetry and pizza poetry is on the wall. Mangieri harkens that same ethos on his website — check out the pizza poem "Napoli" — and delivers the edible version to his patrons. There are only five pies, all $25 (a $5 hike since last year), plus a special Saturday-only pie, the Apollonia, made with eggs, parmigiano-reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, salami, extra-virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, sea salt and black pepper. But when you're this close to godliness, you don't need extras. Keep it simple with the margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil ,fresh basil, sea salt, tomato sauce) and know the good.

5. Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles (squash blossoms, tomato, burrata)

Renowned baker and chef Nancy Silverton teamed up with Italian culinary moguls Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich to open Osteria Mozza, a Los Angeles hot spot where the famous clientele pales in comparison to the innovative, creative fare. The pizzeria, which is attached to the main restaurant, offers a variety of Italian specialties, from antipasti to bruschetta, but the Neapolitan-style pizzas steal the show. Their list of 21 pies ranges from $11 for a simple aglio e olio, a classic cheese pizza, to $23 for a more unique pie with squash blossoms, tomato, and burrata cheese — a delicious and simple pizza that transports through the quality and nuance of its ingredients. So it's no surprise that Batali and Bastianich have taken a stab at duplicating the success of this model pizzeria, opening in Newport Beach, Singapore (!), and soon, San Diego.

6. Roberta's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

Say Roberta's is in the new class of restaurants that has fanned the flames of the Brooklyn vs. Manhattan debate, call it a great pizza joint, recall it as a frontrunner of the city's rooftop garden movement, and mention that Carlo Mirarchi was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and you'd still be selling it short. Roberta's is in Bushwick six stops out of Manhattan on the L, and it's one of the city's best restaurants (it even serves one of the city's hardest-to-score tasting menus). In Bushwick! Pizza may not be the only thing at Roberta's, but its Neapolitan pies are at the high end of the debate about the city's best (and according to an interview with the blog Slice, inspired another great pizzeria on this list, Paulie Gee's). Yes, some of them have names like "Family Jewels," "Barely Legal," and - after disgraced New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener - "Carlos Danger," but you can afford not to take yourself seriously in an environment where Brooklyn hipsters and everyone else tolerate each other when your pizza is this good. As much as the Amatriciana and the Bee Sting (when Roberta's goes mobile) may tempt, the Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil) is Roberta's pizza Lothario.

7. Sally's Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Tomato Pie)

Sally's Apizza is a New Haven classic, operating from the same location where they opened in the late 1930s in New Haven's Wooster Square. Their pizza is traditionally thin-crust, topped with tomato sauce, garlic and "mozz." The pies look pretty similar to what you'll find down the street at Frank Pepe, which any New Haven pizza believer will note is because the man who opened Sally's is the nephew of the owner of Pepe. The folks at Sally's will be the first to tell you that Pepe makes a better clam pie, but their tomato pie (tomato sauce, no cheese), well, they have the original beat there.

8. Flour + Water, San Francisco (Margherita)

Although this San Francisco restaurant claims to specialize in house-made pastas, their pizza is formidable. Baked in a wood-fired oven, the thin-crust pizza at Flour + Water blends Old World tradition with modern refinement, according to chef and co-owner Thomas McNaughton. Pizza toppings vary depending on what's in season, making each dining experience unique, but Flour + Water's textbook Margherita is amazing. Heirloom tomatoes, basil, fior di latte, and extra-virgin olive oil . if only the simplicity implied by the restaurant's name could be duplicated in pizzerias across the country.

9. Motorino, New York City (Brussels Sprout)

Some spaces are cursed. Others? Blessed. When Anthony Mangieri shuttered Una Pizza Napoletana at 349 East 12th St. and headed West, Mathieu Palombino took over the lease, renamed the space Motorino, and the East Village pizza scene hardly skipped a beat. Motorino offers a handful of spirited pies, including one with cherry stone clams another with stracciatella, raw basil and Gaeta olives and the cremini mushroom with fior di latte, sweet sausage and garlic. But contrary to every last fiber of childhood memory you hold dear, the move is the Brussels Sprout pie (fior di latte, garlic, Pecorino, smoked pancetta and olive oil), something both Hong Kong natives and Brooklynites can now attest to since Palombino opened (and reopened) his Asian and Williamsburg outposts earlier in 2013.

10. Al Forno, Providence, R.I. (Margarita)

On South Main Street in the heart of Providence, R.I., Al Forno offers a quintessential Italian dining experience for those who can't afford the flight. Husband-and-wife owner-chefs George Germon and Johanne Killeen received the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano from the Italian government, a rare honor for Americans, attributable to their informed passion for pasta along with their invention of the grilled pizza. The restaurant bakes their pies in wood-burning ovens as well as on grills over hardwood charcoal fire. Their most notable grilled pizza? The Margarita. It's served with fresh herbs, pomodoro, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil.

11. Modern Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Italian Bomb)

Established in 1934 as State Street Pizza, Modern's coal-fired brick oven puts out pizza in the same thin-crust style. It's likely that you'll hear it spoken about as the place "the locals go instead of Pepe's and Sally's." That may be so. The atmosphere is great — wood paneling, friendly servers, a clean feeling — but it doesn't play third-string just because it's not on Wooster. Modern's pies are a little topping-heavy with less structural integrity. Given the focus on toppings, the iconic Italian Bomb is the pie to try: bacon, sausage, pepperoni, garlic, mushroom, onion and pepper.

12. Totonno's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

By all accounts, Totonno's shouldn't be around anymore. Consider first that it was opened in Coney Island in 1924 (by Antonio "Totonno" Pero, a Lombardi's alum). Then factor in the fire that broke out in the coal storage area and ravaged the place in 2009. Add to that insult the destruction (and some reported $150,000 in repairs) incurred in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy when 4 feet of water destroyed everything inside the family-owned institution. You'll probably agree that Brooklyn (and the country) should be counting its lucky stars Totonno's is still around. And yet it does more than that.

It doesn't just keep a storied pizza name, or nostalgia for simpler times (and perhaps more authentic and consistent pies) alive. No. Owners Antoinette Balzano, Frank Balzano and Louise "Cookie" Ciminieri don't just bridge our modern era's festishizing of pizza to the days of its inception at Lombardi's. The coal-fired blistered edges, the spotty mozzarella laced over that beautiful red sauce . ah, fuggedabout all the teary-eyed try-too-much words, this is Neptune Avenue! This is Brooklyn! This is Totonno's. And this, is how you make pizza.

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina)

With a love for pizza, little formal training, without finishing high school, with a career he has characterized as having "masqueraded as a computer geek," and a fear of becoming Shelley Levene from "Glengarry Glen Ross," Paulie Giannone struck out into the unknown, to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He ventured there before "Girls," before the condos, in a time when the dream of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment a 10-minute walk from the subway to Manhattan on the Polish word-of-mouth, no-lease real estate wire still went for less than $2,000.

This backyard do-it-yourselfing pizza passionista put it all on the line and earned every kind word he's gotten. Greenpoint isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas.

14. Apizza Scholls, Portland, Ore. (Apizza Amore)

Apizza Scholls has some of the best pizza in Portland, and some have argued, north of San Francisco — and that's using an electric oven! But they do have some guidelines for patrons interested in composing their own topping combinations on their 18-inch pies: only three ingredients, and no more than two meats per pie. So choose wisely from a list of toppings that in addition to classics like anchovies, red onions, garlic, pepperoni, sausage and basil includes capicollo, house-cured Canadian bacon, cotto salami, arugula, jalapeño and pepperoncini. Heads-up: bacon is "not offered for build your own toppings." If you aren't up to building your own pie, there are 10 classics to choose from, including the signature Apizza Amore: margherita with capicollo (cured pork shoulder). The signature Amore features a spicy kick offset a bit by the somewhat sweet mozzarella and balanced sauce. That's amore!


America's 15 best pizzas

15. South Brooklyn Pizza, New York City (New York Style): While known as a great pizza city, New York's state of the slice isn't what it you'd think, especially while it's in the grip of the Neapolitan craze and .99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />.99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />

Interested in this topic? You may also want to view these photo galleries:

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina): Greenpoint, Brooklyn, isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas. (Photo: Paulie Gee's)

Pizza is about as varied and beloved a genre, as opinionated a subject, and also as accessible a food as there is, which makes determining the country's best pizzas a truly challenging task.

Yes, pizza is tough to rank responsibly. But once again, that's just what The Daily Meal set out to do.

1. Frank Pepe's, New Haven, Conn. (White Clam)

If you want to discuss the loaded topic of America's best pizza with any authority, you have to make a pilgrimage to this legendary New Haven pizzeria. Frank Pepe opened his doors in Wooster Square in New Haven, Conn., in 1925, offering classic Napoletana-style pizza. After immigrating to the United States in 1909 at the age of 16 from Italy, Pepe took odd jobs before opening his restaurant (now called "The Spot," next door to the larger operation). Since its conception, Pepe's has opened an additional seven locations.

What should you order at this checklist destination? Two words: clam pie ("No muzz!"). This is a Northeastern pizza genre unto its own, and Pepe's is the best of them all — freshly shucked, briny littleneck clams, an intense dose of garlic, olive oil, oregano and grated parmesan atop a charcoal-colored crust. The advanced move? Clam pie with bacon. Just expect to wait in line if you get there after 11:30 a.m. on a weekend.

2. Di Fara, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Di Fara Classic Pie)

Domenico DeMarco is a local celebrity, having owned and operated Di Fara since 1964. Dom cooks both New York and Sicilian-style pizza Wednesday through Sunday (noon to 4:30 p.m., and from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.) for hungry New Yorkers and tourists willing to wait in long lines, and brave the free-for-all that is the Di Fara counter experience. Yes, you're better off getting a whole pie than shelling out for the $5 slice. Yes, it's a trek, and sure, Dom goes through periods where the underside of the pizza can trend toward overdone, but when he's on, Di Fara can make a very strong case for being America's best pizza. If you want to understand why before visiting, watch the great video about Di Fara called The Best Thing I Ever Done. You can't go wrong with the classic round or square cheese pie (topped with oil-marinated hot peppers, which you can ladle on at the counter if you elbow in), but the menu's signature is the Di Fara Classic Pie: mozzarella, parmesan, plum tomato sauce, basil, sausage, peppers, mushroom, onion, and of course, a drizzle of olive oil by Dom.

3. Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix (Marinara)

"There's no mystery to my pizza," Bronx native Chris Bianco was quoted as saying in The New York Times. "Sicilian oregano, organic flour, San Marzano tomatoes, purified water, mozzarella I learned to make at Mike's Deli in the Bronx, sea salt, fresh yeast cake and a little bit of yesterday's dough. In the end great pizza, like anything else, is all about balance. It's that simple." Try telling that to the legions of pizza pilgrims who have made trip to the storied Phoenix pizza spot he opened more than 20 years ago. The restaurant serves not only addictive thin-crust pizzas but also fantastic antipasto (involving wood-oven-roasted vegetables), perfect salads and homemade country bread. The wait, once routinely noted as one of the worst for food in the country, has been improved by Pizzeria Bianco opening for lunch, and the opening of Trattoria Bianco, the pizza prince of Arizona's Italian restaurant in the historic Town & Country Shopping Center (about 10 minutes from the original). This is another case where any pie will likely be better than most you've had in your life (that Rosa with red onions and pistachios!), but the signature Marinara will recalibrate your pizza baseline forever: tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic (no cheese).

4. Una Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco (Margherita)

When Anthony Mangieri, pizzaiolo for the East Village's Una Pizza Napoletana, closed in 2009 "to make a change," move West, and open somewhere he could get "a chance to use his outrigger canoe and mountain bike more often," it was the ultimate insult to New Yorkers. You're taking one of the city's favorite Neapolitan pizzerias, defecting to a temperate climate, to people who denigrate New York's Mexican food? So you can canoe and mountain bike? Traitor! Good for Mangieri, and good for San Franciscans, who inherited one of the country's best Neapolitan pies (if only Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. until they're "out of dough"). A thin crust with chewy cornicione, a sauce that's tart and alive, an appropriate ratio of cheese . you could almost imagine yourself at the pantheon to pizza in Naples: Da Michele, a place where the pizza is poetry and pizza poetry is on the wall. Mangieri harkens that same ethos on his website — check out the pizza poem "Napoli" — and delivers the edible version to his patrons. There are only five pies, all $25 (a $5 hike since last year), plus a special Saturday-only pie, the Apollonia, made with eggs, parmigiano-reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, salami, extra-virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, sea salt and black pepper. But when you're this close to godliness, you don't need extras. Keep it simple with the margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil ,fresh basil, sea salt, tomato sauce) and know the good.

5. Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles (squash blossoms, tomato, burrata)

Renowned baker and chef Nancy Silverton teamed up with Italian culinary moguls Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich to open Osteria Mozza, a Los Angeles hot spot where the famous clientele pales in comparison to the innovative, creative fare. The pizzeria, which is attached to the main restaurant, offers a variety of Italian specialties, from antipasti to bruschetta, but the Neapolitan-style pizzas steal the show. Their list of 21 pies ranges from $11 for a simple aglio e olio, a classic cheese pizza, to $23 for a more unique pie with squash blossoms, tomato, and burrata cheese — a delicious and simple pizza that transports through the quality and nuance of its ingredients. So it's no surprise that Batali and Bastianich have taken a stab at duplicating the success of this model pizzeria, opening in Newport Beach, Singapore (!), and soon, San Diego.

6. Roberta's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

Say Roberta's is in the new class of restaurants that has fanned the flames of the Brooklyn vs. Manhattan debate, call it a great pizza joint, recall it as a frontrunner of the city's rooftop garden movement, and mention that Carlo Mirarchi was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and you'd still be selling it short. Roberta's is in Bushwick six stops out of Manhattan on the L, and it's one of the city's best restaurants (it even serves one of the city's hardest-to-score tasting menus). In Bushwick! Pizza may not be the only thing at Roberta's, but its Neapolitan pies are at the high end of the debate about the city's best (and according to an interview with the blog Slice, inspired another great pizzeria on this list, Paulie Gee's). Yes, some of them have names like "Family Jewels," "Barely Legal," and - after disgraced New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener - "Carlos Danger," but you can afford not to take yourself seriously in an environment where Brooklyn hipsters and everyone else tolerate each other when your pizza is this good. As much as the Amatriciana and the Bee Sting (when Roberta's goes mobile) may tempt, the Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil) is Roberta's pizza Lothario.

7. Sally's Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Tomato Pie)

Sally's Apizza is a New Haven classic, operating from the same location where they opened in the late 1930s in New Haven's Wooster Square. Their pizza is traditionally thin-crust, topped with tomato sauce, garlic and "mozz." The pies look pretty similar to what you'll find down the street at Frank Pepe, which any New Haven pizza believer will note is because the man who opened Sally's is the nephew of the owner of Pepe. The folks at Sally's will be the first to tell you that Pepe makes a better clam pie, but their tomato pie (tomato sauce, no cheese), well, they have the original beat there.

8. Flour + Water, San Francisco (Margherita)

Although this San Francisco restaurant claims to specialize in house-made pastas, their pizza is formidable. Baked in a wood-fired oven, the thin-crust pizza at Flour + Water blends Old World tradition with modern refinement, according to chef and co-owner Thomas McNaughton. Pizza toppings vary depending on what's in season, making each dining experience unique, but Flour + Water's textbook Margherita is amazing. Heirloom tomatoes, basil, fior di latte, and extra-virgin olive oil . if only the simplicity implied by the restaurant's name could be duplicated in pizzerias across the country.

9. Motorino, New York City (Brussels Sprout)

Some spaces are cursed. Others? Blessed. When Anthony Mangieri shuttered Una Pizza Napoletana at 349 East 12th St. and headed West, Mathieu Palombino took over the lease, renamed the space Motorino, and the East Village pizza scene hardly skipped a beat. Motorino offers a handful of spirited pies, including one with cherry stone clams another with stracciatella, raw basil and Gaeta olives and the cremini mushroom with fior di latte, sweet sausage and garlic. But contrary to every last fiber of childhood memory you hold dear, the move is the Brussels Sprout pie (fior di latte, garlic, Pecorino, smoked pancetta and olive oil), something both Hong Kong natives and Brooklynites can now attest to since Palombino opened (and reopened) his Asian and Williamsburg outposts earlier in 2013.

10. Al Forno, Providence, R.I. (Margarita)

On South Main Street in the heart of Providence, R.I., Al Forno offers a quintessential Italian dining experience for those who can't afford the flight. Husband-and-wife owner-chefs George Germon and Johanne Killeen received the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano from the Italian government, a rare honor for Americans, attributable to their informed passion for pasta along with their invention of the grilled pizza. The restaurant bakes their pies in wood-burning ovens as well as on grills over hardwood charcoal fire. Their most notable grilled pizza? The Margarita. It's served with fresh herbs, pomodoro, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil.

11. Modern Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Italian Bomb)

Established in 1934 as State Street Pizza, Modern's coal-fired brick oven puts out pizza in the same thin-crust style. It's likely that you'll hear it spoken about as the place "the locals go instead of Pepe's and Sally's." That may be so. The atmosphere is great — wood paneling, friendly servers, a clean feeling — but it doesn't play third-string just because it's not on Wooster. Modern's pies are a little topping-heavy with less structural integrity. Given the focus on toppings, the iconic Italian Bomb is the pie to try: bacon, sausage, pepperoni, garlic, mushroom, onion and pepper.

12. Totonno's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

By all accounts, Totonno's shouldn't be around anymore. Consider first that it was opened in Coney Island in 1924 (by Antonio "Totonno" Pero, a Lombardi's alum). Then factor in the fire that broke out in the coal storage area and ravaged the place in 2009. Add to that insult the destruction (and some reported $150,000 in repairs) incurred in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy when 4 feet of water destroyed everything inside the family-owned institution. You'll probably agree that Brooklyn (and the country) should be counting its lucky stars Totonno's is still around. And yet it does more than that.

It doesn't just keep a storied pizza name, or nostalgia for simpler times (and perhaps more authentic and consistent pies) alive. No. Owners Antoinette Balzano, Frank Balzano and Louise "Cookie" Ciminieri don't just bridge our modern era's festishizing of pizza to the days of its inception at Lombardi's. The coal-fired blistered edges, the spotty mozzarella laced over that beautiful red sauce . ah, fuggedabout all the teary-eyed try-too-much words, this is Neptune Avenue! This is Brooklyn! This is Totonno's. And this, is how you make pizza.

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina)

With a love for pizza, little formal training, without finishing high school, with a career he has characterized as having "masqueraded as a computer geek," and a fear of becoming Shelley Levene from "Glengarry Glen Ross," Paulie Giannone struck out into the unknown, to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He ventured there before "Girls," before the condos, in a time when the dream of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment a 10-minute walk from the subway to Manhattan on the Polish word-of-mouth, no-lease real estate wire still went for less than $2,000.

This backyard do-it-yourselfing pizza passionista put it all on the line and earned every kind word he's gotten. Greenpoint isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas.

14. Apizza Scholls, Portland, Ore. (Apizza Amore)

Apizza Scholls has some of the best pizza in Portland, and some have argued, north of San Francisco — and that's using an electric oven! But they do have some guidelines for patrons interested in composing their own topping combinations on their 18-inch pies: only three ingredients, and no more than two meats per pie. So choose wisely from a list of toppings that in addition to classics like anchovies, red onions, garlic, pepperoni, sausage and basil includes capicollo, house-cured Canadian bacon, cotto salami, arugula, jalapeño and pepperoncini. Heads-up: bacon is "not offered for build your own toppings." If you aren't up to building your own pie, there are 10 classics to choose from, including the signature Apizza Amore: margherita with capicollo (cured pork shoulder). The signature Amore features a spicy kick offset a bit by the somewhat sweet mozzarella and balanced sauce. That's amore!


America's 15 best pizzas

15. South Brooklyn Pizza, New York City (New York Style): While known as a great pizza city, New York's state of the slice isn't what it you'd think, especially while it's in the grip of the Neapolitan craze and .99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />.99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />

Interested in this topic? You may also want to view these photo galleries:

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina): Greenpoint, Brooklyn, isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas. (Photo: Paulie Gee's)

Pizza is about as varied and beloved a genre, as opinionated a subject, and also as accessible a food as there is, which makes determining the country's best pizzas a truly challenging task.

Yes, pizza is tough to rank responsibly. But once again, that's just what The Daily Meal set out to do.

1. Frank Pepe's, New Haven, Conn. (White Clam)

If you want to discuss the loaded topic of America's best pizza with any authority, you have to make a pilgrimage to this legendary New Haven pizzeria. Frank Pepe opened his doors in Wooster Square in New Haven, Conn., in 1925, offering classic Napoletana-style pizza. After immigrating to the United States in 1909 at the age of 16 from Italy, Pepe took odd jobs before opening his restaurant (now called "The Spot," next door to the larger operation). Since its conception, Pepe's has opened an additional seven locations.

What should you order at this checklist destination? Two words: clam pie ("No muzz!"). This is a Northeastern pizza genre unto its own, and Pepe's is the best of them all — freshly shucked, briny littleneck clams, an intense dose of garlic, olive oil, oregano and grated parmesan atop a charcoal-colored crust. The advanced move? Clam pie with bacon. Just expect to wait in line if you get there after 11:30 a.m. on a weekend.

2. Di Fara, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Di Fara Classic Pie)

Domenico DeMarco is a local celebrity, having owned and operated Di Fara since 1964. Dom cooks both New York and Sicilian-style pizza Wednesday through Sunday (noon to 4:30 p.m., and from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.) for hungry New Yorkers and tourists willing to wait in long lines, and brave the free-for-all that is the Di Fara counter experience. Yes, you're better off getting a whole pie than shelling out for the $5 slice. Yes, it's a trek, and sure, Dom goes through periods where the underside of the pizza can trend toward overdone, but when he's on, Di Fara can make a very strong case for being America's best pizza. If you want to understand why before visiting, watch the great video about Di Fara called The Best Thing I Ever Done. You can't go wrong with the classic round or square cheese pie (topped with oil-marinated hot peppers, which you can ladle on at the counter if you elbow in), but the menu's signature is the Di Fara Classic Pie: mozzarella, parmesan, plum tomato sauce, basil, sausage, peppers, mushroom, onion, and of course, a drizzle of olive oil by Dom.

3. Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix (Marinara)

"There's no mystery to my pizza," Bronx native Chris Bianco was quoted as saying in The New York Times. "Sicilian oregano, organic flour, San Marzano tomatoes, purified water, mozzarella I learned to make at Mike's Deli in the Bronx, sea salt, fresh yeast cake and a little bit of yesterday's dough. In the end great pizza, like anything else, is all about balance. It's that simple." Try telling that to the legions of pizza pilgrims who have made trip to the storied Phoenix pizza spot he opened more than 20 years ago. The restaurant serves not only addictive thin-crust pizzas but also fantastic antipasto (involving wood-oven-roasted vegetables), perfect salads and homemade country bread. The wait, once routinely noted as one of the worst for food in the country, has been improved by Pizzeria Bianco opening for lunch, and the opening of Trattoria Bianco, the pizza prince of Arizona's Italian restaurant in the historic Town & Country Shopping Center (about 10 minutes from the original). This is another case where any pie will likely be better than most you've had in your life (that Rosa with red onions and pistachios!), but the signature Marinara will recalibrate your pizza baseline forever: tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic (no cheese).

4. Una Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco (Margherita)

When Anthony Mangieri, pizzaiolo for the East Village's Una Pizza Napoletana, closed in 2009 "to make a change," move West, and open somewhere he could get "a chance to use his outrigger canoe and mountain bike more often," it was the ultimate insult to New Yorkers. You're taking one of the city's favorite Neapolitan pizzerias, defecting to a temperate climate, to people who denigrate New York's Mexican food? So you can canoe and mountain bike? Traitor! Good for Mangieri, and good for San Franciscans, who inherited one of the country's best Neapolitan pies (if only Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. until they're "out of dough"). A thin crust with chewy cornicione, a sauce that's tart and alive, an appropriate ratio of cheese . you could almost imagine yourself at the pantheon to pizza in Naples: Da Michele, a place where the pizza is poetry and pizza poetry is on the wall. Mangieri harkens that same ethos on his website — check out the pizza poem "Napoli" — and delivers the edible version to his patrons. There are only five pies, all $25 (a $5 hike since last year), plus a special Saturday-only pie, the Apollonia, made with eggs, parmigiano-reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, salami, extra-virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, sea salt and black pepper. But when you're this close to godliness, you don't need extras. Keep it simple with the margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil ,fresh basil, sea salt, tomato sauce) and know the good.

5. Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles (squash blossoms, tomato, burrata)

Renowned baker and chef Nancy Silverton teamed up with Italian culinary moguls Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich to open Osteria Mozza, a Los Angeles hot spot where the famous clientele pales in comparison to the innovative, creative fare. The pizzeria, which is attached to the main restaurant, offers a variety of Italian specialties, from antipasti to bruschetta, but the Neapolitan-style pizzas steal the show. Their list of 21 pies ranges from $11 for a simple aglio e olio, a classic cheese pizza, to $23 for a more unique pie with squash blossoms, tomato, and burrata cheese — a delicious and simple pizza that transports through the quality and nuance of its ingredients. So it's no surprise that Batali and Bastianich have taken a stab at duplicating the success of this model pizzeria, opening in Newport Beach, Singapore (!), and soon, San Diego.

6. Roberta's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

Say Roberta's is in the new class of restaurants that has fanned the flames of the Brooklyn vs. Manhattan debate, call it a great pizza joint, recall it as a frontrunner of the city's rooftop garden movement, and mention that Carlo Mirarchi was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and you'd still be selling it short. Roberta's is in Bushwick six stops out of Manhattan on the L, and it's one of the city's best restaurants (it even serves one of the city's hardest-to-score tasting menus). In Bushwick! Pizza may not be the only thing at Roberta's, but its Neapolitan pies are at the high end of the debate about the city's best (and according to an interview with the blog Slice, inspired another great pizzeria on this list, Paulie Gee's). Yes, some of them have names like "Family Jewels," "Barely Legal," and - after disgraced New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener - "Carlos Danger," but you can afford not to take yourself seriously in an environment where Brooklyn hipsters and everyone else tolerate each other when your pizza is this good. As much as the Amatriciana and the Bee Sting (when Roberta's goes mobile) may tempt, the Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil) is Roberta's pizza Lothario.

7. Sally's Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Tomato Pie)

Sally's Apizza is a New Haven classic, operating from the same location where they opened in the late 1930s in New Haven's Wooster Square. Their pizza is traditionally thin-crust, topped with tomato sauce, garlic and "mozz." The pies look pretty similar to what you'll find down the street at Frank Pepe, which any New Haven pizza believer will note is because the man who opened Sally's is the nephew of the owner of Pepe. The folks at Sally's will be the first to tell you that Pepe makes a better clam pie, but their tomato pie (tomato sauce, no cheese), well, they have the original beat there.

8. Flour + Water, San Francisco (Margherita)

Although this San Francisco restaurant claims to specialize in house-made pastas, their pizza is formidable. Baked in a wood-fired oven, the thin-crust pizza at Flour + Water blends Old World tradition with modern refinement, according to chef and co-owner Thomas McNaughton. Pizza toppings vary depending on what's in season, making each dining experience unique, but Flour + Water's textbook Margherita is amazing. Heirloom tomatoes, basil, fior di latte, and extra-virgin olive oil . if only the simplicity implied by the restaurant's name could be duplicated in pizzerias across the country.

9. Motorino, New York City (Brussels Sprout)

Some spaces are cursed. Others? Blessed. When Anthony Mangieri shuttered Una Pizza Napoletana at 349 East 12th St. and headed West, Mathieu Palombino took over the lease, renamed the space Motorino, and the East Village pizza scene hardly skipped a beat. Motorino offers a handful of spirited pies, including one with cherry stone clams another with stracciatella, raw basil and Gaeta olives and the cremini mushroom with fior di latte, sweet sausage and garlic. But contrary to every last fiber of childhood memory you hold dear, the move is the Brussels Sprout pie (fior di latte, garlic, Pecorino, smoked pancetta and olive oil), something both Hong Kong natives and Brooklynites can now attest to since Palombino opened (and reopened) his Asian and Williamsburg outposts earlier in 2013.

10. Al Forno, Providence, R.I. (Margarita)

On South Main Street in the heart of Providence, R.I., Al Forno offers a quintessential Italian dining experience for those who can't afford the flight. Husband-and-wife owner-chefs George Germon and Johanne Killeen received the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano from the Italian government, a rare honor for Americans, attributable to their informed passion for pasta along with their invention of the grilled pizza. The restaurant bakes their pies in wood-burning ovens as well as on grills over hardwood charcoal fire. Their most notable grilled pizza? The Margarita. It's served with fresh herbs, pomodoro, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil.

11. Modern Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Italian Bomb)

Established in 1934 as State Street Pizza, Modern's coal-fired brick oven puts out pizza in the same thin-crust style. It's likely that you'll hear it spoken about as the place "the locals go instead of Pepe's and Sally's." That may be so. The atmosphere is great — wood paneling, friendly servers, a clean feeling — but it doesn't play third-string just because it's not on Wooster. Modern's pies are a little topping-heavy with less structural integrity. Given the focus on toppings, the iconic Italian Bomb is the pie to try: bacon, sausage, pepperoni, garlic, mushroom, onion and pepper.

12. Totonno's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

By all accounts, Totonno's shouldn't be around anymore. Consider first that it was opened in Coney Island in 1924 (by Antonio "Totonno" Pero, a Lombardi's alum). Then factor in the fire that broke out in the coal storage area and ravaged the place in 2009. Add to that insult the destruction (and some reported $150,000 in repairs) incurred in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy when 4 feet of water destroyed everything inside the family-owned institution. You'll probably agree that Brooklyn (and the country) should be counting its lucky stars Totonno's is still around. And yet it does more than that.

It doesn't just keep a storied pizza name, or nostalgia for simpler times (and perhaps more authentic and consistent pies) alive. No. Owners Antoinette Balzano, Frank Balzano and Louise "Cookie" Ciminieri don't just bridge our modern era's festishizing of pizza to the days of its inception at Lombardi's. The coal-fired blistered edges, the spotty mozzarella laced over that beautiful red sauce . ah, fuggedabout all the teary-eyed try-too-much words, this is Neptune Avenue! This is Brooklyn! This is Totonno's. And this, is how you make pizza.

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina)

With a love for pizza, little formal training, without finishing high school, with a career he has characterized as having "masqueraded as a computer geek," and a fear of becoming Shelley Levene from "Glengarry Glen Ross," Paulie Giannone struck out into the unknown, to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He ventured there before "Girls," before the condos, in a time when the dream of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment a 10-minute walk from the subway to Manhattan on the Polish word-of-mouth, no-lease real estate wire still went for less than $2,000.

This backyard do-it-yourselfing pizza passionista put it all on the line and earned every kind word he's gotten. Greenpoint isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas.

14. Apizza Scholls, Portland, Ore. (Apizza Amore)

Apizza Scholls has some of the best pizza in Portland, and some have argued, north of San Francisco — and that's using an electric oven! But they do have some guidelines for patrons interested in composing their own topping combinations on their 18-inch pies: only three ingredients, and no more than two meats per pie. So choose wisely from a list of toppings that in addition to classics like anchovies, red onions, garlic, pepperoni, sausage and basil includes capicollo, house-cured Canadian bacon, cotto salami, arugula, jalapeño and pepperoncini. Heads-up: bacon is "not offered for build your own toppings." If you aren't up to building your own pie, there are 10 classics to choose from, including the signature Apizza Amore: margherita with capicollo (cured pork shoulder). The signature Amore features a spicy kick offset a bit by the somewhat sweet mozzarella and balanced sauce. That's amore!


America's 15 best pizzas

15. South Brooklyn Pizza, New York City (New York Style): While known as a great pizza city, New York's state of the slice isn't what it you'd think, especially while it's in the grip of the Neapolitan craze and .99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />.99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />

Interested in this topic? You may also want to view these photo galleries:

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina): Greenpoint, Brooklyn, isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas. (Photo: Paulie Gee's)

Pizza is about as varied and beloved a genre, as opinionated a subject, and also as accessible a food as there is, which makes determining the country's best pizzas a truly challenging task.

Yes, pizza is tough to rank responsibly. But once again, that's just what The Daily Meal set out to do.

1. Frank Pepe's, New Haven, Conn. (White Clam)

If you want to discuss the loaded topic of America's best pizza with any authority, you have to make a pilgrimage to this legendary New Haven pizzeria. Frank Pepe opened his doors in Wooster Square in New Haven, Conn., in 1925, offering classic Napoletana-style pizza. After immigrating to the United States in 1909 at the age of 16 from Italy, Pepe took odd jobs before opening his restaurant (now called "The Spot," next door to the larger operation). Since its conception, Pepe's has opened an additional seven locations.

What should you order at this checklist destination? Two words: clam pie ("No muzz!"). This is a Northeastern pizza genre unto its own, and Pepe's is the best of them all — freshly shucked, briny littleneck clams, an intense dose of garlic, olive oil, oregano and grated parmesan atop a charcoal-colored crust. The advanced move? Clam pie with bacon. Just expect to wait in line if you get there after 11:30 a.m. on a weekend.

2. Di Fara, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Di Fara Classic Pie)

Domenico DeMarco is a local celebrity, having owned and operated Di Fara since 1964. Dom cooks both New York and Sicilian-style pizza Wednesday through Sunday (noon to 4:30 p.m., and from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.) for hungry New Yorkers and tourists willing to wait in long lines, and brave the free-for-all that is the Di Fara counter experience. Yes, you're better off getting a whole pie than shelling out for the $5 slice. Yes, it's a trek, and sure, Dom goes through periods where the underside of the pizza can trend toward overdone, but when he's on, Di Fara can make a very strong case for being America's best pizza. If you want to understand why before visiting, watch the great video about Di Fara called The Best Thing I Ever Done. You can't go wrong with the classic round or square cheese pie (topped with oil-marinated hot peppers, which you can ladle on at the counter if you elbow in), but the menu's signature is the Di Fara Classic Pie: mozzarella, parmesan, plum tomato sauce, basil, sausage, peppers, mushroom, onion, and of course, a drizzle of olive oil by Dom.

3. Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix (Marinara)

"There's no mystery to my pizza," Bronx native Chris Bianco was quoted as saying in The New York Times. "Sicilian oregano, organic flour, San Marzano tomatoes, purified water, mozzarella I learned to make at Mike's Deli in the Bronx, sea salt, fresh yeast cake and a little bit of yesterday's dough. In the end great pizza, like anything else, is all about balance. It's that simple." Try telling that to the legions of pizza pilgrims who have made trip to the storied Phoenix pizza spot he opened more than 20 years ago. The restaurant serves not only addictive thin-crust pizzas but also fantastic antipasto (involving wood-oven-roasted vegetables), perfect salads and homemade country bread. The wait, once routinely noted as one of the worst for food in the country, has been improved by Pizzeria Bianco opening for lunch, and the opening of Trattoria Bianco, the pizza prince of Arizona's Italian restaurant in the historic Town & Country Shopping Center (about 10 minutes from the original). This is another case where any pie will likely be better than most you've had in your life (that Rosa with red onions and pistachios!), but the signature Marinara will recalibrate your pizza baseline forever: tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic (no cheese).

4. Una Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco (Margherita)

When Anthony Mangieri, pizzaiolo for the East Village's Una Pizza Napoletana, closed in 2009 "to make a change," move West, and open somewhere he could get "a chance to use his outrigger canoe and mountain bike more often," it was the ultimate insult to New Yorkers. You're taking one of the city's favorite Neapolitan pizzerias, defecting to a temperate climate, to people who denigrate New York's Mexican food? So you can canoe and mountain bike? Traitor! Good for Mangieri, and good for San Franciscans, who inherited one of the country's best Neapolitan pies (if only Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. until they're "out of dough"). A thin crust with chewy cornicione, a sauce that's tart and alive, an appropriate ratio of cheese . you could almost imagine yourself at the pantheon to pizza in Naples: Da Michele, a place where the pizza is poetry and pizza poetry is on the wall. Mangieri harkens that same ethos on his website — check out the pizza poem "Napoli" — and delivers the edible version to his patrons. There are only five pies, all $25 (a $5 hike since last year), plus a special Saturday-only pie, the Apollonia, made with eggs, parmigiano-reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, salami, extra-virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, sea salt and black pepper. But when you're this close to godliness, you don't need extras. Keep it simple with the margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil ,fresh basil, sea salt, tomato sauce) and know the good.

5. Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles (squash blossoms, tomato, burrata)

Renowned baker and chef Nancy Silverton teamed up with Italian culinary moguls Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich to open Osteria Mozza, a Los Angeles hot spot where the famous clientele pales in comparison to the innovative, creative fare. The pizzeria, which is attached to the main restaurant, offers a variety of Italian specialties, from antipasti to bruschetta, but the Neapolitan-style pizzas steal the show. Their list of 21 pies ranges from $11 for a simple aglio e olio, a classic cheese pizza, to $23 for a more unique pie with squash blossoms, tomato, and burrata cheese — a delicious and simple pizza that transports through the quality and nuance of its ingredients. So it's no surprise that Batali and Bastianich have taken a stab at duplicating the success of this model pizzeria, opening in Newport Beach, Singapore (!), and soon, San Diego.

6. Roberta's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

Say Roberta's is in the new class of restaurants that has fanned the flames of the Brooklyn vs. Manhattan debate, call it a great pizza joint, recall it as a frontrunner of the city's rooftop garden movement, and mention that Carlo Mirarchi was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and you'd still be selling it short. Roberta's is in Bushwick six stops out of Manhattan on the L, and it's one of the city's best restaurants (it even serves one of the city's hardest-to-score tasting menus). In Bushwick! Pizza may not be the only thing at Roberta's, but its Neapolitan pies are at the high end of the debate about the city's best (and according to an interview with the blog Slice, inspired another great pizzeria on this list, Paulie Gee's). Yes, some of them have names like "Family Jewels," "Barely Legal," and - after disgraced New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener - "Carlos Danger," but you can afford not to take yourself seriously in an environment where Brooklyn hipsters and everyone else tolerate each other when your pizza is this good. As much as the Amatriciana and the Bee Sting (when Roberta's goes mobile) may tempt, the Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil) is Roberta's pizza Lothario.

7. Sally's Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Tomato Pie)

Sally's Apizza is a New Haven classic, operating from the same location where they opened in the late 1930s in New Haven's Wooster Square. Their pizza is traditionally thin-crust, topped with tomato sauce, garlic and "mozz." The pies look pretty similar to what you'll find down the street at Frank Pepe, which any New Haven pizza believer will note is because the man who opened Sally's is the nephew of the owner of Pepe. The folks at Sally's will be the first to tell you that Pepe makes a better clam pie, but their tomato pie (tomato sauce, no cheese), well, they have the original beat there.

8. Flour + Water, San Francisco (Margherita)

Although this San Francisco restaurant claims to specialize in house-made pastas, their pizza is formidable. Baked in a wood-fired oven, the thin-crust pizza at Flour + Water blends Old World tradition with modern refinement, according to chef and co-owner Thomas McNaughton. Pizza toppings vary depending on what's in season, making each dining experience unique, but Flour + Water's textbook Margherita is amazing. Heirloom tomatoes, basil, fior di latte, and extra-virgin olive oil . if only the simplicity implied by the restaurant's name could be duplicated in pizzerias across the country.

9. Motorino, New York City (Brussels Sprout)

Some spaces are cursed. Others? Blessed. When Anthony Mangieri shuttered Una Pizza Napoletana at 349 East 12th St. and headed West, Mathieu Palombino took over the lease, renamed the space Motorino, and the East Village pizza scene hardly skipped a beat. Motorino offers a handful of spirited pies, including one with cherry stone clams another with stracciatella, raw basil and Gaeta olives and the cremini mushroom with fior di latte, sweet sausage and garlic. But contrary to every last fiber of childhood memory you hold dear, the move is the Brussels Sprout pie (fior di latte, garlic, Pecorino, smoked pancetta and olive oil), something both Hong Kong natives and Brooklynites can now attest to since Palombino opened (and reopened) his Asian and Williamsburg outposts earlier in 2013.

10. Al Forno, Providence, R.I. (Margarita)

On South Main Street in the heart of Providence, R.I., Al Forno offers a quintessential Italian dining experience for those who can't afford the flight. Husband-and-wife owner-chefs George Germon and Johanne Killeen received the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano from the Italian government, a rare honor for Americans, attributable to their informed passion for pasta along with their invention of the grilled pizza. The restaurant bakes their pies in wood-burning ovens as well as on grills over hardwood charcoal fire. Their most notable grilled pizza? The Margarita. It's served with fresh herbs, pomodoro, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil.

11. Modern Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Italian Bomb)

Established in 1934 as State Street Pizza, Modern's coal-fired brick oven puts out pizza in the same thin-crust style. It's likely that you'll hear it spoken about as the place "the locals go instead of Pepe's and Sally's." That may be so. The atmosphere is great — wood paneling, friendly servers, a clean feeling — but it doesn't play third-string just because it's not on Wooster. Modern's pies are a little topping-heavy with less structural integrity. Given the focus on toppings, the iconic Italian Bomb is the pie to try: bacon, sausage, pepperoni, garlic, mushroom, onion and pepper.

12. Totonno's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

By all accounts, Totonno's shouldn't be around anymore. Consider first that it was opened in Coney Island in 1924 (by Antonio "Totonno" Pero, a Lombardi's alum). Then factor in the fire that broke out in the coal storage area and ravaged the place in 2009. Add to that insult the destruction (and some reported $150,000 in repairs) incurred in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy when 4 feet of water destroyed everything inside the family-owned institution. You'll probably agree that Brooklyn (and the country) should be counting its lucky stars Totonno's is still around. And yet it does more than that.

It doesn't just keep a storied pizza name, or nostalgia for simpler times (and perhaps more authentic and consistent pies) alive. No. Owners Antoinette Balzano, Frank Balzano and Louise "Cookie" Ciminieri don't just bridge our modern era's festishizing of pizza to the days of its inception at Lombardi's. The coal-fired blistered edges, the spotty mozzarella laced over that beautiful red sauce . ah, fuggedabout all the teary-eyed try-too-much words, this is Neptune Avenue! This is Brooklyn! This is Totonno's. And this, is how you make pizza.

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina)

With a love for pizza, little formal training, without finishing high school, with a career he has characterized as having "masqueraded as a computer geek," and a fear of becoming Shelley Levene from "Glengarry Glen Ross," Paulie Giannone struck out into the unknown, to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He ventured there before "Girls," before the condos, in a time when the dream of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment a 10-minute walk from the subway to Manhattan on the Polish word-of-mouth, no-lease real estate wire still went for less than $2,000.

This backyard do-it-yourselfing pizza passionista put it all on the line and earned every kind word he's gotten. Greenpoint isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas.

14. Apizza Scholls, Portland, Ore. (Apizza Amore)

Apizza Scholls has some of the best pizza in Portland, and some have argued, north of San Francisco — and that's using an electric oven! But they do have some guidelines for patrons interested in composing their own topping combinations on their 18-inch pies: only three ingredients, and no more than two meats per pie. So choose wisely from a list of toppings that in addition to classics like anchovies, red onions, garlic, pepperoni, sausage and basil includes capicollo, house-cured Canadian bacon, cotto salami, arugula, jalapeño and pepperoncini. Heads-up: bacon is "not offered for build your own toppings." If you aren't up to building your own pie, there are 10 classics to choose from, including the signature Apizza Amore: margherita with capicollo (cured pork shoulder). The signature Amore features a spicy kick offset a bit by the somewhat sweet mozzarella and balanced sauce. That's amore!


America's 15 best pizzas

15. South Brooklyn Pizza, New York City (New York Style): While known as a great pizza city, New York's state of the slice isn't what it you'd think, especially while it's in the grip of the Neapolitan craze and .99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />.99-cardboard drunk food. But there's hope in the form of the East Village's South Brooklyn Pizza, where owner Jim McGown espouses a conventional gas oven that gives the upskirt a slight char that seems just right. A slice of the signature New York Style pizza takes time (on average, up to 10 minutes), but it's worth the wait. The San Marzano sauce is neither too sweet nor acidic and is topped with layers of thin, ovoid mozzarella slices, dotted with fontina cubes and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, basil and grated pecorino or Grana Padano. The thin crust cracks, but carries the cheese and sauce all the way up the slice, tangy bite after bite." />

Interested in this topic? You may also want to view these photo galleries:

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina): Greenpoint, Brooklyn, isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas. (Photo: Paulie Gee's)

Pizza is about as varied and beloved a genre, as opinionated a subject, and also as accessible a food as there is, which makes determining the country's best pizzas a truly challenging task.

Yes, pizza is tough to rank responsibly. But once again, that's just what The Daily Meal set out to do.

1. Frank Pepe's, New Haven, Conn. (White Clam)

If you want to discuss the loaded topic of America's best pizza with any authority, you have to make a pilgrimage to this legendary New Haven pizzeria. Frank Pepe opened his doors in Wooster Square in New Haven, Conn., in 1925, offering classic Napoletana-style pizza. After immigrating to the United States in 1909 at the age of 16 from Italy, Pepe took odd jobs before opening his restaurant (now called "The Spot," next door to the larger operation). Since its conception, Pepe's has opened an additional seven locations.

What should you order at this checklist destination? Two words: clam pie ("No muzz!"). This is a Northeastern pizza genre unto its own, and Pepe's is the best of them all — freshly shucked, briny littleneck clams, an intense dose of garlic, olive oil, oregano and grated parmesan atop a charcoal-colored crust. The advanced move? Clam pie with bacon. Just expect to wait in line if you get there after 11:30 a.m. on a weekend.

2. Di Fara, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Di Fara Classic Pie)

Domenico DeMarco is a local celebrity, having owned and operated Di Fara since 1964. Dom cooks both New York and Sicilian-style pizza Wednesday through Sunday (noon to 4:30 p.m., and from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.) for hungry New Yorkers and tourists willing to wait in long lines, and brave the free-for-all that is the Di Fara counter experience. Yes, you're better off getting a whole pie than shelling out for the $5 slice. Yes, it's a trek, and sure, Dom goes through periods where the underside of the pizza can trend toward overdone, but when he's on, Di Fara can make a very strong case for being America's best pizza. If you want to understand why before visiting, watch the great video about Di Fara called The Best Thing I Ever Done. You can't go wrong with the classic round or square cheese pie (topped with oil-marinated hot peppers, which you can ladle on at the counter if you elbow in), but the menu's signature is the Di Fara Classic Pie: mozzarella, parmesan, plum tomato sauce, basil, sausage, peppers, mushroom, onion, and of course, a drizzle of olive oil by Dom.

3. Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix (Marinara)

"There's no mystery to my pizza," Bronx native Chris Bianco was quoted as saying in The New York Times. "Sicilian oregano, organic flour, San Marzano tomatoes, purified water, mozzarella I learned to make at Mike's Deli in the Bronx, sea salt, fresh yeast cake and a little bit of yesterday's dough. In the end great pizza, like anything else, is all about balance. It's that simple." Try telling that to the legions of pizza pilgrims who have made trip to the storied Phoenix pizza spot he opened more than 20 years ago. The restaurant serves not only addictive thin-crust pizzas but also fantastic antipasto (involving wood-oven-roasted vegetables), perfect salads and homemade country bread. The wait, once routinely noted as one of the worst for food in the country, has been improved by Pizzeria Bianco opening for lunch, and the opening of Trattoria Bianco, the pizza prince of Arizona's Italian restaurant in the historic Town & Country Shopping Center (about 10 minutes from the original). This is another case where any pie will likely be better than most you've had in your life (that Rosa with red onions and pistachios!), but the signature Marinara will recalibrate your pizza baseline forever: tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic (no cheese).

4. Una Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco (Margherita)

When Anthony Mangieri, pizzaiolo for the East Village's Una Pizza Napoletana, closed in 2009 "to make a change," move West, and open somewhere he could get "a chance to use his outrigger canoe and mountain bike more often," it was the ultimate insult to New Yorkers. You're taking one of the city's favorite Neapolitan pizzerias, defecting to a temperate climate, to people who denigrate New York's Mexican food? So you can canoe and mountain bike? Traitor! Good for Mangieri, and good for San Franciscans, who inherited one of the country's best Neapolitan pies (if only Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. until they're "out of dough"). A thin crust with chewy cornicione, a sauce that's tart and alive, an appropriate ratio of cheese . you could almost imagine yourself at the pantheon to pizza in Naples: Da Michele, a place where the pizza is poetry and pizza poetry is on the wall. Mangieri harkens that same ethos on his website — check out the pizza poem "Napoli" — and delivers the edible version to his patrons. There are only five pies, all $25 (a $5 hike since last year), plus a special Saturday-only pie, the Apollonia, made with eggs, parmigiano-reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, salami, extra-virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, sea salt and black pepper. But when you're this close to godliness, you don't need extras. Keep it simple with the margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil ,fresh basil, sea salt, tomato sauce) and know the good.

5. Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles (squash blossoms, tomato, burrata)

Renowned baker and chef Nancy Silverton teamed up with Italian culinary moguls Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich to open Osteria Mozza, a Los Angeles hot spot where the famous clientele pales in comparison to the innovative, creative fare. The pizzeria, which is attached to the main restaurant, offers a variety of Italian specialties, from antipasti to bruschetta, but the Neapolitan-style pizzas steal the show. Their list of 21 pies ranges from $11 for a simple aglio e olio, a classic cheese pizza, to $23 for a more unique pie with squash blossoms, tomato, and burrata cheese — a delicious and simple pizza that transports through the quality and nuance of its ingredients. So it's no surprise that Batali and Bastianich have taken a stab at duplicating the success of this model pizzeria, opening in Newport Beach, Singapore (!), and soon, San Diego.

6. Roberta's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

Say Roberta's is in the new class of restaurants that has fanned the flames of the Brooklyn vs. Manhattan debate, call it a great pizza joint, recall it as a frontrunner of the city's rooftop garden movement, and mention that Carlo Mirarchi was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and you'd still be selling it short. Roberta's is in Bushwick six stops out of Manhattan on the L, and it's one of the city's best restaurants (it even serves one of the city's hardest-to-score tasting menus). In Bushwick! Pizza may not be the only thing at Roberta's, but its Neapolitan pies are at the high end of the debate about the city's best (and according to an interview with the blog Slice, inspired another great pizzeria on this list, Paulie Gee's). Yes, some of them have names like "Family Jewels," "Barely Legal," and - after disgraced New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener - "Carlos Danger," but you can afford not to take yourself seriously in an environment where Brooklyn hipsters and everyone else tolerate each other when your pizza is this good. As much as the Amatriciana and the Bee Sting (when Roberta's goes mobile) may tempt, the Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil) is Roberta's pizza Lothario.

7. Sally's Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Tomato Pie)

Sally's Apizza is a New Haven classic, operating from the same location where they opened in the late 1930s in New Haven's Wooster Square. Their pizza is traditionally thin-crust, topped with tomato sauce, garlic and "mozz." The pies look pretty similar to what you'll find down the street at Frank Pepe, which any New Haven pizza believer will note is because the man who opened Sally's is the nephew of the owner of Pepe. The folks at Sally's will be the first to tell you that Pepe makes a better clam pie, but their tomato pie (tomato sauce, no cheese), well, they have the original beat there.

8. Flour + Water, San Francisco (Margherita)

Although this San Francisco restaurant claims to specialize in house-made pastas, their pizza is formidable. Baked in a wood-fired oven, the thin-crust pizza at Flour + Water blends Old World tradition with modern refinement, according to chef and co-owner Thomas McNaughton. Pizza toppings vary depending on what's in season, making each dining experience unique, but Flour + Water's textbook Margherita is amazing. Heirloom tomatoes, basil, fior di latte, and extra-virgin olive oil . if only the simplicity implied by the restaurant's name could be duplicated in pizzerias across the country.

9. Motorino, New York City (Brussels Sprout)

Some spaces are cursed. Others? Blessed. When Anthony Mangieri shuttered Una Pizza Napoletana at 349 East 12th St. and headed West, Mathieu Palombino took over the lease, renamed the space Motorino, and the East Village pizza scene hardly skipped a beat. Motorino offers a handful of spirited pies, including one with cherry stone clams another with stracciatella, raw basil and Gaeta olives and the cremini mushroom with fior di latte, sweet sausage and garlic. But contrary to every last fiber of childhood memory you hold dear, the move is the Brussels Sprout pie (fior di latte, garlic, Pecorino, smoked pancetta and olive oil), something both Hong Kong natives and Brooklynites can now attest to since Palombino opened (and reopened) his Asian and Williamsburg outposts earlier in 2013.

10. Al Forno, Providence, R.I. (Margarita)

On South Main Street in the heart of Providence, R.I., Al Forno offers a quintessential Italian dining experience for those who can't afford the flight. Husband-and-wife owner-chefs George Germon and Johanne Killeen received the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano from the Italian government, a rare honor for Americans, attributable to their informed passion for pasta along with their invention of the grilled pizza. The restaurant bakes their pies in wood-burning ovens as well as on grills over hardwood charcoal fire. Their most notable grilled pizza? The Margarita. It's served with fresh herbs, pomodoro, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil.

11. Modern Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Italian Bomb)

Established in 1934 as State Street Pizza, Modern's coal-fired brick oven puts out pizza in the same thin-crust style. It's likely that you'll hear it spoken about as the place "the locals go instead of Pepe's and Sally's." That may be so. The atmosphere is great — wood paneling, friendly servers, a clean feeling — but it doesn't play third-string just because it's not on Wooster. Modern's pies are a little topping-heavy with less structural integrity. Given the focus on toppings, the iconic Italian Bomb is the pie to try: bacon, sausage, pepperoni, garlic, mushroom, onion and pepper.

12. Totonno's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)

By all accounts, Totonno's shouldn't be around anymore. Consider first that it was opened in Coney Island in 1924 (by Antonio "Totonno" Pero, a Lombardi's alum). Then factor in the fire that broke out in the coal storage area and ravaged the place in 2009. Add to that insult the destruction (and some reported $150,000 in repairs) incurred in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy when 4 feet of water destroyed everything inside the family-owned institution. You'll probably agree that Brooklyn (and the country) should be counting its lucky stars Totonno's is still around. And yet it does more than that.

It doesn't just keep a storied pizza name, or nostalgia for simpler times (and perhaps more authentic and consistent pies) alive. No. Owners Antoinette Balzano, Frank Balzano and Louise "Cookie" Ciminieri don't just bridge our modern era's festishizing of pizza to the days of its inception at Lombardi's. The coal-fired blistered edges, the spotty mozzarella laced over that beautiful red sauce . ah, fuggedabout all the teary-eyed try-too-much words, this is Neptune Avenue! This is Brooklyn! This is Totonno's. And this, is how you make pizza.

13. Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina)

With a love for pizza, little formal training, without finishing high school, with a career he has characterized as having "masqueraded as a computer geek," and a fear of becoming Shelley Levene from "Glengarry Glen Ross," Paulie Giannone struck out into the unknown, to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He ventured there before "Girls," before the condos, in a time when the dream of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment a 10-minute walk from the subway to Manhattan on the Polish word-of-mouth, no-lease real estate wire still went for less than $2,000.

This backyard do-it-yourselfing pizza passionista put it all on the line and earned every kind word he's gotten. Greenpoint isn't much to look at, but Paulie Gee's is a pizza lover's home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you've had or dreamed of having. There are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin', and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, pecorino romano, olive oil and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie's Regina well deserved a top spot among America's 20 best pizzas.

14. Apizza Scholls, Portland, Ore. (Apizza Amore)

Apizza Scholls has some of the best pizza in Portland, and some have argued, north of San Francisco — and that's using an electric oven! But they do have some guidelines for patrons interested in composing their own topping combinations on their 18-inch pies: only three ingredients, and no more than two meats per pie. So choose wisely from a list of toppings that in addition to classics like anchovies, red onions, garlic, pepperoni, sausage and basil includes capicollo, house-cured Canadian bacon, cotto salami, arugula, jalapeño and pepperoncini. Heads-up: bacon is "not offered for build your own toppings." If you aren't up to building your own pie, there are 10 classics to choose from, including the signature Apizza Amore: margherita with capicollo (cured pork shoulder). The signature Amore features a spicy kick offset a bit by the somewhat sweet mozzarella and balanced sauce. That's amore!


Watch the video: Συνταγή για πίτσα - Landmann Greece (October 2021).