At Mandatory, we like to think of ourselves as public servants of the Internet, and nothing serves the public better than knowing where to find the best pizza places around. For the finest pizza parlors in all the land, follow us down a winding road of red plastic cups, checkered floors and mozzarella mountaintops that will have you floating on crunchy, gluten wave. Note that we only pulled one great pizzeria from each city mentioned, so we apologize to highly defensive New Yorkers and Chicago pizza lovers in advance, whose cities could each probably have a top ten list of their own.
Do yourself a favor and make it your life’s mission to try each of these pizza places, even if not all of them are as old school parlor-style as we’d like. Because without good pizza, life is just a Hot Pocket from hell.
Frank Pepe’s (New Haven, CT)
Some say it’s the best pizza in all the land. With more than 90 years of experience, Frank Pepe, born off the coast near Naples and bringing authentic Neapolitan pizza, fire-burned New Haven-style thin crust into our lives, lives on through his extraordinary pies. The original location in New Haven was commonly referred to as The Spot, and today it continues to be the spot to be for top-notch, authentic pizza pies. It’s all about tradition at Frank Pepe’s. And they’re currently hiring pizza makers. Talk about the best lunch breaks imaginable to mankind.
Pizzeria Bianco (Phoenix, AZ)
With wood-fire crusts and organic recipes, Chris Bianco’s parlor has been voted one of America’s greatest pizza places with little hesitation over the years. Maybe for its house-smoked mozzarella or maybe because the wait is so long people tend to get buzzed next door at their wine bar to pass the time. Hey, at least it makes the ultimate drunk snack.
Giordano’s (Chicago, IL)
Some people go to Chicago just to get their pizza fix, and Giordano’s is commonplace for deep-dish junkies in need of a mouthful in the Windy City. That sounded untoward. With a mix of classic thin and famously stuffed pizzas, you can get a good slice of Giordano’s in a number of places around Chicago and its suburbs. It would go great with a Cubs World Series win, too.
Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitano (Brooklyn, NY)
Known for its saucy Margherita, Brooklyn’s Totonno’s Pizzeria has been going strong for more than 90 years. Family owned and simple in its style, Totonno’s has won one of the hardest awards to come by — Best Pizza in New York — on several occasions.
Pizzeria Vetri (Philadelphia, PA)
A homemade delicacy of epic portions, Philly’s poster child for good pizza is sophisticated and modern in its style. With toppings like roasted fennel, Sicilian tuna, prosciutto crudo and homemade cured meats, Pizzeria Vetri turns up the heat and raises the bar for pizza lovers. With two locations in Philadelphia, it’s always sunny when it comes to pizza in the City of Brotherly Love.
The Independent Pizzeria (Seattle, WA)
The brick oven, lightly charred classic of Seattle is precisely balanced by its tomato sauce, making it one of the Emerald City’s favorite local neighborhood indie pizza places. Try the Brussel sprout pie. And when you’re finished there, go out in Seattle and try one of the best cocktail bars in America, or check out their Gum Wall tourist trap.
Milo & Olive (Santa Monica, CA)
While the newer Stella Rossa is right up there, Milo & Olive is renowned for pioneering the great pizza original in the Los Angeles area, meaning they’re not afraid to mix it up when it comes to their dough and toppings, if you catch our drift. With a whole grain take on crust and nontraditional topping combinations — bacon and nectarine? okay! — Milo & Olive is the proud product of two genius pizza lovers and what appears to be a great movie reference. It’s the one place I’d be willing to try an anchovy pizza for the first — and only! — time.
Pig Ate My Pizza (Robbinsdale, MN)
Named a top pizzeria by Time Magazine — then it must be true! — the twin cities boast its uniquely-named pizza place to go with its uniquely delicious pies. From potato chip toppings to any greatness in crust ranging thin to thick, deep-dish brioche, Minneapolis’ suburban parlor is the Midwest’s pizza pride and joy, serving up the toppings people truly want deep down for once.
Flour + Water (San Francisco, CA)
In chasing the edible dream, San Francisco flies a little higher in the sky than most with its small scale Flour + Water gem, which is adored for its pizza and so much more. The menu is short and sweet with its pizza selection usually containing a handful of pies, most of which sound very Italian. With the addition of farm egg, mozzarella di bufala and rabbit mortadella, Flour + Water is a little more than your average pizza place. Now check out this photo of their bone marrow pizza.
Agatucci’s (Peoria, IL)
Family owned and operated, located in the heart of Illinois and never updated in its original kitchenware nor atmosphere, Agatucci’s is as original as Italian delights get. Easily the best pizza I personally have had in my lifetime, the small city joint — a single location — is lit with a sense of simplicity, family togetherness and Italian goodness, and their pizza quenches a hunger like no other. A slender man such as myself could easily take down a large Sophie Special. Agatucci’s has no stopping point other than an empty silver serving tray.