How many times have you gone to a friends house, patiently sat there listening to them rave about how their local pizza shop is the best pizza money can buy, only to dig into the first bite and be led into a world of disappointment, frustration and doubt by the awful, tasteless mess of dough, sauce, and cheese piled up on your plate, as your friend smiles and says, “Well, what do you think?”
For my money, the current champion is Lou Malnati’s in Chicago, a two inch deep mass of molten amazing, that some people might claim has a bit too much salt, but none the less has lingered the most in my mind, to the point that I have made several mad thousand-mile dashes to Chicago to get it.
Also in Chicago, on the must try list is Giordano’s which bills itself as the original Chicago stuffed crust pizza. Just a note for the uninitiated: Stuffed crust is not the stuffed crust you get from Pizza Hut, but is a way of making pizza; spring form crust, meat on the bottom, an inch of cheese in the middle, layer of veggies, and sauce on top.
Venturing outside of Chicago, and outside of the stuffed crust realm is a dish of New York style pizza called “The Badda Bing” from Sonny’s Pizza in San Clemente, California, featuring spicy calabrese salami, fresh hot pepper mozzarella & basil freshly prepared by the Genovese family, who most certainly know what good pizza is, capiche?
Traipsing into my opening salvo about local favorites is Luigi’s Pizza in my home town of Akron, Ohio, the pizza shop that is the model for Motoni’s Pizza from the enduring daily comic strip Funky Winkerbean, where — if you’re extraordinarily lucky — you’ll find everyone from LeBron James to The Black Keys, hanging out and enjoying a slice of what I can only call the most original tasting, and curiously dense, pizza outside of New York City.
If you’re ever in Tucson, Arizona, make sure to hit 4th street, a hip little hot bed of great bars and restaurants, and seek out a place called Brooklyn Pizza, which is a guy from New York who got sick of the North East and moved his brick pizza ovens straight to the middle of the desert.
Traveling north to Las Vegas, you can’t go wrong with a slice of Metro Pizza, which is what I would call a mid-western style pizza, or the closest thing to heaven you’re going to get next to the stripper named Heaven you picked up at Circus Circus Casino after hitting a cool $500 on an Addam’s Family slot machine.
The following I say with the utmost apologies to the people of Chicago, but there is a guy in San Diego who took Giordano’s added a little salt to the sauce and made what I think is, hands down, the best outside of Chicago stuffed crust one can buy, at a placed called Berkeley Pizza, which is located in The Gas Lamp district in San Diego.
If you happen to be in Washington DC, and want to taste what I call unique boutique, feel your way around and until you find yourself on U Street, and go for a place called ‘&Pizza‘ for an oblong pizza fantasy, a perfectly formed mass of feel good amazing.
In the end, as you can see, my pizza experiences are vast, and wide, and you can at least trust that if you try all of the above places, you not be left looking at me angrily, saying, “Why did you introduce this crushing nightmare of terrible and awful to my taste buds?”