Out of all the symbols you can associate with New York City, none are as tasty and well loved as a classic New York slice. The question of which NYC pizza place reigns supreme, however, is one that remains unanswered. You’ll find locals championing their favorite neighborhood joint, which makes a consensus near impossible.
What people do agree on, though, is that NYC knows its pizza. Chef Marc Bauer says this reputation can be credited to prime ingredients, well-kept brick ovens, and the fact that many of NYC’s pizza joints have been passed down between generations.
Eating your way through NYC’s pizza scene is a great way to tour the city. These iconic pizza places are unlike your typical NYC tourist traps, since most of them are embedded within their respective neighborhoods. You’ll see regulars yelling their orders as soon as they walk in, giving you a glimpse of the Big Apple that goes beyond the glamorous advertisements.
Here’s a list of iconic pizza places within NYC, in no particular order. Just remember to fold your pizza in half when you eat it, and definitely nix the cutlery.
There are four Manhattan locations and one outpost in Brooklyn, but the one on 7 Carmine Street is what started it all. Joe’s Pizza slices are huge, with gooey cheese laid over a nice chewy crust: it’s the perfect end to a night out in NYC. Lines move fast here, and the constant wave of people moving in and out is a perfect example of NYC’s never-ending energy.
Bon Appetit’s editors rave about Scarr’s Pizza, citing owner Scarr Pimentel’s dedication to making his own flour (which he does every single day) as its key secret. The dough at Scarr’s is so good that Pimentel keeps his milling process a secret. This dough is then paired with quality ingredients, making it a pizza spot that’s quite honestly hard to beat.
Artichoke Basille’s is famous for, surprise surprise, its artichoke pizza. It’s their Margherita slice that actually deserves the top prize, however. The dough leans on the crunchy side, but the sauce is wonderfully tomatoey. People line up at Artichoke Pizza, so just make sure to time your visit well.
This restaurant sits on top of the McKittrick Hotel, and Yoreevo notes that there were over 13,500 tall buildings erected in a span of five years, making rooftop restaurants the new norm. This brunch spot offers great pizza amidst stunning views. Their Tunisian pizza isn’t something you’ll find at other pizza joints, with eggplant, scallions, merguez, and feta.
It’s all in the name for this Brooklyn-based joint. Best Pizza makes its mozzarella in-house, and sesame seeds are sprinkled on the crust as a testament to the owner’s Sicilian heritage. The garlic knots are also delightfully filling and oily in the best way, with the added bonus of only costing $3 for six knots.
The Pizza Snob lists Luigi’s as the best pizza place in Brooklyn, and it’s thankfully hard to miss with its bright glowing sign. It’s a classic New York slice; its bright tomato sauce marries perfectly with the cheese, and the crust is crispy and light. Consider this a case of why a basic slice, when done well, tastes way better than fancier options.
It’s comforting to know that you can still enjoy a really good slice of pizza even when you’re visiting Coney Island. Totonno’s is practically a New York institution at this point, and has been in operation since 1924. The owner worked at Lombardi’s before opening up his own restaurant, which means that this restaurant’s pizza roots run deep.
Louie & Ernie’s
Louie & Ernie’s pizza is definitely worth frequent trips up to Harlem. Their classic tomato sauce pies are just as good as their white sauce options, boasting huge flavors within their quiet neighborhood location. Their sausages are made with meat from a nearby deli, which is the epitome of keeping it in the neighborhood.
Go big or go home is an NYC mantra, but Koronet Pizza takes it seriously. Located near Columbia University, Koronet is well known for its slices that are as big as your head (yes, we mean slices and not pies). Make this one of your last stops, as you’ll really be feeling its weight the day after — and probably the day after that, too.
L&B Spumoni Gardens
New Yorkers love eating outside when the weather permits, making its outdoor seating a great option. Offering up square slices may be controversial, but L&B’s pizza squares are so good that people don’t even complain. The dough is both airy and crunchy, providing a soft bed that sops up the sauce.