New York City is a pizza paradise. From iconic square slices in Brooklyn to wood-fired Neapolitan pies in Manhattan, the sheer variety and quality can overwhelm even the most dedicated pizzaphiles. But while legendary names like Grimaldi’s and Di Fara steal the headlines, a treasure trove of underrated pizza slices exists just off the beaten path, waiting to tantalize your taste buds. These hidden gems offer unique flavors, unexpected ingredients, and an authentic New York experience that transcends the tourist traps.
So, forget the endless lines and predictable pepperoni. Ditch the guidebooks and venture beyond the pizza hype. This is your map to the secret slice society, where crispy crusts, bubbling cheese, and creative toppings await adventurous eaters.
Lucali – Carroll Gardens: Tucked away on a quiet street, Lucali is a legend among locals. Expect a wait (reservations are non-existent), but it’s worth it for the thin-crust masterpiece, charred to perfection and topped with the freshest ingredients. Bonus points for the garlic knots, dripping with olive oil and begging for dunking.
Best Pizza – Williamsburg: Don’t be fooled by the unassuming name. Best Pizza lives up to its moniker, dishing out square slices with a satisfying crunch and a tangy tomato sauce that explodes with flavor. Be adventurous and try their white pizza with roasted garlic and clams, a local favorite.
Fulton Pizza – Cobble Hill: This cozy spot boasts a wood-fired oven that unleashes magic on its square slices. The “Fulton Special” is a must-try – a symphony of mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, and peppers, all perfectly balanced on a chewy, airy crust.
Patsy’s – Clinton Hill: A New York institution since 1945, Patsy’s serves coal-fired pizza with a smoky edge and a crust that’s simultaneously crisp and foldable. Grab a classic pepperoni or go for the white clam pie, a briny delight that celebrates the city’s seafood heritage.
L&B Spumoni Gardens – Bensonhurst: Step into a time capsule at L&B, a grand old-school Italian eatery renowned for its festive atmosphere and, of course, its pizza. Their Sicilian-style slices are thick and fluffy, laden with cheese and toppings, perfect for sharing with friends.
Joe Jr. – East Village: Escape the trendy crowds and head to Joe Jr., a no-frills joint serving up traditional New York slices. The pepperoni is the star here, crispy and curled, releasing a delicious burst of savory fat with every bite. Grab a cold soda and savor the city’s pizza legacy.
Luigi’s Pizza – West Village: Nestled on a charming street, Luigi’s is a neighborhood haven for authentic Roman-style pizza. Their pizza al taglio, cut to order from rectangular trays, features a thin, airy crust and fresh, seasonal toppings. Don’t miss the potato and rosemary, a unique and surprisingly delicious combination.
Lombardi’s – Little Italy: While Lombardi’s may be a tourist magnet, it deserves a mention for its historical significance. This century-old establishment claims the title of America’s first pizzeria, and their coal-fired pies, topped simply with mozzarella and oregano, offer a taste of pizza history.
John’s of Bleecker Street – Greenwich Village: Another iconic name, John’s is famous for its square slices and “well-done” style. Don’t be scared by the blackened crust – it hides a chewy interior and a tangy tomato sauce that’s anything but burnt. Be prepared for a wait, but trust the hype – John’s is a quintessential New York pizza experience.
Motorino – Chelsea: Craving Neapolitan perfection? Head to Motorino, where wood-fired ovens produce blistered beauties like the Margherita “Verace” with San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella, and fresh basil. This is pizza as art, a testament to simplicity done right.
Pizza Suprema – Jackson Heights: Take a culinary trip to Argentina at Pizza Suprema, where “fugazzeta” reigns supreme. This square slice features fluffy dough topped with gooey mozzarella and caramelized onions, a savory-sweet combination that’s guaranteed to surprise and delight.
Mario’s Pizza – Forest Hills: This no-nonsense pizzeria is another local favorite, known for its thin-crust slices with generous toppings. The “Queens special” with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and peppers is a crowd-pleaser, while the white garlic pizza is a vegetarian dream.
- New Park Pizza – Forest Hills: Don’t underestimate the power of a good pan pizza. New Park serves up thick buttery slices that are loaded with toppings and baked to bubbly perfection. The Grandma slice, with a layer of garlicky tomato sauce under the cheese, is a nostalgic treat, while the BBQ chicken pizza offers a unique twist on the classic.
Arthur Avenue – Belmont: Escape the Manhattan madness and explore Arthur Avenue, a little Italy in the Bronx. From classic pepperoni at Dominick’s to grandma slices at Zero Otto Nove, the options are endless. Don’t forget to grab some cannoli for dessert!
Joe & Pat’s – Fordham: A neighborhood joint with a loyal following, Joe & Pat’s is known for its giant Sicilian slices piled high with toppings. The “White” with ricotta, mozzarella, and fresh garlic is a creamy delight, while the “Meat Lover’s” will satisfy any carnivore’s cravings.
Louie & Ernie’s Pizza – Parkchester: This family-run spot boasts a wood-fired oven that turns out Neapolitan beauties with blistered crusts and fresh, local ingredients. The “Margherita DOP” with DOP San Marzano tomatoes and fior di latte is a must-try, showcasing the simplicity of Neapolitan pizza at its finest.
Staten Island Surprise:
- Joe & John’s Pizzeria – Port Richmond: Don’t let the Staten Island ferry deter you – Joe & John’s is worth the trek. Their thin-crust pies are legendary, with a satisfying crunch and a tangy tomato sauce that shines through. The “White Clam” is a local favorite, offering a taste of the seaside with its briny clams and fresh garlic.
Beyond the Slices:
While slices are the quintessential New York pizza experience, don’t be afraid to branch out. Pizza restaurants across the city offer unique pies, calzones, and other Italian delights that will tantalize your taste buds. Here are a few suggestions:
Roberta’s – Bushwick: This Brooklyn hotspot puts a gourmet spin on pizza, with toppings like burrata, speck, and Brussels sprouts. Their charred crust and playful creations are sure to impress.
Emily – Williamsburg: Known for its seasonal ingredients and unexpected flavor combinations, Emily offers pizzas that are as much art as they are food. The “Fennel Sausage & Caramelized Onion” is a revelation, while the “Roasted Butternut Squash & Sage” is a vegetarian masterpiece.
Speedy Romeo – East Village: This cozy spot serves up Roman-style pizza by the slice or by the pie, with light, airy crusts and toppings that celebrate regional Italian specialties. The “Potato & Pancetta” is a comforting choice, while the “Truffle & Sausage” offers a luxurious indulgence.
The Last Slice:
New York City’s pizza scene is a treasure trove waiting to be explored. By venturing beyond the usual suspects and delving into the world of underrated slices, you’ll discover hidden gems that offer unique flavors, authentic experiences, and memories that will last a lifetime. So grab a slice, savor the crispy crust, and let the city’s pizza magic work its charm on you.