Pepperoni square from Mama's Too. Photo: Adam Kuban
We’ve given this list a refresh in recognition of National Pizza Month. The author is NYC Tourism’s social media director, Adam Kuban, a self-described “pizza nerd” tasked with choosing his 15 favorite slices in the City.
A lot has changed in New York City’s pizza scene since I first compiled this list in 2014. Most notably, there’s been a revival of the New York slice, with a new wave of pizza makers focusing on dough-handling techniques, sourcing top-notch ingredients and, in many cases, using a new generation of high-heat ovens to help yield the perfect crisp-chewy crust that’s a hallmark of the style. A combination of these factors has resulted in what I call “third wave” New York–style pizza.
Who am I and why should you trust me? Outside of my current role at NYC Tourism, I spend a lot of time eating, making, reading, talking and writing about pizza. Back in the day I founded SliceNY, the web’s first pizza blog. Through it, I met, chatted with and learned from some of the City’s best pizza makers—and even put on a popular prior to the pandemic. I follow the pizza scene here closely, and I’ve doled out well-received advice countless times to friends, family and my colleagues here at NYC Tourism.
Why pizza, why now? As I write this, it’s National Pizza Month—one of those completely made-up social media holidays that gives us an excuse to blab about what might as well be New York City's official dish. A slice represents a quick lunch for busy New Yorkers, who take it to go, hurriedly eating while walking down the street. It's salvation to visitors in need of an inexpensive snack between sightseeing stops. It’s often said that the best way to start an argument (a friendly one, of course) between New Yorkers is to ask where to find the best slice. In the interest of furthering that heated discussion, here’s my take on what’s good.
Note: This list is in no particular order other than one that makes for a sort of quick primer for some of the various New York pizza styles you’ll encounter on a trip here. So it starts with New York–style, works through some recs around the five boroughs and touches on Sicilian- and grandma-style pizza along the way.
Plain slice from Famous Joe's Pizza. Photo: Adam Kuban
Let's start with Famous Joe’s Pizza and its plain slice—the quintessential New York slice. Ultrathin and crisp, yet chewy, it’s flexible enough to fold without cracking and making a mess. The perfect New York–style slice is all about balance among crust, sauce and cheese. Joe’s achieves it, with just the right amount of bright, fresh-tasting tomato sauce and enough cheese to satisfy (but not so much as to overwhelm things). With five locations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn—all remarkably consistent—it’s a great recommendation to bookmark for an old-school slice.
Hotboi slice and plain slice from Scarr's Pizza. Photo: Adam Kuban
If you’re a pizza geek, you’ve probably tried Scarr’s. It’s long topped “best slice” lists, and the acclaim for owner Scarr Pimentel’s work is evidenced by lines down the block and articles like this in the New Yorker. Pimentel mills his own flour in-house and blends it with artisanal flour from upstate New York, giving the crust a depth of flavor unlike anywhere else. Did I mention the lines? In addition to serving a great slice, the pizzeria is a bit of a scene. It’s not surprising to see it on the social feeds of models, hip-hop and streetwear luminaries, and celebs of various stripes. Go toward the end of the night, though, and you should find it easier to grab a slice. The Hotboi, topped with beef pepperoni, jalapeños and Mike’s Hot Honey, is one of my favorites—and a Scarr’s specialty. Nice to know: Scarr’s is among the small (but growing) number of Black-owned pizzerias in NYC.
Sausage slice from Louie and Ernie's. Photo: Adam Kuban
The plain slice at Louie & Ernie's is among the best in NYC, loaded with plenty of sharp Parmesan cheese for a tangy bite, but the sausage slice is what you need to get here. The juicy, fennel-studded pork, applied seemingly by the fistful, comes from S&D Caterers, an Italian provisioner located just down the street. You really do need follow what the locals do and fold your slice, since the sausage, which is thrown on a plain slice and reheated briefly, tends to fall off otherwise. Think of the slice as a sausage-delivery system—a great one.
Joe & Pat's. Photo: Peter Borghard
When I first wrote this guide, I noted that vodka sauce slices were a sleeper hit in the pizza world. Since then, vodka sauce has .* It’s a tomato sauce that’s extra savory thanks in part to the use of the namesake spirit in the recipe. It's there to bring out flavors in the tomato that are only soluble in alcohol. A generous amount of Parmesan cheese and heavy cream in the mix doesn't hurt either. It all comes together to create a rich-tasting slice that needs no further topping.
*This is thanks largely to it catching the attention of spots like Manhattan’s wildly popular Rubirosa, which has a family connection to Joe & Pat’s and serves similar pizza—whole pie only though.
L&B Spumoni Gardens. Photo: Adam Kuban
No slice guide would be complete without a nod to L&B Spumoni Gardens, which practically defines the perfect Sicilian slice. Whereas a "regular" New York slice is thin and triangular, a Sicilian is thick and rectangular (though often referred to by New Yorkers as a “square slice”). The other major difference is that Sicilian is a pan pizza, whereas New York–style is stretched onto, and launched from, wood peels and cooked directly on the oven hearth (aka the “deck”). Sicilian dough “proofs,” or rises, in the pan for up to several hours before it goes in the oven. It often reverses the cheese-above-sauce arrangement, as at L&B, where mozzarella slices are layered directly atop the dough, almost melding with the crust as the pizza bakes. Most people request corner or edge slices for the crispness, but a center slice at L&B is something else entirely—gooey and almost lasagna-like. Grab plenty of napkins!
Thin-crust Sicilian slice from Rizzo's. Photo: Adam Kuban
Rizzo’s is known throughout the City for its self-described “thin-crust Sicilian” slice, a beautifully composed tableau with rectangles of creamy, slightly browned and crisp mozzarella floating atop a deep-red pool of tangy, garlic-infused sauce sprinkled with a heap of Parmesan and Romano, sharp and salty. Most Sicilian slices are thick, doughy affairs that are meals unto themselves. But at Rizzo’s, a single crisp Sicilian slice can quickly lead to another.
Chopped cheese slice from Cuts & Slices. Photo: Adam Kuban
If you’re researching must-visit NYC pizza spots—or have triggered your social algorithms to serve up pizza content—chances are you’ve run across Cuts & Slices. Declared by Okayplayer, this Black-owned pizzeria specializes in slices (and “cuts”*) topped with ingredients like oxtail, shrimp scampi, jerk chicken and beef pepperoni. Owner Randy Mclaren opened the shop in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood in 2018, getting his first brush of viral fame when there. I love the slice, a mashup of two iconic NYC foods, but Mclaren tells us the oxtail is his bestseller. He recently expanded to a second shop in Queens.
*Cuts here are half slices, priced accordingly, so customers can sample different topping combos without breaking the bank.
Patsy's Pizzeria. Photo: Adam Kuban
Coal ovens are a rarity these days. Though used by bakeries throughout NYC at the onset of the 20th century and then later by pizzerias, they’ve been put out of service largely by the hassle and expense of fueling them. Pizza aficionados seek out pizzerias that use them because these ovens’ high, dry heat create a crust that’s unlike what you get from the typical gas oven—lighter, airier and thinner, with a patchwork of charred bits pizza nerds sometimes refer to as “leopard spotting.” This the only first-generation (from 1933) coal-oven pizzeria in NYC where you can order by the slice.
L'Industrie Pizzeria. Photo: Adam Kuban
L’Industrie is what my friend Scott Wiener, founder of , once said happens when a native of Italy interprets New York–style pizza through an Italian lens. The Italian POV is there in the way owner and pizza maker Massimo Laveglia uses great ingredients with minimal prep and just lets them shine, and the New York is there in the format—large, thin, crisp slices. I typically stick with the plain slice. It’s absolute perfection. But the popular (and Instagram-famous) choice here is the burrata slice, so you kinda can’t miss that either. And if you’re looking for a topped slice with meat, the fig jam and bacon slice is amazing. Try the soft-serve gelato too. Excellent stuff.
Plain slice at Rosario's Deli. Photo: Adam Kuban
One of the things that draws people to visit, live or remain in New York City is the sense of the unexpected, the thrill of discovering something amazing in a completely random place. Take the pizza slices at Rosario’s Deli in Astoria. By all appearances, Rosario’s is a typical Italian deli. Boxes and boxes of imported pastas line an entire wall. A refrigerator case of Italian cheeses and meats greets you as you enter. But locals know that in the back of the store is one of NYC's best pizza slices. It might have something to do with owner Rosario DiMarco’s access to great ingredients. Imported Italian tomatoes are cooked down to a concentrated savory sauce, and the mozzarella cheese is freshly made in the deli several times a day. (Fun fact: Fans of Orange Is the New Black may recognize Rosario's as the shooting location of Dmitri's Russian Market.)
Grandma slice from Famous Frank's Original Pizza. Photo: Adam Kuban
The grandma slice (also known as a “nonna slice”) is a Long Island invention that first started making inroads into New York City in the mid-2000s and has since spread throughout the US in various permutations. Like Sicilian-style pizza, it’s a rectangular pie cooked in a pan, but it’s thinner, since it’s usually stretched into the pan then topped and baked immediately without allowing for a rise. It’s also defined by its thick, cooked-down, garlicky sauce—and often by the fact that said sauce goes on last, in visually pleasing diagonal stripes. Frank’s nails all the hallmarks in a thoroughly old-school NYC setting.
Semi-dried cherry tomato slice from Di Fara Pizza. Photo: Adam Kuban
There is almost no pizzeria in NYC more famous or polarizing than Di Fara. Known for its hours-long waits and the singular attention once given to the making of each pie by late founder Domenico DeMarco, it has as many detractors as rabid fans. Pizza nerds from outside NYC put it on their itineraries as a pilgrimage spot while others debate whether it’s fallen off. It's a must-visit, though—if only to say you’ve been. There are two slices I love here—the plain cheese slice, just to serve as a baseline—and the semi-dried cherry tomato pizza. The partially dried tomatoes offer juicy hits of concentrated flavor, like summer distilled into a bite.
Mama’s Too is a great example of a restaurant where the current generation of a family-owned operation is evolving and taking the business in a new direction. Owner Frank Tuttolomondo’s Mama’s Too is a spin-off of his family’s Mama’s Pizzeria, also on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Inspired by the recent wave of artisanal breadmaking, Tuttolomondo wanted to create an elevated pizza with an airier crust and a fancier blend of cheeses (in homage to Di Fara Pizza, see above). But he also didn’t want to change the recipe that Mama’s clientele was familiar with. Enter Mama’s Too, where he’s serving some of the crispest, lightest New York–style slices along with squares inspired by Roman-style pizza al metro, New York Sicilian and Detroit-style pizza. He’s nailing all of it. The squares (the pepperoni is my fave) and the round “house slice” are equally superb.
Plain slice from Best Pizza. Photo: Adam Kuban
At Best Pizza, you have something of a rarity: wood-fired pizza served by the slice. Wood-fired-oven pizza typically translates to Neapolitan-style pizza, served whole pie only in small format and usually in a sit-down context. But our guide focuses on slices, and Best Pizza offers some of the only wood-fired, by-the-slice pizza in the City. Best marries old-school Brooklyn pizza with serious cooking chops. Its founder, Frank Pinello, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and his new-school approach can be seen (and tasted) on Best’s white slice—"white” because it forgoes tomato sauce. Instead, it's topped with fresh ricotta and a judicious amount of caramelized onion. Along the crust, a dusting of sesame seeds lends an oven-toasted nuttiness that complements the sweetness of the onions. This is a white slice for people who normally don’t go for this style.
Plain and Sicilian slices from Williamsburg Pizza. Photo: Adam Kuban
When I first dropped this guide, I wrote, “Pizza aficionados and old-time New Yorkers often lament that the City’s slices have been going downhill for years. That sentiment might be a bit of nostalgia speaking, but if you believe it, then you would do well to get to Williamsburg Pizza.” At the time, Williamsburg Pizza, along with Best and Joe’s (see above), was carrying the torch for the kind of simple but magical slices New York City is known for. They’ve since been joined by the notable newcomers I mentioned above. The regular round and the grandma slices are equally good—but the Tartufo (mozzarella, wild mushrooms, rosemary, truffle oil), grandma style, is fantastic.