You Wanna Pizza Me?
Our 14 top pies from red-sauce classics to chef-driven contemporary creations.
Patsy’s, New Rochelle
If the cardinal sin of white pizza is grainy, broken ricotta, then Patsy’s is vying for pizza sainthood. Rounds of dough, blackened by the oven, boast ethereal clouds of creamy, milky, warm ricotta (trust us, you’ll be unable to eat white pizza anywhere else ever again). The key? Patsy’s sources high-quality ricotta from Wisconsin and puts its pies in a coal-wood-gas oven, which cooks pies quickly by combining the steady, high-heat (and char) of coal and the flavor of wood. Of course, Patsy’s has had plenty of time to perfect the technique. The New Rochelle location is a franchise of the original in Harlem (in business since 1933), where all Patsy’s pizzaioli train before manning the ovens in New Rochelle.
Johnny’s Pizzeria, Mount Vernon
Burrata, truffles, and runny yolks have never seen the light of day at this New York Yankees-loving, cash-only, no-slices pizzeria with a reputation for cranky service and challenging parking. Despite all its difficulties, Johnny’s is a county icon for its “backwards” pies (first the mozzarella, then the sauce) with a super-thin, crisp crust. The plain pie is a triumph of simplicity: perfectly charred-but-not-burnt, a modest amount of stringy mozzarella and bright crushed tomatoes, with just a drizzle of oil and a crack of pepper.
White Clam Pizza
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, Yonkers
Proud New Yorkers who think only the Empire State can make a good pizza should prepare to be taken down a few notches at this New Haven import. The Yonkers location boasts the same massive, coal-fired ovens as the Connecticut original, which give not-quite-round pies a distinctive char. If you know anything about Frank Pepe, then you’ve heard of its white clam pie (rated the #1 pizza in America by The Daily Meal in 2015). Loaded with briny, freshly shucked clams and dripping with garlicky oil, loyal fans know the only way to improve on the original is with the addition of fatty, smoky bacon.
Square Tomato Pie
Abatino’s Pizza & Pasta, White Plains
Corner slices are prime real estate at this nondescript Italian restaurant and pizzeria. Listed on the menu as “Abatino’s ‘Award-Winning’ Pan Pizza,” the golden edges of this oversized fresh-tomato pie have a satisfyingly crunchy exterior and chewy interior. Covered in a mouth-scorching mix of molten mozzarella and juicy slices of tomato, the square pie strikes just the right mix of bright acidity and earthiness from a hefty dose of oregano (oregano haters, this isn’t the pie for you), which wafts through the dining room before the pizza even hits your table.
La San Matteo
Zero Otto Nove, Armonk
A little piece of Arthur Avenue in Westchester, the Armonk outpost of the popular Bronx restaurant and pizzeria tries to replicate the original, right down to the kitschy-but-fun faux-ruins décor. For La San Matteo (a classic combo of sweet sausage and broccoli rabe), Zero Otto Nove sources sausage from Biancardi’s on Arthur Avenue and broccoli rabe from Boiano Foods in the Arthur Avenue Market. Even the dough gets its flavor from the Bronx — the pizzeria sends water from the borough to Armonk to preserve the hearty chew of the Bronx original.
Unassumingly listed among a litany of Bronx-style pies, this pan pie is a sentimental favorite. That’s because owner Mark Mazzotta is making the same pizza his grandmother (affectionately known as “Nonna Pizza”) made him as a child. Brushed with garlic oil, the crust almost fries in its pan, getting crispy on the bottom, while a mix of milky mozzarella, DOP San Marzano tomatoes seasoned with Sicilian sea salt, and fresh basil provide the familiar flavors we know and love.
Michael’s Pizza, Port Chester
Away from Port Chester’s downtown dining scene, Michael’s knows its clientele well. Sporting a small bar with a sit-down space in the back room, this family-run stalwart serves slick-with-oil bar-style pies — exactly the thing to eat after throwing back a few pints. The one to order here is The Woodsy, a heavy-handed mix of Italian sausage, peppers, and mushrooms (there’s also a taste-bud-numbing spicy version). The magic of Michael’s pies is in the crust, the underside burnished a dark brown and full of caramelized flavor, thanks to old-school pizza pans seasoned by the oil from the sausage and more than 60 years of use.
Tarry Lodge, Port Chester
Before you even take a bite, there’s something undeniably satisfying about coaxing the tines of your fork into this pie’s runny yolk, the bright-yellow liquid seeping into every nook and cranny. Chef Andy Nusser’s most popular pie, the Guanciale is essentially carbonara on dough, the fat from crisp tags of cured pork jowl mixing with cheese and the rich yolk — all taken over the top by shavings of black truffle. If that’s too rich for your taste, a new Burrata pie with soft leeks and hon-shimeji mushrooms is certain to become another Nusser classic.
J. Sexton No. 2
Burrata Wood Fired Pizza, Eastchester
The Margherita is to pizza joints what spaghetti pomodoro is to Italian restaurants: Everybody does it to varying degrees of success. At Burrata, it’s not enough for owner Chef Chas Anderson to offer Margherita; he needs to improve on the classic. The dough is made with stone-ground flour from New York State, slow-fermented to develop complex flavor. Topped with imported San Marzano tomatoes, the pie spends a few brief minutes in Burrata’s gold-tiled pizza oven before being dolloped with chilled Burrata, drizzled with fruity extra-virgin olive oil and strewn with fresh basil leaves. It tastes like Margherita on steroids — all the flavors you recognize, each heightened to its greatest potential.
The Luigi Bianco
Fortina, Armonk and Rye Brook
One of Fortina’s OG pies, The Luigi Bianco is as outrageous as the pair of pizzerias that serve it. Like a white pie that came into some money, it’s a mix of three rich cheeses (Burrata, Robiola, and Parmesan) and an almost obscene amount of black truffle purée, which together create a perfect intermix of decadent creaminess and earthy pungency. No wonder it’s their most popular pie.
Bone Marrow Pie
The Parlor, Dobbs Ferry
Truthfully, there are a lot of top pies at The Parlor, but nothing expresses Chef David DiBari’s exuberance for nose-to-tail dining quite like the bone marrow pie. For the uninitiated, it’s bone marrow at its most delicious (and most appealing), as the marrow melts into pools of rich, beefy drippings accented by syrupy vin cotto, garlic, rosemary, and Parmesan. Can’t wrap your head around marrow? The less adventurous meatball pie features The Cookery’s super-tender meatballs and dollops of supple, fresh ricotta.
The Smokey Joe
Coals, Port Chester and Bronxville
The pizza at Coals might be described as non-conformist: uneven rectangular pies with no crust to hold and char marks from the grill — not an oven. Fortunately, non-conformist tastes damn good. How to bring that grilled flavor front and center? Add a little smoked mozzarella, to hammer home the char of the grill, then balance it with sharp pecorino, acidic tomatoes, and the gentle bite of red onion. Layer thin slices of coppa on top, and you’ve got a Smokey Joe.
The most deceptive spot on this list, Mario’s looks like your corner pizza joint, with a case of pies ready to reheat by the slice. But, a recent renovation and expansion included the addition of a wood-fire pizza oven, and suddenly this Chappaqua pizzeria is making some killer pies. Case in point: the Tony’s Special, which hits all the right sweet (caramelized onions and honey) and salty (Gouda and pancetta) notes to merit its inclusion among the county’s top pies.
It may not be a traditional choice, but let’s make a case for Gleason's Flammkuchen pizza. After all, if any place is going to do a German-style pie, it makes sense that it should be Gleason’s, where the sturdy-yet-tender crust gets its rise from a beer starter culture. The Flammkuchen is all about balance, with crème fraîche acting as a creamy, slightly tangy foil to nuggets of fatty, crisped bacon and thinly sliced red onions, just softened by the oven.