You might not realize it, but downtown Phoenix has a whole lot of pizza options. There's Pizzeria Bianco, Cibo, and as of last year, two different restaurants specializing specifically in Neapolitan-style pizzas. And crazily enough, they're both located on First Street.
Pomo Pizzeria comes to downtown from Scottsdale, while La Piazza Locale brings it west side roots to the table. Both are certified as serving authentic Neapolitan pizzas by Italian pizza organization and they both serve a a real-deal margherita pizza made with San Marzano tomatoes and Italian mozzarella di buffala. So which one is better? Read on.
See also: 11 Best Pizza Spots in Metro Phoenix
In This Corner: Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana
The Setup: It's been about a year since Pomo Pizzeria relocated from the Borgata in Scottsdale to 705 North First Street, the former home of Sens Asian Tapas in downtown Phoenix. Founded by the Italian trio of executive chef Matteo Schiavone and co-owners Stefano Fabbri and Mark Proto, Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana specializes in authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas made to the high standards of the Verace Pizza Napoletana and Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, two associations based in Napoli, Italy.
Pomo serves three types of Pizza Tradizionale, including the Buffala Verace. The pizza features just four ingredients: San Marzano tomatoes (D.O.P., or Denominazione d' Origine Protetta), imported mozzarella di buffala, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil.
The Good: We loved the flavor of Pomo's crust. As tradition requires, it's made with imported wheat flour, pre-fermented natural starter, Mediterranean sea salt, and water. After being baked for less than two minutes in a 905 degree oven, it comes out with a nice thin exterior and a chewy inside. The amount of mozzarella di buffala was also impressive. The imported cheese, made from the milk of Italian water buffalo, is preferred for use on pizzas since its softer and much more flavorful than regular mozzarella.
The Bad: The $17 price tag made this pizza a fairly expensive lunch, although it could be split between two light eaters. And though we liked the flavor of Pomo's crust, we found it to be a little thicker than we'd normally like. The tomato paste was less flavorful than we would have liked. San Marzano tomatoes usually pack a distinct almost bittersweet flavor that we didn't quite pick up on this pizza.
In The Other Corner: La Piazza Locale
The Setup: For years, chef Justin Piazza has been bringing authentic Neapolitan-style pizza to downtown Glendale at La Piazza Al Forno and last year he decided to bring the good eats to 1 N. 1st St., Suite 103, the former home of Cartel Coffee in downtown Phoenix. Like Pomo, La Piazza Locale -- or "Piazza's Local" -- is a Verace Pizza Napoletana certified restaurant. As such, the restaurant adheres to a set of guidelines based on Neapolitan tradition.
The restaurant offers 16 types of pizzas including the Regina Margherita D.O.C. made with San Marzano Tomatoes D.O.P., Mozzarella di Bufala, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh basil.
The Good: La Piazza Locale's crust was perfect, at least to us. The center was thin and soft, while the edges offered a crisp outer layer and soft, chewy interior. The bits of blackened crust were delicious. We also loved the sauce on this pizza. You could really taste the flavor of the San Marzano tomatoes -- sweet and less acidic than other varieties of tomato. With the slightly charred leaves of fresh basil, the flavors made for an bright, fresh bite.
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The Bad: We really wish there had been more of the mozzarella di buffala on this pizza. Not only because it was even creamier and more flavorful than Pomo's, but also because there was barely enough to get a piece of the cheese in every bite.
The Winner: We definitely preferred La Pizza Locale. With a cheaper price tag and bolder flavors, the restaurant's pizza came out ahead almost across the board.
It's only fair to point out, however, that it would have been hard to pick a favorite if we hadn't eaten the pizzas back to back. Both a high-quality pizzas that clearly respect tradition and strive to use the best quality ingredients.