Andreoli Italian Grocer
Jackie Mercandetti Photo

At some point, perhaps over an afternoon sandwich of top-notch porchetta seasoned with garlic, fennel, and black pepper, or an evening meal of luscious seafood risotto followed by a homemade cannoli, you're going to ask yourself if there is anything chef Giovanni Scorzo doesn't do exceptionally well at his well-heeled Italian market and restaurant in North Scottsdale. There are the pizzas, soft and pillowy and topped with things like lobster, artichoke, and truffle oil; the delicious offal and Florentine-style tripe served occasionally; and fried potatoes and leeks with a creamy and tangy dipping sauce that seem to vanish from the plate. Thankfully, you'll have to keep eating for the answer.

Pizzeria Bianco

Let's face it — the wait at the original Pizzeria Bianco location downtown is as legendary as its gourmet pies (okay, the added lunch hours helped a little). So this year, the pizzeria's celebrated pie master Chris Bianco decided to do something about it. By reconfiguring the space for his Italian restaurant, Trattoria Bianco, at Town & Country Shopping Center, Bianco launched a second location of his venerated pizzeria. The menu offers the same six primo pizzas as the downtown location plus antipasti, a market salad, and a special or two. And since Bianco debuted the original Pizzeria Bianco in the same plaza in 1994, ordering up a Wiseguy or a Sonny Boy seems like a delectable slice of history.

No neighborhood's complete without a decent spot to score a slice — and North Phoenix residents have Joe and Myrah Aiello to thank for theirs. Pizza fans can choose from signature creations like the garlicky Nana and the creamy spinach Alfredo or customize their own with toppings like Joe's famous meatballs, eggplant, and hot Fresno peppers, served up Neopolitan-style (thin with a crispy crust) or Sicilian-style (thick with a bread-y crust). And because Isa's connects to Aiello's Salumeria next door, pairing your slice with an antipasto or Caprese salad is as easy as pizza pie.

Best Neighborhood Pizza, Central Phoenix

Federal Pizza

Federal's food is not so much reinvented as it is crafted with expert care.
Jackie Mercandetti
Federal's food is not so much reinvented as it is crafted with expert care.

Who to bring on board when you're planning a lively new pizza joint? If you're restaurateurs Craig DeMarco and Lauren Bailey (Postino, Windsor, Joyride Taco House), it's Valley master baker MJ Coe. Featuring a light and crispy outer crust with a thick, puffy edge, a slightly chewy interior, and a harmonious flavor balance of toppings, the best of Coe's 12 pizza creations might be the Casanova, a robust mix of flavors and textures courtesy of prosciutto, dates, ricotta, arugula, and Pecorino cheese. Like surprises? Order up the Chef's Whim and let Federal craft its latest flavor craze just for you.

Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana
Lauren Saria

Earlier this year, this longtime favorite in Scottsdale opened a second location in the former home of Sens Asian Tapas and Sake Bar, further strengthening downtown as a true destination for authentic gourmet pizza. Pomo's secret to success is its adherence to pizza-making guidelines set forth by the Italian trade organization Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana. That means a super-thin crust from dough made with a slow-leavening process, tomatoes and olive oil imported from Italy, and a specific kind of oven set to an extreme temperature at which the pizza is cooked for only about 90 seconds. Without a doubt, try the Regina margherita and its creamy bufala mozzarella for the quintessential Pomo experience. Of course, with all the amazing pies baked at Pomo, you won't want to stop there, nor should you.

Amano Bistro

Everyone in South Phoenix knows Amano Bistro. It's that fun little spot with the bright yellow and red walls that used to be a realty office. South Mountain-area residents Eric and Kathy Bower have owned it for almost a decade, turning out excellent pies with crispy and chewy crusts you don't mind sharing, on the condition that you order more than one. There is a pizza topped with five kinds of cheese, another with springy pesto, and still another with Italian sausage, fennel, roasted red peppers, and Fontina. The wine list is rich with nearly three dozen Old and New World selections that go very well with the food.

La Piazza Al Forno

If soft-centered, real-deal Neopolitan pizzas are your thing, then this bustling little spot in downtown Glendale (complete with a stamp of approval from the Italian trade group Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana) is your place. And by the looks of the line out the door on Friday and Saturday nights, just about everyone else's in town, too. You'll want the Bianca, pulled from the brick oven when its clumps of ricotta have melted and the crust is charred and crisp at the rim — or perhaps the Dolce Diavolo made with fiery Calabrian chiles and honey. And if the restaurant has offered one of its specials — perhaps the fried pizza known as Montanara — well, then, it seems you have some tough decisions ahead.

Spinato's Pizza

This family-owned local of chain of pizzerias has been flipping dough in the Valley just shy of 40 years, amassing a loyal following of fans along the way. And with good reason. Its excellent old-school Chicago-style pies are delicately crunchy, dutifully slathered with a sweet housemade sauce, and cut into squares. Don't miss Mamma Spinato's "Signature" Fresh Spinach, a glorious pie starring baby spinach marinated in the family's secret seasoning, Roma tomatoes, handfuls of garlic, and — naturally — a generous layer of mozzarella.

Lamp churns out red and white artisan pies that are delicate yet able to be laden with top-notch ingredients.
Jackie Mercandetti
Lamp churns out red and white artisan pies that are delicate yet able to be laden with top-notch ingredients.

Lamp chef-owner Matt Pilato doesn't quite adhere to the strict Neapolitan pizza standard he learned at the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli Academy in San Francisco, but when the pizza's this good, who cares? Combining Neapolitan techniques with his own style, Pilato features nearly 20 varieties of red and white artisan 12-inch pies served up in a restaurant that's as casually refined as the neighborhood. Each is delicate but still laden with top-notch ingredients and features a bready crust, charred and crisp at the rim and thin and soft in the center.

Best Neighborhood Pizza, Southeast Valley

Big Boy's Pizza

Big Boy's giant pizza
Hanefeld
Big Boy's giant pizza

Husband-and-wife team Dennis and Vickie Heath like their pizzas big. How big? Along with the standard 14-, 16-, and 18-inch pies, this friendly Mesa joint features a 28-inch monster nearly the size of a kiddy pool. Then there are the three-buck slices, which are more like pizzas shaped like a slice and served with their own pizza cutter. Sure, it ain't the gourmet stuff; but with a crispy, not too chewy, and nicely seasoned homemade crust, signature sauce, and fresh toppings, we're not complaining — we're goin' supersize.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of