Since pizza -- a basic dish associated with Naples but not exclusively so -- was taken to America by Italian emigrants, shops selling the flat disks topped with goodness have popped up on nearly every street corner.
And since most folks have a cherished neighborhood hangout that offers up simple and satisfying pies covered in gooey cheese or topped with pepperoni, we wanted to share a few of our favorite gourmet pizzerias -- the definition, in this case, meaning spots to score artisan techniques, homemade goodness, and premium toppings.
Read on for 10 favorites.
10.) The Gelato Spot (Scottsdale) Last fall, the owners of this cool creamery in Scottsdale made a few updates to its interior. Namely, installing a honkin'-huge, sparkle-tile wood-fired pizza oven in it. Still somewhat of a secret (no exterior signage) and a bit of a concept head-scratcher, the eatery's selection of tasty thin-crust Neapolitan-style pies is catching on with popular pies like the marinara, margherita, and chicken & BBQ. Figuring out what to have for dessert shouldn't be a problem, but what to call the place now certainly is.
9.) Nello's (Mesa) In the Valley for over 25 years, the Mesa location is the only one of four in the Valley that's still owned and operated by one of the original founders of the Nello's brand. The motto "In crust we trust" makes sense with golden selections like pan-style, thin, white, wheat, and original. And with the build-your-own option along with traditional pies, Mediterranean pizzas, and vegetarian and specialty selections, this beloved neighborhood spot has something for almost everyone.
8.) Pizza People Longtime Phoenicians MaryBeth and Tim Scanlon offer pies on the fly with their food truck, which features personal-size artisan pizzas all under 10 bucks. With dough made from scratch and nearly everything else locally sourced, specialties like the Popeye and the Fun Guy (made with mushrooms -- get it?) are delectable, plus there are vegan and gluten-free options, as well. Pizza People are regulars at Food Truck Fridays. Follow them on Facebook to see where they'll roll up next.
7.) La Piazza al Forno Pizza means two things at this downtown Glendale spot -- Neapolitan and wood-fired. Thanks to homemade mozzarella and dough, San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy, and recipes from the old country, chef Justin Piazza and his family have been servin' up phenomenal pies courtesy of a wood-fueled brick oven since they opened their pizzeria over four years ago. The classic margherita or the meaty Italian Stallion are solid standouts, but the The Bianca -- a wonderfully flavorful white pizza -- is a garlic lover's dream come true.
6.) Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana As the first and only VPN (Verace Pizza Napoletana) certified restaurant in Arizona, this Scottsdale pizzeria puts the ahh in authenticity. Two Italian pizza masters, Matteo Schiavone and Fabio Caruccio, make the ultra-thin Neapolitan pizza dough to exact standards in a wood-burning oven. Topped with premium ingredients like San Marzano tomato sauce, roasted eggplant, and buffalo mozzarella, these 12-inch pies are certifiably perfect.
5.) Pizza a Metro The "a Metro" means meter, and in the case of this affordable, 20-seat restaurant near I-17, the largest pie, which measures one meter long (39 inches). Served up by owner and chef Maurizio Benforte, a native of Sorrento, Italy, wood-fired pizzas with a thin crust are piled high with toppings like prosciutto and arugula with a delectable tomato sauce, and a garden of artichokes, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, and roasted eggplant on the vegetarian selection.
4.) La Grande Orange Pizzeria Sourdough never had it so good than as a pizza crust at the lively neighborhood hotspot in Arcadia. With a small but tight selection of 12-inch pizzas, the thin but tough-enough crust can hold such first-rate toppings as sautéed crimini, button, and oyster mushrooms on the aptly named Mushroom Party; Schreiner's Italian sausage on the manly Gladiator; and handcrafted goat cheese from Laura Chenel's Chèvre in Sonoma, California, on the Roasted Corn pizza.
3.) The Parlor Pizzeria This former beauty salon turned popular neighborhood hangout in the Camelback Corridor combines a pizza pedigree (the owners also run Nello's in Ahwatukee) with a serious case of style. The wood-burning brick-oven pizzas are delectable and feature bubbly crusts, locally raised meats, and fresh produce -- some of which is grown right on the property. Wanna sample? Bring friends and order up a few eight-inch pies for 10 bucks a piece.
2.) Cibo Urban Pizzeria Cafe Pronounced CHEE-bo ("food" in Italian), this cozy eatery in a restored 1913 bungalow in the Roosevelt Historic District stars Tuscan pizzaiolo Guido Saccone working pizza magic at the wood-burning oven. The 12-inch pies are works of art, with a thin crust that's equal amounts of crunchy and chewy along with premium toppings. Try the stellar Rustica topped with prosciutto crudo and arugula or the classic margherita with fresh basil.
1.) Pizzeria Bianco As if Chris Bianco's star couldn't shine any brighter, the celebrated pie master of this award-winning Heritage Square eatery hooked up last year with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to open a chain of restaurants featuring pizzas made with British produce. Bianco's crust, chewy and blistered in all the right places, comes with crave-worthy toppings like fennel sausage, smoked mozzarella, and roasted onions as the Wiseguy; or marinara, mozzarella, salami, and olives as the satisfying Sonny Boy. Yes, the lines for dinner are just as long, but at least there's additional lunch hours to chase the taste of a perfect pie.
All our favorites lists also are available on our Best Of app -- see it in action here.
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