Best pizza in Philadelphia
A gold standard among Philly pizzas (with prices to match), Vetri pies are seemingly simple but marvelously complex in taste. The pies are made with carefully sourced ingredients and prepared with an exact science in mind: They bake in a 650-degree, wood-fired oven for precisely three minutes. The margherita pizza is a good starting point, followed up by the Sicilian-tuna Tonno for a more adventurous flavor. For dessert, stick around for the Nutella pizza, baked with oozing marshmallow.
Quality, local ingredients are the name of the game at Nomad Pizza Company, which works with a whopping nine local farms and butchers to supply its well-rounded menu. The arugula pizza with prosciutto is a near must, along with the nduja sausage pizza, a spicy, spreadable pork salami native to Italy. The Castelvetrano + Scalogno pizza makes a compelling vegetarian option, with castelvetrano olives and shallots. Located in the heart of the Gayborhood, this Nomad location makes for a great spot for a slice after a night of partying. It’s open till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Though you can also order a whole slew of just-as-good tacos, burritos and burgers at this Point Breeze pizza joint, Rosario’s Mexican toppings are a real standout in the city. The al pastor pie is a delicious safe bet, but those looking for something a little spicy should try the choriqueso pizza, a mix of hot red sauce with mushrooms, chorizo, red onions and chihuahaha cheese. Just plan to dine out: The narrow dining room only has a few tables.
A no-brainer if you’re seeking pizza in the Italian Market, Santucci’s is famous—rightfully so—for its backwards-looking square pies, with the mozzarella buried beneath a thick layer of tomato sauce. Added toppings are unnecessary, but olives and anchovies are nice touches to the pizza canvas. The interior is a worthwhile dine-in experience, with outdoor seating offering views of the Italian Market hubub.
Baked in a wood oven, James Beard Award-winning chef Stephen Starr’s Pizzeria Stella nails a smoky flavor with its pizzas, many of which feature unusual ingredients like pine nuts and pistachios, smoked mozzarella and wood-roasted sausage. Breads are made in-house at this charming, bistro-like restaurant in Headhouse Square, and ingredients are thoughtfully sourced, making for a feel-good pizza experience that goes above and beyond to be truly artisanal—and somehow still affordable.
Practically legendary among the city’s vegetarian and vegan communities, Blackbird offers a variety of meatless pies that range from uber-indulgent (see: the cheesesteak pizza with garlic butter and “vegan whiz”) to salad-like, such as the spinach-and-shiitake-mushroom-loaded “Popeye.” Also a standout is the “Brunchbird,” a breakfast pizza made with tofu scramble and seitan bacon—notable, given that you’d be hard-pressed to find a breakfast pizza at all elsewhere in the city. The menu also offers a sizable selection of sandwiches—such as a seitan cheesesteak and a chickpea “tuna” wrap—salads and desserts. Located in a compact, no-frills space just off South Street, Blackbird’s proximity to vegan donut baker Dottie’s Donuts and Whole Foods makes this a real gem for local herbivores.
Square Pie, the Brooklyn-style pizza joint run by chef Gene Giuffi, the former owner of Cochon, offers a thick crust, square pizza topped with everything from fresh mozzarella to house-cured sausages in the trendy Queen Village neighborhood. Eat in or take out and be sure to check the daily chalkboard specials.
While La Rosa’s immediate surroundings are a little rough around the edges, this discreet South Broad Street shop features crispy, deep, pan-baked square pizzas available by the slice or as whole pies. Slice options vary by the day, but go for the pepperoni or a classic cheese when available. Customer service is ace, and portions are generous. The main downside? There’s really nowhere to sit, and the pizza can be greasy. Be sure to take a heap of napkins with you when you head out the door.
Lovingly baked with a light-and-airy dough, these Roman-inspired pizzas are cut with shears and sold by the slice. Selections include standard options along with specials that rotate by the season. Stars of the show are the Diavola—similar to pepperoni and featuring an imported spicy soppressata—the zucchini with ricotta, and the Tricolore, which is topped with grape tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto. The breezy in-and-out experience makes it an irresistible draw for lunch munching or an easy weeknight bite if you’re passing through the neighborhood.
This Mediterannean kitchen from Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran doesn’t exactly sell itself as a pizza shop, but it manages to whip up some of the city’s most daring pizza recipes, such as the Fico, with black mission figs and gorgonzola dolce; a white-sauce asparagus pizza with truffled egg; and a zucchini and squash blossoms pizza. Stop by late at night during the week for easy happy hour bar seating to watch a pizza be whipped up right in front of you.
Philadelphians have a wide spectrum of opinions about Lorenzo’s big-as-your-face slices, but virtually no Philadelphia pizza is more famous than this South Street source of greasy goodness. Skip the whole pies and opt for the no-frills cheese pizza—and plan to eat it after a late night, when the affordable price and mega-size will leave you most satisfied. The shop gets extra points for keeping the line moving, so don’t be be put off when you see it a queue wrapped around the street.
A fifth-generation, classic one-man pizza operation, Tacconelli’s is best known for its brick-oven pies that are heavy on the sauce, along with friendly-face service. The menu keeps only the basics—intentionally so—but does them expertly, especially the easy-to-find but ever-hard-to-master tomato pie. Just remember, it’s cash-only.
A reliable Center City outpost with gluten-free options, Paulie’s crafts a respectable Trenton-style pizza and a few eyebrow-raising (but delicious) pies such as the General Tso’s and Penne Vodka varieties. Still, the real headliner here is its late-night hours on weekends, when you can have pizza delivered as late as 4am. That the pizza is as good as it is accessible almost feels like a bonus.
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