Food & Wine magazine just named New Jersey the best state for pizza in the U.S. (Pennsylvania came in seventh). While we’re sure they applied a rigorous scientific model to their ranking, these spots in Philly (and, OK, one in New Jersey) have caught our eye in the last year, and are definitely worth a visit:
This new shop in North Philly offers more than good pizza. The shop was created to provide career opportunities and fair wages for formerly incarcerated people. Check out the Detroit-style pies named in honor of Philly rappers. Craig LaBan recently shouted out a few, including the Ima Boss, a white pie with turkey sausage, peppers, mushrooms, and what chef-owner Kurt Evans calls Bodega sauce, “a sweet-tangy drizzle of reduced Goya Malta and tamarind inspired by the corner grocery.” The shop also offers a vegan pie, as well as wings, fries, and milkshakes.
Last November, Good Pizza was Philly’s buzziest operation. It’s a passion project run by Philly transplant Ben Berman, who moved here for grad school. What makes Good Pizza different? Berman bakes 20 New York-style pies a week in his Center City apartment and gives them away. Michael Klein explains: “All you have to do is donate money, which he sends to his favorite causes. … It’s a pick-up-only arrangement. When the pizza is boxed up and ready — and this is where the coronavirus angle comes in — Berman or his girlfriend, Jimena Sanchez, adds a cheery note to the box and places it into a basket attached to a rope, lowering it to the patron on the street below.” The project took off when Dave Portnoy from Barstool Sports picked it up. There’s no fixed schedule for pizza; to get in the loop, follow on Instagram or join the lottery on his website.
In September 2020, LaBan declared Manayunk’s Pizza Jawn “Philly’s best new pizzeria.” You may have to order a week in advance to get a pie slot, but it’s worth it. As LaBan writes: “Lee is one of the few pizzaiolos who specializes in more than one style, crafting outstanding renditions of three very different kinds of pizza: a char-spotted round of a crispy Neo/NYC thin-crust round pie (get the minimalist Margherita); a hefty Detroit pizza whose tall, pan-roasted sides crackle with an edge of caramelized cheese (load it up!); and a chewy, rustic Grandma square distinguished by the fistfuls of sesame that speckle its edges and bottom crust.”
What started as Pizza Gutt, a modest bar concession at W/N W/N from Daniel Gutter, has spread to spots in Kensington and South Philadelphia in just a year and a half, and now, his pies are also available at Northern Liberties’ Bourbon & Branch and at the Commodore Barry Irish Center in Mount Airy. Gutter has gained a lot of love for both his round pies and Detroit-style pizzas with their crispy, fried-cheese edges.
Vinny Gallagher and Davide Lubrano make naturally leavened pies, somewhere between New York and Neapolitan-style pizzas, out of this shop in Fitler Square. As Lubrano says: “We want it to be a neighborhood pizzeria, because pizza is for everybody.” As LaBan declared in November 2020: “Gallagher’s dough forms a crust that crackles with a flavorful chew and roasty tang that reverbs after a slice is gone.”
Named after owner Cary Borish’s grandmother, Sally offers Neapolitan-style pizzas, from creamy stracciatella made from Lancaster’s Maplehofe dairy, to the fermented pepper jelly that sparks soppressata, and the Chester County funk of Birchrun Hills Farm’s Fat Cat Cheese. The spot, across from Fitler Square, also makes an upscale version of the South Philly pizzazz pie as well as offering a selection of natural wines.
Angelo Pizza is his actual name. He’s the son and grandson of Baltimore pizzeria owners, and opened his own shop in Old City in November 2020. Pizza began baking pizzas for friends out of his Manayunk apartment, using the recipes he learned from his dad, Angelo, and grandfather, Paulie Manna. The shop makes eight varieties of big-flavored, crispy-crusted 12-inch rounds, which are topped to the edges, plus one vegan pie.
And one spot in New Jersey:
“Pizza so good it should be a crime,” said owner Arnab Maitra. He’s not wrong. Maitra previously worked at Osteria, Pizzeria Vetri, and Porto before opening his own shop in Haddonfield in September 2020. His 10-pie, wood-fired pizza menu includes the familiar margherita and marinara, as well as a rich creation called Fig Jawn, with figs, gorgonzola, and mixed herbs, and Da Shroom, which Klein describes as topped “with braised cremini mushrooms, house-made mozzarella, a creamy, full-fat soft cheese called Robiolina, and fresh thyme.” Plus, as Klein notes, the shop is across from King’s Road Brewing Co., making it ideal if you want a beer to go with that pie.
» READ MORE: Taking a bite out of Pizza Crime in Haddonfield
» READ MORE: More Philly tips: Read our most useful stories