Pizza is so appealing that it has swept across the world. If you’re in a place without pizza, you are truly in a remote area. Unfortunately, pizza lends itself to so many shortcuts, commercialized versions, and cheap ingredients that there is far more bad pizza out there than good.
New Orleans was not historically a great pizza town, but that has changed in the past few years. Since my last edition of this list a year ago, several superb new pizza specialists have appeared–most of them near the top of the list below, replacing some wistful old favorites. If your own sentimental choice isn’t here, keep on eating it, but open your mind to these, too.
There’s plenty of room for individual tastes in pizza. Thin or thick, loaded with ingredients or just cheese, tomato sauce or not. Add the dizzying varieties of toppings and the possibilities become for all practical purposes infinite. I look for an excellent crust, with a paper-thin crisp zone at the bottom and a slight breadiness at the edge. A fresh-tasting sauce with a distinct herbal and pepper quality. Whole-milk or fresh-milk mozzarella, laid down with restraint. And a minimum load of other toppings. Here are the pizzerias that satisfy those criteria best.
1. Domenica. CBD: 123 Baronne (Roosevelt Hotel). 504-648-6020. Neapolitan style, from a wood-burning stone oven.
2. Brooklyn Pizza. Metairie 3: Houma Blvd To Kenner Line: 4301 Veterans Blvd . 504-833-1288. Not much on looks, but the perfect New York-style pie.
3. Ancora Pizzeria. Uptown: 4508 Freret St. 504-324-1636. 800-degree stone, wood-fired oven. Toppings are offbeat. Not for pepperoni lovers.
4. Ciro’s Cote Sud. Uptown 4: Riverbend: 7918 Maple. 504-866-9551. A French restaurant that inherited a pizza oven. Great spicy sauce and excellent crust.
5. Slice. Uptown: 1513 St Charles Ave. 504-525-7437. ||Uptown 3: 5538 Magazine St. 504-897-4800. A classic New York pizza, a little thicker and more loaded down than average.
6. Midway Pizza. Uptown: 4725 Freret St. 504-322-2815. A breadier, puffier style, with some unusual pizza specialties.
7. Pizza Delicious. Bywater & Downtown: 617 Piety. 504-676-8482. An avid following among Downtowners, New York style, a bit overloaded.
8. Amici. Uptown: 3218 Magazine. 504-300-1250. Coal-burning oven. Get pizza for the appetizer and then survey the full Italian menu.,
9. Venezia. Mid-City: 134 N Carrollton Ave. 504-488-7991. Old New Orleans style for over sixty years. Very consistent.
10. New York Pizza. Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 4418 Magazine. 504-891-2376. The ingredients on top are better than most (whole-milk mozzarella, for example).
11. That’s Amore. Metairie 3: Houma Blvd To Kenner Line: 4441 West Metairie Ave. 504-454-5885. The only shop in town making deep-dish pizza. Call 45 minutes ahead.
12. Mo’s Pizza. Westwego: 1112 Avenue H. 504-341-9650. A thick pizza with a sweet sauce, and many specialties (sausage rolls, calzone, etc.)
I can’t fail to honorably mention a pair of new pizza shops with what would have been standout pie twenty years ago. Both are in Harahan. Oak Oven (Harahan: 6625 Jefferson Hwy. 504-305-4039) has the eponymous equipment, and sends out very good thin-crusty, Italian-style pies. A few blocks up the road is Happy Italian’s (Harahan: 7105 Jefferson Hwy. 504-305-4666.) pizzas come off a conveyor-belt oven–usually not a good sign. But this belt is made of granite, and the results are great. What you may remember even more is a ground meat pizza–an idea that sounds obvious but is almost never encountered. It’s spectacular.