Both Kristi and my favorite food is pizza. I prefer mine doughier, she likes her crust crispy and charred. She ONLY eats pizza with one topping – pepperoni. The more the merrier as far as I’m concerned – sausage, mushrooms, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, spinach, meatball – bring it on.
We’ve eaten pizzas from coast-to-coast and border-to-border; here are the best we’ve found, in no particular order.
Mellow Mushroom – nationally franchised
Laugh all you want at our inclusion of a national chain on this list. We’ve never had a bad pizza at Mellow Mushroom and we’ve eaten dozens at over 20 different locations.
The consistency of product from one location to another beats every other chain restaurant I’ve ever eaten at.
Mellow pizza is doughy, fresh and satisfying with a slight sweetness in the crust to my palate.
The signature pretzels are worth the trip alone. Their salads and calzones are outstanding, they always have a deep selection of craft beer, and the restaurants are uniformly clean and welcoming.
You will never go wrong eating pizza at Mellow Mushroom. From the first Mellow Mushroom location I ate at in college in 1997 to our numerous Mellows in Jacksonville where we eat at regularly to this day, we always enjoy it.
Flippers Pizzeria – franchised around Orlando
Another chain? I can’t believe it myself.
Unlike Mellow Mushroom, the franchise consistency at Flippers has big swings. Stick to the Lake Buena Vista/Disney location for your first impression. You’ll find it at 12525 State Road located in a shopping center just across the street from some part of the Disney empire.
Fast, fresh, oven-baked goodness. Specialty pies or build your own, personal size or larger. Great crust and flavor. Reasonably priced. Good enough beer selection because the only thing better than pizza is pizza and beer.
Stone Mountain Pizza Café – Stone Mountain Georgia
It’s not the pizza, but the garlic pretzels at Pizza Café which steal the show. Almost everywhere we eat pizza, we start our meal with garlic knots or breadsticks or pretzels or some such appetizer. These are the best. THE. BEST.
Doughy, buttery, garlicky, decadent.
Blue Moon Pizza – locations around Atlanta
Fresh, delicious, full-sized pies with a variety of interesting topping options and beer menu to match – try something from local microbrewer Monday Night Brewing. More fashionable than your typical pizza joint, Blue Moon Pizza would be appropriate for a date.
Kristi and I favor the Buckhead location where we’ve never had anything short of an outstanding experience.
Again, I prefer a more substantial pizza with some thickness to the dough which sticks to your ribs. Blue Moon Pizza delivers.
Satchel’s Pizza – Gainesville, FL
Collegey. Divey. Crowded. Cramped. Weird. Cash only.
Satchel’s Pizza isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
In addition to its traditional crust, Satchel’s offers a pan pizza. Trying to serve both traditional and pan pizza to me seems like an attempt to fly too close to the sun. While I’ve never had Satchel’s pan pizza – I’ve yet to find a justification for the carbohydrate and caloric binge, nor can I find someone willing to share the monster with me – it LOOKS FANTASTIC!
Angelo’s Pizza – New York City midtown
Located on the ground floor of the building which also houses the Ed Sullivan Theatre, home to Steven Colbert’s “Late Show,” can be found Angelo’s Pizza. Two words: Old. School.
If you’re looking for an authentic New York City pizzeria experience with the huge ovens, small tables, bustling atmosphere steps from Broadway, you’ve found it.
Crispier, crunchier, coal-fired pizza with a charred crust; a family pizza-making lineage dating back to the 1930s.
Hernando’s Pizza Pub – Winter Park, CO
A gigantic stone fireplace in the center of a cozy dining area accompanied by a locals’ bar creates a memorable ambiance at Hernando’s Pizza Pub in the small ski-resort town of Winter Park. The hand-tossed pizza obliviates all expectations – our pizza experiences having been terribly disappointing by-and-large in Colorado.
The twisted ring of crust around the topping-filled center of the pie almost defies description. It’s airy and light – yet somehow doughy and substantial – and when consumed with tableside honey, morphs into some mix of pizza crust-meets-breakfast pastry.
For all of our Colorado pizza troubles, the Rocky Mountain State has turned us on to dipping pizza crust in honey, this being a common practice in the state. Honey is one of the few treats I treasure as richly as pizza and I’ve never seen this presentation anywhere else in the States.
Family owned and operated since 1967, Hernando’s in Winter Park proves the charming, mom-and-pop, small-town pizzeria of your dreams does still exist.
The Bistro at Gervasi Vineyard – Canton, OH
Canton, OH was one of the most surprising places we’ve ever visited. Gervasi Vineyard – grounds, wine, villas, food – most surprising of all. It’s a piece of Napa Valley 50 miles from Cleveland.
If you’re anywhere near the area, we cannot recommend highly enough enjoying Sunday Supper at The Bistro at Gervasi Vineyard. Fantastic pizza with lasagna that might be better served in a rustic dining hall with great views of the scenic surroundings.
If the weather allows, save time for a walk through the gardens. Try the house wine. Start thinking about your return trip.