1. 786 Degrees • Yelp rating: 4.8 (1,699 reviews) • Location: Los Angeles, Calif. • By far the most unassuming pizza joint on this list, 786 Degrees won fame for its mobile pizzeria, but now has a modest brick-and-mortar shop next to a liquor store in a San Fernando Valley strip mall. Using a wood-fired oven operating at about you-know-how-many degrees, 786 makes authentic Neapolitan-style pies, including a Margherita, but also offers such innovations as the El Chapo (Mexican beef chorizo, grilled onions, cilantro, San Marzano tomatoes, Monterey jack cheese, olive oil and Himalayan salt) and the Bombay Tikka Masala (hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes, saffron tikka masala sauce, tandoor-baked chicken kebab, mango chutney, burrata, paneer, roasted sweet peppers, fresh cilantro, olive oil, grilled onions and Himalayan salt with “a splash of Kaffir lime”).
2. Ciao! Pizza & Pasta • Yelp rating: 4.5 (564 reviews) • Location: Chelsea, Mass. • Ciao! claims to serve “the #1 Neapolitan Pizza in Boston,” and its pies were named the best in the city by Boston Magazine in 2017. Nine varieties, cooked in a wood-fired oven, are available – among them one with port and fig jam, gorgonzola and mozzarella and another with spicy shrimp, lemon, cherry tomatoes, cilantro and mozzarella. Some pastas and a few salads and sandwiches are also served.
3. The Cheese Board Collective • Yelp rating: 4.4 (5,101 reviews) • Location: Berkeley, Calif. • This Berkeley bakery, cheese shop, and pizzeria – like Arizmendi Bakery (number 17), one of five associated but independently owned cooperatives around the Bay Area – offers a single pizza and a single salad option daily. All are vegetarian and use organic and local ingredients whenever possible. One day recently, the pizza was topped with roasted potatoes, pasilla pepper, onion, mozzarella, Valbreso feta, garlic olive oil, cilantro and fresh lime, while the salad included roasted organic summer squash, organic salad mix, toasted pine nuts and rosemary-chile vinaigrette.
4. Base Camp Pizza • Yelp rating: 4.4 (3,977 reviews) • Location: South Lake Tahoe, Calif. • Appetizers, soups and salads, and pasta dishes make this a full-scale Italian restaurant, and regular happy hours and daily live music add to its broad appeal. At heart, though, Base Camp is a pizzeria, serving 11 varieties in three sizes plus a build-your-own option. Choices range from a classic Margherita to a Thai Chicken Curry version and a Hawaiian with Red Onions option involving Canadian bacon, pineapple and onions.
5. Zachary’s Chicago Pizza • Yelp rating: 4.4 (3,462 reviews) • Location: Oakland, Calif. • Readers of Oakland Magazine named the pizza at this employee-owned four-unit mini-chain as the best in Oakland and the East Bay earlier this year. Both thin-crust and stuffed pizzas are offered, in varieties ranging from Carne (Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami, chopped bacon and mozzarella) to Good Health (free-range chicken breast, chopped fresh spinach and reduced-fat mozzarella on a whole wheat crust).