The appeal of the pizza seems to know no bounds. While New York, Chicago, and San Francisco are all packing a number of absurdly great pizzerias, an excellent pie can be had just about anywhere in the country. And in just about any style: thin-crust, New York, deep dish, Detroit, bar, New Haven, Chicago, grilled, California, tomato pies, and Neapolitan among them. This last style seems to have taken particular root over the last decade with pizza-makers across the country importing ovens from Naples and churning out margherita pies topped with San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala.
The question, of course, is which of these restaurants qualify as absolute must-stop pizzerias for the novice as well as the pizza snob. Earlier this year, Eater unveiled the Eater National Burger 38 in the grand tradition of the lists local sites have been putting out for years. And now, ladies and gentlemen, it is time to present the Eater National Pizza 38, the 38 essential pizzerias (and restaurant pizzas) across the country.
There are thousands of decent-to-excellent pizza across the country, and getting the list down to mere 38 was not an easy task. Much like the 38 Essential Restaurants lists on the local sites, the list has been tailored to allow for both geographic diversity and a variety of pizza styles. While this list focuses on the new classics, there's room as well for the landmarks that are still influencing pizzerias of today. The Pizza 38 focuses on the pies themselves: fancy ovens and ambiance are nice but were not dealbreakers.
After composing a longlist of likely candidates, Eater consulted with a panel of curators consisting of chefs, television hosts, book authors, food festival organizers, food writers of all stripes, current and former Eater editors, and other folks who are simply well-traveled pizza fans. They didn't agree on everything. In fact, more often than not, they disagreed on everything. When there was a general consensus on a restaurant, it either made the list or was vetoed. In other cases, the most passionate voices won out. Either way, true fans of the art form vouched for the pizzas below.
If the panel couldn't always agree on which restaurants to include in the 38, Eater certainly doesn't expect you to do so. Take a deep breath and air your grievances in the comments.
Special thanks to all of those who helped inform this list: Mario Batali, Adam Kuban, Lockhart Steele, Amanda Kludt, Michael Berman, Pizzablogger, Scott Wiener, Jonathan Kauffman, Michael Nagrant, Jason Feirman, Zach Brooks, Mike Thelin, Jessica Voelker, Jackie Gutierrez-Jones, Amber Ambrose, Ari Bendersky, Allecia Vermillion, Aaron Kagan, Alexander Hancock, Andrea Grimes, and current Eater editors.
And now, in alphabetical order, the Eater National Pizza 38.