Most Iconic Pizzerias in NYC
Pizza is a dish that Americans associate with comfort. If you love a great slice and live in New York City, you probably already know exactly where to go. If you are a newcomer or visitor, you’re in for a treat. Pizza shops can be found across the city, from the lower east side to upper Manhattan, like beacons for the tired and hungry masses–everything from a cheap and deliciously greasy slice to more sophisticated pies.
New York City is the American capital of pizza and the second birthplace of this famous pie. As Italian immigrants crossed the ocean and entered via Ellis Island, one particular Mr. Gennaro Lombardi arrived from Naples, Italy, with a recipe that changed America forever; the pizza. In 1905 he opened the doors to his shop. He found success selling fresh pizza with thin crust, perfect marinara, melted mozzarella, and a guest list of toppings. It was a hit!
Keep reading to discover the most iconic pizzerias to grace the big apple.
La Vera Pizzeria and Restaurant
La Vera Pizza boasts 3 locations across the city. One in Kips Bay, another on the East Side, and the third on the Upper West Side off Broadway. These no-frills spots serve up good old-fashioned NYC-style pizza.
The pizzeria’s hours of operation run from 10 am – 2 am and 4 am on Fridays and Saturdays. La Vera is a go-to for a quick lunch, easy dinner, or a late night meal after an evening taking in the city’s many clubs, bars, or theater shows. Like many pizzerias, they conveniently offer delivery, takeout, and dine-in.
La Vera offers an extensive menu with numerous options from subs, wraps, salads, hamburgers, pasta, seafood specials, and an assortment of appetizers to choose from. Order a slice or whole pie and choose from a carnivore’s delight or veggie lover’s heaven with an assortment of meatballs, pepperoni, and sausage, or broccoli, onions, and peppers. Finish your meal with a cannoli or slice of tiramisu for a sweet ending.
The grandfather establishment of pizza is Lombardi’s. This is your spot if you’re after a little bit of modern food history, fresh pizza, and pure, authentic ingredients. The original location is in Nolita, a sister neighborhood north of Little Italy with a trendy vibe and historical influences. The second location is situated in Brooklyn.
A big, kitschy replica of the famous Mona Lisa is painted on the front of the building, welcoming diners. The inside is dotted with checkered tablecloths covering each spot where customers sit. The vibe is classic old school, with an exposed brick wall with vintage Coca-Cola light fixtures and photographs of people eating pizza, and famous American moments peppering the walls, a reminder of roots.
The pizzas are baked in a coal oven with a smoky crust and covered in fresh whole milk mozzarella. Choose from classics like a Margherita or white pizza. For diners craving extra pizzazz Lombardi’s offers specialty pies with an assortment of meats and veggies. Grab a side salad, wings, or a calzone to go with your food. If you’re looking to imbibe, they offer cocktails, beer, and wine. Settle in and nosh on a slice of authentic New York Style pizza.
Di Fara Pizza
Di Fara is a no-frills pizzeria that opened in 1965. Owner Dom De Marco, who is in his eighties, still runs his iconic shop with the help of his family and makes the pies by hand. His soft Italian accent is filled with love for the pizzas he prepares with the freshest and highest quality ingredients that he can find. Companies have tried to buy him out, but De Marco has such love for his shop that he refuses every sum of money.
With two locations in the city, one in Midwood and the other in Williamsburg, Di Fara’s remains are packed with long lines at mealtimes. NY Magazine has even called it “the holy grail of New York-style pizza.”
The menu is simple, but often that means quality. Choose from a square slice or a regular slice, pick a classic pie or white pie, add toppings or eat as is. Di Fara’s also offers heroes, including meatballs, shrimp, and eggplant parmigiana. Come visit Di Fara’s for a legendary slice of pizza history.
Trendy and impeccably good, L’Industrie Pizzeria ranks as one of the top pizza shops in New York City. Owner Florence opened this spot in 2017 in Williamsburg. Only the best ingredients are used, much of which are imported from Italy. Forget the pepperoni you’re used to; this stuff is meaty, peppery, and full of a new level of umami goodness. The crust is made from a fermented batter and impeccably thin with a light smear of tomato sauce and fresh burrata in thick dollops across the slice.
The establishment that is L’Industrie takes pizza into an art form. Their menu is separated into white pizzas and red pizzas. The slices are no kitchen sink but well-thought-out combinations like tomato sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, prosciutto di parma, and truffle. Sorry vegans, no veggie cheese used here, but do go cheeseless, and you will not be disappointed.
Each Wednesday, the restaurant serves a sandwich special found on their Instagram page. If you’re after something a little different from classic NYC pizza, head over to L’Industrie and walk away with cravings that will have you returning.
Bread and Salt
Not exactly New York, but in the vicinity, Bread and Salt is located in Jersey City, a 30-minute drive to Manhattan if the traffic isn’t bad. This pizza shop is run by James Beard award semi-finalist Rick Easton, a stellar baker, and pizza maker.
The counter-service shop has a hip and simplistic aesthetic. The square-sliced Roman-style pizza has a crust almost akin to a croissant with fluffy dough pocketed with air holes. The menu changes frequently but keeps set items like pizza Rossa, pizza, Margherita, and even a potato pizza. You may find deliciously bitter dandelion greens on your slice or meatballs that will make you forget every other meatball you’ve ever eaten, except for the one from grandma’s family recipe.
Bread and Salt is a nod to baking excellence. The pizza is astoundingly fresh, and while you’re here, check out the mouth-watering selection of fresh baked goods, like donuts, frappe cookies, and fresh loaves of bread.
Aptly named Lucali, this sit-down pizza restaurant is the kind of place that takes no reservations but encourages guests to show up at 4 pm, add their name to the list and wait their turn. Brooklyn-based and run by Brooklyn-born Marco Iacono, this BYOB establishment touts pies cooked in a brick wood-fired oven with a rustic dining room. The line is already around the block before 4pm, and customers may wait several hours to eat
So why dine here, you may be wondering, because Iacono does things like nobody else. The crust is so perfectly crispy, chewy, and still fluffy that it may make you reconsider everything you ever thought you knew about pizza. Large handfuls of basil are added to some of the pizzas to cut down on the heaviness of the fat from meats, cheeses, and olive oil. The orchestration of flavors here is a hit. The sauce is so good, they should serve it as soup. The cheese is a perfect blend of salty and mild, like grana Padano with mozzarella. Oh, and that crust, it’s rolled out with a wine bottle; rolling pins need not apply.
Lucali’s menu is simple, subject to change, and every pizza is made to order. Choose a basil pie, or add toppings like shallots, hot peppers, and artichoke hearts. Be sure to arrive with a snack in your stomach and a good friend. The wait is only part of the adventure.
Scarr’s Pizza might just be the best slice on the lower east side. This retro shop opened in 2016. Owner Scarr Pimental picked up his trade from his days working at Lombardi’s, the grandfather of pizza establishments mentioned at the beginning of this article.
The vibe at Scarr’s is lively, with covered outdoor seating dotting the side of the street. Inside brown wood paneling welcomes guests, retro light fixtures sit above each table, and photographs line the walls.
The dough is exceptional, in large part due to the fact that Scarr’s mills their own organic flour. This is a big deal. It’s both a production, and they are likely the only pizza shop in the city to do this. Most places use packaged flour, or quality Italian 00, a fine grind of all-purpose flour. You can even purchase fresh dough to take with you for a homemade pizza later in the week. The flavors of each pie are classic, with twists thrown in like fresh jalapeno slices.
Like all the best pizza shops of New York City, quality is a theme that is strong at Scarr’s. A suggestion, stick to the thin-crust pies; this is where Scarr’s shines. The thick crust can be inconsistent in texture. There are vegan offerings, heroes, and cocktails with names like “thug passion.” Their wine selection is an all-natural selection of European offerings.
Come nosh on a slice at Scarr’s if you’re after next-level hand-crafted pizza.
The proof is in the dough that New York City is chock-full of iconic pizzerias with everything from sit-down shops with a rustic vibe to noisy counter service, retro, and no-nonsense appeal. The next time you are craving pizza, consider this your go-to list for a slice out of the ordinary that will keep you coming back for more with friends.