It's subjective to say this city's pizza tastes best or that pizzeria has the most flavorsome pie. One person's best pizza is another's mediocre. Are you a sauce person? Or, into a great crust? What style of pizza is your preference? What are your favorite toppings?
But the taste is but only one factor in determining the best cities for pizza. It's more than just taste. Being the best city involves other factors like ubiquity, ease of acquisition and availability.
Serving up the best pizza cities for renters
As one would expect, the top 10 best cities for pizza have a decidedly northeastern flare. But in particular, New England takes the prize, dominating the top 10. The data is clear.
To determine the best cities for pizza in America, we considered a number of dynamics that speak to the accessibility of pizza in over 300 of the nation's biggest cities. Accessibility factors into both how quick one can grab a slice and saturation survivability based on quality.
We scored each city based on three primary factors: percentage of pizza restaurants to all restaurants in a city, number of pizza restaurants per square mile and number of pizza restaurants per 100,000 residents. These are the cities that scored the highest combined.
10. Manchester, NH
Of the four Boston-region cities on this list, the most surprising is the hamlet across the state border in Manchester. An hour north of Boston, Manchester wouldn't be many people's first guess as a pizza mecca. But the New England bedroom community is chock full of Greek pizza joints.
Greek and Italian food may seem divergent. But Greece, just across the Adriatic from Italy, carries its own pizza heritage. While Greek pizza is traditionally drizzled with olive oil and wood-fired, it's not that fundamentally different from Italian. So, how do you know you're in a Greek pizza shop? Look for the pizzerias named “House of Pizza," usually preceded by a family or geographic name. And New Hampshire is full of them.
Nearly every city in southern New Hampshire has a Greek “House of Pizza." And Manchester is no exception, home to Amory Street House of Pizza, Elm House of Pizza, Jimmy's House of Pizza and more. New Hampshire-style pizza offers a distinct Greek flare.
Nearly 21 percent of Manchester restaurants are pizza shops, and there are over 44 pizzerias for every 100,000 inhabitants. That's good for third and fifth in the nation, respectively, for this city of just 113,000. But for all that Greek pie excellence, it doesn't take a pile of drachmas to live in Manchester. Rents for an average one-bedroom run $1,570 a month.
The city of Worcester is an unexpected setting to appear on the best cities for pizza list. But the Central Mass town ranks No. 1 of any city in the nation with pizza shops accounting for over 22 percent of its total restaurants. You can find great pizza in many spots in this, the second-most populous city in all of New England. And that's particularly true along Shrewsbury Street, Worcester's “Little Italy" neighborhood.
The oldest and perhaps most well-known pizza spot on Shrewsbury is Wonder Bar Restaurant. The location has been selling its famous pizza since the middle of the last century. And despite new ownership, Wonder Bar continues to sling some of Worcester's best pie. Other popular nearby spots include Ciao Bella, Woosta Pizza and Kelley Square Pizza.
But Worcester's biggest contribution to pizza culture isn't even a restaurant. At the close of World War II, pizza boomed in popularity. While working at a pizza shop on Lake Avenue, 23-year-old Frank Fiorillo decided to offer people to make homemade pizza. In his parents' living room, he invented the first commercial pizza mix in a box. “Roman Pizza Mix" was so successful, Fiorillo retired at age 25. Now known as “Appian Way Pizza Mix," it's still sold in stores today.
You, too, can make pizza at home or order a great local pie. And where you decide to eat is fairly affordable in Worcester. A one-bedroom apartment rents for $1,212 monthly on average.
Breaking news: College students love pizza. And in Cambridge, across the Charles from Boston, there are nearly 22,000 of them. And most all of them love pizza. Good thing, too, because this academic suburb is first in the nation with 5.33 pizza restaurants per square mile. Cambridge is home to Harvard, MIT and a lot of good pizza.
Call it the great dining hall walk-out. Why would you eat thawed chicken nuggets from a cafeteria tray when good pizza is everywhere? In and around Harvard Square, there's nearly one pizzeria on every corner. And the wicked best is Pinocchio's Pizza & Subs. Not only is “Noch's" Mark Zuckerberg's favorite Cambridge pizza spot, but its Sicilian pizza also got its own storyline on the USA Network TV show “Suits."
And that's just one spot. Lines of college students are out the door at Angelos Pizza, Harvard House of Pizza, Source Restaurant and Stoked Pizza Co. and even chains like &Pizza and Otto Pizza.
But whether you're a student at one of Cambridge's 10 universities or a suburban local, it's not cheap to rent. An average one-bedroom apartment in the City of Academia runs $3,612 a month.
7. Buffalo, NY
You know New York pizza. You know Chicago pizza. But do you know Buffalo pizza? Now, we're not talking about traditional pizza with wing sauce. Pizza in Buffalo is its own style. And Buffalo has been named one of the best pizza cities in America. No really.
Over 18 percent of all restaurants in Buffalo are pizza joints, with almost 40 for every 100,000 Buffalonians. Both are top 10 rankings nationally. And most serve a form of Buffalo-style pizza. The Niagara Frontier version is sort of an amalgam of other city's styles.
Buffalo-style pizza is a thick focaccia-type crust like a Sicilian. It's hefty like Chicago deep dish. Its sweet tomato sauce, cheese and toppings go to the edges like in Detroit but it's round like a New York thin crust. It's famous for its thick, saucer-like “cup and char" pepperoni and is often cut in strips rather than slices. And some of the best is found at Buffalo's La Nova, Santora's Pizza Pub and Bocce Club Pizza, the spot that popularized the style.
But this is still Buffalo, so, of course, you can find Buffalo chicken pizza in many spots. If you're looking for that authentic wing style, check out Deniro's Pizzeria, Mister Pizza or Just Pizza. You'll need a good pie and a handful of wings to watch the Bills each Sunday from your couch. And where you keep your couch in Buffalo is fairly affordable. Just $1,431 a month will lease you an average one-bedroom apartment.
6. Miami, FL
Over a quarter of the population of Miami is of Cuban descent. The influence of Cuban culture is everywhere from the language to the music to, of course, the food. Restaurants across the city serve authentic dishes like arroz con huevos, picadillo and Cubanos. But Cuban flavors and ingredients have integrated with cuisine from other cultures, as well. To wit, it's no surprise you can find amazing Cubano pizzas throughout Miami.
Cuban “El Exilios" saw how Italian immigrants made their mark in America by opening pizzerias and did the same. And it became all about the ingredients. Cubano pizza features a chewy, undercooked crust with a sugary tomato sauce, bereft of basil and oregano.
But it's the toppings that make it truly Cuban. Among the offerings, Cuban pizza features sliced bananas, fried plantains and picadillo with green olive rings and sweet raisins. These delicacies are found around Miami at spots like Montes De Oca Pizzeria and Rey's Pizza.
Only about 9 percent of restaurants in Miami are pizzerias, pretty middle of the pack. But there are still 5.25 pizza joints per square mile and over 40 for every 100,000 residents. That's good for second and eighth in the nation, respectively.
And there are plenty of traditional pizza shops, too. None is older than Frankie's Pizza, which opened in 1955. They're known for their square pizza and free extra slice set atop every to-go box to eat on the way home. And like many forbearers, Mister O1 Extraordinary Pizza is an immigrant story. Food and Wine Magazine named the Salerno, Italy, native's Neapolitan pizzas the “Best Pizza in Florida."
But while the pizza is abundant, Miami is a pricey place to live. An average one-bedroom apartment leases for $3,049 a month.
Take a stroll up Bridgeport's Madison Avenue and you'll find dozens of restaurants with cuisines from around the world. But back in the 1960s, this Restaurant Row was unabashedly Italian. Bridgeport is just a half-hour down the road from the pizza capital of New Haven. But the port city has been holding its own for generations.
New Haven is the king of New England pizza. But it was Bridgeport that started the exporting of Connecticut pizza culture outside of New Haven.
And did pizza ever prosper in Bridgeport? In a city of just 145,000, nearly 19 percent of all restaurants are pizza places. That's good for the seventh-highest percentage in the nation. You can find 3.25 pizzerias per square mile, a top 10 ranking. This also means that pizza in Bridgeport has long moved to neighborhoods well away from Madison Avenue.
One of these Bridgeport spots was even named one of the best pizzas in Connecticut. Fire Engine Pizza Co. sits right up there with some of New Haven's icons. That joins locales like Brewport Brewing Co., Crossroads Pizza and Jennie's, Fairfield County's oldest pizzeria. But in Bridgeport, you're just 50 miles from New York. That keeps rents high, with an average one-bedroom running $1,262 a month.
Cheesesteaks. Hoagies. Soft pretzels. “Wooder" ice. Philadelphia is the ancestral home to many of America's most iconic foods. But aside from wiz-wits and Butterscotch Krimpets, Philly's pizza scene takes a back seat to no other big cities. It's the best big city for pizza in America. Take that, New York.
There are nearly 2,800 restaurants in the City of Brotherly Love and not all of them are cheesesteak shops. In fact, over 500 of them are pizza jawns or purveyors of tomato pie. That makes 3.75 pizzerias per square mile, with the highest density in Italian-American-heavy South Philly.
Despite South Philly's Italian Market, the Fishtown neighborhood is the city's pizza hub. Along an unassuming and dark alley in Fishtown is the new-ish storefront of Pizzeria Beddia, named one of the best places to eat in the world. The popular pizza moved from an hours-long wait walkup window to a full-blown pizzeria in 2019. Beddia's old spot is now home to best pizza contender Pizza Shackamaxon. But the mecca of Fishtown pizza is Pizza Brain. Sure, the pizza is fabulous. But the restaurant is also attached to the Museum of Pizza Culture, the world's first pizza museum and largest collection of pizza-related memorabilia.
From the Couch Tomato in Manayunk to Queen Village's Emmy Squared, South Street's Lorenzo & Sons to Tacconelli's Pizzeria in Port Richmond, every Philly neighborhood has a top-notch pizza place. And you can live in any of those 'hoods, but be ready to pay $1,789 a month for an average one-bedroom.
The pizza in New Haven is often lauded as the best in America. Pizza lovers often scoff at those accolades. Until they try it. Yes, the home to Yale University, 80 full miles from New York City, New Haven is an iconic pizza city. And New Haveners love their pizza. Nearly 20 percent of restaurants in Elm City are pizza spots. There are over 46 of them for every 100,000 residents. And every one of them will tell you New Haven pizza is special.
And it is. You can thank Frank Pepe for that. In 1925, Pepe opened Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana and introduced Connecticut to his style of pizza. Using his coal-fired oven, his pizza was thin-crust Neapolitan-style pizza. That created a pizza with charred crust, cooked thin but not brittle, with a chewy texture and light on the cheese. It's distinctly irregular, rarely in a perfect circle and almost gritty.
Pepe's was first, but what is known as “apizza" spread across New Haven quickly. Today, Pepe's still tops. But iconic pizzerias like Sally's Apizza and Modern Apizza also appear on must-try lists. As is Pepe's white clam pie, which is also served around the city. This version has olive oil, grated cheese, chopped garlic and littleneck clams on top. Have some at home, where $2,227 a month will score you an average one-bedroom apartment.
Sorry, Philly. Your pizza is amazing. But it's the other side of the Commonwealth that has bragging rights for best pizza city in the Keystone State. In fact, Pittsburgh ranks No. 1 in the country with nearly 71 pizza restaurants for every 100,000 Pittsburghers. That's almost 3.9 per square mile, good for fifth in the U.S.
In many ways, Pittsburgh is more Midwest than East Coast. And as such, the city has adopted its own style of pizza different from New York or Philly. On the coast, the sauce makes the pizza. In Pittsburgh as in much of the Midwest, it's all about the cheese.
“Pittsburgh Style" pizza is a vessel for cheese. They pile Mounds of fresh mozzarella high to satisfy a steel worker's appetite. And to support all that cheese, Pittsburgh pizza tends to offer a much thicker crust than usual. You can find great examples of this style at pizza spots like Fiori's Pizzaria, Mineo's Pizza House, Ephesus Pizza and, most famously, at Beto's Pizza.
Wanna take the next step? Try your Pittsburgh pizza Ohio Valley-style, if you dare. In this style, the cheese (most often shredded provolone) goes on the pizza after cooking, uncooked and at room temperature. Enjoy that room temperature pizza in your room temperature room. An average one-bedroom apartment in The 'Burgh runs $1,420 monthly.
This might ruffle some feathers. The best city for pizza in America is in New York —Western New York State.
Just six hours up and across the New York State Thruway from New York City is Rochester. The Lake Ontario town is the third-largest in the state with over 200,000 residents. And it ranks No. 1 thanks to some serious cheesy availability. Over 18 percent of Rochester's restaurants are pizza joints, ranked eighth in the country. It has the fourth-most pizza places per square mile of any city, with over 70 spots for every 100,000 residents, second-best nationwide. That's the land of pizza.
But like many East Coast rust belt cities, Rochester has a deep pizza history. After all, there's a reason it's known as “The Flour City." Thanks to its proximity to the Great Lakes and Erie Canal, Rochester boomed as an agricultural production center in the early 1800s. Some 20 flour mills lined the streets of downtown, shipped daily to New York City. At its height, it was the largest flour-producing city in the world.
The oldest known pizzeria in Rochester is the descendent of the original Giuseppe's. That first spot was formerly on State Street in Brown Square but is now tossing pies in Gates. Other early pizza spots popped up like Perri's Pizza, Proietti's, Mama Taccone's and Pontillo's.
Today you can find some of the best pizza in the nation's best city for pizza anywhere, like Pizza Stop, Nino's Pizzeria, Pizza Wizard and Amico Pizza. Or, get super-local with a slice of garbage plate pizza from Salvatore's Old Fashioned Pizza.
Take home a pie to your crib. An average one-bedroom apartment in Rochester runs just $1,224 a month on average.
The 50 best cities for pizza lovers
We found Chicago and Boston. Each are down the list in the 40s when you expand the data to highlight the 50 best cities for pizza. Like the top 10, the top 50 are also heavily northeastern. Jersey City, Syracuse, Baltimore and Newark all appear. But so do a number of cities in California and the Midwest.
These are the traditional pizza hotbeds where quality breeds quantity.
|Rank||City||Population||Pizza Density (Restaurants Per Sq. Mi.)||Pizza Per Capita (100k Residents)||Proportion of Pizza Restaurants|
|3||New Haven, CT||130,250||3.16||46.07||19.11%|
|17||Jersey City, NJ||262,075||3.73||21.37||13.49%|
|21||San Francisco, CA||881,549||4.15||22.12||8.37%|
|27||El Cajon, CA||102,708||2.07||28.24||10.90%|
|28||Saint Louis, MO||300,576||1.84||37.93||8.62%|
|31||Fort Lauderdale, FL||182,437||1.74||33.44||9.76%|
|32||West Palm Beach, FL||111,955||0.85||41.98||10.26%|
|33||Grand Rapids, MI||201,013||1.36||29.85||11.86%|
|35||Saint Paul, MN||308,096||1.37||23.04||12.63%|
|37||Pompano Beach, FL||112,118||1.17||24.97||11.97%|
The top 10 worst cities for pizza lovers
It's not an insult to note that the South really isn't the place for pizza. There's so much other wonderful cuisine all across the South and Texas. But yes, you can find good pizza, for sure.
But the numbers tell the story. Across the southern U.S., and particularly across Texas, pizza deserts thrive and national chains dominate a dearth of family pizzerias.
|Rank||City||Population||Pizza Density (Restaurants Per Sq. Mi.)||Pizza Per Capita (100k Residents)||Proportion of Pizza Restaurants|
|310||Sandy Springs, GA||109,452||0.03||0.91||1.15%|
|307||San Angelo, TX||101,004||0.05||2.97||1.74%|
|304||Grand Prairie, TX||194,543||0.08||3.08||2.33%|
Cities were ranked based on a weighted scoring system using three categories: pizza restaurants per square mile, per capita and as a proportion of all restaurants within the city. All categories were given equal weight.
Data for the number of total restaurants and the number of pizza restaurants are from commercially licensed business listings. The data was filtered to favor cities with independent pizza restaurants by filtering out entries with chain IDs.
Population and land area data are based on 2019 estimates from the U.S. Census. Only cities with a landmass greater than one square mile and a population of more than 100,000 people were considered.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Rent.'s multifamily rental property inventory as of December 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.