When it comes to pizza in Phoenix, the first place that comes to mind is, of course, the venerable Pizzeria Bianco. Located in Historic Heritage Square Park, the lauded pizzeria is a Phoenix institution.
The city has seen a rise (no pun intended), however, in mom-and-pop pizza joints serving impressive slices of cheesy goodness. So while Pizzeria Bianco will forever be known as putting Phoenix on the international pizza map, joining it are a cadre of restaurants where pizza is not only done, but done well. Here are four must-trys:
Firmly planted on the corner of Grand Avenue and Fillmore is Grand Avenue Pizza Company, a no-frills pizza joint that’s as eclectic as the funky arts district that surrounds it. Owned and run by Carson Wheeler, a Virginia native who classifies his pizza style as old-school New York, the restaurant has more than 10 pies on the menu, as well as a vegan pizza and a build-your-own option.
Knowing that pizza is made more fun with unique names, Wheeler offers an assortment of pies that more than live up to them. Take the Diana Ross, for example. It’s made with pepperoni, fennel sausage, red onion, fresh red bell peppers, button mushrooms and extra mozzarella—perfectly fitting for a disco queen. There’s also the Large Marge, a vegetarian pie made simply with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil; and the T-Rex, heaping with smoked ham, fennel sausage, pepperoni, smoked bacon and extra mozzarella (non-vegetarian, of course).
The cozy restaurant with a grunge edge is open weekdays for lunch, dinner and late-night eats. Saturdays, they’re open for dinner and stay open until the wee hours. And if you can’t get to Grand Avenue Pizza Company, Grand Avenue Pizza will come to you with all-day delivery.
1031 Grand Ave., Phoenix
If you believe variety is the slice of life, then look no further than LaBella Pizzeria. There are so many ways to describe this central Phoenix-ish pizza place: Kosher. Vegetarian. Italian. Mexican. Japanese. More on that later.
Pizza maker and owner Nathan Uvaydov has definitely been around the pizza block a few times. Before opening LaBella last year, he owned King Solomon’s Pizza in Phoenix, as well as a pizza place in Queens, New York. What makes the restaurant different is that it offers kosher pizza (the flour in the dough comes from wheat that took root before the previous 17th of Nisssan, as is deemed by the Torah) and is supervised by the Greater Phoenix Vaad Hakashruth.
LaBella offers a number of specialty pizzas, some reminiscent of the Rat Pack era and days of the “goodfellas.” There’s the Frank Sinatra (mushrooms, green peppers, black olives, tomatoes and onions) and the Dean Martin (bacon bits, pineapple and tomatoes). You can also take a bit out of the Al Capone (spinach, feta cheese, onions and tomatoes) and The Don (phony pepperoni, peppers, onions, mushrooms, bacon bits and tomatoes).
In addition, LaBella offers kosher sushi to go, and, on Tuesdays and Sundays, Mexican favorites are on the menu. Like we said, variety is the slice of life.
6505 N. 7th St., Phoenix
Step inside La Piazza and you’ll immediately get the sense that this place takes its pizza seriously. Very seriously. That’s because this downtown Phoenix restaurant is certified in making Neapolitan pizza to the standards required by Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN), a trade group based in Naples, Italy, where pizza purists dub the birthplace of pizza.
Family-owned and operated, the restaurant is owned by Justin Piazza, owner of the popular La Piazza al Forno in Glendale. But the name is where the similarities end. The Phoenix location of Piazza’s mini pizza empire is setting itself apart thanks to its trifecta of authentic Italian ingredients: San Marzano tomatoes, San Felice “00” flour, and the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, a buffalo-milk cheese made fresh daily.
The ingredients shine through in Piazza’s pizza offerings, from the simple yet scrumptious Regina Margherita, made with tomatoes, cheese, extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil; to the impressive Italian Stallion, heaping with tomatoes, mozzarella, Schreiner’s sausage, pepperoni, prosciutto di Parma, and sopressata.
1 N. 1st St., Phoenix
A true neighborhood joint, Stumpy’s is a favorite among north Phoenix locals. Chalk it up to the restaurant’s straight-forward menu, featuring everything from subs and wings, to salads and pastas.
But if it’s pizza you’re looking for, Stumpy’s has a 10 signature pies, all guaranteed to satisfy any pizza lover’s cravings. Standouts include the Wingding, made with a blue cheese base, chicken breast tossed in a wing sauce of your choice), and gorgonzola, cheddar and Jack cheeses; and the Philly, topped with roast beef, green pepper, onion, mushroom, and white American, cheddar and Jack cheeses.
If you really want to go all out, there’s no other choice than the Works. It’s got salami, Canadian bacon, pepperoni, mushroom, onion, green pepper, black olive, crumbled sausage and mozzarella, with suggested add-ons of anchovies, garlic and jalapeno.
1331 E. Northern Ave., Phoenix