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 must-trys:
Hailing from Sanremo in northwestern Italy, Forno 301’s owners Roberto Dadone and Luca Gagliano serve East Coast-style, wood-fired pizza with a lot of bravado. Take the namesake Forno 301, for example.
Made with fresh mozzarella and fresh tomato sauce, it creates the perfect union between spicy sausage, tender onions and earthy mushrooms. And if you prefer your pizza “wrapped,” try one of their calzones in your choice of salami or spinach.
1616 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
Grand Avenue Pizza Company
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
Pizza Heaven Bistro
Since 1982, this family owned and operated restaurant in midtown has combined seemingly countless of the freshest toppings, cheesy goodness and sauce atop owner Patricia Hasbun’s perfect dough recipe. Then into the 550-degree stone oven for a crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside crust. Of course, you must first choose from hand-tossed, thin, thick, whole wheat and gluten-free — but we're sure it will be prefect for your taste buds.
In recent years, the restaurant's menu evolved to include one of the most impressive vegan pizza selection in the city. While Veggie pizza is not hard to come by, this gem reaches well beyond just veggies — think starters, entrees, calzones and desserts, too. The not-so-traditional take on Italian favorites includes "peppafoni," soy sausage, chipotle sausage, “meatballs,” wings and tenders, all of which rank high on our meat replacement radar. Verdict: This bistro is a must for pleasing a wide range of pie preferences.
5150 N. Seventh St., Phoenix
LaBella Pizzeria & Restaurant
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. Seventh St., Phoenix
Organ Stop Pizza
While Phoenix's original Organ Stop Pizza restaurant opened in 1972, we're very thankful this organ found its way to Mesa. This particular Wurlitzer theatre organ was built for the Denver Theatre — installed in 1927 and used regularly until the early 1930s — before eventually finding its way to the state's last remaining Organ Stop, which opened in 1995.
This unique dining experience is now owned by long-time employee and manager Mike Everitt and his business partner Brad Bishop, who have work as diligently to perfect this larger-than-life instrument as they have their pies. The restaurant employs and entire musical staff, who puts on shows that are rumored to be the best in the world — but don't take our word for it.
Invite everyone of all ages, tuck into the family style seating, order up specialty pizzas, pastas, soups and sandwiches, and enjoy the show.
1149 E. Southern Ave., Mesa
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 jalapeño.
1331 E. Northern Ave., Phoenix