Thin crust or thick, round or square, nothing has become a culinary fetish like pizza. Hot at night, cold in the morning and eaten on the run during the day, it’s an obsession that can’t be fully fed. Here’s where to go for the perfect pie.
Photography by Nat Rea
Commonly referred to as “thin crust,” Neapolitan uses “0” or “00” flour, a particularly refined variety that renders a delicate crust. Pies are cooked in wood-burning or coal ovens that impart a smoky flavor to the crackling dough, which is topped with restrained amounts of San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and a host of other traditional and innovative ingredients. Too much topping and a Neapolitan crust will buckle under the pressure.
Village Hearth Bakery
It may happen only once a week (more often in the summer), but Village Hearth’s Sunday night wood-fired pizza is well worth the drive. Paper thin with equal parts sauce and cheese, take your pie to go or scarf it down immediately.
2 Watson Ave., Jamestown,
Inside this unassuming storefront lies the heart of Italy, sprinkled with crushed tomatoes and fresh basil. Service can be spotty, but the cracker-like crust and bright, bold toppings are an addiction in the making.
7 Memorial Blvd.,
With its dim lighting and pages-long beer list, Mews offers the college version of Neapolitan pizza. It’s a little thicker, a little less refined and it’s largely served to a crowd of co-eds. How many other places put garden burger crumbles in their calzones?
456 Main St., Wakefield,
Federal Hill Pizza
With a dough that’s won international competitions, Federal Hill offers a Neapolitan with bite. The “owner’s favorite” — mozzarella, mushrooms, prosciutto, basil and goat cheese, well done — is aptly named.
495 Main St., Warren,
More is better. Sicilia’s calls their pie “stuffed,” which is true, but a bit of an understatement. Their large deep dish is more than a meal, it’s a quest. The slightly sweet, super thick dough manages to cradle a week’s worth of tomato and cheese.
181 Atwells Ave., Providence,
Tomato City’s pies celebrate the chunkiest of tomato sauces, but it’s the incredible volume of cheese that dominates their deep dish. In fact, the “cheese lovers” is more like a mozzarella (and feta and cheddar and Parmesan and Romano) brick floating on dough. Bring. It. On.
1041 Douglas Ave., Providence,
Hand tossed like it oughta be, Carmella’s makes a super thin crust pizza as well, but it’s the loaded New York-style that drives Brooklyn transplants crazy. Thought tomato sauce was de rigueur? Try the garlic butter.
330 West Main Rd., Middletown, 847-2424;
3001 East Main Rd., Portsmouth, 683-0880
It might be gone from the late-night Providence scene, but Via Via is still serving up NY pies in Newport. Technically, it’s brick and not commercial oven cooking, but its pliable crust refuses to be classified as Neapolitan. The extra-large eighteen-incher is a pizza freak show.
372 Thames St., Newport,
The quintessential college pizza: extra large slices, soft but sturdy crust and toppings only a drunken football player could dream up. Spicy chicken, tortilla chips and sour cream? Yeeaah, buddy.
258 Thayer St., Providence,
With four crusts and almost a dozen sauces, Pizza Pie-er has universal appeal. You can go rustic with the walnut and Parmesan sauce, but it’s tough to beat the pesto pizza with fresh tomato slices.
374 Wickenden St., Providence,
Sold by the slice during lunch hour, Neo’s makes its award-winning “Gian” pizza in nearly two dozen varieties. Our favorite? The simply named Neo, with grape tomatoes, olives and fresh basil.
2244 Plainfield Pike, Cranston,
Fellini is almost too thin to be considered true New York, but its broad slices and foldable crust make it too close for exclusion. It’s also one of the only pizzas that pools almost no grease, making it a favorite light slice.
166 Wickenden St., Providence,
111 Broadway, Newport,
936 Chalkstone Ave., Providence,
1000 Mineral Spring Ave., North Providence,
As a native New Yorker, I’m always searching for a big, free-formed pie with a crust that’s crispy yet still soft and reminds me of home. Pinewood Pub & Pizza has a specialty pie that’s topped with roasted artichoke hearts, capicola, cremini mushrooms, caramelized onions, oregano and their signature cheese blend. It’s the perfect mix of savory and spicy.
16 Terry Ln., Chepachet,
7 Memorial Blvd., Newport,
I fell mute. With my horrified eyes, I dared my friend, the fellow New Yorker next to me, to dive into the cardboard box with reckless abandon. No dice. Hesitant, I picked up a slice, my fingertips glistening orange and oily under the ooze of the sauce. First bite. Disconcerting, to say the least. Second bite. Disbelief that people out of college eat their pizza cold. Third. Intrigue at the tangy sauce that, frankly, had a good deal more flavor than your standard tomato puree. Fourth? I guess so. Sort of like eating tomato sauce on sponge cake. It seemed there was no turning back. Little did I know that I would soon make my home in Rhode Island and that the state driver’s license test requires residents to proclaim their undying loyalty to the Strip. Double excise tax for those who refuse to do so. A decade later and my blood now runs as thick and as cold as a vat of Palmieri’s sauce.
The Buono family took over from the Mondas twenty years ago, baking more than a dozen varieties of bread and plenty of pizza strips to go.
559 Hartford Ave., Providence,
Old school, homespun, all good. DeLuise makes a damn good strip, but there are plenty of lobster tails, sfogliatelle and giant cookies, too.
1251 Chalkstone Ave.,
Calvitto’s is all business: Wait in line, say thank you and keep walking. If you sit quietly at one of the few tables, you might nab a strip straight from the oven.
1401 Park Ave., Cranston, 464-4200;
285 Park Ave., Cranston, 941-8863;
90 Point Judith Rd., Narragansett, 783-8086;
60 South County Commons Way, Wakefield, 782-2285
A no-frills counter still gets a line out the door every weekend. Arrive early and ask for “a box of red.”
Multiple locations, crugnalebakery.com
An Italian bakery to the core, DeFusco’s cranks out gobs of tomato sauce and butter cream, so you can take home lunch and dessert.
1350 Park Ave., Cranston, 944-0650;
1551 Plainfield Pike, Johnston, 946-6455
The place to go for strips in bulk. The full tray holds fifty-four pieces — just enough for a hungry second grader.
797 Tiogue Ave., Coventry, 828-4300;
105 Pleasant View Ave., Smithfield, 231-4600;
1729 Warwick Ave., Warwick, 732-3331;
1073 Park Ave., Cranston, 432-7612, depetrillos.com
Not to be confused with Palmieri’s, this Johnston favorite not only sells its strips but its sauce as well.
624 Killingly St., Johnston,
The patriarch of the strip world, Palmieri’s was founded in 1901. New owners Steven and Theresa Meresi continue to use the century-old recipes, which include a pizza strip with more punch (i.e. pepper) than the mainstream versions.
147 Ridge St., Providence,
Silver Star is Portuguese at heart and, although they serve a mean strip, it’s tough to walk out the door without some sweet bread and a linguica calzone.
150 Ives St., Providence,
They may have only a neighborhood reputation, but that’s because you haven’t tasted their strips and cannoli yet.
1594 Cranston St., Cranston,
Pure Italian bakery, dough seems to spill straight from the oven onto the countertop at Superior. Grab some pepper biscuits along with the strips, some of the least greasy in town.
1234 Oaklawn Ave., Cranston,
For those who like their pizza with a side of wedding cake, Vienna makes their strips with just a shaving of Parmesan.
110 Maple Ave., Barrington,
Zaccagnini’s fans dub their pizza the “Wonderbread” of the strip world and for good reason: It’s soft and sweet with just a sprinkling of cheese for posterity.
701 Oaklawn Ave., Cranston,