American Pie

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

NEAPOLITAN

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,
423-9282, villagehearthbakerycafe.com


Pasta Beach
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.,
Newport, 847-2222


Mews Tavern
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,
783-9370, mewstavern.comF


Federal Hill pizzaFederal 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,
245-0045, federalhillpizza.com

 

 

CHICAGO

 

Created (guess where?) during WWII, this is about as far from Neapolitan as you can get. The ultra thick dough is generously oiled to give it a firm exterior that can hold the weight of ample ingredients. Gobs of cheese, meats and veggies are piled in with a hefty dose of sauce. Where thin crust pizzas are done in ten minutes, some Chicago pies can take nearly an hour to bake.
 
Sicilia’s
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, 
273-9222, siciliapizzeria.com
 
Tomato City Pizza
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, 
273-7700, tcpprov.com 
 
 
NEW YORK
 
No style of pizza is more hotly contested than New York, a thin, hand-tossed version baked in commercial rather than wood- burning ovens. What’s the defining characteristic? Tough to commit, but native New Yorkers will say that it has to be foldable and it’s got to be eaten in single slices, not as a pie. If a steady stream of oil oozes off the top, all the better. 
 
Carmella’s
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
carmellasri.net 
 
Via Via
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, 
846-4074, viaviari.com 
 
AntoniosAntonio’s Pizza
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, 
455-3600
 
Pizza Pie-er 
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, 
351-3663, pizzapieer.com
 
Neo Pizza 
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, 
942-4636, neopizzari.net
 
Fellini 
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, 
751-6737, fellinipizzeria.com
 
 
 
Chef's Choice
Five local chefs dish on their favorite pizza place.




 
Dan Hall: Perro Salado, Newport
They don’t specialize in pizza, but The Fifth Element in Newport makes a margarita pizza that I’m addicted to. It’s made with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozz and basil — that’s it; it’s simple, beautiful, salty goodness. 
111 Broadway, Newport, 
619-2552, thefifthri.com
 
Brian O’Donnell: Café Nuovo, Providence
What I really like about Tommy’s is their sauce — it’s the perfect consistency and it’s very well seasoned. I always get pepperoni and mushrooms. The crust is soft in the middle and crisp on the edges, it’s got a nice grease factor, and they load it up with good quality cheese. I love their mushrooms because they’re out of a can, and they remind me of my childhood. 
936 Chalkstone Ave., Providence, 
351-4141, tommyspizzari.com
 
Melissa Puglia: The Bluefin Grille, Providence
My husband and I are both chefs and we always go to Twin’s Pizza for their basic cheese pizza with black olives. It’s a Sicilian-style, square-form pie, and the crust is an inch thick. They use the perfect proportions — the right amount of cheese, sauce and dough — and you can really taste the olives. 
1000 Mineral Spring Ave., North Providence, 
726-0549, twinspizza.stores.yahoo.net
 
 
Nick Rabar: Avenue N Restaurant, Rumford
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, 
568-5660
 
Jake Rojas: Tallulah on Thames, Newport
My favorite pizza in Newport is the margarita at Pasta Beach. It’s simple — mozzarella, tomato and basil — and tastes how quintessential pizza should. There are nice air pockets in the crust, it’s not too thick or thin and it holds its shape. 
7 Memorial Blvd., Newport, 
847-2222
 
 
Strip Club
My first encounter with a pizza strip is lodged indelibly in my mind. I was visiting my sister, who marked her son’s second birthday at the beach with boxes of odd, cheeseless squares covered with thin films of pastry paper. Was this some sort of sick joke? “You can eat them cold or room temperature,” she dared me, intent on introducing this doughy native son to a died-in-the-wool Pythagoras pizza eater.
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. 
Buono’s 
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, 
421-4554, buonosbakery.com  
 
DeLuise Bakery 
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., 
Providence, 351-5826
 
Calvitto’s Pizza and Bakery 
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
 
Crugnale Bakery 
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
 
DeFusco’s Bakery
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
 
DePetrillo’s Pizza and Bakery 
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
 
D. Palmieri’s Bakery
Not to be confused with Palmieri’s, this Johnston favorite not only sells its strips but its sauce as well. 
624 Killingly St., Johnston, 
621-9357, dpalmierisbakery.com 
 
Palmieri’s Bakery 
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,
831-9145
 
Silver Star Bakery
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, 
421-8013
 
Solitro’s Bakery
They may have only a neighborhood reputation, but that’s because you haven’t tasted their strips and cannoli yet. 
1594 Cranston St., Cranston, 
942-9840
 
Superior Bakery
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, 
738-6444, superiorbakery.com
 
Vienna Bakery
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, 
245-2355, viennabakeryri.com
 
Zaccagnini’s Fine Cakes and Pastries
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, 
943-4567
 
 
 

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