The latter part of that statement is seen as sacrilege by some, but with easily hundreds of pizzerias lined up from west to east, Long Island is firmly folded into all that is cheesy, crusty and saucy.
Long Island Weekly recently set out to rank the best slices from the top pizza joints in Nassau and Suffolk in search of the ultimate victor of the pizza wars. No brick or coal cooking vessels, no wood-fired or artisan pies—only pizza pulled from blazing hot giant, silver ovens. Round, square, with toppings or without—these are the Island’s zeniths of pizza.
Definitively naming one pizzeria as the supreme ruler over all others on the island is a foolish endeavor, and one that would undoubtedly lead to a revolt among pizza partisans. Instead, here is a list of the Island’s best, in no particular order. I await your angry emails to the contrary of my list.
Best Overall Pizza
Ancona Pizzeria & Heroes, 200 Rockaway Ave., Valley Stream
This no-frills, old-school place is a throwback pizza joint—one of the few storefronts on Rockaway Avenue to remain unchanged in 30 or so years. All the elements of a great pizza are here: sturdy, crisp crust, cheese that “pulls” and flavorful sauce with a perfected balance of sweet and salty. The Sicilian is a standout, with spot-on ratio of pillowy dough to crusty underside. As for its pepperoni pizza, Ancona uses small pepperoni, which curls when blasted with heat—this creates that wonderful mini-pool of oil where flavor makes its home.
Best Cheese Slice
Little Vincent’s, 329 New York Ave., Huntington
This small shop comes to life at night, with the crew pumping out Neapolitan pies for the bar crawlers and nighthawks. But any time of the day is perfect for a classic slice at Little Vincent’s, especially when you ask them for cold cheese—a mound of cold, shredded mozzarella piled onto a piping hot slice. The cold cheese adds a textural element, along with cheesy goodness while cooling down the slice for quicker intake.
Best Grandma Slice
La Focaccia, 64 Broadhollow Rd., Melville
Thinner and denser than Sicilian with greater emphasis on a bottom crust crisped with olive oil, the grandma slice, allegedly, is a Long Island invention. So there are many places in both counties with amazing variations, including the venerable Umberto’s in New Hyde Park—but edging out that mainstay is La Focaccia in Melville. A robust garlicky flavor doesn’t overpower the sauce, but instead adds to each bite, while cheese and crust come together with the olive oil crunch.
Best Marinara Slice
Raimo’s Pizzeria, 380 Woodbury Rd., Hicksville
Sauce must shine anytime you take cheese out of the pizza equation. At Raimo’s, situated at the pizza crossroads where South Oyster Bay Road intersects Woodbury and Old Country roads, the chunky, yet smooth, sweet, yet savory, sauce takes center stage on the marinara slice. And the thick crust is perfect for scooping up any sauce that might fall by the wayside.
Best Specialty Slice—Onion
Mamma Gina’s, 61 2nd St, Mineola
Specialty pizza encompasses any slices served with nontraditional toppings—this includes familiar fare like baked ziti, and more out-of-the-pizza-box variations like taco. While Villa Monte in Old Bethpage has perhaps the most specialty slices at any given moment, the best take up residence at Mamma Gina’s in Mineola and Phil’s in Massapequa. First, Mamma’s Gina’s onion slice features a grandma-style thin crust, topped with white onions in a deceptively simple, yet flavorful combination of cheese and onions. The cooking process renders the onions sweet and soft, without sacrificing overall bite.
Best Specialty Slice—Drunk Sicilian
Phil’s Pizza, 820 Hicksville Rd., Massapequa
Phil’s Drunk Sicilian slice plays with the use of vodka sauce, along with fresh mozzarella and basil on crisp, olive oil-laden thick crust. It’s an uncomplicated twist, but the vodka sauce brings a creaminess not often tasted on such slices. The extra crispy edges of Phil’s Drunken Sicilian are the best part, as the toasty dough crumbles to the tooth.
Best Buffalo Chicken Slice, Best White Slice
Bella Vista, 154 Manetto Hill Rd., Plainview
The lone entry on our list to nab two honors, Bella Vista’s small storefront boasts a creamy white slice loaded with ricotta—it’s so filling you almost can’t bare to eat another slice, almost. Ignore your body’s warnings and also order the buffalo chicken slice. A “new” classic (if such a term can exist) has exploded in popularity on the island, with nearby La Piazza also offering a great version. But Bella Vista wins out with a buffalo slice packed with chunks of chicken, along with optional blue cheese on the side.
- La Piazza, with locations in Plainview, Commack and Melville – an upscale pizzeria
- Richie’s Pizza of Deer Park – specialty pies made with passion
- Gino’s of Great Neck – neighborhood pizzeria
- Joe’s of Bay Shore – gourmet pizza and other Italian staples
- Pizza Supreme, Garden City – home of the square pizza
- V.I. Pizza, Floral Park – Sicilian pies are a customer favorite
- La Scala, Commack – family-run fixture of the community
- Cugini Pizzeria and Restaurant, Mineola – authentic Italian cuisine
- Cinelli’s Pizza, Franklin Square – Cinelli family hails from Monte San Giovanni, Campano, Italy
- Ciro’s Pizza, Smithtown – the owner’s motto is “you are only as good as the last pie you make.”
- Giovanni’s Pizza & Pasta, Commack – roots reach back to Menfi, Sicily
- Tony’s, Brentwood – stalwart Italian joint with specialty pies
- Frantoni’s, with locations in Williston Park and East Meadow – family-owned since 1988
- Pietro’s Pizza, East Meadow – famous for its sesame seed crust
Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below. We know you’ve got ’em!