I can think of few foods more comforting in a pandemic – or any other time, really – than pizza. It goes without saying that pizza is a perfect choice for pick-up and delivery. But I’m pretty picky about my pizza, whether it’s New York style, Neapolitan, Chicagoan, from New Haven, or elsewhere. A great pizza begins with great ingredients. What follows is a list of my favorite Utah pizzerias, all of which employ top-notch ingredients and terrific cooking techniques.
One of my favorite new pizza places isn’t strictly a pizza joint at all. Osteria Amore opened a few months ago and it’s a full-blown Italian restaurant, but one that also serves excellent pizza. I really enjoy the Diavola pizza at Osteria Amore, which is essentially a Margherita pizza with the addition of spicy salami and spicy oil. It’s absolutely delicious.
When it comes to wood-fired pizza perfection, it’s hard to top Bountiful’s Ti Amo. In my opinion, the best pizza is also the simplest. You need top-notch ingredients to create a no-nonsense pizza like the Margherita, which is nothing more than dough, San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, olive oil, and fresh basil leaves. Without the very best ingredients, a simple pizza like this can quickly go awry and, at too many restaurants, often does. But the Margherita at Ti Amo is absolutely flawless. Aside from the pizza crusts at Ti Amo, which are as good as I’ve had anywhere, the tomato sauce is also spot-on – not too acidic (slightly sweet, in fact), with just the perfect tang of high-quality tomatoes. I can’t imagine improving on either the pizza crust or the sauce. For the Margherita pizza, Ti Amo master pizzaiolo and owner Mauro Bonfanti uses top-quality fior di latte mozzarella, which melts beautifully into that heavenly tomato sauce, cooked at 600 to 650 degrees F. in a wood-fired brick oven which was imported from Italy. Definitely worth a trip to Bountiful.
It’s also worth a trip to Provo to indulge in what I think is the best brick oven pizza in the state. Not surprisingly, it’s from a pizzeria called Brick Oven. The dining room at Brick Oven has recently reopened and at the family-style restaurant you can dine buffet-style from the salad and pasta bars or enjoy an excellent pizza cooked in the Brick Oven, as it’s been done since 1956. My go-to pie at Brick Oven is a straightforward ground beef with red onions. Keeping it simple.
The folks behind Pizzeria 712 in Orem say “Pizzeria 712 grew out of the idea of sustainability … .in every sense of the word. We wanted to change the way restaurants run. We don’t need to be hip foodies or cool cats to eat well. All we need is a little time and a good place to sit.” Well, PIzzeria 712 is an awesome place to sit, especially if you have one of their artisan wood-fired pizzas in front of you. Personally, I’m partial to the Serrano & Sausage pizza because I love a spicy pie. It’s made with tomato sauce, serrano chile peppers, fennel sausage, mascarpone and wildflower honey.
For a New Haven-style White Pizza you’d be wise to head over to Nuch’s Pizza. The White Pizza features fresh garlic, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses and olive oil. It’s simple, but sensational. Or, try the Ultimate White which adds arugula to the flavor palette.
While we’re thinking about East Coast style pizza, few do it better than Maxwell’s East Coast Eatery, home of the Fat Kid Pizza. There are Maxwell’s locations now in downtown SLC as well as in Park City and South Jordan. Wherever you wind up, be sure to order pizza – by the slice or a whole pie, which is a table-shaking 20 inches of authentic New York style pizza. The secret to Maxwell’s excellent pizza? It’s the use of Grande brand cheese, which pizza lovers know is the holy grail of pizza cheese for New York style pizza.
The brand new Villaggio Pizzeria on State Street also proudly uses Grande cheese on their New York style pies. And frankly, I’ve not tasted a better NY style slice than the ones at Villaggio. Whether by the slice or whole pie, this is the real deal. But in addition to pizza, Villaggio also is serving up some of the best sub sandwiches (using Boar’s Head products) and calzones, to boot. The Rondinelli Family’s new pizzeria is going to become one of your favorites, mark my word.
Another good choice for pizza on the fly is to stop by the Pie Hole for a slice or two. The Pie Hole is open late – until 2 a.m. – for your pizza enjoyment. Why, you can even get a pizza delivered from the Pie Hole anytime from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. They are currently open during Covid-19 for takeout, curbside and delivery. I’m a fan of the simple cheese slices at the Pie Hole (less is more). However, if you’re looking for something different, how about a Potato & Bacon pizza with Alfredo sauce? If it can be made into a pizza, it’s probably available at the Pie Hole, from Munchy Mango and Hot Wing pizzas to Green Goddess, Sweet BBQ Porker, and Thai Chicken.
The pizzas at Stoneground Italian Kitchen are as noteworthy as the other from-scratch menu items there. I’m particularly fond of the Bologna pizza. It’s a creation of talented chef Justin Shifflett that features mortadella and green olives with fresh mozzarella and roasted pistachios. Yes, it’s unusual and unusually delicious.
In the 9th and 9th neighborhood, the go-to spot for great pizza is Pizza Nono. Nono is “ninth” in Italian. The wood-fired, Neapolitan style pizzas here are exceptional, from a traditional, authentic Margherita pizza to the Rocket Man, which is made with fresh mozzarella, fontina and grana parmesan cheeses, arugula, prosciutto di Parma, and extra virgin olive oil.
At the Gateway, MidiCi Neapolitan Pizza Company fires up some of the best pizzas around town in their wood-fired pizza oven. MidiCi’s Margherita pizza is among the best I’ve eaten anywhere, made with sauce from Italian tomatoes and topped with fresh mozzarella, basil, and a sprinkling of olive oil. But I’m also partial to The Devil’s pizza. It’s a spicy adventure that includes fresh mozzarella, spicy homemade Italian sauce, spicy Italian salami and, if that’s not spicy enough, red chilies, to boot. Keep a glass of cold water or milk nearby to extinguish the fire.
I never visit or pass through Logan without stopping in at Jack’s Wood-Fired Oven. Pizzas and other baked items like lasagna are cooked in Jack’s imported Italian Valoriani oven, which is fueled by maple wood. This is the Rolls Royce of pizza ovens and, with temperatures that can reach 1200 degrees F., pizzas cook rapidly and arrive slightly charred and smoky with a crisp texture that is hard to come by at most American pizzerias. A favorite pie of mine at Jack’s is The Sunnyside, a breakfast-style pizza made with creamy Alfredo sauce and topped with bacon, smoked Cheddar cheese, potato, prosciutto, and two fried eggs with real maple syrup on the side.
At the other end of the state from Logan, awaits a pizza joint that I can’t wait to try. My very favorite style of pizza comes from coal-fired pizza ovens, such as John’s Pizzeria and Arturo’s in Manhattan. I was under the impression that Utah was devoid of coal oven pizzerias, until a recent Google search led me to Vuduu Koal-Fired Pizza (don’t ask me why the ‘K’). To be clear, I haven’t been down to Vuduu yet, but I’m including the pizzeria here for anyone, like me, who loves coal-fired pizzas and is excited to discover them in the Beehive. According to the owners, they use San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce as well as Caputo 00 flour and the pizzas are cooked in an imported Italian Valoriani pizza oven – very good signs, indeed. Stay tuned to Utah Bites for an update after I get down to St. George to check out Vuduu Koal-Fired Pizza.
Did I leave out your favorite pizzeria? If so, let us hear about it!
Culinary quote of the week:
“Anyone who says that money cannot buy happiness has clearly never spent their money on pizza.” — Andrew W.K.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.