Pizza: Does it really need an introduction? You know it, you love it and—since everyone needs to know where to find great pizza in their city—we thought we’d round up the absolute best of it.
Now you better believe we’ve done our due diligence here. We analyzed data, polled experts and sampled slices from all of the top contenders (hey, it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it) all in the name of rounding up the BEST, most crispy, most chewy, most gooey pizzas around. Here you’ll find a mix of Neapolitan-style pies, take-out spots, New York and Cali-inspired slices, date-night options and more. This list is definitely a mix of styles, but we figure any way you slice it, they’re all just damn good pizzas.
Now without further ado, let’s get into it.
P.S. Don’t agree with this list? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us the amazing gem that we were monsters to have left off (but lord help us if any of you troll us with a Dominos rec).
The deal: At Toro, you’ll find a thin and crispy crust, perfectly fired in a pizza oven and topped with scrumptious seasonal offerings—soft egg pizza, clam pizza, sausage pizza, you name it! There will most likely be a wait here (it’s worth it, we promise), so kill some time sipping a signature cocktail or glass of vino at their effortlessly cool back bar. Eventually, you’ll get seated at on one of the gorgeous, artisan wooden table and soon enough, you’ll be mesmerized by the massive roaring wood-fired oven that’s putting the perfect char on your pie. One bite, and you’ll see why this spot is our top pick.
What you’re ordering: There’s really no way to go wrong here but if we HAVE to narrow it down, we’d recommend the soft egg pizza (just promise douse that baby with their signature hot chili oil), plus one of their seasonally-available pies—we were there Feb 2019 and are still dreaming of the Meyer lemon pie they were dishing out. Their seasonal list of apps are nothing to scoff at either; the kale salad is so good you’ll forget it’s healthy.
The occasion: When you want a casually hip dinner that’ll impress even your most discerning SO, friends and taste buds.
The deal: Sometimes, less is more. And Oakwood Pizza Box proves just that with their simple menu of expertly-executed, straightforward, thin-crust pies (the only choices are cheese or white with just a handful of topping options). End of story. Dine-in to take in playfully nostalgic vibes or take-out to enjoy your ‘za at home. Somehow, we’ve managed to leave with leftovers before so we attest to the fact that these slices stand up super well the next day, too.
What you’re ordering: A plain white pie and a cheese pizza with pepperoni. Or, if you can't decide, just go half and half.
The occasion: You want a slice of Raleigh’s best pizza for dinner, and also for breakfast the next day.
The deal: Opened in 2016, Mercato has quickly catapulted itself into the Triangle’s Pizza Hall of Fame thanks to their perfectly crispy, delightfully chewy crusts, fresh toppings and creative apps. They’ve got a constantly evolving menu full of local, seasonal ingredients sourced from the Carrboro Farmers Market directly across the street.
What you’re ordering: A seasonal pie (or two), an affordable bottle of wine and a produce-forward app. Just be sure you save room for dessert—their creative gelato flavors range from peanut butter blondie to rum raisin.
The occasion: You want a #worththedrive weekend adventure that includes awesome pizza and some fresh veggies to offset dessert.
The deal: Lucky Durhamites get not only one awesome Neapolitan pizza place downtown, they get TWO. Pompieri Pizza fires their pies in a blazing 800 degree oven, features hydroponic herbs grown on-site and relies on local farmers for their ingredients. The pies are light, airy and fresh and the vibe is chill and family-friendly.
What you’re ordering: Fan faves include the BC Pie, with roasted garlic, mushrooms, caramelized onions, rosemary, goat cheese and Sicilian olive oil, and the Drunken Horse, which features a beer pizza crust, red sauce, spicy pasture-raised pork Italian sausage and house-made mozzarella. They’ve also got three daily specials (that always include a meat and veggie option) featuring whatever is fresh and in season–it’s def worth checking out.
The occasion: Every Sunday, Pompieri offers “Family Meal.” It’s a unique concept where, for just $18, you’ll enjoy AYCE ‘experimental pies’ that roam the restaurant, plus a seasonal salad, sides, drinks and gelato, served family-style. Diners are encouraged to surrender their cell phones and connect with their fam (convo cards provided on the table for those of you panicking about getting stuck in small talk).
The deal: Durham’s newest pizza spot serves up wood-fired pizza in an recently renovated, massive garage in Bull City’s burgeoning DIY District.
What you’re ordering: Regardless of what toppings you prefer—and Hutchins has some great classics—we recommend trying the Grandma pie here for something a little different. It's a slightly thicker crust that still remains airy and crispy—and it's served in a square so you can add some variety to all your pizza 'grams. And, yes, they DO have gluten free crust (except on their Grandma pies) and vegan cheese available FTW!
The occasion: You're getting ready for a night on the town (either catching a show at Motorco or meeting friends at Fullsteam), or want to dine al fresco and Durham’s buzziest new pizza joint.
The deal: An OG Raleigh fave, Trophy’s pizza game is just as strong as their beer game. Plus, we can't stop marveling at their inventive flavor combos (see: cauliflower mash in lieu of tomato sauce).
What you’re ordering: The Most Outgoing is a brie pizza, y’all. BRIE. PIZZA. Featuring thick slices of brie, tomato sauce, mozzarella, local mushrooms, caramelized onions and fresh arugula, it’s a pie that’s rich, indulgent and somehow both classy and chill at the same time. The Local Celebrity (with smoked shallot puree, smoked mozzarella, roasted sweet potato, collard greens, and pork belly) is another fave, as is the Most Loyal, made with basil pesto, mozzarella, roasted chicken, roma tomatoes and honey. Be sure to wash it down with one of their signature brews for a quintessentially Raleigh experience.
The occasion: You want creative pizza that’s as fresh as your beer.
The deal: A food truck turned brick and mortar, Pie Pushers has been serving up surprisingly creative slices of pizza from their Main Street shop. They also get bonus points for their walk-up window (perfectly positioned right next to Pinhook) that offers late-night $3 slices.
What you’re ordering: All of Pie Pushers slices are choice, but this could be a good place to mix up your cheese and carb intake with a nice calzone—a popular choice for on-the-go, late-night pizza eaters. They also offer all their pies with gluten free crusts!
The occasion: You’re too lazy to leave the house, but you’ve still got taste. Dominos won’t do... thank goodness pie pushers delivers. OR you’ve just had a night out downtown and need a lil sumpin' sumpin' in your stomach before you stumble home.
The deal: Put your pinkies down, these gooey, super-sized slices are wallet-friendly and served until the wee hours of the evening.
What you’re ordering: One plain or pepperoni slice. We promise that’ll be plenty but also, no judgment if you're really feeling a second. Diet starts tomorrow.
The occasion: You’re drunk. It’s late. There’s only one thing to do: Eat a slice that’s bigger than your head. Repeat as necessary.
The deal: No-frills, New York-style pies that are thin-crust, oversized, and perfectly foldable. They’ve got multiple locations throughout the Triangle (ideal for takeout) where you can get pizza by the slice or a whole pie.
What you’re ordering: Something simple, traditional and classic.
The occasion: You’re a homesick Yankee.
The deal: A long-time Triangle fave, Lilly’s serves up so-crazy-they-just-might-work pies. (Case in point: The Thai Bhat pie is topped with baby corn, scallions, ginger, and more) and completely customizable options, as well as more standard fare.
What you’re ordering: Anything besides a basic pizza. Opt for one of their inventive pies or think outside the pizza box and create your own wild slice.
The occasion: You want a super casual feel without sacrificing inventiveness or quality (did we mention most of Lilly's ingredients are local and organic?).