Celebrate National Pizza Day with a rundown of NYC’s great slice spots

Hakki Akdeniz and Champion Pizza staff in SoHo on Feb. 5. (Alex Mitchell)

There’s nothing in the world quite like a slice of New York pizza.

Sorry Chicago, New Haven, New Jersey, and Italy, but when it comes to pizza New York takes the cake — or should we say pie.

So in the spirit of National Pizza Day this Sunday Feb. 9, we invite you to get your taste buds and cameras ready for amNewYork Metro’s pizza tour — ranging from the most Instagram-able pies to the places where you’ll truly be chowing down like a local.

This list in no particular order, and of course, great pizza in the city is not limited to these spots.

Champion Pizza, Various Locations

That’s Champion Pizza owner Hakki Akdeniz; he just turned 40 this week. Life was different for Hakki some years ago when he emigrated from Turkey to America in hopes of a prosperous future; before those brighter days came Hakki was homeless, spending many of his nights at the Bowery Mission while trying to get back on his feet.

Now in 2020, he operates one of the city’s more successful pizza franchises while gaining Instagram fame from his rags to riches story, acrobatic pizza tricks and go-lucky attitude in the process. He was even featured in Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercial montage last week.

A margarita pie from Champion Pizza. (Alex Mitchell)

Hakki is offering free pizza to any homeless person that comes into Champion Pizza’s SoHo location this Sunday for National Pizza Day.

“It’s all about doing it for the love not for the money,” Hakki will tell you as you sit down for a margarita slice, his personal favorite.

Grimaldi’s Coal Brick Oven Pizzeria, DUMBO

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This pizzeria is never without a line, which is why it’s on this list. Although this spot is now nationwide, the original shop is in DUMBO, and you can still visit it today.

The spot also has a playful rivalry with Juliana’s. The original owners of Grimaldi’s retired and sold the original Grimaldi’s. However, in 2012, the couple “un-retired” and partnered with a friend to establish Juliana’s.

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Grimaldi’s is famous for its classic margarita pie which has a perfectly balanced secret recipe tomato sauce, and it’s topped with freshly hand-sliced mozzarella and fresh basil. Their classic slice and vibrant restaurant makes for the perfect retro-inspired photo. Come hungry since Grimaldi’s serves by the pie rather than in slices.

Louie & Ernie’s, Throggs Neck

A tomato and mozzarella slice from Louie and Ernie’s. (Alex Mitchell)

Perhaps the patron pizza saint of Bronx, this longtime Throggs Neck mom and pop shop has been whipping up some of the city’s best pies for over 60 years now. Known for its spirit and sausage slices along with plenty more, many a Bronx resident (and pretty much anyone traveling on I-95) make the time to pull over on Waterbury Avenue for a slice.

L & B Spumoni Gardens, Bensonhurst

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Another famous spot in South Brooklyn, Spumoni Gardens, is best known for its Sicilian, ‘sauce on top’ pies. The Sicilian slice is made a little different then you’re used too, although it is still a square.

The cheese is layered under the rich tomato sauce, making it extra tasty and unique. This style of pizza helps keep the crust from getting soggy. Just thinking about the thick and perfectly baked crust is enough to make anyone’s mouth water.

It’s a pizza slice like no other, and once you have one of their slices, you won’t be able to get it out of your head. If you opt to eat inside their formal dining room, the interior is reminiscent of an art museum, complete with angelic sculptures, making it a perfect spot to snap an artsy pic.

Spumoni Gardens is also a personal favorite of City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, he told amNewYork Metro earlier this week.

East Village Pizza, East Village

A regular slice from East Village Pizza. (Alex Mitchell)

This is the image to likely appear if you researched what a standard-issued New York slice looked like — and that’s what East Village Pizza is all about.

Prominently known on social media for its Sicilian pie and double decker pizza, this corner shop has plenty more to offer as well. Heading in at lunchtime for a slice of regular is a worthwhile trek, it has more cheese than sauce at an approximate 65/35 ratio, which is an excellent proportion for an ‘on the go’ style. As an added bonus, the smell of garlic knots over the counter is awfully enticing.

Industry Kitchen, Seaport

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If you’re looking for a modern and social media-friendly twist on a classic pie, Industry kitchen is the perfect spot for you. It overlooks the waterfront, and it exudes modernity.

This spot has a huge variety of pies to taste, including specialties like their alligator pie, which has crushed tomato, tasty white cheddar, chives, lemon aioli, and of course, popcorn alligator ( yes, alligator meat.) Although Industry’s savory selection of pies is Instagrammable, their dessert pizza is sure to make your post go viral.

Their Pop Candy Land pizza is the most whimsical pie on our list. The pop candy land pie has a vibrant rainbow crust, tangy cream cheese frosting topped with pop rocks, and a touch of cotton candy. It’s like this dish was made for the gram’.

Mia Pizza, Astoria

A margarita pie from Mia Pizza in an Astoria, Queens apartment. (Alex Mitchell)

This is the pizza you have delivered to warm your soul on a cold, rainy week night after a long day at work. Operating out of a small storefront on Ditmars Boulevard, it’s about time this hidden gem gets some much deserved recognition from city dwellers and pizza connoisseurs alike.

Also, Mia’s gnocchi Alfredo with grilled chicken rivals that of the city’s most upscale Italian eateries and its wings are also a phenomenon of flaming taste. In short, this is one of NYC’s best hiding in plain sight. 

Filaga Pizzeria, Chelsea Market

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Nestled in one of New York’s food meccas, Chelsea Market, this off-the-radar spot is tasty and will give you some excellent food photos. It’s the perfect slice for a rainy day on the go.

This gem has a ton of varieties of Sicilian pizza, and although all are tasty, the one that stands out the most is their slice with Mozzarella di bufala. They rotate their specials, but there’s really no going wrong, no matter the slice. A fan favorite is their Pugliese slice showcases fresh zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and an entire burrata on top, making it tasty and perfect for your feed.

Pugsley Pizza, Fordham

Salvatore Natale, owner of Pugsley Pizza at the 2019 New York Pizza Festival in Belmont, The Bronx. (Alex Mitchell)

Pugsley Pizza and longtime owner Salvatore Natale have been the spirit of Fordham for many years now. Whether it be Natale’s spirit, slices served, or good luck gong that customers are welcome to make a wish and then ring, there’s something innate about this pizza place in The Bronx that makes it a one of a kind experience in New York City.

Fornino, Greenpoint

A personal margarita pie from Fornino. (Courtesy of Marie Assante)

If you’re looking for something artisan, delicious, and saucy then look no further past this Brooklyn Pizza spot. When nicer weather comes along you can also enjoy Fornino at Brooklyn Bridge Park, overlooking the greatest skyline in the world.

Campania, Staten Island/Brooklyn

A white pie with meatballs at Campania on Staten Island. (Alex Mitchell)

There has been an argument made that Staten Island is home to the city’s best pizza. While we here at amNewYork Metro seek to not start a civil war, we do acknowledge that Campania certainly packs a pizza-ful punch. This coal fired pizza offers varieties between red and white pies with a plethora of toppings and add ons to fiddle around with as well. It’s a hybrid between thick and thin crust and is certainly everything in between. 

Bleecker Street Pizza, West Village

Pies on display at Bleecker Street Pizza. (Alex Mitchell)

It’s here where you’ll get a ‘lotta sauce, lotta cheese’ slice and it’s likely that you’ll love each bite. Bleecker Street provides a big slice along with a good deal of specialty pies and plenty of seating space to take it down at. The slices are rich in flavor, sauce, and just about everything that makes New York pizza so darn good. This pizzeria is also like Hercules, it’s less than a full on sit down lunch, but much more than just a bite to go. 

Artichoke, Various Locations 

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This is one of those classic New York spots that everyone needs to check out at least once. The spot is famous for its massive slices, and of course, it’s artichoke pizza.

This unique combo makes for a tasty and social media-friendly moment. This epic slice has delicate artichoke hearts, the perfect touch of spinach and a cream sauce that brings the savory flavors together. It’s topped off with mozzarella and pecorino Romano cheese. 

Joe’s Pizza, West Village

A fresh mozzarella slice at Joe’s Pizza. (Alex Mitchell)

There is one movie moment in cinematic history that swings above the competition and it all starts at Joe’s Pizza….

Aside from the enriching, cultural icon Joe’s has become, it’s also made a name on quality of pizza too. Troves of 20-something-year-olds will line up out the door to get a slice from Joe’s after a night out on or around MacDougal Street and plenty of fellow New Yorkers will do similar during peak hours — especially for a fresh mozzarella slice.

Rose’s Pizza and Pasta, Penn Station

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At some point or another, this Penn Station pizzeria has made our commutes home a little bit better. Rose’s is a metaphor for New York City life: running day into night, slice by slice in a place that changes the world on a daily basis. It’s one of the most iconic pizza places in the city and sure does take the edge off when you realize that you have to transfer at Jamaica. 

That concludes this guide for the best pies and slices throughout the city and again, there’s so much more phenomenal pizza that isn’t exclusive to this list in NYC.

So, go out and try a new place within the boroughs and let us at amNewYork Metro know what you think!

Go on, what are you waiting for? It’s…

Pizza time.

With reporting by Becca Glasser-Baker