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Mama Mia! America's best pizza

Pizza is as American as hot dogs, apple pie and ... pizza. We took an Italian classic and did what we always do in America. We made it better! Chicago style, New York style, deep dish, thin crust, stuffed crust, with-or-without tomato sauce, we do it all. Someone even came up with a sweet potato and kale pizza, which, frankly, might qualify as a food crime. But maybe it's delicious! It's pizza!!

According to PMQ Pizza Magazine (you knew there had to be a pizza magazine), there are over 73,000 pizzerias in the country. More than half are independent, mom-and-pop operations. Global food consultant CHD says the "away-from-home" pizza market is worth $46 billion a year, consuming nearly 10 percent of the restaurant food market pie.

Which pizza has the most pizzazz? The Daily Meal brought together a diverse panel of pizza experts—dream job! — tasting 800 different nominated pizzas. Here are the top five.


#5 - THE TOMATO PIE AT SALLY'S APIZZA IN NEW HAVEN, CONN.

"Sally's Apizza is New Haven royalty," the Daily Meal judges wrote of the Connecticut pizzeria which opened almost 80 years ago. The judge's favorite is the Tomato Pie: tomato sauce and no cheese. Keep it simple! If you want to trek here on a pizza pilgrimage, be prepared. "Cash only, and no reservations."


#4 - THE SQUASH BLOSSOM PIZZA AT PIZZERIA MOZZA IN HOLLYWOOD

Squash blossoms on a pizza? Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. Pizzeria Mozza in La-La land is a collaboration of James Beard-winning chef Nancy Silverton and celebrity chefs Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. The Daily Meal calls it a "hot spot where the famous clientele pales in comparison to the innovative, creative fare." The winning pizza costs $23 and is topped with squash blossoms, tomatoes, tomato sauce and burrata mozzarella, "a delicious and simple pizza that transports through the quality and nuance of its ingredients." In other words, it may be different, but it tastes really good.

White clam pizza at Frank Pepe’s in New Haven, CT
Source: Frank Pepe’s
White clam pizza at Frank Pepe’s in New Haven, CT

#3 - THE MARGHERITA PIZZA AT ROBERTA'S IN NEW YORK

Roberta's opened in Brooklyn in 2008, and it is expanding to a new space in Manhattan at UrbanSpace Vanderbilt. The Daily Meal calls Roberta's "without question a member of New York's pizza icons." While some pizzas on its menu have unusual names like Speckenwolf and Bruce Banner, the panelists liked the classic "Margherita" pizza best: tomato, mozzarella, basil, that's it, BOOM! The result? "An exemplary neo-Neapolitan pie."


#2 - THE CLASSIC ROUND PIE AT DI FARA IN BROOKLYN

They do a little bit of everything at Di Fara's. Round pizzas, square pizzas, thin crust, thick crust. They all have one thing in common: THEY'RE AWESOME. That's why locals and tourists are willing to stand in line. While the Daily Meal says when chef Domenico DeMarco is on his game, "Di Fara can make a very strong case for being America's best pizza." The classic pie is topped by two cheeses — mozzarella and parmigiano-reggiano — plus plum tomato sauce, basil, sausage, peppers, mushrooms, onions, "and of course, a drizzle of olive oil by Dom." MAMA MIA, that's quite a pizza!

#1 - THE WHITE CLAM PIZZA AT FRANK PEPE PIZZERIA IN NEW HAVEN

A white clam pizza is the best pizza in America? REALLY? Yes! Pepe's Pizzeria has won the top spot in this contest three years in a row. The restaurant has been operating for 90 years (Frank is the uncle of Sally at Sally's Apizza, above). "This is a checklist destination," said The Daily Meal, "one you'll have to make a pilgrimage to if you want to discuss the topic of America's best pizza with any authority." Pepe's combines the freshest of clams with "an intense dose of garlic," olive oil, oregano and grated parmigiano-reggiano. Editors suggest if you want to take it to the next level, go for the clam pie with bacon. Wait, YOU SAID BACON? Now I get why this place is tops.