For Something That’s Only Really Been A Thing In This Country For The Last Hundred Years Or So, Pizza Has Become A Bedrock Of U.S. Life: One In Eight Citizens Is Eating It Today, And Our National Tab Will Amount To Around $37 Billion This Year. Americans Love The Stuff.
We at Slice are no exceptions; the prospect of researching a Best Pizza feature was music to our taste buds. But this pie safari was no cakewalk – we ate a lot of pizza. We’ve been back and forth from far north Edmond to Purcell. We’ve crunched on crusts and savored sauces and toyed desultorily with complimentary salads because we didn’t want to fill up on lettuce.
And what we found was mostly very good. We were pleasantly surprised by the breadth and quality on offer throughout the metro, and while there’s nothing wrong with getting delivery from a national chain every so often, we happily recommend taking a tour to treat yourself to these top-notch local tastes in person. Enjoy!
A quick note about nomenclature: This might not be standard terminology, but in discussing the crust, I’m going to refer to the flat part that forms the foundation for the cheese and toppings and sauce as the “bed” and the doughy strip at the outer edge that remains after eating everything else as the “bone.”
► Sliced Rib-Eye
What’s on it? Thin slivers of steak, gorgonzola, mushrooms, mozzarella, a dab of “agrodolce” (that’s an Italian sweet and sour sauce)
What’s it like? You won’t mistake Stella’s pizza for anyone else’s; its oblong shape and cracker-thin crust are instantly distinctive. Several other flavors may be tempting – like, say, the one with slivers of duck breast – but ribeye, gorgonzola and mushroom make a beautifully robust combination. Crunch away.
Where’s it found? Stella Modern Italian Cuisine, 1201 N Walker Ave, OKC, stella-okc.com
► Margherita The Queen
What’s on it? Buffalo mozzarella, basil, splash of olive oil, red sauce.
What’s it like? Regal. There’s a regular margherita option on the menu, but the tangy softness of fresh buffalo mozzarella makes the Queen a must. If you haven’t been to Gusto yet, the crust is spectacular; superfine flour and a blistering hot imported-from-Naples oven give it a huge, puffy bone with a crisp-verging-on-blackened exterior and chewy inside. This pie doesn’t keep particularly well – the olive oil quickly makes the thin bed soggy – but given its deliciousness that might not be an issue.
Where’s it found? Pizzeria Gusto, 2415 N Walker Ave, OKC, pizzeria-gusto.com
What’s on it? Pulled pork, red onions, diced tomatoes, cilantro, mozzarella and marinara sauce
What’s it like? Pulled pork is an unusual choice for pizza, but these tender slivers play well off the freshness of the mild pico de gallo (none of the toppings are especially spicy, probably so they don’t overwhelm the sauce), and the thin crust is a buttery, flaky, almost pastry-like marvel.
Where’s it found? Pizza 23, 600 NW 23rd St, OKC, pizza23okc.com
► Fried Pepperoni
What’s on it? The mozzarella and red sauce are afterthoughts, check this out: this pie is covered with pepperoni slices that have been fried crispy beforehand. Fried pepperoni!
What’s it like? Genius, honestly. You’ll need both hands or a fork to hold up a slice, but the cheese is nice and stretchy, the sauce is a trifle sweet … and you can’t not dwell on those crisp, salty circles of pepperoni that overflow the pie and flirt with overkill in the best way. It’s a mess to eat, and wonderful.
Where’s it found? Nomad Italian American Grill, 7301 N May Ave, OKC, nomadrestaurantokc.com
What’s on it? Little slabs of grilled chicken, bacon crumbles, ranch sauce (that’s the CBR part), plus red onions, mozzarella and a leaf or two of spinach.
What’s it like? That crispy crust, though! Whatever you might think of the building’s somewhat ramshackle vibe, Sauced’s pizza game is tight and focused. The ranch is present in the flavor without being overwhelming, the bed is super-thin and firm and there’s virtually no bone, the cheese runs all the way back. Its thinness makes it easy to eat in large quantities, although I’d be remiss if I didn’t exhort you to get a giant Rice Krispie treat for the road. (Do it!)
Where’s it found? Sauced on Paseo, 2912 Paseo St, OKC, saucedonpaseo.com
► Da Bomb
What’s on it? Pepperoni, Genoa salami, pineapple, fresh basil, mozzarella, red sauce, balsamic glaze.
What’s it like? Wait, salami and pineapple? Believe it or not, those two great tastes do taste great together. The flavor profiles for the individual ingredients are all over the map – salty, tangy, sweet, sharp – and on top of Hideaway’s justly beloved hand-tossed crust they intertwine for a balance that rewards tasting again and again.
Where’s it found? Hideaway Pizza, 6616 N Western Ave, OKC (and all over the metro, for that matter), hideawaypizza.com
What’s on it? Slices of Italian sausage, red pepper, a fried egg, mozzarella and most importantly, Fra Diavolo sauce. Mmm.
What’s it like? This is why experiments like these are so rewarding: because sometimes when you set out to try places you’ve never been before, you hit treasures like this spicy star. The soft hand-tossed crust and bits of sausage are welcome touches, but top honors go to the pepper-laced slow-building sauce; it doesn’t have a ton of kick, but you’ll be feeling a prickle in your sinuses by the end of the slice. This one’s a beauty.
Where’s it found? Moni’s Pasta and Pizza, 17200 N May Ave, Edmond, monisokc.com
► Prosciutto E Formaggi
What’s on it? As advertised, slices of prosciutto and a parmesan/mozzarella combo, plus little lumps of fig (yes, really) and a drift of arugula on top
What’s it like? It’s an argument in favor of experimentation. I know it looks like your pizza came with a salad on it, but the sharpness of the arugula helps balance out the other flavors, and I went from “who puts figs on a pizza?” to “how have I never had figs on a pizza before?” in the span of two bites – the fruit imparts a really delicious lingering sweetness.
Where’s it found? The Wedge Pizzeria, 230 NE 1st St and 4709 N Western Ave, OKC, thewedgeokc.com
What’s on it? Pretty much that – marinara, cheese, pepperoni. C’est tout.
What’s it like? If you close your eyes and imagine a slice of pizza, this is probably what you’ll wind up picturing. It’s New York style, a wide slice (the better to cover more surface area in cheese) with a thin, floppy bed and slightly chewy bone. If you’re in the mood for a simple, well-executed pizza that’s not afraid to be a little greasy, this is your spot.
Where’s it found? Falcone’s Pizzeria, 6705 N May Ave, OKC
What’s on it? Sauce on top, cheese alllllll the way down
What’s it like? Chicago-style in truth: the crust is flaky and tall, almost like an actual pie, filled with worlds of cheese and rich, thick, slightly sweet sauce on top. You can also trade in the sauce for more and different fromage in the Cheese the Day (a blend of 12 varieties), and if that weren’t enough, the café’s other crust option provides what might be the best, butteriest crunch-armored bone in pizzadom. I seriously wish they were closer to the office. And open at lunch. And that I had some right now.
Where’s it found? Humble Pie, 1319 S Broadway Ave, Edmond, humblepieok.com
► Bacon Cheesburger
What’s on it? Bacon, cheese, hamburger, red onions
What’s it like? If you weren’t specifically looking for Dan’s (it’s on the east side of the strip mall at the corner of Waterloo and Broadway), you might easily never set foot inside. Which would be a shame – after all, as their slogan says, it’s the best Dan pizza around. The diced onion gives this blend of flavors a nice snap, and there’s an appealing texture to the crust that made in-house daily.
Where’s it found? Dan’s Pizza, 121 E Waterloo Rd, Edmond, danspizza.biz
► Hoochie Cuchi
What’s on it? Prosciutto and bacon, a pecorino-mozzarella blend, a zesty pesto and marinara under it all
What’s it like? If we’d been blindfolded and asked what sets the crust apart, we probably wouldn’t have guessed that it has COOP beer in it, but it’s very, very good, especially paired with the bursts of garlic and basil flavor from these sauces. The cheese deserves praise as well; there were a couple of appreciative murmurs at its savor and elasticity as we dug into this one.
Where’s it found? Knuck’s Wheelhouse, 103 E California Ave, OKC, knuckswheelhouse.com
► Bianca Nieve
What’s on it? Alfredo sauce, mozzarella, bacon, little nuggets of feta, spinach
What’s it like? Having a pizzeria within sauntering distance of our Film Row office is a pleasure and a frustration, what with the omnipresent temptation to indulge in treats like this. The feta is a highlight, and when the crust is on point it’s the tender inside/crisp outside foundation for an extremely tasty creation; alfredo sauce and bacon will always be a winning combination.
Where’s it found? Joey’s Pizzeria, 700 W Sheridan Ave, OKC, joeyspizzeriaokc.com
What’s on it? Bacon, gorgonzola, red onion slivers and a tangy balsamic reduction
What’s it like? First of all, it’s huge. As befits the restaurant’s name, it’s New York style, so be prepared for some folding and dangling before gnawing at the dense, floury bone. Fortunately, that expanse of pizza is liberally covered in delicious cheese, flecks of bacon and long curls of red onion (I would actually be okay with a trifle more onion), and the pop to the taste buds provided by the balsamic glaze is worth the price of admission by itself.
Where’s it found? Empire Slice House, 1734 NW 16th St, OKC, empireslicehouse.com
► Chicken Alfredo
What’s on it? Grilled chicken, mushrooms, red onion and spinach, Alfredo sauce and mozzarella
What’s it like? It’s not the classic Chicago style considering that the sauce in this case is alfredo, and not atop everything else – it’s more a deep-dish pizza with a thick bed and bone and rich flavor.
Where’s it found? Sophabella’s, 7628 N May Ave, OKC, sophabellasrestaurant.com
What’s on it? All kinds of deliciousness: a mozzarella and fontina blend, chewy little slivers of prosciutto di Parma, wisps of spinach and oregano, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar glaze and an egg or two baked on top just to gild that tasty lily
What’s it like? To pull attention away from the rest of Tommy’s menu, the pizza has to be special. The hand-tossed crust is an excellent backdrop, with an initial bite on the exterior and chewy softness within, and this combination of ingredients really shines; the fontina adds a little extra dimension and the sweet tang of the balsamic plays very well off the prosciutto’s saltiness.
Where’s it found? Tommy’s Italian-American Grill, 5516 W Memorial Rd, OKC, tommysitaliangrill.com
What’s on it? Delicious cheese – mozzarella, parmesan and lumps of ricotta
What’s it like? The mini-chain (one in Denton, one in Norman) should perhaps be called Crunchy Crust, since the namesake ingredient is a sturdy concoction with a wide, flat bone and an appetizing chewiness under its firm exterior. You can actually load down the basic pie with an unlimited number of toppings of your choosing at no extra charge (nice deal, huh?), but the White is a good showcase for the crust and cheese alike; there’s a lot of flavor in these few ingredients.
Where’s it found? Crooked Crust, 757 Asp Ave, Norman, crookedcrust.com
► True Italian
What’s on it? Pepperoni, prosciutto and little nuggets of Italian sausage, coating of mozzarella, speckled with tomatoes, basil and slices of pepperoncini
What’s it like? This slice has the lightest, airiest bone of anything we ate in our travels; it practically disappears off the palate. The topping combinations (we also tried a piece with chunks of baked potato on it) are pretty imaginative, which coupled with the plastic plates and cafeteria-style atmosphere makes this a good spot to experiment for a quick lunch.
Where’s it found? Revolve Pizza Kitchen, 5500 W Memorial Rd, OKC, revolvepizza.com
► Classic Pepperoni
What’s on it? Just look at that beauty – pepperoni, cheese, sauce, no distractions.
What’s it like? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the classics never go out of style. It’s a traditional thin crust style with a bed that crackles a bit under your teeth and sauce abounding with fresh tomato flavor. I’ve driven past this unassuming spot a hundred times without sticking my head in, but don’t write it off like I had; there’s some real craft at work here.
Where’s it found? Sandro’s Pizza and Pasta, 914 W Main St, Norman, sandrospizzaandpasta.com
► Canadian Bacon w/ Pineapple
What’s on it? Those things, pretty much. Plus marinara and cheese.
What’s it like? The chefs don’t drop a couple of pale pink circles of ham on the pizza somewhere and call it a day; the Canadian bacon is cut small and heaped everywhere, so no individual bite is without it and the tart pineapple segments have to shove themselves in wherever there’s a crack. The cheese has a great tensility, the sauce is light and spicy and the bed and bone are both thin and flaky with a hint of bite; there’s an audible “chhhunch” with each mouthful.
Where’s it found? Jo’s Famous Pizza, 1438 S Green Ave, Purcell (and 900 S Kelly Ave, Edmond), josfamouspizza.com
What’s on it? A mix of mozzarella and smoked gouda, Italian sausage, red peppers, basil, red pepper cream sauce
What’s it like? The bed is shallow and yielding, and the bone has the lightness and exterior crunch that are the best hallmarks of a wood fire, complete with char marks. This is a really impressive blend of flavors, too, including the magnificent savor of Gabriella’s signature Italian sausage and a quietly perky sauce. As Brian said, it’s got pizz-zazz.
Where’s it found? Gabriella’s, 1226 NE 63rd St, OKC, gabriellasokc.com
► The Numbers
What’s on it? Red sauce, a really nice spread of cheeses, pepperoni and prosciutto and spicy sausage, plus (speaking of spicy) slivers of jalapeno
What’s it like? I love this crust; a thin firm bed with crunchy bones. The textures on this particular pizza – ground sausage, thin prosciutto, especially stretchy cheese – show some thoughtfulness and distinction too. It might not be the first choice for the faint of palate, but it’s full of flavor.
Where’s it found? Upper Crust, 1205 NW 178th St, Edmond, edmondbestpizza.com (there’s also one in Classen Curve)
There are a couple of outliers that deserve a mention in a conversation about outstanding OKC-area pizza:
First, a moment of silence for the dearly departed Pinnochio’s that made college life a little easier (or at least more laced with garlic butter) for OU students; for Crystal’s Pizza, where the food seemed great, although the euphoria of the arcade may have helped add spice to our memories; and for Italian Jim’s, which closed before it could vie for a slot in this list.
It didn’t qualify for the list due to lack of ready availability, but I strongly recommend you track down the deep-dish pies served on alternate Monday nights in The Blue Note at 23rd and Robinson. Chicago-style with handmade sauce above thick strata of cheese and toppings, they’re addictively delicious and surprisingly inexpensive.
And now that warmer weather is returning, you’re probably thinking about stepping outside to celebrate – while you’re at street festivals like H&8th, Heard on Hurd (both returning this month), Live on the Plaza or Premiere on Film Row, keep an eye out for The Hall’s Pizza Kitchen food truck. Open-air festivities make good seasoning.