Finding Long Island’s best pizza is now an exercise in distinguishing the extraordinary from the merely great.
The top pizzas on Newsday's annual list all rely on extraordinary crusts. It’s not a matter of thick vs. thin crust; it’s a matter of taste and texture, qualities that are hard won through months, perhaps years of experimentation with flours, rising times and temperatures, shaping techniques and baking methods. All the pies on this list are made with high-hydration (wet) doughs that rise slowly over the course of anywhere from one to three days. Their toppings are of the highest quality — no engineered "pizza cheese" here, nor canned pizza sauce.
A slice whose crust is left on the plate is not a pizza getting on this list.
And speaking of slices: This list is not a referendum on Long Island’s scores of wonderful neighborhood “slice shops,” pizzerias that specialize in the classic troika of Neapolitan, Sicilian and Grandma, the places that provide that much-needed meal on the go or Sunday-football pie. You’ve got your favorite and you should keep it.
In 2012, this list was dominated by individual, tender-crusted Naples-style pies baked in a wood-burning oven. Now, pizza Napoletana has been joined by pizza alla Romana (large, rectangular and designed to be sold by the slice) and, the newest trend, a "neo-New York" pie wherein the classic New York pie — big, round and crisp-crusted — gets an artisanal dough and upgraded toppings. But there's no reason to dwell on which category these pizzas belong to: They are all delicious.
239 Nassau Blvd., West Hempstead
Dario’s treads a path similar to those forged by other Long Island pizzerias — Taglio and Dough & Co. among them — that are upgrading the classic New York pie and serving it alongside other Italian specialties such as the Roman pizza al taglio (a pan pie sold by the slice). But chef Dario Carosi comes at it from a singular direction: He is a trained pastry chef who emigrated from Italy in 2016 and worked at the cult Brooklyn pizzeria L’Industrie. “When people walk in here,” he said, “they don’t see what they are used to. I am explaining everything to everyone.” What customers do see are round, crisp-crusted New York pies and lofty rectangular Roman pies, both of whose toppings might be as simple as the Italiana (tomatoes and stracciatella), as classic as the Crostino (mozzarella, potato, cooked ham and rosemary oil), as inventive as the Rossa & Verde (stripes of roasted-pepper cream and cilantro cream with mozzarella and pickled onion) or as counterintuitive as the Beef Birria (shredded braised beef, pickled onion, arugula and white sauce). Carosi also makes his own rolls for inspired sandwiches. More info: 516-279-4390, dariospizzali.com
111 Milbar Blvd., Farmingdale
Finding this hidden pizzeria is half the fun: It’s tucked away on an industrial block, inside the warehouse of Sapori del Vallo, an importer of Italian pasta and other specialty foods. There’s no sign on the mirrored door but an Italian flag out front will confirm that you’ve found the right spot. The eponymous Dom is Dominic Biancamano who, with his son, Carmine, moved the company's warehouse from Deer Park to Farmingdale and, during the pandemic, opened a small retail market because, Carmine said, “People couldn’t find what they needed in the supermarket.” Last year, they carved out a windowless dining room and installed a wood-burning pizza oven that is now plied by Italian-born pizzaiolo Raffaele Pacilio. His pies are in the classic style of Naples: puffy-crusted and pliable. And many of them rely on Sapori’s imported wares — prosciutto crudo and cotto, anchovies, mushrooms and artichokes “sott’olio” (preserved "under oil") — as well as the mozzarella made here daily. Don’t miss the Rustica (a savory mélange of porcini, sausage, smoked mozzarella and arugula) or the Dominick (fresh mozzarella and smoked provola cheeses, cherry tomatoes, pancetta, and arugula). The market not only pulls its own mozzarella but bakes its own rustic breads. Note: the pizzeria is only open on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; On Tuesdays and Saturdays there’s a live crooner. More info: 631-242-8900
3274 Railroad Ave., Wantagh
Chris Perrotta longed for a place that he could go to after he finished work at Blackbird Kitchen & Cocktails, the Wantagh restaurant he and Frank Ubriaco opened in 2016. “Nothing fancy,” said the chef, “just a place nearby to have a good pizza and throw back a few beers.” Now the partners have opened that place: Uncle Frank’s Pizza & Cocktails has longer hours and is only a mile away from Blackbird, in what was Corry’s Ale House. Busy as he is with Blackbird and Rustic Root in Woodbury, Perrotta needed a pizzaiolo he could depend on, and longtime employee Mustafa “Moose” Kahraman stepped up. His pies have a spare elegance and it’s easy to grab a seat at the bar and consume a whole Queen Marg (a classic Margherita topped with super-sweet Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes and just enough fresh mozzarella) just looking up occasionally to stare into the red, hot center of the wood-burning oven. The signature “Uncle Frank” pie is a cheesy ode to mozzarella, fresh and low-moisture. Also on offer are the vegan Testarossa (tomato, roasted garlic and Sicilian oregano) and the Leek (creamed leeks, roasted garlic, crispy soppressata, mozzarella and Parmesan). Before, during, after or, even, instead of pizza, there are antipasti, pastas, salads and a few mains. More info: 516-308-3044, unclefranksli.com
1653 Pizza Company
80 Gerard St., Huntington
When Michael Vigliotti and Frank Antonetti opened 1653 Pizza Company in 2021, chef Vigliotti, a maestro of the wood fire, had to learn to handle a new fuel because the former Massa’s already had a coal-burning oven. He managed to master it but, after two years, he decided to return to his fuel of choice, demolished the coal oven and, in June, installed a wood-burning Fiero Forni. Neither pies nor reputation were harmed in the transition. Vigliotti’s pizza has the light, puffy rim of a classic Neapolitan pie but a sturdier crust, the better to handle such harmonious toppings as mozzarella, stracciatella, pistachio pesto and mortadella or vodka sauce, Calabrian chili and housemade bacon jam. His unorthodox clam pie — involving a clam-infused cream, lemon zest and pickled banana peppers — is a triumph. There’s lots more than pizza on the menu, plus swank décor, craft cocktails and an inventive wine list. More info: 631-824-6071, 1653pizzaco.com
61 Main St., Westhampton Beach
Brunetti kicked off Long Island’s neo-Neapolitan pizza trend in 2010 when the tiny pizzeria opened in the back of a Häagen-Dazs shop. In 2021, it expanded into a proper restaurant with a full menu and a new partner, Danny Armyn, who took on the positions of general manager and head pizzaiolo. But the soul of Brunetti remains the wood-burning oven. The Margherita is a classic whose lily might be gilded with spicy soppressata or Mary’s meatballs. White pies include the Funghi e Cipolle, with shiitakes, caramelized onions, goat cheese and thyme. Tomato-less and (mercifully) cheeseless is Brunetti’s signature Vongole, a refined marriage of crust, clam, garlic, parsley and little else. Sweet-and-salty teeth can opt for the fig-prosciutto pie anointed with truffle-honey oil. Gluten-free available. More info: 631-288-3003, brunettipizzahamptons.com
Charred Brick Oven
3915 Merrick Rd., Seaford
In 2020, Greg Garofalo installed a wood-burning oven between the bar and dining room in his 5-year-old Seaford Lobster Shack, transforming it into the first-rate pizzeria, Charred Brick Oven. Virtually every seat has a view of that oven and the puffy, leopard-spotted pies that come out of it. The Margherita is textbook Neapolitan. Except for the crisp nubbins of pancetta, Charred’s Carbonara, with smoked mozzarella and roasted onions, has little in common with the pasta of that of that name — but it is equally delicious. For sheer overindulgence, get the mortadella pie wherein slices of the imported sausage are draped over a white pie then lavished with stracciatella cheese, chopped pistachios, arugula and pistachio cream. Charred shows its LI bona fides with a vodka pie and one topped with buffalo chicken and blue cheese (and mozzarella. More info: 516-586-8617, charredbrickoven.com
Chef Gigi’s Place
970 Hempstead Tpke., Franklin Square
When Italian chef Pierligui "Gigi" Sacchetti took over the original Naples Street Food in 2021, he changed the name and added dozens of regional Italian pastas. But, happily, the pizza oven (and the pizza quality) remain undimmed. New partner Michele Russo is an alum of Manhattan’s vaunted Ribalta pizzeria and he brought a new focus on dough and technique. The pies are available in both classic Neapolitan 12-inch rounds and party-sized 12-by-17-inch rectangles. Many pizzas namecheck Southern Italian locales: The Avellino with tomatoes, mozzarella and prosciutto topped with a whole burrata; the Calabrese with tomato, mozzarella, 'nduja and spicy salami; the Catania with pistachio pesto, sausage, mozzarella and Caciocavallo Ragusano. Other names are more descriptive: The Burrata Porcini features those two ingredients plus arugula, aged Parmesan and truffle oil. Gluten-free available. More info: 516-673-4630, chefgigisplace.com
Donatina Neapolitan Pizza Cafe
18 West Ave., Patchogue
John Peragine doesn’t want to pick sides; his 5-year-old spot offers multiple styles of pizza. A wall of deck ovens dispatches both traditional New York- and Detroit-style pies. The latter, a Michigan import, are baked in deep, steel pans, a thick topping of cheese seeping down the sides and caramelizing, perhaps even burning a little, to create lots of crunchy, pleasantly greasy crust. Then there’s a wood-burning oven for baking individual Neapolitan pies. You can appreciate the unadorned dough with garlic or truffle focaccia, or explore dozens of toppings, from a simple Margherita or hearty four-cheese potato-bacon to an exotic Provencale (tomatoes, artichokes, olives, capers, fresh oregano) or over-the-top Meat Lovers with tomato, mozzarella, ham, meatballs, pepperoni, sausage (hot and sweet) and, hey, why not add an over-easy egg? The torpedo shape of the open-faced calzones maximizes the proportion of well-browned crust. They arrive heaving with a molten filling of fresh mozzarella, ricotta, sausage and marinara sauce. Detroit and Sicilian pies are available gluten free and Margheritas can be made with vegan cheese. More info: 631-730-7002, donatinapizza.com
Dough & Co.
318 Main St., Huntington
By the time 25-year-old Danny Rocca opened Dough & Co last year, he’d already spent a decade in the pizza business. At 14 he applied for a job at Umberto’s in Plainview and started at the counter, reheating slices and ringing up customers. He advanced from dishwasher, to prep cook, to pizza man until, at the age of 19, he became the shop’s general manager. At Dough & Co., he’s grafted the busy slice-shop vibe onto an artisanal base. The Neapolitan, Sicilian and grandma pies are made with a higher-hydration dough but the main event is the "pizza al metro," a rectangular pie, sold whole or by the square, that uses a long-fermented, super-high hydration dough. You’ll always find the Margherita, the Metro East (fresh mozzarella, marinara, pepperoni, jalapeño and Mike’s hot honey) and the Metro West (wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, mozzarella and ricotta and Parmesan and lots of black pepper). More info: 631-213-2426, thedoughandco.com
1343 Hempstead Tpke., Elmont
Giovanni Cesarano grew up at King Umberto, the iconic Elmont pizzeria established in 1976 by his father, Ciro Cesarano, and Ciro’s partner, Rosario Fuschetto. But young Cesarano was determined to create something on his own. “I wanted to make a pizza that was not about the toppings but was about the dough,” he said. “I didn’t want to do anything gimmicky, not another penne alla vodka pie or another Buffalo chicken.” And so, in 2018, he helped kick off Long Island's Roman trend by debuting a rectangular pizza that is baked not in a pan but directly on the floor of the oven. His “metro” pie is a puffy, crusty pizza that’s about 10 inches wide and 3 feet long (metro is Italian for “meter”). The metro is all about the crust, chewy yet filled with pockets of air. There’s always a Margherita; wild cards might include prosciutto and arugula, pepperoni with stracciatella cheese and Mike’s Hot Honey, fried zucchini flowers in season. More info: 516-352-8391, kingumberto.com
14 S. Park Ave., Rockville Centre
Pizza may nor be the centerpiece of Mangia Bene’s menu, but this well-appointed trattoria offers a full menu to precede or follow it. Crust and toppings are in perfect harmony here, from the simplest marinara and Margherita to the PLT (smoked Tyrolean Speck, arugula, cherry tomatoes, lemon, mozzarella and Parmesan) and the Calabrese, sparked by hot sausage and Calabrian chilies. Gluten avoiders can order any pie with a cauliflower crust and oenophiles will appreciate the wine list, full of interesting, pizza-friendly wines, many of them available by the glass. More info: 516-447-6744, mangiabenervc.com
Naples Street Food
2905 Long Beach Rd., Oceanside
Over the seven years that he’s been slinging pies on Long Island (first in Franklin Square and, since 2019, in Oceanside), Naples-born pizzaiolo Gianluca Chiarolanza’s menu has grown to encompass more than 30 pies, each available as either a 12-inch round or 12-by-17-inch rectangle. Among the highlights are the Capricciosa (tomatoes, mozzarella, mushrooms, ham, artichokes, olives), the Tonno e Cipolla (mozzarella, Italian tuna, onions) and the Estiva (cherry tomatoes, burrata, arugula). Chiarolanza has been a standard-bearer for unapologetically Neapolitan pies, bordered by a pillowy-but-chewy rim, but he’s also moved in a crisper direction to accommodate American tastes. More info: 516-442-1692, naplesstreetfood2905.com
The Onion Tree
242 Sea Cliff Ave., Sea Cliff
Since Jay and Raquel Wolf Jadeja opened The Onion Tree in 2019, it has become a destination for New American, authentic Indian … and pizza. Last year, Jay took first prize in the Neapolitan division of the Pizza and Pasta Northeast 2022 Competition in Atlantic City but, instead of resting on those laurels, he decided to add Roman-style to his repertoire. Now, each of the 10 variations can be had as a 12-inch round or a light-textured 8-inch square “pizza in teglia” (pan pie). The Jadejas’ classic pies are beyond reproach, but don’t miss East-meets-West creations such as Masala Margherita (drizzled with chilies, curry leaves and a sizzling finish of infused oil) or Short Ribs Rogan josh (with braised short ribs, red onion and cilantro). More info: 516-916-5353, theoniontree.com
929 N. Broadway, North Massapequa
Sam and Emily Cataldo’s enterprise has grown from an oven-and-counter-sized space carved out of their venerable A & S Pork Store to a proper pizzeria where people can enjoy the family atmosphere and Sam’s wood-fired pizzas, many of which recall great Italian pasta dishes — alla vodka, broccoli rabe and sausage, or the Mom’s Pie featuring onion-rich Genovese sauce. The restless pizzaiolo was recently inspired by the Detroit style to create his own "Depequa" pie whose top and sides are crisp with a hardened matrix of mozzarella, Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses. More info: 516-799-0091, saveriospizza.com
7 Sintsink Dr. E., Port Washington
NYC chef Jesse Olson moved to Port Washington in 2020 and shortly began channeling all his skills into this out-of-the-way pizzeria-market. His particular passion is small-production wheat flour, the basis for both his housemade pasta and the pizza he bakes in a wood-burning oven. He is also inspired by seasonal produce so a windfall of Brussels sprouts and delicata squash might result in a pie also adorned with Gorgonzola dolce, toasted pumpkin seeds and rosemary. Or he might roast Yukon golds and gild them with spicy pancetta, Fontina and shallots. It’s the luck of the calendar's draw. Regular pies include spicy soppressata with housemade chili honey, onions and fennel sausage and an Amatriciana made with the shop’s own jarred sauce. More info: 516-321-9393, serraprovisions.com
85 Mineola Blvd., Mineola
The name of Rob Cervoni’s 5-year-old spot refers to the Roman “pizza al taglio,” a rectangular pizza sold by the piece — “taglio” is Italian for “cut.” One of Long Island's Roman pie pioneers, Cervoni had always presided over a hybrid: half classic New York slice shop, half high-end Roman atelier where you’ll find crunch-airy crusts topped with shingled potatoes and ricotta, or spinach and artichokes or mushrooms, pancetta caramelized onions, stracciatella and truffle oil. But, last year, he teamed up with Mimmo Tolomeo, another accomplished pizzaiolo, to push even the slice envelope. The partners use a pre-fermented dough and imported tomatoes to build a better 18-inch, eight-slice pie, what they call a “Neo New York.” The edge of this crust is pronounced, with marvelous, airy texture. The pie itself is topped with four types of cheese: Shredded low-moisture mozzarella, blobs of fresh mozzarella, Pecorino Romano and an American-made grana. More info: 516-741-0379, tagliopizzany.com