Thinking outside the pizza box, we give recommendations for special slices and pies at Long Island pizzerias and Italian restaurants.
Selections by Newsday food staff.
Spanakopita pizza, Ara Greek Kitchen & Bar
Spanakopita pizza features an intensely herbal and pleasantly gooey topping of spinach, scallion, dill, feta, mozzarella and ricotta at Ara Greek Kitchen & Bar in Commack.
Cafona pizzetta, Umberto's
Cafona pizzetta is topped with roasted potatoes, capacollo, cherry tomatoes and marscapone cheese at Umberto's in Manhasset.
Quattro formaggi pizzette, Locale
The quattro formaggi pizzette is topped with taleggio, mozzarella, pecorino romano and Monterey jack cheeses at Locale in Patchogue.
Wild mushroom pizza, Centro Trattoria
Wild mushroom pizza with mozzarella, arugula and truffled Pecorino cheese is served at Centro Trattoria in Hampton Bays.
Speck pizza, Vulcano 081
The speck pizza at Vulcano 081 in Rockville Centre is a display of contrasts with salty cured ham, mozzarella, fontina and honey.
Mac and cheese pizza, Mario's
The delectably gooey-rich mac and cheese pizza served at Mario's Pizza of Melville has the power to make your day -- and crash your diet. You can get the pizza whole or by the slice, with or without bacon. We're more prone to classicism, preferring the clean, simple comfort of meatless elbows enrobed in a confluence of mozzarella, Cheddar and Mexican cheeses. Not that the bacon version didn't have its own smoky-salty merits.
Pizza with prosciutto and mushrooms, Naples Street Food
Pizza with prosciutto and mushrooms is served at Naples Street Food in Franklin Square.
Funghi pizzetta, Vespa Italian Kitchen & Bar
The roaring wood-fired oven at Vespa Italian Kitchen & Bar in Farmingdale delivers a distinctively charred and airy funghi pizzetta that is notable for its sautéed button and portabella mushrooms and truffle oil drizzle. The flavor is earthy and peppery -- the latter from a handful of arugula.
Mashed potato pizza, 1943 Pizza Bar
The "New Haven" pizza at 1943 Pizza Bar in Greenport features mozzarella, bacon and piles of buttery mashed potatoes.
Chicken bacon honey Dijon pizza, Southdown Kitchen Pizzeria
Southdown Kitchen Pizzeria in Huntington is a very casual spot that offers personal, large and extra-large pizzas. The one that beckons is the "chicken bacon honey Dijon." Oui, poultry and pork, with the snap of sweet mustard to heighten the theme and cut the cheese. It's pretty good, too.
Asparagus-and-breadcrumb pizza, Gino's Pizzeria & Ristorante
A standout pie at Gino's Pizzeria & Ristorante in Williston Park is the asparagus-and-breadcrumb beauty. The square pie has cheese baked into the crust, and the topping is very fresh, very tender asparagus, cut up like little logs, and a coating of crunchy, seasoned breadcrumbs that gives it added texture and flavor. This pizza isn't a slice pie. You must order a whole one. It's a terrific taste of spring.
Tomato soup-grilled cheese pizza, Phil's Pizza 2
This innovative pie at Phil's Pizza 2 in Massapequa Park is sauced with thick, creamy tomato soup and topped with cubes of grilled cheese.
White funghi pizza, Wild Side Organic Bistro & Bar
The white funghi pizza at Wild Side Organic Bistro & Bar in Oakdale offers a confetti of mushrooms atop taleggio and fontina. It's also drizzled with truffle oil.
Potato-and-egg pizza, Prince Umberto's
Anyone who has downed pizza for breakfast will appreciate the stellar potato-and-egg pie at Prince Umberto's in Franklin Square. The flavorful production is made with perfectly cooked spuds, omelet-texture eggs and just enough mozzarella. After an early slice or two, you also may want to reserve a few more for lunch.
Cauliflower pizza, Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza
With locations in Nassau and Suffolk, Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza, a Florida-based chain, can win your heart with its ovoid cauliflower pie. The usually pungent cruciferous vegetable is tamed into mellow submission after being roasted with olive oil and garlic, showered with Romano, mozzarella and bread crumbs and then baked in a coal-fired oven. It's a clever way to get kids to love their vegetables. Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza has locations in Woodbury, Great Neck, Commack, Wantagh, Carle Place and Bohemia.
Spinach pizza, Chefs of New York
The sesame-crusted spinach pizza, a favorite Chefs of New York in East Northport since the 1980s, was celebrated on Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" back in 2010. The opulent perennial features a rich, cheesy, garlicky cream sauce laced with lots of chopped spinach, topped with mozzarella.
Baked ziti pizza, Cafe Europa
At Cafe Europa, a friendly little West Islip strip-mall pizzeria, the hearty baked ziti pie is made with imported pasta that comes out of the oven al dente, mixed with a bright house-made tomato sauce, ricotta, Grana Padano cheese and both shredded and fresh mozzarella. Call it a meal in a slice.
Seafood pizza, Saggio Pizza, Pasta & Cafe
Seafood is the star in a savory pie at Saggio Pizza, Pasta & Cafe in East Norwich. The "frutti di mare" pizza is the catch of the week. The cheese-less production is topped with shrimp, mussels and clams, in a tasty, light marinara sauce. Very good crust, lots of flavor and just marine enough, it's one of Saggio's personal pizzas.
Cold-cheese pizza, Little Vincent's
Little Vincent's undisputed specialty is the cold-cheese slice, in which a fresh-from-the-oven regular slice is topped with a fist-sized pile of cold shredded cheese. The cold cheese melts into the hot cheese and forms a soft, gluey, salty, mildly cheesy substance that is hard to stop eating -- partly because it's impossible to bite through. In for a bite, in for a mouthful.
Sicilian pizza, Colosseo
The Sicilian pie at Colosseo in Port Jefferson Station is a tribute to emperors and gods. The rectangular, eight-slice pizza has the right texture, tasty sauce, and sufficient cheese to fulfill your required dairy intake.
Mom's Pizza, Saverio's Pizza Room
There's no bad pie at wood-fired pizzeria Saverios in Massapequa, thanks to pizzaiolo Sam Cataldo's skill. But the simpler pizzas put the spotlight where it belongs: on an elegant crust that has the well-developed flavor of rustic bread. "Mom's pizza" has no cheese, only a thin layer of sweet, onion-rich tomato sauce, made according to the recipe of Cataldo's late mother-in-law, Enza Giammarino.
Six-cheese pizza, Emilio's
The "Italian Six Cheese Bianco" is among the specialty pies at Emilio's in Commack. The cheese toppings are shredded mozzarella, fontina, smoked mozzarella, Parmesan, fresh mozzarella and Gorgonzola. It's a harmonious, creamy, delicious combo, with a different taste in almost each bite.
'Italian Flag' pizza, Fattusco's
Fattusco's "Italian Flag" pizza adds broccoli rabe to the combination of shredded mozzarella, ricotta, sun-dried tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese. The result: a unification of flavors, and one of the Northport spot's top pizzas.
'Bar Pie', Eddie's Pizza
The "bar pie" Eddie's Pizza in New Hyde Park is an extremely thin, flat pizza with no discernible rim, whose tomato sauce and cheese are melded to the crust with the strength of Super Glue. Neither the crust nor the cheese nor the tomato stands out on its own, but the sum of their parts is altogether addictive.
White pizza, Massa's
White pizza (Pizza No. 3) at Massa's in Huntington is topped with fresh mozzarella, scallions, pancetta, scamorza cheese and truffle oil.
Eggplant pizza, Mannino's
The eggplant pizza at Mannino's in Smithtwon is sliced thinly, lightly seasoned, breaded, fried and added to the tasty crust along with ricotta, marinara sauce, and basil.
Fra diavolo pizzette, Mama Mia
The fra diavolo pizzette at Mama Mia of Northport is a devilish little number.The 12-inch pie is topped with fresh mozzarella, plum tomato sauce, basil, sausage and the igniting factor -- hot cherry peppers. Big enough to serve as dinner for one, it also works well as an appetizer for two or more.
Chicken Parmigiana pizza, Ciro's Pizzeria & Restaurant
Ciro's Pizzeria & Restaurant in Floral Park serves this two-way pie, breaded and fried chicken cutlets are cut into postage-stamp size pieces and added to a thin-crust pizza, along with good red sauce and plenty of mozzarella. The result is hefty and flavorful, and enough to feed the whole Little League baseball team's starting lineup.
Fried calamari pizza, Victor's Pizza & Pasta House
In the repertoire of specialty pies at Victor's Pizza & Pasta House in Melville is one dubbed "Palermo." It has nothing to do with Sicily and everything to do with two of Long Island's most popular foods. Here, Palermo means a thin-crust, round pizza that's topped with crunchy fried calamari and hot cherry peppers, plus a chunky tomato sauce, finished with fresh mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil. You half-expect a little bucket of marinara for additional dipping possibilities.
Caprese pizza, Mamma Lombardi's
The Caprese pizza at Mamma Lombardi's in Holbrook is topped with fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil and garlic.
Lobster pizza, Pizzetteria Brunetti
Still adhering to the Italian tradition that discourages cheese with fish, the lobster pizza at Pizzetteria Brunetti in Westhampton Beach features big hunks of fresh lobster meat on a crust strewn with cherry tomatoes, fresh corn, scallions and micro basil.
Vodka pizza, Umberto's
The original Umberto's of New Hyde Park is one of Long Island's best-known traditional pizzerias. But there are some new pies in Margheritaville, including the vodka pizza. The crust is thin; the mozzarella generous; the herbs fine. And the sauce is exactly what you'd expect with that order of penne alla vodka, creamy and pink. It's surprisingly good and a real alternative for the curious.
S’mores sweet pizza, Red Tomato
Meet the s'mores sweet pizza. Nonna Messinas pie with Nutella, marshmallow and graham cracker crunch is made for sharing, says Daniele Messina, co-owner and partner at Red Tomato in East Norwich. It's an adaptation of an afternoon snack made in Naples by his grandmother, Antoinetta Messina, who home-schooled six children and needed to feed their sugar cravings.
Pizza arrabbiata, King Umberto
The pizzeria of King Umberto restaurant in Elmont is known for its Grandma pie. But in the repertoire of pizzas turned out in the casual spot next door to the formal restaurant are a couple that spark some competition. First is the pizza arrabbiata (pictured). The Italian word for angry is arrabbiato. And this disc definitely expresses itself. Hot cherry peppers are what turn it a bit irate. Broccoli rabe makes the light, very-thin-crust disc a meal even better. It's finished with mozzarella, garlic and olive oil. The boscoreale pizza is a more mellow affair, but just as good. The square affair sports a thin crust with spinach in it, plus Gaeta olives, artichokes and fresh mozzarella.