Which City Has the Best Pizza?
My friend and former editor, the brilliant Sam Sifton, developed the Pizza Cognition Theory, which postulates that the first pizza a person eats becomes the standard by which that person judges all pizza he or she subsequently eats.
According to Sam, "The first slice of pizza a child sees and tastes (and somehow appreciates on something more than a childlike, mmmgoood, thanks-mom level), becomes, for him, pizza. He relegates all subsequent slices, if they are different in some manner from that first triangle of dough and cheese and tomato and oil and herbs and spices, to a status that we can characterize as not pizza."
So by Sam's theory, if Pizza Hut was the pizza you first ate, every other pizza you subsequently ate would pale by comparison, because it wouldn't be Pizza Hut pizza. Sam is a smart fellow, but I believe that people ultimately understand that circumstances beyond their control dictated their initial pizza-eating experiences and preferences, namely where they lived and where their parents took them for pie. Furthermore, I believe that pizza discernment can be learned once we move away from home.
I wrote an entire book, Pizza: A Slice of Heaven, trying to move beyond Sam's theory. I ate a thousand pieces of pizza in 20 states and Italy and Canada trying to answer the question of what the best pizza city in the world was.
Naples, Italy, is of course pizza's ancestral home, and many traditionalists insist it is still the home of the world's best pizza.
Other Italians and world travelers say that the thin-crust pizza sold in Rome is their pizza paradigm.
New York City is where America's pizza culture began in 1905, when Gennaro Lombardi applied for a license to sell pizza at his grocery store on Spring Street.
Many discerning pizza lovers will tell you that New Haven, Connecticut, the home of Pepe's, Sally's, and Modern, is the only city worth eating pizza in.
Folks in Chicago and beyond will insist that they have the most fully developed and varied pizza culture in the world, ranging from the casserole-like deep dish pizza of Gino's East, to the thin-crust bar pizza of Vito & Nick's, to the Neapolitan-style pies at Spacca Napoli.
So I would like the good folks reading this to settle the issue once and for all by casting a vote in the first ever SliceSerious Eats Pizza City Poll. After all, we do live in a pizzacracy (or would it be a pizzocracy?)
The best pizza city in the world is:
B. New York
C. New Haven
F. Other (please elaborate)