Slideshow: 8 Pizzas That Haunt My Dreams, 2010

The 'Anise and Anephew' at Paulie Gee's
The 'Anise and Anephew' at Paulie Gee's
This pie is really good. Spectacular, actually. The way the braised fennel works with the guanciale is amazing. The vegetable's mellow sweetness finds a beautiful companion in the salty cured pork cheek, and the anisette cream drizzle at the end emphasizes the fennel's licorice-like flavor. Do not hesitate to order it. It's offered some nights as a "special," but Paulie tells us it's moving into his regular lineup on the menu in 2011. (Also, you can learn how to make it at home here.) Paulie Gee's, 60 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11222; 347-987-3747; pauliegee.com

[Photograph: Adam Kuban]

Any Pizza at Loui's
Any Pizza at Loui's
OK, so technically I've never eaten a pizza at Loui's in Hazel Park, Michigan. The closest I've gotten geographically to it is Buddy's in Livonia. I loved Buddy's to be sure. Its oily, spongey, almost pan-fried crust is extremely satisfying. But something about the Loui's pie in my colleague Maggie Hoffman's entry from September (pictured here) looks a little more soulful, a little more greasy (in a good way), and a little more crisp-edged. She says, "The crust is rich, almost cakelike, and tender-crumbed, with a crisp exterior layer. Each slice is slathered with an herbed, peppery tomato sauce and topped with a seeping puddle of tangy, salty cheese." There are dreams you have after the fact and dreams born of aspiration; someday I hope to eat a Loui's pie. Loui's Pizza: 23141 Dequindre Road, Hazel Park MI 48030; 248-547-1711; louispizza.net

[Photograph: Maggie Hoffman]

The Cherrystone Clam Pizza at Motorino
The Cherrystone Clam Pizza at Motorino
It's a white pizza (no tomato sauce) topped with mozzarella, garlic, parsley butter, and amazingly flavorful cherrystone clams. The clams are served shucked, thankfully, and complement the whole shebang rather than overpower as a dominant note as they can on some clam pies. For those worried about a lack of sauce, the compound parsley butter melted atop the pizza lends moisture to the pie, with rivulets of the stuff dripping off onto the plate. No worries, there: Just use the renowned puffy Motorino end crust to sop it up. It's one of the tastiest "dipping sauce" for "pizza bones" I've ever encountered. (Note: Only available at Motorino's Manhattan location.) Motorino East Village: 349 East 12th Street, New York NY 10003; 212-777-2644; motorinopizza.com

[Photograph: Sarah Wu/Motorino Facebook]

The Fig, Goronzola, and Prosciutto Pizza at Kesté
The Fig, Goronzola, and Prosciutto Pizza at Kesté
It's not like we buried the lede in our memorable Pieman's Craft video at Kesté, because we were there primarily to watch Roberto Caporuscio make dough. But, oh what he did with that dough later in the form of this pizza. The figs are "marinated" with gorgonzola, slices of the cheese allowed to sit on them overnight so the fruit absorbs the pungent flavor. The prosciutto's saltiness plays well against the sweetness of the figs. This pizza is seasonal, so call before visiting if you want this specific pizza — though you'd do well with almost pie here. Kesté Pizza & Vino: 271 Bleecker Street, New York NY 10014; 212-243-1500; kestepizzeria.com

[Photograph: Jessica Leibowitz]

The Workin' Fire Pizza from Papa John's Specialty Pizza Contest
The Workin' Fire Pizza from Papa John's Specialty Pizza Contest
Our Big Brother website-traffic data shows that people tend to peel away from these slideshows by this point, which is why I've "hidden" this possibly controversial choice six slides in. I'm not a huge chain pizza fan, and my dreams are not haunted by Papa John's per se, but this pizza kind of opened my eyes to the deliciousness of jalapeños on a pizza when I tried it a PJ's HQ in late June. I know that some of you are into fresh jalapeños, but I like the pickled versions used here. Paired with pepperoni, it's a combo I've been trying to push as a "new classic." Feel free to flame me in the comments now. Papa John's: Somewhere near you, probably; papajohns.com. Or, if you're in NYC, try the jalapeño-pepperoni slice at Famous Ray's, 465 Sixth Avenue, New York NY 10011

[Photograph: Adam Kuban]

A Loaded Pizza from Marco's Pizza
A Loaded Pizza from Marco's Pizza
Sometimes pizza is just pizza. After geeking the fugg out about the stuff in minute detail day after day, it's nice to just enjoy a pizza as an ooey-gooey, loaded-with-stuff, cheesed-to-holy-heaven-as-only-Wisconsinites-can meal. That's how most "civilians" (aka non-Slice'rs) do it, right? And you know what, it's great. Turn off the pizza-analysis portion of your brain, and enjoy the works. Easier said than done, though, but fortunately, a pizza from Marco's is actually pretty good — if a bit too sweet in the sauce. But, damn, the combination of sausage, onion, green pepper, and mushroom can't be beat sometimes. This is basically the comfort food of my youth. Marco's Pizza: 111 East Forest Hill Avenue, Oak Creek WI 53154; 414-764-3330

[Photograph: Adam Kuban]