'USA Today' Pizza Roundup

Ed Levine's top pizza picks drew some emailed and IMed responses that the choices were mostly all coastal and that there were no Chicago joints on it whatsoever. Well, here's a list that ran earlier this month in USA Today. In it, Jeff Ruby, coauthor of Everybody Loves Pizza (along with Penny Pollack), gives the paper his and Ms. Pollack's top spots:

Metro Pizza [four locations, Las Vegas NV; metropizza.com] "The pizza menu at this gourmet oasis in the desert reads like a map of regional flavors. With grilled shrimp on the New Orleans, barbecued chicken atop the Memphis and pineapple on the Honolulu, there's something for everybody...."

The Cheese Board Pizza Collective [1512 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley CA 94709; map] " 'The Cheese Board is a collective, owned by its members, that brings sustainable agriculture to the pizza table,' Ruby says. Each day the menu, featuring a single sourdough vegetarian pizza, is decided collectively by the group...."

Wells Brothers Italian Restaurant [2148 Mead Street, Racine WI 53403; map] "...'They use an old bakery roller for the dough. The result is an impossibly thin, an impossibly crunchy crust. It's delicious. I get cravings just talking about it,' Ruby says."

Pizzeria Bianco [623 East Adams Street, Phoenix AZ 85004; map] "...Proprietor Chris Bianco is a purist who makes pizza his way, no exceptions. The mozzarella is homemade, and the sweet onions are wood-roasted...."

Sally's Apizza [237 Wooster Street, New Haven CT 06511; map] "...When Frank Sinatra couldn't go himself, he'd send his driver on the two-hour trip from New York. 'The coal-burning oven is fired up early in the morning, and it produces a crisp-chewy crust that makes people brag about how far they've traveled to get there,' Ruby says."

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana [157 Wooster Street, New Haven CT 06511; map] "...The owners of this New Haven pizzeria and Sally's Apizza share the same family tree and a friendly rivalry."

Punch Neapolitan Pizza [704 Cleveland Avenue South, Saint Paul MN 55116; map] "...You never know where you're going to find a great pizza place. This one happens to be at a strip mall. 'It's soccer jerseys, wood-fired oven and an owner who comes from Italy. He makes a perfect Margherita'... Ruby says...."

Una Pizza Napoletana [349 East 12th Street, New York NY 10003; map] "...The owner is very serious about pizza and his menu, which only lists four varieties, features a 2,000-word essay on the topic."

De Lorenzo's Tomato Pies [530 Hudson Street, Trenton NJ 08611; map] "... 'It's defined as much about what it doesn't have (no menu, no booze, no credit cards, no public restroom) as what it does. De Lorenzo's makes a crust that is just the right combination of thinness-flexible without being crackery,' Ruby says."

Pizano's [Chicago, three locations; pizanoschicago.com] "... 'The buttery crust tastes like pastry. The dough recipe, used for both the deep-dish and thin-crust pizza, is so carefully guarded that it's made by the owner's mother downstairs in the privacy of the basement,' Ruby says...."

10 great places to moon over a big pizza pie [USA Today]