Ask a local foodie, “Where’s the best pizza?” and you’ll discover a fountain of passionate opinions. Whether you crave uber-thin New York or a sultry deep-dish Sicilian, Charlottesville has pies to suit every taste. In no particular order:
It’s all about the single slice at Christian’s (1), a perennial favorite for its crispy crust and toppings like sweet fried eggplant, whole cloves of roasted garlic, spinach and roasted red pepper. It’s Sicily in a slice.
Things get exotic at Fry’s Spring Station (2) with the fire-roasted Time Out: spicy lamb sausage, caramelized onion, thin-sliced potato, garlic and creamy gorgonzola.
New York-style, baby! Fabio’s (3) Neopolitan pepperoni is a cheesy, gooey, pizza-lover’s dream. Roll up your sleeves and fold your slice like a true New Yorker.
Crust is king at Mellow Mushroom (4). Hand-tossed chewy, with a satisfying crunch. Chomp down on the Buffalo Chicken (complete with ranch or blue cheese dressing), and you might just think you’re “winging” it.
Anna’s Pizza No. 5 (5) has been serving up authentic pies since 1976. Order the meatball pizza: a smorgasbord of Italian goodness and any meatlover’s dream.
Lighten up with Mona Lisa Pasta’s (6) margherita pie. Crafted on a whole wheat dough and cooked in a woodfire oven, it overflows with basil, tomato, fresh mozzarella and pine nuts. Mona Lisa rejiggers the pizza recipe every day (read: you might not see the margherita again for a while!), but there’s no such thing as a bad slice at the Preston Plaza spot. Ask them to “half-bake” your pizza to finish at home on your own.
Get him to the Greek! Crozet Pizza’s (7) pie is a delicious array of feta, onion, tomato, green pepper and black olives. It’s just one reason CP’s celebrating its 34th year in business—not to mention its accolades from the Washington Post, National Geographic and Fodor’s. —Jenée Libby
Hold the tomato
For most people, pizza is a quick by-the-slice or by-the-pie answer to lunch or dinner, but to some, pizza is the answer to everything. Even breakfast and dessert—anything goes for those who see pizza crust as a blank canvas beckoning for tantalizing toppings of any kind.
For an outside the take-out box approach to pizza, we consulted a doctor—Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie, that is. The North Garden joint has been dishing up some seriously tasty pies since 1998 and there’s no limit to owner Michael McCarthy’s imagination when it comes to unusual unions for his favorite food and life’s work.
It’s not on the menu, but some mornings McCarthy treats the early shift to a breakfast pizza that’s a take on Quiche Lorraine. He piles a crust with caramelized onions, bacon, swiss and whole eggs, and bakes it until the eggs are cooked, but the yolks are still runny. Cock-a-doodle-doo!
At the end of a long night, McCarthy whips up a dessert pizza. The staff favorite? A thin crust sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar, baked until crispy, then topped with ice cream and caramel sauce. Let’s hope they’re hiring. —Megan Headley
For pizza purists, the only sauce worth mentioning consists of uncooked crushed and strained top quality tomatoes, a pinch of salt and sugar for balance, and a subtle dose of dried herbs. Uncooked tomato sauce has a bright flavor and natural sweetness that depends entirely on using the best canned tomatoes.
Strain 1 can whole San Marzano of Muir Glen organic tomatoes in a colander, place them in a medium bowl and pulse in a blender or food processor to crush but not puree. Mix in 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oreg-ano, 1/4 tsp. crushed fennel seeds and a pinch of salt and sugar to round out the flavor. Spread thinly over crust, leaving about a 1" border all around.