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The Best Pizza in Rhode Island: Traditional Pizzas

Thursday, March 24, 2011

 

In Part 2 of our look at local pizza we are featuring locally-owned neighborhood pizza joints. We try to work geographically so every part of the state is represented, and we differ on what makes a great pie. One of us prefers artisanal pizzas with thinner crusts, while the other prefers a thicker crust and more traditional toppings. Let the battle, part deux, begin...

First place: Caserta Pizzeria, Providence

For longer than we can remember, we've been making the pilgrimage to Federal Hill for old-school Sicilian-style Caserta's pizza. The long drive there, past other local pizzerias, let us know we were in store for something special. Today Caserta's remains a great pizza. It starts with the thick crust, which is crunchy on the bottom but soft and doughy underneath the toppings. And of those there are only a few of those to choose from. This is a traditional place so we choose traditional toppings—tangy sauce, cheese, and thick-cut pepperoni that curls up and traps its own goodness. We have to take a Wimpy Skippy (not “Skimpy”) to go, as no one makes a better spinach pie (black olives, cheese, and pepperoni). 121 Spruce St, Providence, 621-3618. 

Second Place: The Original Bob and Timmy's Grilled Pizza, Providence

When uber-respected food writer Alan Richman put together his list of the 25 greatest pizzas in America, the Federal Hill favorite came in at an incredible #5. In particular, Richman loved the spinach and mushroom. We love the award winner too…it’s thin and crisp and smoky from the grill. But we love the barbecue chicken pizza even more. Topped with smoked Gouda, bbq chicken and sauteed red onions it was delicious. The smoke of the grilled crust and the Gouda keep the pie from becoming too sweet. Also on our list is the four cheese, with a pink sauce and gorgonzola. To die for! 32 Spruce St, Providence, 453-2221. 

Third Place:  Neo Pizza, Cranston

When you win a regional pizza contest against the best that New York and New Jersey has to offer in your first year of business, people take notice. And we sure did! Neo pizza is that little gem that is tucked far enough away that the crowds, generally, stay away but, in this case, that works to our advantage. Neo features great Neapolitan hand

tossed pizzas cooked incredibly quickly in a high heat oven and they are perfect, chewy, crunchy bites of pie. The award winner is the Gian, with pancetta, spinach, garlic and herbs with a three cheese blend. The trick here is that they cook the garlic and herbs together and it takes away that bitter raw garlic that can sometimes overpower a slice. We are also partial to the Gabrielle, with prosciutto, chicken and basil. 2244 Plainfield Pike, Cranston, 942-4636. 

Fourth Place: Tommy's Pizza, Providence

For generations folks have been flocking to Chalkstone Avenue for great, consistent pizza and subs. This is old-school pizza at its finest. A recent expansion into Cranston has educated a new generation about Tommy’s pizza and somehow the quality has remained consistent. We are drawn back for two simple reasons: first, the pizza is always crisp, fresh and delish; second, there may not be a better meatball grinder in the state. No specialty pizzas here—they all build-your-own. On our last visit we put together a pie of epic meat proportions: pepperoni, ham, meatballs and sausage and peppers. Crisp, with those little burnt pieces of cheese stuck to the crust, all the meats cooked well with no rubbery toppings. Now the rap on the place is the service can be a little gruff. Be ready to order, be quick and concise and you will have no problems here! 936 Chalkstone Ave, Providence, 621-3509 or 351-4141. 

Fifth Place: Pizza King, Warwick

Our family’s current "go-to" pizza is the great Sicilian style pizza at Pizza King. We stumbled upon this place when we were in Airport Plaza for something else and as a family we haven't ordered a pizza from anywhere else in 6 months. We have talked before about contrast making food taste good— it brings out the best in all the ingredients. Contrast is the base that makes this pizza great. A sweet sauce is balanced by the presence of slightly bitter garlic powder on the crust. Every bite is a symphony of sweet and bitter and crunchy, that forms that perfect bite. We tend to stick to the classics with pepperoni and plain cheese dominating our choices but Pizza King features a wide array of choices and great subs and pastas if pizza isn't doing it for you on a particular day. 1800 Post Rd, Warwick, 732-1338.   


Honorable Mention: Kingston Pizza, Kingston

When Sam Sciabarrasi opened the original Kingston Pizza at the tender age of 23,  he put all the love a third generation Italian-American had learned at the stove of his grandmother. Now, 27 years later, Kingston Pizza has 10 locations blanketing the southern end of the state with owners committed to carrying out Sam's vision. The menu at Kingston Pizza is vast but just about everything we tried hit the mark. Sam is the true innovator when it comes to flavor combinations and he has hit several home runs on the pizza menu. The "My Wife's Pizza" must've kept Sam’s homelife peaceful for years, featuring a double dough crust topped with Roma tomatoes and garlic and then smothered with spinach, broccoli and three cheeses. It shows the depth of flavor that love brings to a pizza. We were also blown away by the "Couch Potato," with mashed potato, bacon, yellow cheddar and sour cream. 63 Briar Lane, Kingston, 783-9130, plus 9 other locations. 

Honorable Mention: Frank and John from Italy, East Greenwich

Rhode Island has had several incarnations of the "two guys from Italy" concept, but Frank and John are the real deal. When we are longing for a trip back to our youth we head down to Frank and John's and we are immediately taken back to our great-grandparents’ and grandparents’ homes. This is serious pizza for serious pizza lovers. The crust is thin and always crisp with great fresh toppings and plenty of cheese. If you're looking for cutting-edge pizza this is not the place for you. But the 7 pizza choices always seem to form new enough combos that we don't ever get bored. We recently enjoyed a pepperoni with sausage and onions and it was wonderful! Nice and crisp with a slightly chewy crust topped with all that goodness. We drove home after eating, listening to Sinatra and dying for the leftovers in the back that smelled so good! 186 Main St, East Greenwich, 401-884-1221 or 401-884-9751.

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Comments:

we love Pizza Gourmet on Hope and Caserta's

Comment #1 by stephanie zhou on 2011 03 26

Tommy's is the best, the Bob and Timmy's. I am confused as to why Caserta's is always mentioned but then again I think Twin Oaks and coffee milk are waaaaaaay over rated.

Comment #2 by Edward Rivers on 2011 03 26

You shouldn't include the big chains in your "locally owned" ratings. Pizza King is located in about 40 cities...might as well said Ronzio or Uno
What about Fellini's, Twin's, Little Fall's. Caserta's has a history of pizza making, but it is far from the "best"...

Comment #3 by Matt Donnelly on 2011 03 27

I am corrected. Pizza King is a RI original, mea culpa...(and they're really good too:)

Comment #4 by Matt Donnelly on 2011 03 27

What about Uncle Tony's in East Providence?

Comment #5 by Justa Facts on 2011 06 01




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