Rhode Island’s Best Pizza Joints

Thursday, February 21, 2013


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The Champ! Yes, there's a top pizza in town, and it comes from Cranston.

If there's a more iconic American food than pizza, we sure can't think of what it is. First made in 1889 in the town of Naples, Italy, we Rhode Islanders have put our own spin on this delicious classic and made it our own, thanks in part to a rich Italian heritage. We chose our five favorite Rhode Island pizzerias...and we bet we know what you're having for dinner tonight.

Catanzaro's, Cranston

We have a new champ! Our friends, the Palumbos, came over for the terrible Patriots game that was lost to the Ravens and the only good part of the night was the delectable pizza that they brought from Catanzaro's. We went on our own a couple of nights later and were similarly blown away. This is for people who long for the days when Caserta's ruled the roost. It's an amazing thick crust Scicillian pizza that is the best we've had since the heyday of Caserta's...right down to the size. We made the mistake of ordering a large pepperoni for ourselves and ended up delivering what would be a normal large to family in the area. It is huge. The toppings are fresh and delicious and the caramelized cheese along the edges is the stuff of legends.The portabello and caramelized onion pizza was another good combo. The thick slices of fresh mushroom are roasted first and the onions are slow-cooked to make them sweet and tasty. Expect a little longer wait than a lot of places but those extra minutes are worth it! Get. There. Now. 1283 Park Ave. 946-8880, www.catanzarospizzeriacranston.com

Providence Coal Fired Pizza, Providence

Alright. We admit it...we've driven the two hours down and twohours back just to get the coal fired goodness of the original Frank Pepe's Pizzeria in New Haven. There is something about the high, consistent heat from the coal that makes it a favorite. We were hopeful that a new coal fired joint opening in Providence would save us four hours on the road. Little did we know that this new spot, Providence Coal Fired Pizza, would make folks as happy as Frank himself did all those years ago. This isn't a joint so much as it is a nice, comfortable restaurant that features tasty pizza, cool starters, salads and even dessert. It's all about the pizza here though. The hot coal oven makes those perfect little burnt crusts with our beloved "pizza bubbles" that form along the surface. We love their housemade sausage with mushrooms or caramelized onions if we're creating our own.

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We like the clam pie, too -- local clams along with fingerling potatoes, rosemary and pancetta. It's sweet and salty and earthy and, of course, good! 385 Westminster St. 454-7499, dev.providencecoalfirepizza.com

Bob and Timmy's Legendary Grilled Pizza, Providence

Living in the American birthplace of grilled pizza has plenty of perks. You can go to a lot of area restaurants and find some version of this classic. Chefs use them as a palette for seasonal ingredients. We all know the classic version originated at Al Forno but you can find a close competitor just off the Hill at Bob and Timmy's. They have been delivering on that early promise by staying true to the idea that fresh, thin dough grilled 'till crisp and topped with just the right fresh toppings makes a great pie. And we agree! This is classic smoky grilled pizza. The thin crust has always been a staple but a recent visit left us thinking it has, somehow, gotten better. We gravitate towards the BBQ chicken pizza. The combination of sweet and smoky is our favorite. The smoked gouda and romano cheeses accent each other perfectly. And don't sleep on the pasta dishes...we mean if you ever tire of the pizza! 32 Spruce St. 453-2221, www.bobandtimmys.com

Neo Pizza, Cranston

When Neo Pizza burst on the scene with a win at the Northeast Regional Pizza Challenge, it was to the surprise of many. For a new place to sneak up on folks is almost unheard of around these parts, but that was just what happened. People--you know, us--were blown away by the Gian. A deceptively simple pie, it combined salty pancetta, earthy spinach and olive oil with their three cheese blend. It was blistered in the oven and served hot and bubbly. All of the flavors melded together perfectly. The crust is flavorful and crispy. We tried the whole wheat crust once for a party and it was good also. We have since fallen in love with many other favorites here. The Italian entrees all taste "made with love" and we even liked the chocolate ricotta calzone for dessert. It was like the flavors of your grandma's ricotta desserts from childhood and blown up. Very cool. We are also intrigued and at the same time frightened by the doughboy pizza. We might need some help! 2244 Plainfield Pike, 942-4636, www.neopizzari.net 

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Pizza King, Warwick

The undisputed king, alright, of the classic. This is your Friday-night-and-we've-got-a-housefull go-to spot for the pie that will please all, from snobby foodies to kids. A slightly-oily medium crust with bumps and bubbles is slathered in a sweet sauce and topped with chewy mozzarella and real pepperoni...or whatever your heart desires, of course. The adults tend to go for the chewy, slightly-crispy outer edges of this retangular pizza, where the cheese is sparse and it's all about the crust. Kids and cheese lovers prefer a crustless middle piece, where the mozzarella oozes over the edges and the pepperoni is piled high. At a time when it's hard to find a good take on the classic, Pizza King delivers in more ways than one. Mangia! 1800 Post Rd, 732-1338. www.pizzakingri.com


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