20 Beloved Local Pizza Chains the Rest of the Country Needs



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Pie Perfection

There's no such thing as too much pizza. That's why so many successful pizzerias have turned their businesses into small chains. Regional restaurants are better able to cater to local tastes than the big national guys, and let's face it: The pizza is always better, too. These regional chains are so admired that they garner great reviews, rack up awards, and in many cases have even spawned niche pizza styles.  

Related: We Tasted 13 Frozen Pizzas and This Is the Best

Regina Pizzeria

1. Regina Pizzeria

Region: Boston

Bostonians are fiercely loyal about everything, and that includes Regina Pizzeria. And not just because it's the official pizza of the Red Sox. All 12 of its locations draw consistently good reviews on Yelp, and it's been ranked the top pizza restaurant in the U.S. by TripAdvisor. The thin, bubbly crust pizzas have been baked in a brick oven for optimal char since a North End location opened in 1926. Try the Giambotta loaded with pepperoni, Italian sausage, salami, mushrooms, peppers, and fresh basil.

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Pizza Joints Across America

Ian's Pizza

2. Ian's Pizza

Region: Wisconsin

Originally opened in Madison near the University of Wisconsin, Ian's Pizza quickly became the late-night hangout for fresh, creative slices after bar hopping. The popularity of the big, foldable slices among current and former college students led to more Madison locations, plus a few in Milwaukee. Now you're just as likely to see huge 20-inch pizza boxes being donated to Capitol protesters as being delivered late at night to a Madisonian's wedding. The chain has broken out of the Dairy State with forays into Seattle and Denver, though the Colorado location closed after suffering extensive flooding. The mac and cheese slice is the claim to fame, but don't sleep on the drunken ravioli or Smokey the Bandit with house-made ranch. 

Related: Best Cheap Pizza: Deals and Price Comparison


3. Buddy's

Region: Detroit

It's impossible to talk about Detroit-style pizza without talking about Buddy's. The rectangular, thick-crust pizza with sauce dolloped on top was created at Buddy's in 1946, supposedly using steel pans from a nearby auto factory. It's been so loved that it spurred many imitators, inadvertently creating a new regional style of pizza. Now family members fight over the corner pieces, where there's more crispy, caramelized Wisconsin brick cheese — not mozzarella — to crunch on. While Detroit-style pizza is appearing on more menus nationwide, it's never the same as Buddy's.

Related: Surprising Facts About Pizza, America's Favorite Comfort Food


4. Giordano's

Region: Illinois

Forget Chicago-style deep dish for what Giordano's serves: stuffed pizza. It evolved from an old recipe for Italian Easter pie in the Giordano family, and when some family members immigrated to the U.S., they decided in 1974 to open a pizzeria based on the recipe. The crust is more breadlike than crisp, with by far the thickest layer of mozzarella of all Chicago pizzas hidden under a thin layer of dough and pool of tomato sauce. While the Italian sausage is a classic filling, consider trying the fresh spinach — or a top-notch, bar-style, thin crust pizza. Giordano's has also broken out the Midwest with locations in Colorado, Florida, and Nevada.

Singa’s Famous Pizza

5. Singas Famous Pizza

Region: New York and mid-Atlantic area

This Greek-style New York chain specializes in made-to-order pizza and has been serving it since 1967. While its pizza has a slightly thicker crust than traditional New York pizza, fans describe it as buttery and delicious. As one Yelp reviewer said, “This place absolutely slaps.” The growing chain has also caught on beyond the Big Apple with at least one location as far west as Texas.

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Roberta’s Pizza

6. Roberta’s Pizza

Region: New York

With a wood-fired oven and a focus on local and sustainable food, Roberta’s gives diners a meal they can feel good about — and the thin-crust pizzas taste great, too. Fans (which include Beyoncé and Jay-Z) love the Bee Sting Pizza, which combines chili and honey for a sweet-spicy kick. While there are only four full-service locations (and four additional “outposts,” including one in Singapore), good news — you can grab an order through Goldbelly anywhere. 

Cacia's Bakery
Cacia's Bakery

7. Cacia's Bakery

Region: Philadelphia and New Jersey

Philadelphians love a local style of pizza called tomato pie. It's made in bakeries across the city, and instead of focusing on the cheese, it's got a thick layer of tomato sauce on a focaccialike crust. One of the best places to get it is Cacia's, which has been baking since 1953 and now has six area locations. It's an extra saucy version of tomato pie, and was named one of the best places to get it by local media. If you'd miss the cheese too much, don't worry, because they serve rectangular slices of cheesesteak, spinach, and red sauce with cheese too. 

Ledo Pizza

8. Ledo Pizza

Region: Washington, D.C., and mid-Atlantic area

This sit-down pizza chain centered in the D.C. metro area tugs at many residents' heartstrings because it's been around since 1955. Ledo Pizza is beloved by generations of University of Maryland students, who can now get their fix of the rectangular pizzas at over 100 locations on the Eastern Seaboard. The crust is thin and flaky, almost like puff pastry, and it's topped with sweet sauce and smoked provolone cheese. Pepperoni, one piece per square slice, is cut thickly, so you know you're biting into a piece of meat. 

Happy Joe's Pizza and Ice Cream

9. Happy Joe's Pizza and Ice Cream

Region: Iowa and other Midwestern states

If the idea of taco pizza doesn't sound appealing, you're probably not an Iowan. Happy Joe's, which started in Davenport in 1972, introduced the country to the unique pie — and, as one Yelp reviewer put it, "if you haven't had their taco pizza, you haven't lived (or at least you are not a true Dubuquer)." The round pizzas have a fluffy, medium-thickness crust not unlike the big national chains. A layer of refried beans acts as the sauce, along with sausage, taco-seasoned beef, and cheese. Once it's baked, it gets topped with a practical taco salad of lettuce, tomatoes, broken nacho-seasoned tortilla chips, and taco sauce straight from little packets. Shed your preconceived notions and go to town. And while Happy Joe's is essentially Iowa- and Midwest-based, it also lists a number locations in Egypt.

Kimberly-Gretchen B./Yelp

10. Chanello's

Region: Virginia and North Carolina

If you love dipping your pizza in ranch, you've found your perfect pizza restaurant in Chanello's. Every pizza at this small chain, which started near the Norfolk Naval Base in 1987, comes with buttermilk ranch for dipping — and it serves late into the night, prime time for dipping anything in ranch dressing. While pepperoni pizza and cheese breadsticks are a classic order, the chicken-topped pizzas go especially well with the ranch, including the Florentine with garlic butter, herbs, chicken, spinach, and tomatoes. 

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

11. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

Region: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York

Frank Pepe is the champion of New Haven-style pizza, since it originated there way back in 1925. The restaurant's namesake and founder was an Italian immigrant who started firing pizzas in a coal-fired brick oven for a deeply charred, crisp yet chewy crust that ranks consistently as one of the best in the U.S. The original tomato pie (with or without anchovies) is the classic, but the unique white clam pizza is just as popular, topped with fresh clams, garlic, Romano cheese, oregano and olive oil. 

Sammy's Pizza

12. Sammy's Pizza

Region: Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin

Founded in the Iron Range town of Hibbing, Minnesota in 1954, Sammy's Pizza now has 15 locations, most of them still in the northern part of the state. The longevity of the brand has made it a staple for residents, especially in small towns where options are limited. The founder of the restaurant spent some time in Chicago, which explains why the pizza most closely resembles the style popular there, with a thin, crunchy crust and raised edge that's cut into small squares. Meats such as sausage are placed evenly on the pizza, ensuring every piece has some.

Scott K./Yelp

13. Gionino's

Region: Ohio

Gionino's has practically taken over the Akron and suburban Cleveland area. It serves a triple threat of pizza, "Italiano fried chicken," and jo-jos, which are potato wedges broasted like the chicken. Remarkably, it does all three items really well, which is why it's so popular. The hefty pizza comes on a pillowy, medium-thickness crust, and it's loaded with herby tomato sauce and toppings. The pizzas are well done because of all the toppings, so char spots appear evenly over the provolone (not mozzarella).

Mountain Mike's Pizza

14. Mountain Mike's Pizza

Region: California

Mountain Mike's first opened in Palo Alto in 1978, and it's become so popular it now has more than 200 locations, the vast majority in northern California. Yelp ratings for most locations are consistently good, which is rare for a chain this large, with reviewers generally agreeing that "their pizza tastes so fresh and just outright delicious." Are you a fan of the cupping pepperoni that you find everywhere now? These guys were using it before it was trendy. Try the Everest (yes, specialty pizzas are named after mountains) with a mountain of toppings including Italian sausage, linguica, bell peppers, and olives.


15. Bertucci's

Region: Massachusetts, with locations in other New England and Mid-Atlantic states

Back in the 1980s when pizza was much less varied than it is today, Bertucci's was a revelation in the Boston area. Instead of the huge national chains and local Greek pizza places that had greasy, doughy crusts, Bertucci's had a thin, crispy crust of fermented dough cooked in a brick oven. It's that crust and quality of toppings that scored them the title of best pizza chain in America. Try the Ultimate pizza if members of your house like different toppings; each quarter has a different meat.

Oregano's Pizza Bistro

16. Oregano's Pizza Bistro

Region: Arizona, with a few locations in Colorado

There are many Midwestern expats living or wintering in Arizona, so it makes sense that they'd want to eat some Chicago-style pizza occasionally. That's where Oregano's comes in, with its menu of pan, thin crust, and stuffed pizzas that the founder's father enjoyed growing up on the north side of Chicago. Now there are about 20 locations in Arizona with large menus of pizza, pasta, and sandwiches. Pizza toppings, such as meatballs and artichokes, are applied judiciously no matter which crust you choose.

Imo's Pizza

17. Imo's Pizza

Region: Missouri, with some locations in Illinois and Kansas

St. Louis-style pizza is an unusual thing, and people either love it or hate it. If you grew up in St. Louis, there's no question that you ate Imo's pizza at some point, so many locals love it. Like many Midwestern pies, it has a crackerlike crust and is cut into squares. But where it differs is the cheese: Provel, a processed blend of cheddar, Swiss and provolone, is what tops these pizzas. The results are gooey rather than stringy when melted, and it's become a cornerstone of pizza in the area. Grab that other St. Louis specialty, toasted ravioli, for an appetizer.

Lou Malnati's

18. Lou Malnati's

Region: Illinois, with a few locations elsewhere in the Midwest and Arizona

Restaurant namesake Lou Malnati got his start working in Chicago deep dish pizza restaurants in the 1940s, but it wasn't until 1971 that he opened his own pizzeria. Since then, it's become one of the most popular chains to get deep dish, with 61 locations in Illinois alone. The crust is crunchy, flaky, and buttery, and has no problem holding up to the large amount of cheese and toppings. Always get the Italian sausage, which is made specially for the restaurant to be pressed into the cheese in one continuous layer. 

Beau Jo's

19. Beau Jo's

Region: Colorado

Beau Jo's is one of the best purveyors of Colorado-style pizza, a style most people outside of the state aren't familiar with. It's huge and thick, with a massive rolled crust around the edge that both acts as a barrier to hold the toppings in and as a dessert when you dip it in the honey that comes with your pie. It's so huge that it's sold by the pound, not by the slice. The topping combinations are creative and chock-full of ingredients, such as the Cajun with its pepperoni, andouille sausage, onions, jalapeños, cheddar, and provolone. It's perfect, filling fare to fuel your outdoorsy adventures. 

Marion's Piazza

20. Marion's Piazza

Region: Ohio

Since 1965, Marion's Piazza has been baking up unique pizzas for Dayton-area customers. Like many pizzerias on this list, the style of the pizza was so popular it became the standard for pizza in the area, and now there are a handful of locations around Dayton. The decor at most locations is about as old-school as the pizza toppings, which include local favorites such green olives and sauerkraut. Toppings tend to be in small pieces and spread in an even layer across the whole pizza, which is thin crust and cut into tiny squares.