By Arthur Bovino
February 15, 2018
If you’re serious about pizza, chances are, at one point, you picked up Ed Levine’s Pizza: A Slice of Heaven. It was probably the first, or at least, one of the first serious books about the best pizzas in America. I’ve read my yellow Post-it-filled copy cover to cover at least three times (the binding is giving out).
Some of its information is dated, natural since it was published in 2005. By the time I got there, Maffei in Chelsea was a shadow of what it must have once been. Is New Haven’s Brü Room really bar pizza or just New Haven-style pizza being served in a bar? Would anybody call Todd English’s pizza “consistently good” anymore? Still, while legions of pizzerias Neapolitan, VPN, and otherwise have opened in the decade since, its reporting on old-school places mostly stands the test of time.
While I have and enjoy Daniel Young’s guide Where to Eat Pizza, which lists more than 1,700 pizzerias around the world (full disclosure: I’m one of the 1,000 experts quoted), there’s only so much context and history that can fit in a tome that dense. I usually crave a more background on the places.
I’m the kind of guy who creates spreadsheets and Google Maps of places “to do.” I have one such sheet for George Motz’s must-eat burgers from Hamburger America so I can check its famous burgers off my list (who are we kidding, I check before I go). But sheets can be a pain, and sometimes, I just wish I had a list I could search in Google.
“Some of the the book’s information is dated but the reporting on the old-school places mostly stands the test of time.”
Ed excerpted many of the write-ups from the book on Serious Eats years ago (you can find them using Serious Eats’ tag, Pizza: A Slice of Heaven), and you can still find that reporting online. But I’ve never found a full list of the places Slice of Heaven featured.
So it is that minus three pages of the world’s VPN pizzerias (80) that existed in 2005 (how that number has grown), I’m listing every pizzeria Ed or one of his guest essayists singled out. The pizzerias are cross-referenced a few times, so it can be confusing to count, but by my estimate there are about 213 pizzerias. Let’s call it 200. At last count, including the 46 pizzerias that have since closed, I’ve been to 56, just about half the remaining places in the book.
I hit more every year, and so turn to the book less to supplement my personal to-do list formed by the best pizza lists I read (and have written). But I have still used it occasionally as a supplemental checklist. And I’ve met enough other pizza fanatics like me who might just find this a helpful way to check off some of the country’s (and the world’s) most destination-worthy places for themselves.
So here they are!