October 2, 2014

THE TOP FIVE | Where to Get the Best Pizza in Ithaca

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It comes in all different types and colors; red, green, white, flat, deep-dish, stuffed, rolled and even on-a-stick. It can be eaten hot or cold, in summer or winter, at a restaurant or a party. It can be found on nearly every street corner, ordered at over 50,000 restaurants throughout the United States alone, and yet it seems not a single one is identical to another.

I am talking about pizza, of course – an Italian and now American staple rivaled only by the burger in terms of popularity and daily consumption in the United States. In Ithaca alone there are over 15 restaurants from which the popular item can be ordered. It seems all of them have a steady stream of customers, offering a familiar but nevertheless unique take on the ubiquitous dish.

But which pizza is the best?

I decided to try to find the answer myself, sampling a few slices of pizza from Ithaca’s more popular pizzerias. All of them were delicious and satisfying. My top five are ranked below.

5. The Nines

The corn nuggets served here may be ineffable, but the pizza fails to reach such a high level of excellence. Although certainly not bad – many readers will likely disagree with my ranking, and argue that The Nine’s pizza should be at the top of this list – the pizza is rather bland and not nearly as delicious as the pizza offered at some of the other places scattered around Ithaca. The deep dish pizza is well made, but without a noteworthy marinara sauce or cheese blend, the overall dish comes off as lacking. Those who enjoy pub style pizza, however, will likely find the recipe to their liking.

4. The Hot Truck

The famous Poor Man’s Pizza, served to loyal and ardent customers since 1960, is certainly not poor in flavor. Located on Cornell University’s West Campus, the Hot Truck offers customers an original take on the classic Italian dish. Because of the unique design, every bite of the pizza is a bite into a warm, well-cooked crust, and the portion sizes are ideal for hungry college students searching for a late-night snack. The cheese and sauce mix quite well, and the meal is reminiscent of the French bread pizzas commonly served in American middle schools – only much improved. Everyone should try a PMP at least once in their lifetime. After all, if it wasn’t terrific, how would it have ever made theBig Red Ambition?

3. Napoli Pizzeria

Napoli’s pizzas, although somewhat lacking in the crust department, has a magnificent marinara sauce and cheese which is warm and perfectly melted. For its affordable price, the pizza is phenomenal, and will certainly please fans of Americanized pizzas more than perhaps any other place in Ithaca can. It may not have any special or defining quality to make it to the top, but it is nothing short of remarkable.

2. Ciao’s!

A charming restaurant by The Shops at Ithaca Mall, Ciao’s! offers customers a welcoming environment as well as flavorful pizza. Perhaps the pizza’s best feature is its crust, cooked expertly and purposefully burnt in some places, which provides a warm and satisfying mouthful with each bite. The cheese is sweet and natural and the sauce is chunky and succulent. Each slice is served with generously portioned toppings. The Margarita served here is without a doubt the best Margarita pizza I have ever eaten, with appetizing balls of mozzarella melted atop a wonderfully crafted marinara blend. For a traditional Italian pizza, Ciao’s! is the place to go.

1. Sammy’s Pizzeria

Courageously boasting a “Best Pizza in Ithaca” sign above their door, Sammy’s Pizzeria lives up to expectations and delivers a quick yet somehow incredible pizza which seems to be perfect in every way. The sauce is ripe and sweet, the cheese is well-seasoned and melted, and the crust offers a satisfying crunch without being too firm. Their toppings, too, are properly cooked and portioned, and their Chicken Parm Pizza should certainly be a paragon of pizzerias throughout the world. Although some may disagree with my opinion, it’s hard to say that a different pizzeria is better until you’ve been to Sammy’s.