Thomas McNaughton from Flour + Water Pizzeria in San Francisco

Thomas McNaughton has had success with Flour + Water in San Francisco for more than a decade, but he wanted something more substantial than the delicate Neapolitan pies from that wood-burning oven. His latest – Flour + Water Pizzeria, in the Mission – emphasizes long fermentation, wet dough and electric ovens, to produce some glorious pizzas with exceptional crumb.

Jonathan Goldsmith from Spacca Napoli in Chicago

For the past 15 years, Jonathan Goldsmith has led the charge for authentic Neapolitan pizzas in Chicago at Spacca Napoli, a result of spending several years living and working in Italy alongside master pizzaiolos. But he got a late start in life, after spending many years in academia and clinical social work. He continues to train, educate and nurture others in the industry, while also furthering his own knowledge of the craft. These days, he’s wrestling with the idea of putting in an electric oven to accommodate the large number of to-go orders for a style of pizza that traditionally does not travel well.

Neal DeNardi from Long Bridge Pizza in San Francisco

Neal DeNardi spent years working for various heavy hitters in San Francisco’s pizza world: Pizza Hacker, Tony Gemignani, Del Popolo among them. His hard work led to the birth of his own place – Long Bridge Pizza – located in the Dogpatch neighborhood just south of downtown. If you miss the large, semi-greasy NYC-style slices from back East, you’ll want to spend some time eating your way through his menu, which takes a more artisan approach to the standard slice.

The @eatfreepizza gang from Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream in Chicago

When friends Brad Shorten, Cecily Rodriguez and Billy Federighi started @eatfreepizza on Instagram, they were known for giving away their handmade, artisan pies to their fans. Fast forward two years, and they’re now making a legit East Coast Sicilian with a crispy undercarriage and a focaccia-like interior, from their take out window in Bridgeport. Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream may sell just three things, but pizza is their true passion.

Mark Hopper from Farmshop Marin in Larkspur, CA

This week, Steve takes the ferry from San Francisco’s Ferry Building Market, for a peaceful 30-minute ride up to Larkspur, where Chef Mark Hopper has been working tirelessly on a pair of outstanding pizzas: one emerging from a wood-fired oven, the other a near perfect Sicilian square with lots of chew and crunch. Farmshop Marin is probably better known for their wood-fired pies, but you’d be a fool not to try the squares.

Noam Grossman from Norm’s in Brooklyn

Noam Grossman grew up in New Jersey, eating cheese pizzas on a weekly basis. His love of pizza grew into not one, but two successful operations: Upside, in Midtown Manhattan, and now Norm’s in downtown Brooklyn. In both cases, he is focused on high quality ingredients sourced from the best artisans. At Norm’s, he’s offering a clear alternative to the subpar $ .99 joints that dot the landscape.

Avery Ruzicka from Manresa Bread in Campbell, CA

When you’re part of the Manresa group – a widely celebrated 3-star Michelin rated restaurant in Los Gatos, California – you focus on ingredients and technique. Avery Ruzicka has worked with Chef David Kinch for almost a decade, but over the past few years she’s been focused on Manresa Bread, with three locations in Silicon Valley. At her Campbell, CA location, she does a “Pizza Night” on Wednesdays, selling an artisan Sicilian pan pizza; while it’s on hiatus during the pandemic, she’s hoping to bring it back at the end of June or in July. Steve Dolinsky spoke with her just before the lockdown.

Tommy DeGrezia from Sofia Pizza Shoppe in Manhattan

Steve sits down with one half of the team behind Sofia Pizza Shoppe, on the East Side of Manhattan, just North of the United Nations. Tommy DeGrezia is the force behind the “Doughdici,” as well as a number of creative slices at this tiny shop on 1st Avenue. Known for their ideal NYC triangles and Grandma-style squares, the shop also gets creative with vodka sauce and a spinach-artichoke flavor that initially went viral (in a good way).

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