Brett Nemec from Zazas Pizzeria in Chicago

Brett Nemec has worked his way up in the restaurant industry, and several years ago he decided to take the plunge into pizza. But not the tavern style thin, square-cut slices he grew up with in Chicago’s western suburbs; rather, he decided to tackle New York slices, and has been improving ever since he opened in 2021. Zazas is one of several places to find great New York style slices these days in Chicago.

David Sheridan from Wheated in Brooklyn

David Sheridan pivoted to pizza long before the pandemic, but even then he realized how important it was to use an all-natural starter for his dough. The pizzas at Wheated, in Flatbush, Brooklyn, are truly worth the journey. He’s been perfecting his craft for over a decade, and it shows. His next challenge: bagels during the day.

Chris Cutillo from Austin Street Pizza in Forest Hills, Queens (NYC)

Pre-Covid, Chris Cutillo was content running a restaurant supply business, dealing with all kinds of places around New York City. But things changed for him during the pandemic, and he went down the rabbit hole, like a lotĀ folks. He opened Austin Street Pizza in a charming block of Forest Hills, Queens. It’s easier than you might think to get to his shop, and it’s well worth the effort! Big thanks to Serhan Ayhan for the recommendation.

Andrew Bellucci from Bellucci’s Pizzeria in Astoria, Queens (NYC)

Andrew Bellucci has had a tough couple of years. After opening Bellucci Pizza with a business partner then having a falling out during the pandemic, he struck out on his own – just a half-mile away – opening Bellucci’s Pizzeria. Now, in addition to a legal battle, he has to constantly remind guests of his new business, while constantly striving to make the best pizza he can, by using only the best ingredients. His experience working in a pair of Michelin-starred restaurants in Alsace is certainly unique among his peers.

Peter Campbell from Red Wagon Pizzeria in Minneapolis

Peter Campbell has been a force in the Minneapolis food community for several years. When he opened Red Wagon Pizzeria in SW Minneapolis, he immediately tackled the issue of sourcing heritage grains for his dough. The result has been nothing less than spectacular. Combining that artisan dough with creative toppings has put Red Wagon in a class by itself.

Jeff Rogers from Wrecktangle in Minneapolis

Jeff Rogers grew up in Minneapolis, though his family is from the Iron Range, in Northern Minnesota. His restaurant and bar experience in the Twin Cities led him to open his own place, Wrecktangle, which is certainly inspired by Detroit, but doesn’t feel the need to adhere to those regional rules. Jeff creates unique flavors for a pie that is unique among its peers in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Facundo De Fraia from Boludo in Minneapolis

Facundo De Fraia is passionate about all things Argentinean. The Buenos Aires native earned a reputation for making empanadas in the Twin Cities, but soon added pizza to his repertoire when he opened Boludo. His thin, blistered pies emerge from conveyor ovens, as do his Fugazettas – a unique pizza with no sauce, just lots of onions and cheese.

Aaron Lindell & Hannah Ziskin from Quarter Sheets Pizza in L.A.

Partners Hannah Ziskin and Aaron Lindell created two businesses during COVID: House of Gluten (Hannah) and Quarter Sheets Pizza Club (Aaron). Now the two have integrated both into a small shop in Echo Park, just off Sunset Boulevard, near Dodger Stadium in L.A. The pies are resplendent with soft crumb (made from various artisan flours) and sturdy crust, the result of an all-natural starter.

Noel Brohner – L.A. Pizza Consultant

Noel Brohner grew up in the 1970s eating a lot of frozen pizza in California. But as the child of parents hailing from both New York and Chicago, his early impressions were shaped by frequent visits to both cities. After a life-changing experience in culinary school, he emerged as a dough whisperer of sorts, helping some of L.A.’s biggest names develop their pizza programs. Known as @slowrisepizza on Instagram, Brohner is now busy eating, baking and consulting all over California. He talked to us just outside one of his latest finds. More info about him here.

Ryan Baddeley from Pizzeria Badiali in Toronto

Ryan Baddeley is the owner of Pizzeria Badiali, a fantastic slice shop in Queen West, a hipster area in Toronto. We talked about the must-visit places in Toronto (sorry we didn’t get to North of Brooklyn) but kudos to our friend Amy Rosen, who insisted we meet for a slice at Badiali. This is a unique pizza in a city full of Neapolitans.

 

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