Franco Pepe from Pepe in Grani (Caiazzo, Italy)

Franco Pepe has been in business since 2012, but it was the Chef’s Table: Pizza episode that helped catapult him into stratospheric popularity among pizza aficionados. He has built a temple to the art of pizza – Pepe in Grani – where all dough is mixed by hand, and toppings are curated from around the country, oftentimes transformed into unrecognizable shapes. We got a rare tour of his space, in a renovated 14th Century structure hidden away on a tiny side alley.

Sexton Garcia from Editor Pizza (Miami Beach)

Tucked into the first floor of the Urbanica Hotel in South Beach, a Brooklyn-style pizza awaits, topped with Bianco di Napoli tomatoes and Grande cheese. Yes, not all slice joints in S. Beach are equal! Editor Pizza is taking the beach pizza concept a few steps further, with a slight Argentinian twist.

Robert Maleski from Milly’s Pizza in the Pan (Chicago)

Robert Maleski grew up on Chicago’s North Shore, devouring tavern style, thin crust, square-cut pizza. But a visit to Burt’s in Morton Grove as an adult changed his life, literally. He’s been obsessed with deep pan pizza ever since. He opened Milly’s Pizza in the Pan during the pandemic, and just moved into a permanent space about a year ago, where he still makes every pizza himself.

Dan Kluger from Washington Squares in NYC

Dan Kluger took a very different route to pizza making. A classically trained chef who has worked with NYC legends like Danny Meyer, Tom Colicchio, Floyd Cardoz and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, he started Washington Squares as an answer to COVID restrictions, when his restaurant – Loring Place – was shuttered. Now the grandma-style squares are available all of the time from the basement kitchen; even on Goldbelly for nationwide shipping.

John Margulies from Magic John’s in Berlin

From Israel, to New York City and then…Berlin of all places. John Margulies went from clubs and electronic music to pizza, deciding to open his own pizzeria – Magic John’s – just days before the world shut down in 2020. Today, he’s on a path toward expanding his brand all over Germany with his unique take on New York style and Detroit style pies. One of the things that has served him well is his innate hustle, and his ability to pivot almost daily. You think you have supply issues? Imagine starting from scratch when it comes to flour sourcing, or cheese and sauce, when there is no such thing as Grande or Bacio or Stanislaus.

Fred Eric From Pi’ L.A. in Los Angeles

What is “L.A. style” pizza? Fred Eric has some strong opinions on the matter. For one thing, it means using local toppings inspired by the immigrants who settled there, so Korean and Latin for starters. But it also refers to the use of kombu in the water used to make the dough. The result at Pi L.A. is an über light and crispy base for a pie that has perfect proportions and OBR (Optimal Bite Ratio).


George Bumbaris from George’s Deep Dish in Chicago

George Bumbaris has had more jobs than most pizza makers: home inspector, real estate broker, and professional cook after attending culinary school. But he tapped into his own Greek heritage to come up with a dough for a deep pan pizza unlike anything else in the country, at George’s Deep-Dish. This is 3rd Wave deep-dish for sure, since Bumbaris is using an all-natural starter for his dough.


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 lot 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.

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