Three things Buffalonians are universally passionate usually includes sports, chicken wings, and pizza. Ask people in Buffalo what their favorite chicken wing place is and you’ll probably hear arguments involving Duff’s or the Anchor Bar (or Gabriel’s Gate, since the Anchor Bar has become too “touristy” for some). But when it comes to pizza, 10 different people will give you 10 different answers. Where most people favor pizza from a particular region, Western New Yorkers are fiercely loyal to the pizza from their neighborhood. To make matters more complicated, thin-crust New York style and Neapolitan, once oddities in Buffalo, have become full-fledged competitors for the insatiable pizza appetites of WNYers. Here we take a rundown of some the top pizza joints in town, and select our favorites in three categories.
Best New York Style Pizza
Thin crust New York style pizza used to be limited to areas near the University at Buffalo. The flat, wide pizza that requires two paper plates per slice was favored by students from downstate who would turn their nose up at the “townie” pizza. For any true Buffalonian, it was a matter of local pride to reject it on principle. Often described pejoratively by locals as “greasy cardboard,” places like Sal’s were patroned mostly by a niche crowd of UB kids. That all changed when Zetti’s opened in Amherst on Maple road. With a large display of a variety of slices to pick from, Zetti’s was quickly hailed as the best New York style pizza in town and even Alan Bedenko of Buffalo Spree, declared it the best pizza in Buffalo. Zetti’s has been busy evangelizing the gospel of NY-style love, expanding to 4 locations all over Buffalo. Now their chorus is joined by Joe’s on Amherst, Gino & Joe’s on Elmwood, and Molinara’s on Sheridan. Buffalonians have finally come around the big apple’s slices, and we went to town on all of them. Although there were many good contenders, there was one clear champion.
Best Traditional Buffalo Style Pizza
The style of pizza most associated with Buffalo is thick, doughy, with decent helping of zesty sauce and mozzarella. It most closely resembles traditional Sicilian style pizza, although in Buffalo, the specialty is the thick and spicy margherita pepperoni. With so many options out there it’s hard to pick one as the archetypal representation of Buffalo pizza. Amherst residents swear by Bocce Club on Bailey, in South Buffalo, Abbott Pizza, around Buff State, Mister Pizza, and out in Clarence, Gianni Mazia’s rules. A quick Google Map search shows that Hertel avenue might have more pizzerias per sq. mile than any other part of the region, with Bob & John’ and La Pizza club being among the top competitors. After 72 hours of artery clogging taste tests, we had to make the hard choice of picking one.
Best Neapolitan Style
Neapolitan pizza is a relative newcomer in the Buffalo pizza market, but it has gained quite the following among trendy urbanites. Typified as small, crispy flatbread adorned with high quality sauces and gourmet toppings, Neapolitan pizza originates from the Italian mainland and is considered a more European offering. Vera Pizza, Mes Que and Rocco’s in Clarence are among the few locations in Buffalo offering pizza in this style. Vera is quite good, although people really go there for the delicious top-shelf craft cocktails. Although tempted to give it to Vera, there just aren’t enough wood-fired ovens in town to make the competition fair.
Winner: Too early to call
Have a different opinion? Sound off!