Start visiting new and exciting countries one delicious slice at a time!
It used to be that if you wanted to travel the world to find the best pizza, there were only two destinations that mattered: Italy and New York City. Boy, how things have changed. Today, world-class pizza can be found in some of the most obscure corners of the globe, where styles have morphed and changed to meet local products, regional tastes, and artisan idiosyncrasies.
To discover how things have changed, it’s important to talk to an expert. That expert is International Pizza Consultant (yes, that’s a job) Anthony Falco, who has just published a book called Pizza Czar, where he outlines dozens of recipes for the global scope of pizza and shares stories of the best pizzerias on the road.
First, to break things down, there are now so many styles of pizza, it’s hard to keep track. But here’s an attempt at a list based on location alone: Neapolitan, Roman, Sicilian, New York, New Haven, Chicago, Detroit, Old Forge, St. Louis, California, Quad Cities, Tokyo, Ohio Valley, Colorado Mountain, Greek, DC Jumbo, Portuguese, Brier Hill, Toronto, and Hawaiian. There’s probably more, but you get the idea.
If you want to travel the world through your pizza-craving stomach, here are some Falco-approved spots and the unique pizzas they offer.
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“Brazil is huge,” says Falco in Pizza Czar, “São Paulo has a large Italian community and a strong pizza culture. Paulistanos call their city the ‘pizza capital of the world’ (they can fight over that title with Old Forge, Pennsylvania). But considering only New York City has more pizzerias by total number, it’s a valid claim.”
The pizzerias Falco recommends in São Paulo include Castelões Cantina & Pizzaria, which is a wood-fired pizza spot that mixes Roman and Neapolitan styles. There’s Pizza da Mooca, which is Neapolitan-ish (according to Falco). And there’s Carlos Pizza in Vila Madalena that also delivers on wood-fired Neapolitan style.
But what makes Brazil stand out is its toppings. There’s a Bolognese pizza that lathers the luscious ragu sauce on top. And there’s the New Portuguese pizza that includes ham, onion, olives, and sliced hard-boiled eggs.
Any pizza pilgrimage to Tokyo should begin at the source. “When pizza guys talk, they eventually discuss Tokyo-style pizza–it’s almost mythical–and inevitably they talk about Susumu Kakinuma’s Seirinkan.” Legend has it that Kakinuma went backpacking through Italy, became obsessed with Neapolitan pizza, came back to Japan, and by memory, built his own oven and started making idiosyncratic replications of the authentic Italian pie. Today, Seirinkan is considered one of the best pizzerias on the planet.
Other must-visit spots in Japan, according to Falco, include Savoy, PST, Pizzeria e Trattoria da ISA, and Il Pappalardo in Kyoto. What separates Tokyo-style from other pizzas is the insane attention to detail and the balancing of every single ingredient, allowing each pizza to achieve that umami flavor that is missing from your average slice.
“There are a lot of Italians in Thailand and so there’s lots of Italian-style pizza, everything from Roman thin crust to Neapolitan. There are people making mozzarella and Italians (and Thais for that matter) with mozzarella companies. There’s even Tokyo-style Neapolitan.” Falco explained.
Falco consulted on a project in Bangkok to create a great New York slice. The end result was Soho Pizza, where he mixed Italian and French flours to mimic American bread flour. “It’s a fantastic New York slice. Expats love it. A retired cop from Jersey who visited said it was some of the best pizza he’d ever had. Mission accomplished.”
Although there’s no particular Thailand style, there are roughly 300 Italian restaurants to choose from in Bangkok alone. Some of the best pizzas can be found at Pizza Massilia, Peppina, and Il Bolognese.
Traveling through Falco’s new book, Pizza Czar, is the next best thing to visiting these pizzerias in person. So, if you find yourself having wanderlust, buy Falco’s book, and dive into a new culture by making their pizza at home. Then, get vaccinated, book a flight, and go explore the world through pizza for yourself.