Best Pizza in Baltimore
It goes by many names, but there’s only one. Pizza. Pie. Za. Dough. Life.
When we start talking about pizza, there’s a lot to talk about. Defining an entire genre of food is no
simple task, but pizza has somehow transcended the boundaries of being a single dish, within a genre,
and has become a genre of food all on its own.
Once claimed by the Italians, and created in Naples, the domain of the Pizza was thought to be based on
3 simple things – dough, sauce, cheese. Anything else was a topping. Now we have the white pizza,
breakfast and dessert pizza, Mexican pizza’s, and anything else you can imagine. Pizza is an artform, and
the basic 3 ingredient origins no longer define the dish.
For the sake of this article, and my sanity, I’m going to stick to the Holy Trinity, and talk about good pies
that can be found in Baltimore. After working on the food tour, and spending a lot of time eating in and
around this town, I can tell you there is no “best” pizza, cheesesteak, crabcake, pie, or wings. Each
person is different, and their favorite food is going to be special to them. We’ve sampled many pizza’s in
the area, and while Baltimore City has dozens and dozens of examples of excellent pizza, we’re choosing
to stay to the East side of the city, and talk about the options available here.
We’re going to pay homage to a few different places, for a few different reasons. I’m keeping the
classifications simple – Gourmet or Artisnal pizza (Neopolitano style, for example); standard variations
(NY style or thin crust); and standard deviations (deep-ish NY style meets Chi-town).
As with all things, let’s talk about the place’s I love first – Matthews and Verde.
Matthews is a standard deviation, and they make a hybrid NY style meets Chicago deep. They have been
making pizza for over 50 years now, and they are among the highest rated establishments in the city.
They have a very simple menu, with only a dozen variations on their pizza, and a few select choices of
sub, salad, and pasta. Simplicity, a great product, and years of know-how is what keeps Matthews at the
top of every pizza list in the city. I am not saying it’s the best for you, but it’s definitely kept me coming
back for years.
Verde is the new kid in town, so to speak. They’ve been up and running for more than half a decade
now, but they still have a hip new feel. High end pizza, and most certainly artisanal in nature. These
Neopolitan style pizziolo’s make their pies on a slab of marble, and top them with fresh and vibrant
veggies and meats from around the globe. Homemade mozzarella and a thousand variations of
proscuttio, arugala, fig, and olive oil will astound you. With talented mixologists and a vibrant indoor
setting, it’s no wonder that Verde keeps couples coming back. They load up a mean pizza, consult on a
great accompanying wine, and make this an elegant date night establishment. They have earned my
return business time and again.
Homeslyce is another restaurant in Canton, and showcases a great standard pie. NY style, and loaded
with American toppings. Sausage? Pepperoni? Meatballs? This is the place. I’ll give them some real
credit for the meatballs – beef and lamb spiced mix, and great mouthfeel. The sauce is homemade, and
not too sweet. The pie is big, and the setting is extremely comfortable. If you are looking for a great
standard pizza, at a decent price, and a great place to watch a ballgame, drink a beer, and enjoy some
time with friends – Homeslyce.
Bartenders is a bit of a wild card. Another standard pizza, but they spice it up in interesting ways. Crab
and cheese? Okie dokie. Want a 4 meat cholesterol bomb? Let’s go. Spicy fire, with jalapeno, crushed
reds, and fire sauce? Get the extinguisher! This place is great for their adventurous pies, and their killer
menu. Simple like Matthews, these guys stick to a smaller menu, but they always have a nightly special.
I’ve had a mac’n’cheese shepherd pie here that made me want to sing. The chef’s are the owners, and
they know their business. It’s a great bar too, with fantastic local brew selection. I keep coming back for
People would kill me if I left them off the list, and I know why. It’s a community pizza
establishment. With a braided crust, and a large selection of pies, this place is great for the pure
aesthetic of the joint. Large restaurant that looks corporate for half a second, but then you see the
difference. This place has been serving and growing with the community in east Baltimore for decades,
and they are just getting started. They have put a lot of time, energy, and money into making their
restaurant the perfect hybrid of an old fashioned soda fountain joint and a pizza palace. Everyone takes
pride that works there, and the matching uniforms and bubbly energy is infectious. Once you receive the
large pie, you get it. This is a place for family and good values. It’s wholesome. That’s something that
you can’t incorporate, and you can’t mimic. The community loves this place, and they love their
community. The pizza is good, even if it’s standard American fare. Pepperoni, Extra Cheese, and a
Rootbeer for me. Feels like my childhood, all over again.
So where is the best pizza in the city? You decide. Go on an adventure, and enjoy yourself. Honorable
mentions that were not included above, but that have made a stand in my mind, are Hersch’s, Iggy’s,
Never on Sunday (great name!), Tuttie Gusti, and my childhood favorite Milano’s. Each is good for a few
reasons, but the above features pies hold an extra special place in my heart. Thank you for reading, and I
hope you are inspired to go find your favorite pie! While you’re at it, take a food tour, and join us as we
tell stories of the city, and share our love of food.