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LocalEats Top Restaurants:
Best Pizza Places
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(continued) Here are the best contemporary restaurants in major cities across the U.S. as selected by the editors of LocalEats.

Raleigh & Durham, North Carolina
Begun by three aspiring musicians in 1993 as a carry-out/delivery place, Lilly's Pizza has expanded to become one of the coolest places to hang out inside the Beltline. Gourmet, California-style pizzas are only one of your options at this see-and-be-seen eatery. About 70 choices of toppings also can complete your stromboli or calzone, while a large selection of lasagnas, salads and soups are tempting too. But Lilly's is best known for its signature pies, and, though you have the option of composing your own, they've done a fine job creating some great combinations for you. The Five Point, for example, features minced garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and fontina cheese, while the Cow Tipper offers an interesting combination of ground beef, black olives and feta cheese.

Of all of the pizza joints in Columbus, it's Tommy's that has established the most loyal following among locals, who claim the pies are among the best in the world. Midwestern to the core, each of the four central Ohio locations slices pizzas into squares and decorates its walls in Buckeye and Big Ten paraphernalia. But the fare they offer is purely Italian-American, originating from founder Tommy Iacono's family recipes brought from overseas when he founded his first restaurant in 1952. Subs, spaghetti dinners and noodle dishes are all well above average, but the real draw at Tommy's is the selection of gourmet pizzas, made to order in 11-, 13- or 15-inch sizes. With a cracker-thin crust and house-made dough and sauces, pies are loaded with up to six toppings ranging from salami, beef and Italian sausage to pineapple, smoked oysters and anchovies.

Salt Lake & Ogden, Utah

One of the most popular University of Utah hangouts, The Pie Pizzeria is located down a flight of stairs in the basement below the University Pharmacy. Dark lighting, low ceilings and decades-old graffiti on every available surface adorn the place, and orders are called out over the speaker system. Here, pizzas are greasy and oversized - the smallest is 12 inches, the largest a whopping 23 inches. Diners can build their own pizzas or choose from specialty pizzas such as the Xtreme Veggie or The Greek, with yogurt sauce, gyro meat, feta, tomatoes and onions. In addition to whole pizzas, The Pie serves subs, pasta dishes and calzone-like creations known as Zappis. The Cheese Pull-a-Part - a pizza-sized collection of garlic and cheese bread sticks bedecked with a pi sign - is one of the most popular items. Although there are other Pie Pizzerias around Salt Lake City, locals insist that the character of the place is captured best at the university location.

Brooklyn, New York

With the exception of former patrons who resent its popularity and one particularly cantankerous Gothamist reviewer, Di Fara in Brooklyn's Midwood is pretty much universally beloved for its outstanding, old-school pizzas. Domenico De Marco, who has a bit of a cult following among foodies on the interwebs, meticulously crafts every pie sold. Yes, this means a long wait, but consider it a rite of passage, or a chance to get hungry. Sure, the place is not much to look at, with green walls, fluorescent lighting, a few ceiling fans (in lieu of AC) and countless framed awards, but the freshly made dough and herbs grown in-house are the more important amenities to consider. Many purists argue that toppings detract from the simple brilliance of De Marco's pizzas, but they prove hard to resist when they're this good. Thick-sliced, flavorful pepperoni, porcini mushrooms and artichokes perfectly complement the copious amounts of olive oil, fresh mozzarella and crispy crust. The fresh basil, added as soon as the pies come out of the oven, is a difference-maker as well. Note that Di Fara is usually closed from about 4:30-6 pm, when Mr. De Marco takes a nap. Every genius needs his sleep.

Indianapolis, Indiana

A restaurant with humble beginnings, Bazbeaux's original store opened in 1986 was "an old decrepit house that had been the home of the gravedigger for the town cemetery, " according to the restaurant. Locals quickly jumped on the gourmet-ingredient bandwagon, and the original five-table Broad Ripple location expanded and was joined by a downtown store. A third restaurant later opened in Carmel. All three spots have outdoor seating, casual décor and bustling atmospheres. Thin or thick, white or wheat, the crust is freshly made each day and topped with house-made sauce and a provolone/mozzarella/Romano blend. On top of that, the options are practically limitless. Bazbeaux offers more than 50 toppings, from goat cheese to pine nuts. Try the Tchoupitoulas, with Cajun shrimp, andouille sausage and roasted red pepper. The rich Pizza Alla Quattro Formaggio, with four cheeses, bacon and mushrooms, is another popular choice. Ditto Bazbeaux's salads, with four house-made dressings from which to choose.

Chicago, Illinois

The sign with the neon blue whale lights the way to unforgettable Chicago-style, deep-dish pizza at Pequod's Pizza. Known for their signature caramelized crust, these pies arrive in cast-iron pans with molten bubbling cheese that's deliciously charred around the edges. Toppings are top-notch as well, with real-deal sausage and thick-cut pepperoni. With the Hawks, Cubs or Bears on the TVs and local beers available by the pitcher, it doesn't get much more Chicago than this.

Oklahoma City, Norman, Edmond, Oklahoma

Hideaway Pizza has been building on a success that began when owner Richard Dermer began working as a delivery driver at the original Stillwater location. Now a thriving chain with many locations, Hideaway features specialty pizza recipes that haven't changed much if at all through the years. One of the most popular is the Pizza of the Gods, which includes artichoke hearts, mushrooms and tomatoes. The usual pizza toppings are available, but more unusual choices include polish sausage, roast beef, shrimp, smoked bacon, smoked turkey, mandarin oranges, pineapple, cheddar, feta, Parmesan, broccoli, black beans, cilantro, corn, fresh basil, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston magazine readers and GQ restaurant critic Alan Richman are among Santarpio's Pizza's legends of faithful fans.
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Houston, Texas

The peerless pizzas at Dolce Vita are just part of the appeal at this popular outpost set in a two-story house in Montrose. Mario Batali's Otto in Manhattan served as inspiration for Marco Wiles (also of Da Marco and Poscol), but Dolce Vita may even go beyond Batali with its creativity. The thin, neo-Neapolitan pizzas are cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven and arrive with a charred, but soft crust topped. A judicious array of toppings are Italian, but not necessarily traditional, such as a combination of Robiola cheese, leeks and pancetta. To start, there is a unique and vast selection of appetizers divided among various fish, salads, salumi and cheeses. The handful of pastas are a pan-Italian collection of simple yet amazingly flavorful dishes. The wine list is chauvinistically all-Italian with food-friendly bottles from a variety of regions.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Osteria's Jeff Michaud, who captured the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic award in 2010, specializes in house-made pastas, thin-crust pizzas and wood-grilled meats and fish.


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