Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Rise—and Fault—in Pizza Lists

We have a guest blog post by one of our favorite pizza writers. Liz Barrett, author of Pizza: A Slice of American History, offers her thoughts on the merits and the traps of pizza rankings.

You’ve undoubtedly noticed the number of “Best Pizza” lists growing over the last few years. We used to see one or two big lists released per year, drumming up huge disagreements over which pizzerias made the list and which did not. I remember when Alan Richman’s 25 Best Pizzas in America list came out in GQ back in 2009. Personally, I thought he named some great places, many of which still make the cut years later, but therein lies the fault with lists—they’re personal.

Don’t get me wrong. I love “Best” lists. I read any I can get my hands on. When I first started working at PMQ Pizza Magazine in 2007, I kept all of the “Best Pizza/Pizzeria” lists that were released. My plan was to make it to every pizzeria that made the list. It went OK for a while there, but then the lists started coming faster and I started falling behind (think Lucy in the chocolate factory). In addition to long-standing historic pizzerias, brand new places started showing up on the lists. How could I make it to all of them without working from an RV?

It suddenly became very apparent that I would never make it to every “best” pizzeria. Besides that, there are more than 70,000 pizzerias in the U.S., so there had to be some missing from the lists I was finding.

I get asked regularly about my “favorite” or “the best” pizza, and I’ve easily eaten enough pizzas to run the comparison, but I very rarely answer the question. 

You see, the odds of my favorite pizza turning out to be your favorite pizza are highly unlikely, and vice versa. We’re all products of our own culinary upbringing and individual likes and dislikes. I recently broke down and participated in a couple of “Favorite” lists, but only because after eight years of writing for the industry it’s getting harder and harder to escape the question.

The bottom line is, “Best Pizza” lists should be read and enjoyed for what they are—a list of someone else’s favorite pizzas. They’re great for promoting pizza and getting the pizza conversation started, but they are by no means the final word in what your best pizza will be. Leave the judging to your own palate, and never stop exploring and searching for your own favorite pizza.

Liz Barrett
Author of Pizza: A Slice of American History (
Editor-at-Large, PMQ Pizza Magazine (

Blogger, The Pizza Insider (


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