More of The Best Pizza!
The Pizza Ratings I've found here are, for the most part, right on (we're missing Letizia's and El Charro from our "visited" list and have added the to the "to visit" list). Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix is one of the best out there, most certainly, and surprisingly, so is Pizzeria Mozza here in Los Angeles (yeah, I know, "Pizza? in Los Angeles???", but trust me, it's worth it).
I sing in a championship barbershop quartet that has traveled 750,000 miles (that's just counting American Airlines, and not the the other airlines we've flown on) in the past 8 years and my mates and I are Pizza connoisseurs. We always make a point of requesting the best pizza place available for the areas we visit every other weekend.
We hail from Los Angeles and can't find much in the way of worthwhile in the area, so when we go out, it's a new opportunity to sample the flavors of the nation. Heck, we think that one could probably compile a "Top Ten" list for either Chicago or New York all by themselves and be happy for years and years!
While we concede that there will never be a definitive list, there is one addition that we all feel would have made it to everyone's Top Ten if you had had the opportunity to visit there:
Cottage Inn Pizza
512 E. Williams St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-2418
This is the original location of one of the finest so-called "Sicilian-Style" pizzas in the USA, which has been franchised in the last couple of decades, but never equaled. This location is not only frequented by students of the University of Michigan, nearby Eastern Michigan University and locals from neighboring counties, but it is the first stop for many former Southeastern Michigan residents who come back to visit during the holidays.
The "Sicilian Style" pizza is a thick, hearty-crusted beauty and deserves its own place alongside the New York Thin Crust and Chicago-Style Pizza Pie.
Cottage Inn is a constantly bustling Italian restaurant - there's always a wait to be seated and the place has a homey, comforting family atmosphere that attracts many students and faculty from the nearby Universities and Colleges, as well as anyone in the area with a discerning palate. Cottage Inn's deep-dish pizza is baked in square pans with a very different style sauce and hearty helpings of cheese and other toppings, baked in a wood-burning stone oven.
While many admire the texture and taste of this pizza's crust, the sauce is the real secret and is closely guarded by the proprietors. Generally, one to two pieces can satisfy an average pizza-lover. Also, as an added unique flavor, sesame seeds are added on the edges of the crust - it really works with all the combined flavors. The quality of ingredients makes for a high-level competitor to any pizza in the USA. Outside of the sauce, the fresh Mozzerella Cheese, Italian Sausage and Pepperoni are excellent components and they also offer a few off-the-beaten-path toppings, such as Feta Cheese as an added garnish (one of my favorites!).
The restaurant manages to keep its fans by utilizing one of its satellite operations (on Stadium Blvd. in Ann Arbor) to ship frozen pizzas throughout the country (our local Los Angeles Chapter of the U of M Alumni Association orders about 40-50 pizzas to prepare on-site for their annual meeting).
The Sicilian-style pizza seems to be something of a local phenomenon and has a few rivals in the area. "Thanos' Lamplighter" Pizza located only one block away on Liberty Avenue is a considerable effort in this style pizza for someone looking for more spicy fare. Also, to further punctuate this region's love of the Sicilian-Style Pizza, a cross-town competitor, "The Tower Inn" in Ypsilanti on Cross Street, near the town's landmark Water Tower (a Greek Restaurant with a remarkably excellent Cottage-Inn knock-off which is, regrettably, closed whenever Eastern Michigan University is closed).
Again, thanks for compiling your own lists. I hope that you can give Cottage Inn a try sometime, as the flavor is unique and worth the effort to get to - regardless of your proximity - while near Southeastern Michigan.
Also, I'm traveling to Binghamton, NY, Kansas City, MO, Kearney, NE and Stillwater, MN over the next few months and would appreciate any recommendations anyone can give!
Brian G. Philbin
International Quartet Bronze Medalists
National A Cappella Champions
PS - Not to dilute the above recommendation, but while we're at it... I really think that one's search must be widened a bit in Chicago to include at least one of the Pizza-Pie restaurants (often referred to as "Chicago-Style"): Giordano's by the Water Tower. A Chicago landmark by a landmark, it is our favorite in the area and equals Pizzeria Uno's flavor, but with a different texture to the unique Chicago Pizza. Again, one piece can usually satisfy your average Pizza-lover and it is absolutely wonderful. The "Ray's Pizzas" of NYC also deserve a shot. "Ray's Pizza" (the first) at 27 Prince Street in Little Italy, Manhattan, "Famous Ray's Pizza" at 11th Street and Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village and if you can't make it to those two, one of the "Famous Original Ray's Pizza" locations around Manhattan will suffice. Okay - I'm going to go make a pizza now..