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Providence, third best pizza town in the country


Bob & Timmy’s Pizza. Photo (cc) spablab

I think a lot of these Travel + Leisure Magazine superlatives are getting a bit silly. The whole “America’s Favorite Cities” thing just seems like a whole lot of link bait to me (even if, according to my Facebook wall and Twitter stream, Providence seems to be doing pretty well in the rankings1).

Is it strange that I am surprised to read that Providence is the third best pizza town, after Chicago and New York? Sure we have a lot of Italians, and sure we invented grilled pizza and that weird cold pizza strip thing (which I refuse to embrace, sorry), and sure we have a lot of college kids. But are we really that good when it comes to pizza?2

I love me some Fellini’s and Nice Slice is just grand. Speaking of grilled, Bob & Timmy’s is way too close to my apartment for my waist line. But I lately have found myself craving pizza. I feel like there is a real pizza (and I base that on living in New York probably). Is there anyplace in Providence to get a slice that you fold in half and wash down with a Coke while walking down the street?

People, help me, where is Providence’s best pizza?

1 What is so great about being “most underrated” or what being “most underrated” even means, I’ll never know.
2 I know we have current and former New Havenites amongst our readership. Bring it!


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27 Responses to Providence, third best pizza town in the country

  1. brick March 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    They must really like grilled pizza. I’m a PVD homer and I would prefer New Haven style myself to anything but New York.

    There was a place in Cranston I believe that had almost authentic New York style that you talk about. But I’m pretty sure they closed. If Bret still checks in around here, he would know.

  2. RunawayJim March 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    I grew up in the New Haven area. The best of Providence pizza doesn’t come close to New Haven pizza, which I consider the best in the world, even better than New York. Chicago “pizza” shouldn’t even be called pizza.

    As for the best places in Providence… Tommy’s is my go-to. They’re always consistently good. Bob & Timmy’s makes an awesome grilled pizza, as does Cafe 412. If I want thin crust, I go Fellini’s or Pizza Pi-er. They’re super pricey though. Outside of those places, the only other place I get pizza from is Ronzio. I tend not to believe in chain pizza, but it’s a local chain and it’s not half bad for what it is (and compared to my other options, it’s quite tasty). Antonio’s is ok. I haven’t been to Nice Slice, but I avoid the East Side (Fellini’s delivers anywhere in the city, Pizza Pi-er does not). But generally, I do love Tommy’s.

    For a brief time, New Haven Apizza on the Centerdale end of Mineral Spring made a pretty close copy of a true New Haven style pizza. It was good, but they’ve lost their ways. Their dough is super bland.

    Twin’s on the other end of Mineral Spring by the Pawtucket line is also good.

    But if you want melt in your mouth amazing pizza, you gotta go to Modern Apizza or Sally’s Apizza in New Haven. Expect to wait, especially at Sally’s (I go to Modern because of that). The clams casino pie at Modern is to die for. Bar in New Haven also has excellent pizza. They make an awesome mashed potato pizza, which is heavy and sounds weird, but it’s quite tasty. That other place, Pepe’s, I’ve never been to (or at least I don’t remember eating there, I think I’ve been to The Spot, which is the same place, just a building out back). I came from a Sally’s family (yes, I’m Italian).

  3. Nikos March 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    I think Providence may be on so many lists since it is one of only 35 cities that they even mention on that website and all the count downs are of 22 cities. Many major, much larger metropolitan areas are not even mentioned on the site. I appreciate recognition for Providence, but I prefer it to be legitimate accolades rather than fluff.

    That said, the pizza here is one of the few things that is noticeably better here than where I was previously living (Pittsburgh). Pizza Pie-er on Wickendon is incredible and I’m also a big fan of Pizza Gourmet on Hope St.

  4. katy March 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    the nice slice, hands down.

  5. Jef Nickerson March 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    My problem with Providence Pizza is two fold, one is, crust. There is so much bad crust out there, if I wanted sauce and cheese on cardboard, I would put sauce and cheese on cardboard. The other is the that’s not pizza problem, which is admittedly a personal bias.

    Casserta’s for instance, which I enjoy very much, is not pizza in my opinion. Even Fellini’s, which I like, is not pizza in my opinion, too much stuff on it (they have really good crust though). Sicilia’s on the Hill, hate it, and it is not pizza.

    Sadly, Ronzio’s or Pizza Queen come the closest for me when I desire “pizza.” And both have crust just slightly better than cardboard. I actually really like Gabriel’s on Broadway Street, or did. Every time I try to order from there it is closed. Coming from the Cape though, I really like Greek style.

  6. Jef Nickerson March 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    Actually, a Nice Slice cheese or pepperoni is a real pizza to me too. I’m just never on Thayer Street anymore, especially since they opened that Crap in a Cone place up there. That place scares me.

  7. RunawayJim March 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    Gabriel’s is really good. I also like Minerva’s for Greek pizza (there’s a lot of Greek pizza in southern CT too, if they didn’t own a diner, they owned a pizza place).

    Caserta’s is good if you want thick Sicilian style pizza. Their sauce is awesome, but it’s like a donut with sauce and cheese.

    Sicilia’s pizza is the absolute worst pizza I have ever had. I’d rather eat Domino’s or Papa John’s. Their thin crust is like eating cardboard and their thick crust has way too much cheese.

    I had forgotten about Pizza Gourmet. They’re actually really good. They don’t deliver and I try to avoid the East Side, so I’ve only been there once, but I was impressed. I’ll need to order from there again, maybe tomorrow.

  8. Andrew I March 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    That list is stupid because New Haven is not #1. Seriously.

    New Haven is my favorite even though I grew up folding countless NYC slices. I have simply given up on finding a perfect replica of either in Rhode Island. Frank and John from Italy Pizza in East Greenwich comes closest. Worth the trip to EG!

    I am sore that the only place you can walk in whenever and get a really good hot slice is Nice Slice. Even so, it is a little too thin, and pricey. In an actual Pizza Town, going out for your favorite pizza means walking to the corner and spending pocket change. It should not have to be a $50 sit down affair. Or more if you include certain Famous grilled pizza that visiting journalists fixate on. Delicious, sure, but that is not how pizza was meant to bring joy to the world.

    Plus, can you really be a pizza town if 95% of the neighborhood pizza places serve generic small town New England crap?

    Anyhow, why should there be pizza just like NY or New Haven in Rhode Island? The truly best pizza in RI is at the all-too-few idiosyncratic only-in-RI-pizza establishments. I wish there were more places like Tommy’s and Twins. I love the strips in the neighborhood bakeries. And have you had a personal pie from Jeanettes lately?

  9. Chris March 17, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    I’m surprised to see all the love for Gabriel’s (now Pizzeria Gusto!). My housemates and I have pretty much uniformly agreed that the pizza is terrible (weird, overly sweet crust, too thick, distinctive only in the displeasure it causes me) – though I’ve heard they changed it – although we go there often for the cheap sandwiches. But then, I quite like Sicilia’s stuffed pizza, as well as the other’s mentioned above (Caserta’s, Nice Slice, etc.), so maybe that makes me an outlier.

  10. Alissa March 17, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    Ok, I’m from Buffalo, and yes, we are obviously known for our chicken wings, but accompanying those wings is the best pizza in existence. In fact, we don’t understand the rest of the world and only ordering “Buffalo wings” as a meal… no way son. Pizza and wings (with carrots and celery as a side) is the way to go- and a weekly/monthly staple for most families. Every single person who has visited me in Providence, from Buffalo, has been horrified at the quality of the pizza here. It’s unnerving to think Providence is voted number 3. Go to Western New York people, and have the best pizza (and wings) you will ever sink your teeth in.

    (yeah that nasty cold square pizza thing too- just cant embrace it either)

  11. Tony P March 17, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    Two:

    Casserta’s

    and

    Pizza-Pieer

  12. RunawayJim March 17, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    @Chris: Gabriel’s is Greek style. That means it’s gonna be different from what you might expect from an Italian style pizza (whether it be thick or thin crust).

    As someone who grew up (for 23 years) on New Haven pizza, the bakery strips weird me out. I can’t do it. I’ve tried. They’re not good.

  13. E Elizabeth March 17, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    The lack of pizza quality in PVD was the impetus for my first ever fight with my boyfriend! I come from New Jersey and hold pizza to the standards that I was raised on: plentiful locations, cheap, by-the-slice, greasy, large, and fairly thin-crusted. Sometimes I think that Providence pizza-ers read about pizza in a book and tried to recreate it based solely on the written word and one or two grainy pictures. The closest I’ve come across is Antonio’s (if you leave off all of the crap) but for the most part, I’ve had to accept that in Rhode Island, I can only get foods that are “greatly like pizza”.

  14. Toodrunktodream March 17, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    It looks like you hit a nerve here…

    You must be high if you think that Sicilia’s pizza is the worst pizza you’ve ever had. Sure their thin crust leaves something to be desired, but who in their right mind, in looking for true pizza would even consider ordering a thin slice when other, more popular options are available? Their thick crust, as well as their standard pizza is the best in Providence, imo. Too much cheese? Not possible.

    Second favorite: Twins in N. Providence

    Third: Antonio’s for the sheer selection

  15. Eddie March 18, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    “Bob & Timmy\’s is way too close to my apartment for my waste line.”

    I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but focus on the irony in this one. Intentional?

  16. Jef Nickerson March 18, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    You shoulda seen how I spelled it before spellcheck.

  17. RunawayJim March 18, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    Yes, Sicilia’s is terrible. There is such a thing as too much cheese. Ask anyone who comes from a real pizza city and they’ll tell you.

    The whole ordering by the slice is actually new to me. In the New Haven area, the only places where you can get pizza by the slice are the bad places. No quality pizza parlor will let their delectable pie sit out under a heat lamp so people can buy a slice and have it be less than perfect.

  18. Matthew March 18, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    My favorite lately is Golden Crust near PC. Greek style. Delicious.

  19. brick March 18, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    I don’t think Providence should really be number 3 but it is most likely the result of the popularity among foodies of grilled pizza. And sure it is expensive and therefore out of the definition of pizza as a cheapy food but an Al Forno grilled pizza is out of this world good. Maybe it shouldn’t be called pizza anymore. Add in Bob and Timmy’s at a more reasonable price, and that is where this ranking has to be coming from.

    For Greek pizza, btw, Worcester surprisingly enough crushes anywhere else I have ever been.

    If you are complaining about Providence being horrible though, then I challenge you to go south of the Mason Dixon line or west of the Mississippi. Or go overseas.

  20. RunawayJim March 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    Or Boston. I have never had a good pizza in the Boston area.

    Matt, is Golden Crust actually Greek style? I don’t remember it being that way, but it doesn’t really rank highly on my list. I actually like Frankly’s better than Golden Crust, which I would say is closer to Greek than Golden Crust.

  21. Andrew I March 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    Boston?? I swooned at Santarpios. Nothing wrong with Regina either. Regina was the only thing I could bring myself to eat at the Mall and now its gone.

  22. Eric March 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    To those who do not like pizza strips, go to Tomato City at the intersection of Branch & Douglas and get some of their bakery pizza. It might just convert you.

  23. jen coleslaw March 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    There are a few New York style pizza places here (northern virginia) and they are ok enough. Better than Ronzio, that’s for sure.

  24. SK March 19, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    I’d say Antonio’s, Caserta, & Pizza Pie-er are my favorites. I’m a fan of variety & options, as well as quality. Tommy’s is in there too, but I haven’t been in a while. I had pizza in NYC, & wasn’t really impressed, and had Chicago deep dish, which I enjoyed. I’ve never had New Haven Pizza, but I’m willing to give it a try.

    When Acme Pizza on Valley Street was open, they had good grilled pizza, but once they stopped paying the gas bill, the kitchen closed and turned into a bar with overly loud music.

    Props to Providence for being #3 in the country!

  25. Josh March 20, 2011 at 12:26 am #

    Why are so many people saying Ronzio is good? Calling anything from Ronzio pizza is laughable.

    My favorite pizza in Rhode Island is Kingston (the original on Fortin Road in Kingston). In Providence, both Nice Slice and Fellini’s are good. Caserta’s not bad for sheet pizza.

    I’ve never tried Pizza Pie-er — their “suicide” ads always creeped me out too much.

  26. Bret Ancowitz March 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    Hard to believe New Haven isn’t ahead of us on this list.

    There’s really nothing like NY style pizza here in RI (and, BTW, NYC pizza isn’t nearly as good as what’s turned out by places in the NY/NJ/CT suburbs). There was the Park Ave Cafe in Rolfe Sq in Cranston several years ago that had a VERY close copy of NY style pizza, but of course they closed…

    Pizza Pie-er and Nice Slice are my current favorites, but they’ve a 5/10 on my global pizza scale. They’re the only pizza here I can tolerate. The place across from Classical High isn’t bad either. But NY style they’re not…

    I’ve heard some good things about Fat Belly Pub’s pizza in East Greenwich, and now they’ve got a branch in the former 3 Steeple St space downtown. Has anyone tried them?

  27. Andrew I March 22, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Fat Belly pizza is quite good, but it does not happen to be one of my favorite styles. Wings and nachos are way above average there too. Beer and all that plus efficient service. Great place, except it has a cookie cutter anytown USA pub vibe.

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