There is an abundance of really delicious pizza in Charlotte and each of Charlotte’s finest pizza purveyors has a small army of followers who might go so far as to insist that the pies from Pure, True, Tony’s, Libretto’s, Lorenzo’s, Luisa’s, ”insert romantic Italian surname here,” are the best.
After much research and deliberation it has become clear to me that this whole ranking business is an extremely subjective thing – it’s a shame your favorite place isn’t my favorite place and honestly that’s just fine because have you ever been unhappy when someone hands you a slice of pizza?
No. No, you haven’t because pizza is really hard to mess up.
So let’s set a couple ground rules before we get to the numbers.
First, I have not been to every pizza joint in Charlotte. I’m probably getting close to completing that tour, but I can be certain that I have probably missed something and for that practical ignorance, I apologize.
Second, deep dish is not pizza – it has been and should continue to be ignored in the pizza ranking discussion – I’ll defer to my friend Jon Stewart on the details of the deep-dish diaspora.
My five spot is once again home to a local chain that just so happens to be incredibly good. Fuel gets a spot on this list because it is part of Charlotte’s culinary fabric in a way that not many places (pizza serving or otherwise) are.
Their location on Central has been the safe haven, the shelter of deliciousness, for hundreds of tipsy patrons of the surrounding bars and clubs for almost two decades. Fuel’s locations lend themselves to late night outings, and their thin yet spongy crust is perfect for reducing the ABV of the contents of your stomach by at least half.
Fuel slices are big, their pepperoni has a pleasant kick and their tomato sauce has a certain tang, yet to be replicated among other Charlotte pizza spots. Fuel is loyal, Fuel is always there for you.
Hawthorne’s has Charlotte’s best personal sized 9” pizza. Often times, places are too heavy on the toppings on smaller pies, making the experience a floppy one with most of the excess falling to plate before making it to your mouth. Not so here, charred crisp crust supports the perfect topping ratio for personal sized pizza.
Their location off of Hawthorne Lane has reach legendary status after only 11 years of service to the Charlotte area, a relative sophomore in the Charlotte pizza game.
This NYC-styled restaurant and bar has the pizza spot atmosphere down – big red booths, dark stained hardwood, a few TV’s, classic parmesan and red pepper shakers. The rest of their menu is excellent as well, featuring the obligatory wings and sandwiches. Great outdoor seating to boot.
This place took me by surprise. A favorite among UNC Charlotte students, I didn’t learn about the spot until a coworker recommended it to me several months ago.
Hidden in a strip mall next to a Wal-Mart, the feral pizza joint’s favorite natural camouflage, DaVinci’s goes big with authentic New York thin crust pies. The smallest pizza you can order at DaVinci’s is 16 inches – more than enough for 2 hungry people.
Much like past 2 spot holders in my Top 5 lists, DaVinci’s price point is unbeatable. A small pie split two ways has you walking out for around $5 with more pizza than you will know what to do with.
Also, be sure to order a pie with bacon on it, a solid choice on any pizza from any pizza spot, but DaVinci’s bacon is applied heavy handedly and its clear this is not processed bacon bits from a box, which I can appreciate.
(2) Pie in the Sky
Thank you, @theTrolleyWalk, for this suggestion. A favorite lunch spot among the Uptown, khaki-wearing crowd, Pie in the Sky is hidden in the depths of Latta Arcade – worth the trek and the cramped waiting in line.
Pie in the Sky’s crust is phenomenal – definitely the best crust on any pizza I have had in Charlotte. Perfect amount of char on the bottom but flexible enough to fold and the perfect amount of bare crust around the edge, Pie in the Sky’s crust seriously cannot be beaten.
Their specialty slices are the way to go. Grab a Chicken Florentine slice, or a Hawaiian, or a BBQ chicken, or a slice of their Salami Pie.
Their commitment to superior quality ingredients and craftsmanship shows – and they don’t sacrifice in terms of time – they crank out pies at a quick clip getting business people on tight schedules in and out at a surprising pace.
Riccio’s has been a monument to good pizza in Charlotte for 53 years. I grew up going to Riccio’s for birthdays and every Halloween for almost 13 years. Honestly, my family didn’t need much of an excuse to go. I was basically tutored through Precalculus via crayon on the white paper that covered their checkered table clothes.
No restaurant in Charlotte has had more of a profound impact on me personally than Riccio’s. Which probably colors my criticism of their pizza with fair bit of bias, but I’m okay with that.
You have to really TRY to find Riccio’s – its hidden in the Touchstone Village Shopping Center within the Touchstone neighborhood off of Elm Lane, not far from McAlpine Elementary. Take three friends, order a large pepperoni and meatball and four cherry cokes, and ask nicely for garlic knots. Just do it.
To describe the pizza experience at Riccio’s would require a couple thousand more words. Riccio’s is frozen in time, it will always be just right.