While Florida may not be known for its pizza prowess, St. Petersburg is home to some exceptional pizza spots to visit on National Pizza Day that specialize in New York, Chicago, and Neapolitan-style pies — and these spots include Cappy’s, Joey Brooklyn’s, and Tony and Nello’s.
On February 9th, America will unite to celebrate one of its most beloved—yet hotly contested—foods: pizza. That’s right foodies; National Pizza Day is here.
Now, suffice it to say that I’ve never met a pie I haven’t liked, but we all definitely have our preferences. From the cracker-thin crusts of Milwaukee to Detroit’s greasy squares, the world of pizza is about as diverse as the population of the EDGE District, and some restaurants simply combine dough, sauce, and cheese better than others. Thus, three weeks ago, I set out to find the best spot in the ‘Burg to celebrate this momentous occasion.
Fast forward to today, and I’ve reached a firm conclusion: there isn’t one. Sure, I’m a sucker for saucy deep dish, but how could that possibly be compared to a Boston pan pie? Or, further, the Brooklyn crisp crust? In short, the definition of what constitutes an ideal pizza is highly complex, so my search for #1 quickly proved fruitless.
That in mind, however, National Pizza Day is still on the horizon, and I’m sure many of you want to know where to get that “special pie.” Luckily for you, I’ve found 3 local standouts (because some places really do make it better) that cook up 3 different regional styles. I hope, by highlighting them below, that each of you will be able to find the perfect pie for your palette. I, on the other hand, will be ordering one of each.
If there’s anything better than pizza, it’s a pizza buffet.
Chicago style: Cappy’s Pizza
Since the 1940s, Chicago residents have been using high-edged, iron skillets to create sloppy, 14-inch bowls of pizza. Since 1995, Cappy’s has been bringing them to the Bay.
As I’ve said, I’m a complete sucker for deep dish—and Cappy’s certainly nails the concept. With a mouthwatering tomato sauce and a dense, focaccia-like crust for soaking it up, not a week goes by without this St. Pete’s institution crossing my mind. My favorite pie on the menu is the classic cheese, and—if you’re into gooey, melted mozzarella—it’ll probably be yours, too.
(Oh, and pro-tip: if you dine in, ask for Hannah. Her service is as top-notch as the pizza.)
2900 1st Avenue North
New York style: Joey Brooklyn’s Famous Pizza Kitchen
When I moved to St. Pete’s from NYC, I accepted the fact that pizza, as I knew it, was no longer going to be a part of my life. And—for three months—I pretended that was ok. Recently, however, fate landed me inside of Joey Brooklyn’s Famous Pizza Kitchen, and my world turned upside down.
With thin-stretched, cornmeal-dusted crust and deliciously torched bubbles of hot cheese, Joey Brooklyn’s has perfected the art of the Big Apple slice. While tearing into my 2 pieces (plus a free can of soda, of course), I was instantly transported back to the streets of 8th Avenue, dodging bodies as I slurped the runaway grease from the bottom of my elbows.
210 1st Avenue North
Neapolitan style: Tony and Nello’s
First originating in Campania, Italy, the Neapolitan pizza has quickly grown into a domestic favorite. Baked just below 500 degrees in a wood-fired oven, this international staple is known for being tender, fragrant, and elastic—and in the Bay, no one does it better than Tony and Nello’s.
35 years ago, an Italian family from Naples purchased a dying mom-and-pop pizza shop in Tierra Verde. In the time since, the once hole-in-the-wall spot has grown into a full-service restaurant—the Tony and Nello’s we know today—praised for their handmade recipes, large menu, and (of course) wood-fired pizza.
With an innovative list of specialty pies, such as the chicken and spinach-loaded “Fiorentina,” Tony and Nello’s has the perfect carb creation for every set of tastebuds. And since the restaurant is likely the oldest pizzeria in the area, biting into one of their soft, doughy slices is like taking a bite of history—just with a lot less textbooks and a lot more cheese.
1136 Pinellas Bayway S
Delivery and chill
I love everything about pizza. From the infinite topping combinations, to the fact that it even tastes good coming out of a foodservice freezer box, I strongly believe it to be the holy grail of all foods. My favorite thing about pizza, however, is its famed delivery service.
Your tastebuds—and local businesses—will thank you.