It is understandable if the words “Arizona” and “pizza” don’t naturally pair up. The Grand Canyon state is known for many things — towering saguaro cactus, 110-degree summer days, and Mexican cuisine favorites like chimichangas and margaritas, to name a few.
But great pizza? Surprisingly, yes. With downtown Phoenix’s famous Pizzeria Bianco leading the way, Arizona’s pizza scene happens to be sizzling hot.
Over the past several decades, Pizzeria Bianco has been lauded by celebrities ranging from Oprah Winfrey to Rachael Ray. And in 2003, its founder Chris Bianco earned a James Beard Best Chef in the Southwest Award. To this day, long lines of diners form outside of Pizzeria Bianco for a chance to check out the culinary phenomenon.
Although Pizzeria Bianco is the most prominent, it is far from the only popular pizza destination in Arizona. On my travels around the state, I have also come across excellent pizzerias in smaller towns like Flagstaff, Cottonwood, Prescott, Globe, and Williams.
As far as I know, there isn’t a designated pizza trail in Arizona, but I’m here to say, there should be! Here are seven of my favorite places to try great pizza in Arizona.
1. Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix
A visit to Phoenix’s most famous pizzeria had been on my list for years, but a combination of factors (mostly long lines) had kept me from visiting. This year, I decided that Pizzeria Bianco would be a perfect birthday treat, and on a sunny afternoon in February, my sister and I headed to downtown Phoenix, determined to wait as long as it took.
It turned out that mid-afternoon on a weekday was a perfect time to visit, and we scored an inside table with just a short wait. The pizza lived up to the hype, featuring a light and crispy crust that was charred a bit around the edges and topped with wonderfully flavorful cheese, meat, and veggie combinations.
I ordered Bianco’s famous Rosa pizza, which comes topped with chopped Arizona pistachios, fresh rosemary, and red onions. It might sound like an unlikely combo, but trust me, it makes for a delightful burst of flavors. My sister also raved about her choice of the Wise Guy pizza, topped with wood-roasted onion, house-smoked mozzarella, and fennel sausage. (Plan to have plenty of pizza to take home; the pies are huge.)
Complementing the superb menu is Pizzeria Bianco’s rustic atmosphere set off by exposed brick walls and a large wood-fired oven behind the counter. The restaurant is located in Phoenix’s historic Heritage Square and has a pretty patio bordered by leafy trees and string lights.
Pro Tip: There are other options in the Valley of the Sun for trying the famous pizza if you can’t get to the downtown location. I have also dined at the Pizzeria Bianco Town & Country, located at 20th and Camelback, not far from Scottsdale. It is a lovely spot, and the menu is similar. Or, for focaccia sandwiches and salads in a casual setting, check out Pane Bianco. A more upscale option is available just a mile from the downtown pizzeria at Tratto.
2. Pizzeria Bocce, Cottonwood
For another cool setting with a fun buzz, head to Pizzeria Bocce, located in the small town of Cottonwood, about 100 miles north of Phoenix.
Sitting in the heart of the community’s lively Old Town, Pizzeria Bocce is known not just for its excellent pizza and salads, but also for its indoor/outdoor bar and stylish patio featuring a large fire pit bordered by comfortable seating. It is a perfect spot to while away a warm summer evening or a cool winter afternoon.
Bocce’s menu is extensive, and everything I’ve tried has been fresh and tasty. For a starter, try the Guaca Bocce, an Italian twist on guacamole served with pizza chips; or the Fork and Knife Caesar salad made with romaine, crostini, and parmigiana, all tossed in a lemon Caesar dressing. Pizzas range from the classic margherita with tomato sauce, hand-stretched mozzarella, and olive oil to the meat pie that features Italian sausage, pepperoni, prosciutto, sopressata (salami), and mozzarella.
Pro Tip: Normally, I would have included Grapes — a nearby restaurant that is under the same ownership as Pizzeria Bocce — on my list of favorites. But the quaint eatery in the historic mountainside mining town of Jerome was closed for renovations in early 2022. When it does reopen, Grapes is definitely worth a visit — both for its wood-fired pizza and decadent pasta dishes.
3. Rosa’s Pizzeria, Prescott
Red- and white-checkered tables, a lively atmosphere, and authentic Sicilian-style pizza await at Rosa’s Pizzeria, a long-time favorite in Prescott’s historic downtown.
Rosa’s got its start more than a decade ago with New Yorkers Domenic and Rosa Anzelmo, who visited Arizona, fell in love with the state, and decided to move their family to Phoenix. They ended up in Prescott, located about an hour and a half northwest of Phoenix, and opened the Sicilian-style pizzeria based on their 25 years of experience in the New York restaurant business. The restaurant has since changed hands, but the recipes remain the same.
There are many pizza, pasta, and seafood dishes to love at Rosa’s, but one of my favorites is the Grandma’s pizza, a rectangular creation topped with mozzarella, roasted garlic, chunky pomodoro sauce, and basil. Other popular choices include the Godfather pizza with pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, ham, mushrooms, roasted peppers, and onions; and the eggplant pizza served with ricotta, mozzarella, slices of breaded eggplant, and fresh basil.
4. Pizzicletta, Flagstaff
Another destination-worthy pizzeria can be found in historic downtown Flagstaff, not far from the mountain town’s famous stretch of Route 66.
There, in a white-washed brick building that once served as a commercial laundry, Pizzicletta turns out a steady stream of delectable pizzas, with crispy crusts blistered by the piping hot wood-fired oven.
If you’re especially hungry, start with an order of soft rosemary focaccia and warm olives, and then move on to Pizzicletta’s creative pizza choices, such as the Rucola served with arugula, olive oil, and parmigiano reggiano; or the Amore oi Mari topped with mascarpone, pecorino, prosciutto, arugula, and lemon olive oil. I loved the simplicity of the margherita pizza with tomato sauce, house mozzarella, basil, and olive oil.
Pro Tip: Pizzicletta’s name is a play off pizza and bicicletta, Italian for bicycle. The pizzeria shares a building with the Flag Bike Revolution shop, where you can shop for a range of mountain bikes, road bikes, and e-bikes.
5. Bill’s Pizza, Prescott
Situated right on Prescott’s picturesque Courthouse Plaza, Bill’s Pizza has long been a staple in the historic downtown.
With a casual atmosphere that includes a counter for to-go orders, along with tables for sit-down service, Bill’s is equally popular with the dinner crowd looking for a sit-down meal with wine, and with the lunch crowd out for a quick slice and salad. For me, a can’t-miss combo consists of a slice of Bill’s Elton John pizza (garlic-infused olive oil, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, spinach, red onions, feta, and a four-cheese blend), and a small feta, cranberry, and almond salad.
Bill’s also features a range of meaty specialty pizzas, like the Charlie Sheen (red sauce, mozzarella, salami, pepperoni, bacon, Canadian bacon, chorizo, meatballs, and asiago cheese), and the Whiskey Row (red sauce, pepperoni, Sicilian sausage, mushrooms, extra-roasted garlic, red onions, and fresh basil).
Pro Tip: One of the charms of Bill’s is that its big storefront windows look directly out onto the Yavapai County Courthouse, where numerous festivals and gatherings take place throughout the year, including Prescott’s famous Christmas City Courthouse Lighting.
6. Bravo Americano Moderno, Globe
With the goal of achieving “American dream food,” Bravo Americano Moderno in the southeast Arizona town of Globe combines a variety of classic cooking techniques to put a modern spin on its dishes.
The menu includes everything from fish and chips to chicken fettuccine alfredo to hoagie sandwiches. But for me, the standout was the wood-fired pizza, which comes served with a nicely charred crust topped generously with quality toppings. For something creative, try the Artichoke Wow, a pie topped with garlic cream sauce, prosciutto cotto, artichoke hearts, fresh tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella.
Pro Tip: Bordering Globe’s Broad Street, Bravo’s outdoor patio is a wonderful spot to soak up the views of the historic mining town.
7. Station 66 Italian Bistro, Williams
For a chance to look out onto perhaps Arizona’s most iconic road, the Station 66 Italian Bistro in Williams is hard to beat. The charming bistro sits along Historic Route 66 and is right in the middle of the classic Americana that is downtown Williams.
Station 66 has an in-house bar, where customers place their orders from the wide selection of classic pasta dishes, cheesy bread, and wood-fired pizza. Try the Funghi pizza topped with wild mushroom ragu, thyme-infused olive oil, and goat cheese, or The Hog with mozzarella, pepperoni, Italian sausage, and ham.
Along with its location along Route 66, Williams is also known as a gateway town to the Grand Canyon National Park, and the bistro makes a perfect stop before or after exploring Arizona’s natural wonder of the world.
Pro Tip: For a unique opportunity to try a host of Arizona pizza, beer, wine, and ice-cream offerings in one spot, plan to attend the annual Phoenix Pizza Festival. It’s a November extravaganza that includes not just great food and drink, but live music and a fun atmosphere in downtown Phoenix’s Margaret T. Hance Park.
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