During our trip through New York, Italy, Malta and Chicago we were in some of the best locations in the world for pizza. Being pizza lovers, we decided to do some research and sample pizza from highly rated restaurants at each of these stops. A “world pizza tour” if you will. We were definitely not disappointed, but quite surprised at the results.
The first stop was the best rated pizza joint in New York, Juliana’s, which was located just across the bridge from Manhattan in Brooklyn. This pizza set the bar high for the rest of the trip. We ordered a traditional margarita pizza and paired it with a glass of wine (Lacey) and a local beer (Mat). The crust was thin, so of course we folded it, New York style. The basil on the pizza was extremely fresh and flavorful, with just the right amount of sauce and cheese. We easily ate the entire pie. Juliana’s blend of Italian style with New York style is delicious while the authentic feel of their restaurant beneath the Brooklyn Bridge completes the experience.
The next stop on our pizza tour was Gusta Pizza in Florence, Italy. Gusta Pizza is famous for making pizzas in the shape of a heart. These pizzas were just as delicious as they were adorable. This Italian pizza had amazing fresh mozzarella piled on and thin, flaky crust. The basil didn’t taste as fresh or flavorful as Juliana’s, but something about drinking wine out of a paper cup made the entire experience feel authentic. We were both pleasantly surprised with the quality ingredients and flavor of Gusta’s pizza and charmed by the adolescent “date night” feel of the restaurant. Who wouldn’t want to share a heart shaped pizza with a love interest? #adorbs
The third stop on our world pizza tour was at Ir-Rokna’s Restaurant on the Mediterranean island of Malta. Ir-Rokna’s was established in 1975 and is officially the oldest pizza joint on the island. Trip Advisor awarded this place with a certificate of excellence so our expectations were set pretty high even before walking in. Their wood burned pizza did not disappoint. Similarly to Juliana’s in Brooklyn, Ir-Rokna’s pizza is a blend of NY style with Italian style. The fresh ingredients, most noticeably being the basil, accompanied with the family recipe sauce make each bite more flavorful than the one before. The owners and staff were fantastic to us the entire night, especially being that we arrived late and were the last patrons in the restaurant by the end of the night. We never felt pressured to leave or do anything other than enjoy their delicious food and local wines.
Our final stop was one that we were both looking forward to the most; Gino’s East in Chicago, IL. For 50 years, Gino’s has been serving up their legendary, deep dish, Chicago style pizza from their Superior Avenue location in the windy city. This old school, graffiti filled, restaurant was where we visited the last day of our trip. Being veterans of Gino’s (been there once before), we knew that two people have absolutely no chance of finishing a large pizza. Gino’s pizza is the definition of “deep dish”. It is about 3 inches thick and has a very dense crust that is unlike any pizza we’ve ever had. That being said, we ordered a medium this time and still didn’t finish it. If you’re unfamiliar with authentic Chicago style pizza, the cheese makes up the first layer above the crust and the sauce is on top of the cheese. It looks kind of funky if you’re used to seeing a regular American style pizza. Gino’s pizzas require over an hour to bake due to the thickness. Their sauce is amazing and there is a lot of it on each slice. It perfectly balances the thickness of the crust and layer of cheese to make sure each bite is juicy and full of flavor. The original Gino’s East location is full of memorabilia from all of the celebrities that have visited this location over the years. It makes the experience even cooler knowing that past presidents, hall of fame athletes, and world renown musicians have dined in the very spot you may be sitting in. We love Gino’s!
After our “World Pizza Tour” wrapped up and we were back home in Idaho, we started reminiscing about all of the wonderful pizza experiences we had during the previous 15 days. The basil of Juliana’s in Brooklyn, the heart shaped and heart warming Gusta Pizza in Florence, the family recipe pizza in Malta, and the legendary thick crust of Gino’s in Chicago. It’s hard not to get hungry just typing that sentence. Anyways, which one did we like best? After a lengthy discussion, we agreed that Julianna’s was our favorite. Surprising right? Didn’t you think we would pick Gino’s East? So did I. What was even more surprising to us after our choice was our answer to the following question; “Would you rather have Juliana’s pizza or Idaho’s own, Chicago Connection pizza?” Without hesitating, we both answered “Chicago Connection”. Does this mean the best pizza in Idaho (our opinion) is also the best pizza in the world? You be the judge.