Pizza Quest: My Never-Ending Search for the Perfect Pizza




I love pizza. I mean, I really love pizza. Ever since I was a kid, pizza has held a special place in my heart (and stomach!). The melted cheese, the tangy sauce, the crispy crust – pizza is just the best. As I’ve gotten older, my love for pizza has only grown. I’ve tried pizzas all over the world in search of the perfect pie. Join me on my lifelong pizza quest!

What Makes the Perfect Pizza?

Before we dive into my pizza journey, let’s break down what makes a pizza perfect. Here are the key factors I look for in my ideal pizza:

  • Crust: The foundation of any great pizza is the crust. I look for a crust that’s crispy on the outside but chewy and airy on the inside. It should have some charring or blisters from being baked in a super hot oven.
  • Sauce: The sauce needs to be flavorful but balanced. Too little sauce and the pizza is dry, too much and it gets soggy. I like a zesty tomato sauce spiked with garlic, olive oil and herbs.
  • Cheese: You can’t have pizza without cheese! I prefer mozzarella for its creamy, melty goodness. High-quality mozz melts beautifully without getting greasy.
  • Toppings: How you top a pizza is an art form. I love the classics like pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms and peppers. But I’m open to creative toppings too, as long as they complement each other.
  • Overall Balance: No single component should overwhelm the others. A great pizza is a symphony of flavors and textures in perfect harmony.

Got all that? Now let’s get into my lifelong quest for the ultimate pizza experience!

Early Pizza Memories

My fascination with pizza started as a kid growing up in New Jersey. I have fond memories of my parents ordering pizza on Friday nights. It was a fun treat to grab a steaming hot slice fresh from the box.

The local mom-and-pop pizzerias were my intro to pizza perfection. Their pies had thin, crispy crusts that were heaven to my young palate. The cheese was always bubbly and strings of mozzarella stretched deliciously with each bite. Those early pizza experiences shaped my understanding of what great pizza should be.

Expanding My Pizza Horizons

As I grew older, my curiosity about pizza increased. I realized there was a whole world of pizza styles I had yet to discover. In college, late-night pizza runs exposed me to different regional varieties. I tried Chicago deep dish, with its buttery crust that resembled a pie more than a pizza. I sampled New York-style pizza with its large, thin slices and floppy crust.

My travels also opened my eyes to international pizza traditions. In Italy, I indulged in authentic Neapolitan pizza with its chewy, char-covered crust. During a trip to Argentina, I got to try Argentine-style pizza topped with mozzarella, tomatoes, onions and sometimes spicy chorizo sausage.

These experiences showed me how much diversity there was in the world of pizza! I added even more types of pizza to my bucket list.

The Hunt for the Perfect Slice

Once I realized how many different pizza styles were out there, I became determined to try them all in my search for the perfect slice. I started seeking out acclaimed pizza joints known for their signature pies.

In New York, I waited in line for hours at famous spots like Joe’s Pizza and John’s Pizzeria. At Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, I experienced their life-changing marinara pizza. During a vacation to Naples, Italy, I was blown away by the authentic Neapolitan pizzas baked in wood-fired ovens.

I’ve had great slices at famous Chicago pizzerias like Lou Malnati’s and Pequod’s. In Connecticut, I sampled New Haven-style pizza with its oblong shape, thin crust, and fresh clams as a topping. And in cities like Seattle and Portland, I’ve tried unique pizza creations with ingredients like roasted squash, prosciutto, and bee pollen.

Every new pizza I try gets me a little closer to my ideal pie. But I have yet to find one that truly embodies pizza perfection.

What I’ve Learned from My Pizza Quest

This endless search has taught me a lot about what goes into crafting great pizza. Each region and pizzeria has its own philosophy and techniques. Here are some of my key learnings:

  • Ingredients matter. The quality of the crust, sauce and toppings significantly impacts the pizza. Great pizzerias use only the best ingredients.
  • The oven makes a difference. Baking pizza at 500+ degrees in a wood or coal-fired oven leads to amazing char and caramelization.
  • Resting dough builds flavor. Letting dough slowly ferment for 24-48 hours develops complex aromas and tastes.
  • Passion is essential. The pizzerias most obsessed with their craft tend to make the best pizzas.

While I’m still on the hunt for my personal perfect pizza, this journey has given me an education in all things pizza. I’ve now tried hundreds of different pies all over the world. So even though I haven’t found pizza nirvana yet, I sure have had fun trying!

What’s Next for My Pizza Quest?

I may not have discovered my ideal pizza yet, but I have no plans to give up the search anytime soon. Here are some next steps for my ongoing pizza quest:

  • Try more regional American styles. Pizza styles keep evolving and I need to stay on top of new traditions.
  • Make repeat visits to top pizzerias. The best spots change their menus seasonally so repeat trips are a must.
  • Take a pizza-focused trip to Italy. Visiting Naples and sampling the birthplace of pizza seems like a pilgrimage for any pizza lover.
  • Attempt to make pizza at home. I need to improve my dough-stretching skills and homemade pizza technique.
  • Eat pizza with fellow enthusiasts. Sharing pizza with friends who appreciate the nuances like I do is an integral part of the experience.
  • Continue taking pizza recommendations. Fellow pizza lovers give the best tips on new places to try.

Even after all these years and pizzas, my quest is more like an adventure than a search. I now know there are so many wonderful pizza styles and tastes to appreciate. The diversity of pizza is something to celebrate.

So while I may never find the one perfect pizza, I’m going to have fun looking for it! This pizza quest has given me a greater admiration for the art and craft of pizza-making. Pizza has brought me immense joy and many memorable moments. And I know my journey is far from over.

So if you ever feel like talking pizza or have a recommendation for me, please let me know! I’m always down for more pizza adventures. This pizza quest may be lifelong, but that’s okay with me. Because a love of pizza is forever.