If you’re like us, you’re always on the hunt for a good pie. Unlike New York, Chicago, or Detroit, Northern Virginia doesn’t have a definitive style of pizza. You could view that as a downfall — or, you can embrace the pizza diversity here, and enjoy the variety that is available at our fingertips. Here’s our list of the 18 best pies in NoVA, four more that are worth a drive out of town — and how to make a drool-worthy slice yourself.
You probably already have a neighborhood favorite for when a last-minute craving for stretchy cheese hits. That’s not what this list is about. These 18 pizza spots, organized here by style, are the best of the best in Northern Virginia. Whether you’re craving basic cheese on a well-prepared crust or something utterly new, each one is worth making part of your dinner plans well before the spirit moves you toward the phone to call your local spot for delivery.
You’ve tried the NYC classics: John’s of Bleecker Street, Lombardi’s, Joe’s Pizza. The micro-blistered crust here, dressed with premium ingredients, is just as satisfying, if not a bit superior. The Pepperoni Special pairs the crispy charcuterie with fresh basil, bursting burrata, and sticky swipes of hot honey. But whatever you order, expect an unbeatable standard. Tysons Galleria: 2001 International Dr., McLean; 107 N. Fayette St., Alexandria
Think cheese pizza is boring? Not in the hands of Teddy Vicidomini. He grew up tossing pies in his Neapolitan father’s shop in Brooklyn, and that experience translates to a simple slice that is inarguably the real deal. The chewy, foldable crust may well be slightly too big for the box in which it’s served. No matter — just eat those slices first. The pizza artist keeps inconsistent hours, so call first. 9 E. Federal St., Middleburg
In it more for the toppings? Grab slices at one of these counters, where they’re available in a vast array of flavors. The best includes Korean chicken, with its crispy nuggets of poultry dressed in chili sauce, cabbage salad, and sesame aioli. The vegetarian paneer tikka features the spicy zip of a house masala base and cilantro chutney along with the bouncy South Asian cheese. 1735 N. Lynn St., Arlington; 710 12th St. S., Arlington; 1142 Elden St., Herndon
Although this pair of pizzerias trades in a style that’s based on tradition, owner Kevin Ejtemai isn’t afraid of innovation. Meet the pizza Alla Crust. Want salad with your pizza? Done! Half of the blistered Margherita pie is folded over into a fontina-and-salami-filled calzone, leaving a quarter of the plate for the lightly dressed green stuff. 360 Elden St., Herndon, crustherndon.com; 8415 Old Courthouse Rd., Vienna, crustvienna.com
Many of the outlets on this list are owned by classically trained chefs. But only one is executive chef of our reigning No. 1 restaurant as well. Bertrand Chemel of 2941 proffers a seasonal menu fresh from the 800-degree VPN wood-burning oven. The Burrata pie skips red sauce in favor of pesto; pistachios, grana padano cheese, and chile flakes further bring flavors you’re more likely to find in Europe than in North America. 400 S. Maple Ave., Falls Church
Editor’s note: Pizzeria Orso closed its doors in February 2024.
Naples native Antonio Biglietto is behind the photogenic pizzas at this all-purpose Italian restaurant. The pies, available in personal or family size, made a splash last year when they were included in a list called “50 Top Pizza,” compiled by an Italian media company. A Modo Mio’s classic rounds of soft, speckled dough ranked as No. 48 in the entire U.S. on the list. The dough might have something to do with that: It’s made of imported 00 organic Italian soft wheat flour. 5555 Langston Blvd., Arlington
Naomi Gallego, the pastry chef consultant perhaps best known for her work at Blue Duck Tavern and Le Diplomate, created the recipe for the bubbly crusts here. In recent years, Little Beast’s menu has been shaved down to the basics, meaning every pie is as approachable as it is appealing. We like the Motor City, with its collection of oven-crisped bacon, pepperoni, ham, and tender meatballs. 12100 Sunset Hills Rd., Ste. R6, Reston
Editor’s note: Little Beast Café & Bistro’s Reston location has closed, but its Washington, DC, location remains open at 5600 Connecticut Ave. NW.
Now a chain with eight locations, this pizza purveyor began serving creatively topped rectangular pies in Brooklyn in 2016. The Margherita is anything but basic, thanks to a blob of oozy burrata on each slice. But another vegetarian pie might be even more compelling: Truffled mushroom cream contributes a big, earthy flavor to the fungi-topped Angel. 124 King St., Alexandria
Want the real deal? This chain started baking sharp-edged pies in the Detroit suburbs in 1978. Now in Alexandria, additional locations will open in Annandale and around NoVA soon. Fans of buttery, crunchy crusts can get them topped in a variety of unusual ways, including with crispy bacon and fresh veggies like a BLT. There’s also the option to “flavorize” your crust with anything from sesame seeds to Cajun seasoning. 6 E. Glebe Rd., Alexandria
Neo-Neapolitan pizza is a sturdier inheritor to the throne of the original Italian pie. The 72-hour fermented rounds here are as airy as the loft-style dining room. Let executive chef and co-owner Matteo Venini’s creativity run wild. The best example of this is the appropriately named Affumicata, with its smoked mozzarella and cherry tomatoes, salty speck, dry fig, and drizzle of balsamic reduction. It’s as revelatory as it is smoky. 2800 S. Randolph St., Ste. 130, Arlington
The long-fermented, naturally leavened crust here is lovably acidic. It is so appealingly that the brand, part of Aslin Beer Co., has expanded to the noted pizza city of Pittsburgh. Funky cheese lovers are in luck: Every pie is finished with The Farm at Doe Run’s Seven Sisters, an aged Gouda-like specimen with a hint of sweetness. 767 Elden St., Herndon; 847 S. Pickett St., Alexandria
Sommelier and restaurateur Jarad Slipp (he also owns Tremolo Bar just up the block) created his own brand of crust that owes something to his studies at the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners but is patently his own. His takeout-only pies are sturdy enough to survive a car ride and are worth the wait, thanks to their handcrafted toppings. He’ll help you select the perfect bottle to pair with your dinner, too. 5 W. Washington St., Middleburg
Hot honey may be prolific among next-generation pies, but the hot oil drizzles here date back to 1935. Its age is a testament to its delectability. And the oil isn’t the only thing that makes this Connecticut chain stand out. The sylph-like, chewy crusts are filled to their very edges with toppings, including Stingers (Serrano peppers) that further turn up the habit-forming heat. 2800 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington
Cracker-like crusts attract pizza fans to this restaurant inside Jammin Java. A profusion of meat and cheese makes these pies wonderfully greasy, just like back in New Jersey, where the recipe originated. Looking for something beyond plain old pepperoni? Try the Pancetta + ’Shrooms, with the crispy pork product enhanced by sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions. 227 Maple Ave. E., Vienna
White clam pie and in-season tomato pie are what made this chain, established in Connecticut in 1925, famous. But it doesn’t matter what you decide to put on top of these coal-charred crusts, it will doubtless be one of the most gratifying pizzas of your life. Even a cheese pie will satisfy here, thanks to a shower of pecorino romano and olive oil. 3231 Duke St., Alexandria
The airy pies buried in housemade stracciatella here aren’t just a casual bite, they’re a memorable experience. Get to the small restaurant early to avoid long waits for pizzas like the Brooklyner. Each mouthful is slightly different thanks to its layer of cupping pepperoni, sausage, blobs of ricotta, hot Calabrian chile, honey, and fresh basil, all tied together with the eponymous, juicy cheese, but this is one pie with a bone that you’re bound to finish. 106 Hume Ave., Alexandria
The thick-crusted pizzas at this pastoral winery and brewery are only available until the day’s batch of dough sells out, so get there early. The sauce is spread on top of bubbly mozzarella. For those who think it’s not really pizza without pepperoni, don’t be surprised to find that it’s chopped here, all the better for creating a dense, spicy topping. 22860 James Monroe Hwy., Aldie
Think you’ve outgrown personal pan pizzas? Not when you can order a crisp-edged, square pie for one. The popular Patriot is named for GMU’s mascot and features chunky tomato sauce blanketed with cheese, cup-and-char pepperoni, and fresh oregano leaves, all tied together with the sweet heat of Richmond brand AR’s Hot Southern Honey. If Grandma style isn’t your thing, it’s also available on a New York–style or cauliflower crust. 4514 Cherry Hill Rd., Arlington; 3950 University Dr., Ste. 102, Fairfax
Feature image of Andy’s Pizza by Shannon Ayres