This is the best pizza in Delaware, according to our readers
Delaware News Journal
Delaware’s passion for pizza might just equal its fondness for crab cakes.
This past summer, on Delaware Online social media pages, we asked readers to share their favorite places in the state for pizza.
The overwhelming response was close to, if not surpassed, the number of reactions we got when we asked readers to tell us their best-loved restaurant crab cakes.
We narrowed down the most frequently named pizza joints and then asked readers to vote in an online poll.
Results show Delaware history and tradition is blended into the homegrown pizzerias that received the top two spots.
But, thin, artisanal pies made by mom-and-pop businesses and homemade pizza by some new, up-and-comers also are growing in popularity.
While you can argue with the results of our pizza poll, it’s hard to argue with the allure of a winning trifecta of melty cheese, savory tomato sauce and chewy, crispy crust.
If you want to go on a Delaware slice shop crawl, this red sauce trail will take you up and down the state.
We also have even more suggestions of pizzerias that didn’t garner as many votes as the 16 places listed here, but we think they’re definitely slice-worthy.
In descending order, here are the Top 16 Places for Pizza in Delaware, according to News Journal readers.
16. Pomodoro Pizzeria
101 Garfield Parkway, Bethany Beach, 302-537-1359; pomodoropizzabethany.com
Why this is a nice slice: If some of the faces behind the counter of this 3-year-old pizzeria look familiar, you just might remember the family’s former restaurant, Cafe Palmero on Miller Road in Wilmington.
After closing the eatery in 2016, ending a nine-year run, owners Rose Conte Aglim and her husband Brian relocated to Bethany Beach. They’ve scaled back their Sussex County operations to simply offer pizza, stromboli and salad.
Rose says her top sellers are the margarita pie and a pizza topped with spinach, ricotta and tomato. A recent, and excellent, roadie slice of this Neapolitan-style pizza had a small, brown air bubble along the rim and a crunchy crust.
The pizzeria, just off Garfield Parkway, Bethany’s main drag, is a tiny spot situated between Kohr Brothers and Dickey’s Ice Cream. Pomodoro is open nine months out of the year. Rose says they’ll likely close for the year just before Christmas, and plan to reopen for the 2020 season around March.
What you had to say: Gina McKinney said her favorite pizza in Delaware is “Pomodoro’s in Bethany. Hands down.”
15. Mario’s Pizza
1011 S. College Ave., Newark, 302-456-3344; mariospizzade.com
Why this is a nice slice: To score big near a college town, you need to be memorable. And Mario’s thin and cheesy pizza has a crispy crust with a perfect chew.
The pizzeria, owned by Ciro Delprete, has been at its strip shopping center location, not too far the University of Delaware’s football stadium, for about 20 years. Delprete’s son-in-law Mario Censullo is the shop’s manager.
Mario’s says it offers “a taste of New York in Newark, Delaware.” You can get modern flavors like Buffalo chicken pizza, but the shop says the square-shaped “Grandma’s Own” is their signature item. It’s a thin, crispy crust pizza made with fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, garlic and marinara sauce.
“So good you’ll slap your grandma,” says a description on their website. But, thankfully, they also add, “please don’t slap your grandma.”
What you had to say: Thomas Turner says his favorite pizza is Mario’s.
14. Riviera Pizza
124 Fox Hunt Drive, Fox Run Shopping Center, Bear, 302-834 -3424; rivierapizzafoxrun.weebly.com
Why this is a nice slice: Put away your cellphone and pull up your pants. There are signs everywhere at Riviera Pizza reminding customers to be polite, courteous and, well, not have droopy drawers.
The shop in the Fox Run Shopping Center, near the Acme Market and next to a nail salon, has all the sass and attitude you want in a pizzeria. And Riviera certainly knows what they’re doing. They’ve been in business for more than 25 years.
Customers come for the golden, thin crust, classic pizza slices that are bendable, but not floppy. You can eat-in at one of the booths or take a pizza to go.
Just, please, don’t take money out of your bra to pay for your food. Another sign on the counter says that’s a big Riviera Pizza no-no because “no one wants your boob sweat.”
What you had to say: Dante Giardina says Riviera Pizza in Fox Run has Delaware’s best pizza “and it’s not even close. LOL.” Tommy Cilia’s also a fan, saying he’s “been going there since I was 12yrs old.”
13. Little Vinnie’s Pizza & Pasta
1706 Faulkland Road, Chestnut Run Shopping Center, near Prices Corner, 302-633-6801; littlevinniespizza.com/home.html
Why this is a nice slice: There are eight tables in Little Vinnie’s pizzeria area, but don’t let the size fool you. There’s an adjoining eatery, Vinnie’s Cafe, that’s even larger.
A recent lunch visit showed a steady stream of customers coming for cheesesteaks and grabbing seats for plates of pasta. But the pizza should not be missed.
The pizza’s tomato sauce, savory with a very appealing hint of oregano, is spread with a light hand that keeps the very thin and light crust crisp. There’s a subtle snap when you bend a hot triangle slice in half.
Little Vinnie’s has pizza specials every day. Check the chalkboard above the counter. On a Tuesday visit, two slices of cheese pizza and a fountain soda was $5. Hours are bit wonky. Unlike some pizzerias, Little Vinnie’s is closed Saturdays and Sundays.
What you had to say: Amie Noel says when it comes to pizza, she craves “a perfectly foldable slice” at Little Vinnie’s.
12. The Wood Fired Pizza Shop
140 E. Cleveland Ave., Newark, 302-737-2135; wfpshop.com
Why this is a nice slice: Matt Hans started his pizza on-the-go concept from the back of a 1956 plum tomato red Ford 250 flatbed in 2010. Four years later, he moved the business into the former bait and tackle shop in downtown Newark.
Wooden tables, metal accents and a wood-fired pizza oven imported from Naples, Italy, are the centerpiece on the back wall. The oven, surrounded by stucco, is fueled only by wood logs and delivers 800-degree temperatures, allowing for a 90-second pizza.
In September, Hans sold the business to chef Brian Callahan, formerly of Drip Cafe and Homegrown Cafe.
The 12-inch pizzas, which feature desirable leopard spotting on the rim, serve 1 to 2 people. Any pizza can be made with a gluten-free crust for an additional fee.
We like the changing specialties like the B-52 ($19.50), a pizza made with lobster cream sauce, Asiago and fresh mozzarella cheeses and lemon parsley gremolata. Another winner was the farm fresh pie ($16.25) topped with local butternut squash, fresh mozzarella and Gorgonzola cheeses, along with rosemary and walnut oil.
Pizzas also can be made with dairy-free vegan cheese. The pizzeria, serving craft beer, wine and cocktails, is extending its hours. Starting next week, it will be Tuesdays through Sundays.
What you had to say: “Fresh ingredients, amazing specials, and absolutely fantastic pizzas!” says fan Patti Lehker Buttrey.
11. Mama Gina Pizza
New Castle Farmers Market, 110 N. Dupont Highway, New Castle, 302-328-5845
Why this is a nice slice: Like The Wood Fired Pizza shop, Mama Gina Pizza has limited hours and days of the week that it’s open.
The pizzeria has a counter, along with tables and chairs, inside the New Castle Farmers Market. The market operates from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
The name can be a little confusing. A neon sign at the business says Mama Gina, but the business Facebook page and a banner at the counter has a slightly different spelling of Mamma Gina.
Here you can get pizza by the slice or a whole pie “with toppings galore.” The pizzeria is owned by Salvatore Illiano. Pizza varieties include Philly cheesesteak and barbecue chicken. Hit up an ATM before dining. Mamma Gina is cash-only.
What you had to say: “Mamma Gina’s is awesome,” says customer Robert K. Strohmaier.
10. Little Anthony’s
Community Plaza Shopping Center, 287 Christiana Road, New Castle; 302-307-4518
Why this is a nice slice: The white pizza boxes stacked at the counter signals that Little Anthony’s does steady business. The slice shop, between Bargain World Beauty and Sang Hing restaurant, is in the Community Plaza Shopping Center off Del. 273.
American and Italian flags hang side-by-side at the eatery that’s decorated with white tile. Little Anthony’s offers 17-inch Sicilian-style deep-dish pizzas, but, according to News Journal readers, the traditional, thin crust New York-style pizzas are a customer favorite.
Toppings include grilled chicken, bacon, eggplant, meatball, Hawaiian and a Little Anthony’s special of pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onion and extra cheese.
Simplicity rules supreme. A $2 slice of cheese pizza marries savory tomato sauce, melty cheese with no greasy puddles and an admirable snappy crust.
What you had to say: Michela Robins says when she needs a pizza fix it has to be “Little Anthony’s on Del. 273 for its New York-style pizza.”
9. Gianni’s Pizza Trolley Square, formerly Ciao Pizza
1600 Delaware Ave., Wilmington, 302-654-5331; giannispizzatrolleysquare.com
Why this is a nice slice: Don’t get confused if pizza lovers still refer to this staple of Wilmington’s Trolley Square neighborhood as Ciao Pizza. That was its name for more than 15 years.
Due to a trademark conflict, the Esposito family in 2017 had to change the name of Ciao Pizza to Gianni’s Pizza.
While there have been improvements to the outdoor patio and the addition of beer to the menu, the pizza remains the same high quality.
The pizzeria at the corner of Delaware Avenue and Clayton Street is one of Trolley Square’s most recognizable sites. It also was one of the stops Joe Biden chose to make in April after he announced he was running for President in 2020.
While Gianni’s has flavors such as barbecue chicken with bacon and ranch dressing, Biden, a traditionalist, ordered a pepperoni pie. You can now also get pizza made with a cauliflower crust. Pizza by the slice starts at $2.50
What you had to say: Amanda Miller picks Gianni’s as one of her favorite pizzerias in Delaware.
8. Mr. P’s Wood Fired Pizza
1004 Kings Highway, Lewes, 302-645-1900; mrppizza.com
Why this is a nice slice: Mr. P’s is so popular on weekends that regular customers know to put in their takeout pizza orders hours ahead of time.
You’ll see the orders, written on green pieces of paper, hanging on a line near the wood-fired pizza Ambrogi oven that was handcrafted in Italy. It fires up to around 900 degrees.
Mr. P’s is named after former owner John Perrin, who had owned the Il Forno Pizzerias in Gaithersburg, Bethesda and Frederick, Maryland. It’s now owned by Rick Thomas who worked and later owned some of the Il Forno sites.
Be patient at Mr. P’s. The pizzeria/restaurant has only one pizza cook and one oven. They can only bake so many pizzas at one time.
Still, Mr. P’s, open since 2000, has legions of fans coming for the pies that are created with hand-tossed dough and chunky tomato sauce that is made in-house. Slices are available daily, but only until just before, or slightly after, 3 p.m. A recent slice of pepperoni was on the floppy side. This is a cash-only business, though there is an ATM on site.
What you had to say: Gene Kulesza used a heart emoji to express his love for Mr. P’s.
7. Argilla Brewing Co. @ Pietros Pizza
2667 Kirkwood Highway, Meadowood Shopping Center, near Newark, 302-731-8200; argillabrewing.com
Why this is a nice slice: Argilla Brewing Co @ Pietro’s Pizza is not so much a pizzeria as it is a restaurant, bar and a very good brewery. But it has pizzeria roots.
When owner Steve Powell owned Argilla in March 2012 in the Meadowood Shopping Center near Newark, the avid home brewer who has been dabbling in beer making for eight years, wanted to showcase his skills. He renovated the former Grey Fox Restaurant and Pub and Argilla became, at that time, the state’s smallest brewery.
Pizza is the perfect pairing with beer and it’s a main offering at Argilla. If the Pietro’s name sounds familiar, you might have been acquainted with Powell’s family’s former takeout business.
Pietro’s Pizza was founded by Steve’s father, Rodger Powell in 1978. The pizzeria opened on Greenbank Road in Prices Corner, had a storefront on Churchmans Road and later moved to Pike Creek. For more than 20 years, Pietro’s was a four-table shop in a strip shopping center off New Linden Hill Road.
When that operation closed, the Powells moved the eatery to the Kirkwood Highway building. The Pietro’s sign hangs in the dining room.
What you had to say: “Argilla Brewing Co. at Pietro’s Pizza is my favorite and go-to place for a pie,” says Herb Crowe. “My favorite is a pork and pepper pie.”
6. DiMeo’s Pizza
831 N. Market St., Wilmington, 302-655-1427; dimeospizzaiuolinapulitani.netwaiter.com/wilmington/about
Why this is a nice slice: DiMeo’s, a Neapolitan-inspired pizzeria and restaurant, has been a part of Market Street since 2011.
Business during the week is brisk at lunch with downtown office workers looking for grab-and-go slices from a large selection on the counter.
Large stacks of white paper plates are ready for those seeking an interesting wedge of taco pizza or a triangle spread with fig jam, and topped with mozzarella, prosciutto di parma, arugula and truffle oil. The crust has good crackle.
Father-and-son team Pino and Antimo DiMeo were originally running the restaurant. Pino DiMeo has not been involved in running the Wilmington location since 2012.
Antimo DiMeo is now executive chef at the nearby Bardea restaurant that was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2018 as one of the country’s best new restaurants.
What you had to say: Lisa Cirillo McInnis says her favorite DiMeo’s Pizza is the “one with spinach and mushrooms that is out of this world. You MUST try it.”
5. Café Riviera Italian Pizzeria & Restaurant
Concord Mall, 302-478-8288; caferivierade.com
Why this is a nice slice: A red neon sign announces you’ve arrived at Cafe Riviera, a Delaware favorite for nearly 40 years.
Michael J. Tumolo has run this family pizzeria and restaurant inside the Concord Mall since 1981. An inviting selection of pizzas-by-the-slice awaits on the counter, there’s also seating in the adjoining dining room, in an second floor area and outside of the eatery. They’ll slide a slice into the oven while you wait
Tumolo also has the food truck Pizzeria Pronto. Cafe Riviera expanded recently and Michael’s son Dan is now running La Pizzeria Metro, a new and excellent pizzeria off Miller Road next to Wilmington Brew Works.
What you had to say: Café Riviera in the Concord Mall is Jeremy Kramlik’s first choice when it comes to First State pizza.
4. Tony’s Café Italian Eatery
366 Possum Park Road, Newark, 302-737-2411; ilovetonyscafe.com/
Why this is a nice slice: Italian-born owner Luigi Illiano has been making pizza at Tony’s Cafe since 2002. He serves a Neapolitan-style pie and uses fresh ingredients. Obsessed with quality, Illiano says he doesn’t have any freezers.
So what is Tony’s most popular pie?
“There’s too many to name,” Illiano says, though he concedes that the “grandmom” is probably the biggest seller.
Customers also like Tony’s crab pizza.
What you had to say: Adrienne Little says when she wants some ‘za, she goes to “Tony’s Cafe near Newark! Great pizzas!”
3. Dom’s New York Style Pizzeria
Newport Plaza, 218 Market St., Newport, 302-998-7154; ilovedomspizza.com
Why this is a nice slice: Owner Dom Filingeri has owned his Newport shop since 2005. He serves “100 percent New York-style” pizza.
If you’re lucky, you just might see Filingeri flipping and spinning dough behind the counter. He says loyal customers like the shop’s “overall authenticity. It’s craft pizza.” Filnigeri is also a stickler for consistency. Slices taste and look the same way every day.
Filingeri cooks his pizza on a stone. He says the dough is thin, hand-stretched, crispy and little puffy.
His most popular pies are cheese and chicken parmigiana, but those who want to go beyond the norm should try the grilled chicken Caesar (a white pizza with chicken, Romaine lettuce and Pecorino Romano). Pie can also be topped with everything from fried eggplant to hot banana peppers.
What you had to say: Wayne Vaughn said, “Doms is the best, hands down. Best wings too!”
2. Nicola Pizza
Two locations: 8 N. First St. and 71 Rehoboth Ave., both in Rehoboth; nicolapizza.com
Why this is a nice slice: Owner Nicholas Caggiano gave Delaware’s pizza culture the Nic-o-Boli, the First State’s version of the stromboli. And it remains one of Delaware’s most popular fast eats.
Given the number of customers usually waiting for tables in summer months, Caggiano’s two Rehoboth eateries are among the most trusted and nostalgic stops in the Sussex County sandtown when it comes to a pizza pit stop.
Nicola Pizza has called Delaware home since 1971. The pizzerias remain an unstoppable force, despite the 2017 death of Joan Caggiano, Nicholas’ wife. Joan Caggiano was a fixture in the business, frequently stopping by tables and making customers feel like family.
Nicolas Caggiano and son Nick Jr., Joan’s son, continue on with the daily operations at the charming flagship operation at 8 N. First St., which hasn’t changed much over the years, as well as the second location on Rehoboth Avenue that opened in 2010.
Nicola has grown from 17 seats in its original location to 400 seats overall. The pizza crust is crunchy, and maybe a little thicker than traditional New York-style.
Celebrity photos fill the walls at the flagship shop and in recent years rock star Dave Grohl has been spotted eating at Nicola Pizza and taking photos with fans.
What you had to say: Nicola’s in Rehoboth has the heart of Amanda Hart.
1. Grotto Pizza
Multiple locations in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania; grottopizza.com
Why this is a nice slice: So much sentimental affection, and arguments, surround Grotto Pizza, the old-school, go-to Delaware-based chain that’s been around for almost 60 years.
Grotto Pizza was founded in 1960 by Dominick Pulieri, along with his brother-in-law, Joe, and sister Mary Jean Paglianite. At the first take-out stand, pizza slices sold for 20 cents.
A second Grotto Pizza on the Rehoboth boardwalk opened in 1963. The chain now has more than 20 locations.
GROTTO: Grotto Pizza’s super-secret dough recipe; 10 more fun facts about Delaware’s best known pizza
Since 1960, only about a dozen people have been told the dough recipe — and they each had to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
The pies feature cheddar cheese, which is sprinkled on first, and then the sweet-tasting tomato sauce is applied in a signature swirl. The use of cheddar, rather than traditional mozzarella, gives the Grotto pie its distinctive taste. (And blotting the top of a slice with a napkin to soak up “cheese juice” is a Grotto Pizza tradition.)
People either loved the Grotto Pizza combinations or can’t understand the appeal. There seems to be no middle ground.
Our favorite is easily the beachside boardwalk pizza at the original site on Rehoboth Avenue. We’ll chalk it up to the salt in the air, the sounds of the crashing sea, the squawking, and sometimes dive bombing, gulls. One bite brings back warm summer memories and adventures with family and friends.
What you had to say: “Grotto’s or nothing,” says Lacy Serman Farmer.
Contact Patricia Talorico at (302) 324-2861 or [email protected] and on Twitter @pattytalorico