Frank’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant

2030 New Bern Avenue, Raleigh, frankspizzainraleigh.com 

Ask Raleigh old-timers—meaning, people who lived there before it became a foodie hub—what their pizza joint is, and more often than not, you’ll hear Frank’s. It’s nothing fancy; in fact, it’s the opposite of that. It’s cheap and in an eighties-era strip mall out east of town. The beer is the kind you get in a pitcher and drink quickly enough that it’s too cold to taste going down. But the thin-crust, New York-style pies, made with homemade dough, have made Frank’s a Southeast Raleigh fave for more than three decades. 

Hutchins Garage

402 West Geer Street, Durham

A new kid in town, having opened in 2018, Hutchins doesn’t offer a big list of specialty pies to choose from. There are usually six on the menu, a mixture of meat and vegetarian options (you can build your own, too). But what Hutchins does, it does well. And what it does really well is the Grandma’s Pizza, a rectangular pie with a thicker crust that’s sliced into squares. Get toppings if you want, but you don’t need them. 

Italian Pizzeria III

508 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, italianpizzeria3.com

There are a few Italian Pizzerias in the western Triangle, but IP3 is probably the best-known—and the most renowned. For almost forty years, its fresh-dough Neapolitan- and Sicilian-style pies have been a townie favorite, always a perfect balance of cheese to sauce and as authentically Italian as you get in central North Carolina. 

Oakwood Pizza Box

610 North Person Street, Raleigh, oakwoodpizzabox.com

From the black-and-white interior to the menu, Oakwood Pizza Box projects a minimalist aesthetic. But its simplicity lets the pies shine. Pick your base: “Cheese,” with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil; or “white,” with mozzarella, ricotta, garlic, and basil. Then add toppings, just like that. Nothing posh, just good rounds (though you can also get a square). 

Pie Pushers 

117 West Main Street, Suite A, Durham, piepushers.com

One of Durham’s favorite food trucks is now firmly ensconced in a second-floor brick-and-mortar downtown, specializing in a Southern twist on New York-style pizza, with specialty slices dressed in potatoes and kale, brussels sprouts and cauliflower. (There’s, like, pepperoni and stuff, too.) Fast, fresh, and affordable, Pie Pushers also slings slices late-night through its street-level window by essential music venue The Pinhook.

Pizzeria Mercato

408 West Weaver Street, Carrboro, pizzeriamercatonc.com 

Perfectly charred Neapolitan-style pies pulled from a brick-lined oven. Ingredients fresh from the farmers market across the street. Chef Gabe Barker’s famous attention to detail. There’s a reason that, soon after Mercato opened in 2016, Bon Appétit declared it one of three best new pizza joints in the country. Nothing’s changed since. 

Pizzeria Toro

105 East Chapel Hill Street, Durham, pizzeriatoro.com

Toro’s thin, crisp wood-fired pies and creative topping combinations make it a top-notch pizza destination. Try a classic Margherita topped with buffalo mozzarella or a white pie with oyster mushrooms and a soft egg, and don’t forget to drizzle the house chili oil on top.

Pizzeria Faulisi 

215 East Chatham Street, Cary, pizzeriafaulisi.com

This cozy eatery is anchored by a wood-burning oven where you can see the pizza makers pulling out the bubbly, charred discs. From the roster of signature pies, standouts include the Red, White & Blue, topped with sour cherries and blue cheese, and the Salumi, with hot soppressata and mozzarella. Drop in on Tuesdays, when all specialty pies are $10.

Treforni Neapolitan Pizza

125 West N.C. Highway 54, Durham, treforni.com

Treforni chef and co-owner Dave Diggins learned the art of pie-making from Roberto Caporuscio, who learned it at the oldest pizzeria in Naples, the almost 120-year-old Pizzeria Starita. Diggins is a devotee of the Neapolitan style—he sources his ingredients from Italy, doesn’t overload his pies with toppings, and bakes them in ninety seconds or less in three 900-degree ovens.  

Trophy Brewing & Pizza

827 West Morgan Street, Raleigh, trophybrewing.com 

Trophy—the beer and the local business—has long since outgrown its original, now-way-too-small pizza spot on West Morgan. But if you’re lucky (or patient) enough to snag a table, split a Daredevil Pizza—ghost pepper salami, Sriracha, and jalapeños—and wash it down with a Trophy Wife IPA. 

2018 Best of the Triangle Readers’ Picks, Best Pizza:

Pizzeria Toro, Durham County

Pizzeria Mercato, Orange and Chatham Counties

Lilly’s Pizza, Wake County