Indy’s obsession with peel-to-plate dining means hot, cheesy goodness is always within reach. Since there’s no better time than now to indulge in the original carryout model, we rounded up our favorite pizzerias and saved the last slice for you.
The thin-crust Neapolitan-style pizzas arrive lightly charred around the edges, with locally sourced ingredients adorning such favorites as the homemade sausage (Smoking Goose protein, peppadew peppers, fennel, and onion) and margherita (crushed San Marzano tomatoes, dollops of mozzarella, and fresh basil). Less glam than Pizzology’s short-lived second location on Mass Ave, the original dining room reflects the nondescript strip mall where it resides. 13190 Hazel Dell Pkwy., Carmel, 317-844-2550
(Sicilian, New York–style)
Perillo’s looks like the kind of restaurant where the protagonist of a teen drama would work on weekends: a cute little Italian joint in a historic brick building with a quaint adjoining patio. The housemade dough is the star of both the bubbly hand-tossed and pillowy Sicilian deep dish, both of which get baked on stone decks. They only have two sizes: 18-inch whole pies or enormous traditional New York slices. If you’re doing the keto thing, they’ve got you covered with an almond-flour and chia-seed crust, and a gluten-free cauliflower-parmesan option. Owners Damiano and Meredith Perillo (he’s a native of Palermo) and their business partners put that real Italian love into these pizzas, and it’s a love you can taste with options like an extra drizzle of olive oil or a few dollops of ricotta. 5 S. Broadway St., North Salem, 765-676-4171
The freeform pizzas at Two Guys Pies are cut into ergonomic strips, which make it that much easier to stuff a slice of Buffalo chicken, Some Like It Hot, or Carnivore’s Delight pizza into your mouth. Two Guys got its name from the owner’s newborn grandsons, and its cafe decor is just as darling. 55 E. Main St., Danville, 317-745-6434
As famous for its trademarked Hermanaki wings and its beer selection as its popular pies, this perennially packed sports bar first opened by Marc Luros in 1982 runs the pizza gamut from “skinny” thin-crust pizzas to a puffy hand-tossed version to a lighter-than-typical Chicago pan–style with the cheese on top instead of the sauce. And while toppings tend toward the traditional, a few curveballs such as smoked chicken, chorizo, and capicola allow for more creative choose-your-own pizzas. Pepperoni-stuffed breadsticks are almost as big as calzones—a meal on their own with a wedge salad or another round of suds. 8617 Allisonville Rd., 317-842-1333; 11501 Geist Pavilion Dr., Fishers, 317-288-7394; 997 E. County Line Rd., Greenwood, 317-300-1560
There’s a lot going on at Eddie Sahm’s Nora gastro brewery that perpetually rolls out insanely tempting new food groups. The brief section of the menu that describes the day’s wood-fired personal pizzas could go unnoticed, but it would be a shame to miss out on thin-crust wonders like a dill pickle pizza squiggled with ranch and a Mexican pizza dressed Taco Bell Grande–style with Big Lug’s cloned Taco Bell hot sauce. 1435 E. 86th St., 317-672-3503
With its swank dining room, top-shelf ingredients, and well-edited wine list, Diavola is not your nonna’s pizza parlor. What it is? A sultry yet relaxed date spot, a foodie destination, and a takeout hub for much of SoBro. Start by sharing a plate of the decadently creamy burrata and a quartino of vino before getting to the hard part: choosing which of the 13-inch pizzas, each perfect for two, to share. Our choice: the Pera Pesto (pesto, fresh mozzarella, pear, bacon, and gorgonzola), a distinctive combo that rivals any pizza in town. 1134 E. 54th St., 317-820-5100
Among Indiana-based pizza chains, Greek’s is king. Founded in Valparaiso in 1969, the franchise has expanded to 30 locations throughout the state on the strength of its traditional hand-tossed pies. Heavy on just about everything—the gooey mozzarella, the curly pepperoni, the sugary marinara sauce, the garlic butter–brushed crust—these pizzas aren’t even a little diet-friendly. But they’re exactly what customers have come to expect in Greek’s dark dining rooms busy with red-and-white checkered tablecloths. You don’t come for the subtlety. Multiple locations
Open for five years, this tiny parlor near the corner of 56th and Illinois streets already feels as essential to Butler-Tarkington as Bulldogs basketball games. Originally a food truck, Byrne’s sears its thin-crust beauties on a gas grill, a technique that might sound like a gimmick until you bite into a slice. Crisp and deliciously charred, the pies tend to be lightly sauced and generously seasoned with oregano. During the pandemic, Byrne’s food truck has been driving around the city delivering free pies to needy families. The ’za may be thin, but the community spirit runs deep. 5615 N. Illinois St., 317-737-2056
One of the restaurants under the Patachou brand, this stone-hearth pizzeria operates out of three beautifully designed spaces, serving some of the most grown-up pizza in town. The menu rotates seasonally, which means locally produced ingredients get a lot of love, built into delicate, bubble-crusted pies like the Broken Yolk, margherita, and the perennial favorite sausage-and-mushroom Hamaker’s Corner, named for the former business next to the Meridian-Kessler flagship. Elliott’s Pie, another best seller, is topped with potatoes, pancetta, and gorgonzola. For an added $4, your pie will arrive “Rachel’s style,” crowned with a lightly dressed arugula that is a treat in itself. The Fashion Mall, 317-705-0765; 114 E. 49th St., 317-925-0765; 30 S. Meridian St., 317-635-0765
Strictly delivery and carryout, Bob’s Tu Your Door serves up crowd-pleasing pies that aren’t flashy or trendy but reliably hit the spot. Party-cut pizzas are built on a bready, pressed-into-the-pan crust with a light layer of housemade sauce and old-standby toppings (like finely ground mild sausage and thin-sliced pepperoni) generously spread to the edge. A key layer of mozz holds it all together for a sturdy pie that arrives looking good and doesn’t fall apart after a few bites. Along with a short list of toppings, meal add-ons like rib tips, chicken wings, and breadsticks fill out the rest of Bob’s short-and-sweet menu. They’ve had this pizza thing down since 1961, thankyouverymuch, why make it complicated? Multiple locations
A lot of pizzerias tout their pies as New York–style, and southside standout Brozinni gets extra points for the black-and-white deli cookies at the register and the breathless, brusque (at least for Indiana) way someone answers the phone. But authenticity is still all about the crust and quality ingredients. Brozinni shines here, too, making its own dough and marinara, for which it sources tomatoes and mozzarella from old-timers Stanislaus and Grande Cheese Company, respectively. The top edge of each slice pillows up outrageously high into chewy, holdable knobs. Toppings stick close to the classics, with the exception of Caesar dressing and Frank’s Red Hot as sauce options. The cheese pizza is relatively the most decadent choice, bubbling hot with a thick blanket of that exceptional whole-milk mozzarella. The counter sells by the slice for lunch on weekdays and is otherwise carryout-only while the bare-bones dining room is closed for renovations. 8810 S. Emerson Ave., 317-865-0991
(Western New York State)
Customers can get a tasty introduction to the lesser-known Western New York–style pie at this homey Plainfield pizzeria that Buffalo-area transplants Joe and Rachel LaSpada opened in 2017. The cheese on these crispy, yeasty Grandma pies stretches to eye-popping proportions, with toppings that include all the standard meats as well as pulled pork and barbecue sauce, or Buffalo-style chicken striped with hot sauce. 2368 E. Main St., Plainfield, 317-268-6169
A fixture on Danville’s courthouse square since 1999, this stately restaurant with gloriously high ceilings and its own posh bar comes by its Italian cred honestly. The original owner immigrated to the States in the ’70s, and eventually Hendricks County, by way of pizza shops in Pennsylvania and the Glendale Mall Luca Pizza. Second-generation owners Michael and Rachel Russo have punctuated the menu of “ensalata” and “secondi” with high-lipped pizzas sliced into eight pieces, regardless of the size. The stuffed pizza is a credit to the double-crust genre, its innards packed with cheese and its savory top crust well-oiled and with herbs. 33 S. Washington St., Danville, 317-718-1146
Indy’s 1986 introduction to gourmet pizza came in the form of a pint-sized shack that backed up to the Broad Ripple canal, with a deck jammed full of Bartles & Jaymes sippers hungry for artichoke pizzas and other exotica. The crusts—white, wheat, or gluten-free—are crisp and sturdy enough to support a roster of chunky toppings and the standard scrim of bubbly mozzarella and provolone. It’s fun to experiment with ingredients like housemade chorizo, lump crab, and Smoking Goose capicola, but you can never fail ordering one of the specialty pizzas, like the pesto-based Basilica and the luscious Quattro Formaggio, with warm dollops of ricotta among its four cheeses. 811 E. Westfield Blvd., 317-255-5711; 333 Massachusetts Ave., 317-636-7662; 111 W. Main St., Carmel, 317-848-4488
Nearly 30 years of pizza know-how and creativity are baked into the slightly sweet, buttery crust at this innovative institution that founder Don Main and partners (including brother Tom, now of Tinker Street) expanded across Central Indiana and Kentucky. Individual 8-inch pies are a good way to sample award-winning topping combos such as the now-legendary Campfire with a savory-sweet blend of smoked sausage, onion marmalade, and gorgonzola. Or how about the Twice Baked with tender sliced potatoes, bacon, gouda, and an herbaceous buttermilk dressing? Calzones and pastas stand up to the pies at these funky pizzerias decorated with artist Chris Pyle’s surrealist murals, but generous salads with housemade dressings are the best way to complete a Puccini’s meal. Multiple locations
New York pizza—without the attitude. Brothers Daniel and Christopher Simone have faithfully recreated the look and offerings of the ubiquitous full-service slice shops that dot nearly every neighborhood and street corner of their former Long Island home at this friendly Zionsville storefront, where loyal patrons are known by name. 41 Boone Village Center, Zionsville, 317-773-1609
Indiana’s iconic restaurant chain may divide along a line of business models that brothers Wendell and Bob Swartz created just a year after opening their first family-friendly pizzeria in Lafayette back in 1956. But the formula, vivid in the memory of most native Hoosiers, is largely the same at its nearly 50 locations throughout the state. Irresistible cracker-thin crusts get full coverage with a slightly sweet sauce, chopped toppings, and just the right amount of a less-gooey-than-usual cheese. Pies are cut into squares, so you’ll likely lose count of how many slices you’ve devoured (though no one will tell). Multiple locations
The Hilltop is a true neighborhood pub, surrounded by nothing but modest working- and middle-class homes, and an unsubtle memento mori vibe with Anderson Cemetary across the street. Its pizzas are the category definition of pub pizza: hand-tossed with fistfuls of ingredients, draped in thick cheese, and party-cut for sharing. Even the pepperoni will be slightly domed with cheese and meat, which is ideal at a bar where beer comes by the bucket. Chain pizza restaurants don’t stand a chance with pizza this good and this close to so many eastsiders. 6500 E. 10th St., 317-353-8165
(Hand-tossed, Thin-crust, Deep Dish)
Since 1984, Greek Tony’s has been slinging perhaps the best pizza on 116th Street, a commendable feat to survive 36 years of pizza chain creep in the Carmel area. Some magical thing happens between their scratch dough and hot conveyor oven that creates a deep golden, crunchy crust with a tender center, even before you get to Sal’s Spicy Pie, a combination of Italian sausage, hot giardiniera, and pineapple that is the best kind of surprise. 1732 E. 116th St., Carmel, 317-846-1200
The surprise at the brewery Derek and Patrick Howard operate in the back of dad Barry’s popular restaurant isn’t so much that they’re producing award-winning, easy-drinking IPAs and Belgians in sleepy Fairmount, but that they’re pairing them with buttoned-up pizzas rivaling the best in the state. A real-deal, 1,000-degree oven from Italy, plus one recently purchased from Sweden, produce beautifully risen, slightly scorched pies that channel Naples (the Capi), Brooklyn (the Red Hook and Greenpoint), St. Louis (with smoked paprika and Provel), and Detroit (the recently added pan-style Motown). The house Fougase bread baked in that oven is worth the hour drive up Indiana 13 alone, and an impressive buildout and expansion this summer means you’re more likely to find a seat once you get there. 407 W. Washington St., Fairmount, 765-948-4193
(Deep Dish, Hand-tossed)
In an unassuming Greenwood strip mall, South of Chicago’s owner, Edward Cobb, slings deep-dish pies that rival any of the big-name Chicago exports. If you want something diet-friendly, go for a hand-tossed pizza. But if you’ve made the pilgrimage here, you’ve come for a heavenly, thick-as-a-brick slice. Built on a buttery crust with a crisp exterior and delicate, chewy interior, Cobb’s pies get a balanced application of cheese and toppings, a thick ladling of sauce, and then a heavy sprinkling of parm and oregano. Consider going full Chi-town and order yours with Italian beef imported from the 312. 2550 S. State Rd. 135, Greenwood, 317-534-0424
Slightly misshapen pizzas tell the tale of homemade, handmade pies that are baked to order at a busy restaurant—and So Italian is back and certainly busy. Even the simplest pies achieve a kind of pizza nirvana, with pepperoni baking hot and fast in traditional deck ovens, crisping the edges of each cupped slice and turning them into sacramental vessels of grease. While specialty pies like the Chipotle Pizza (which tastes like an open-face quesadilla) are popular with Brownsburg locals, there is no shame in opting for the simple bliss of a plain pep or cheese. 515 E. Main St., Brownsburg, 317-858-4777
Chef Sal Fernandez, a Midwest transplant from Napa, oversees the bustling performance kitchen at downtown Greencastle’s rustic Italian restaurant near the DePauw University campus. Alongside his cacio e pepe and local melon salad with prosciutto and feta, Fernandez offers five wood-fired pizzas, cooked to leopard-spotted perfection—thin, chewy, kissed with char—in an oven that hails from Naples, Italy. 19 N. Indiana St., Greencastle, 765-653-0021
It’s a tale of two pizzerias at Pearl Street’s beloved original location and its recently opened one. The alley-side spot downtown is the quintessential gritty hang for lovers of classic crunchy-edged bar pies and the bar’s late-night regulars. A more genteel vibe governs the suburban spot that serves Geist-area families a homier, hand-tossed pie and Chicago pan-style pizzas. 65 E. Pearl St., 317-638-3110; 10462 Olio Rd., Fishers, 317-336-8703
The best way to enjoy slices of this nicely charred artisan pizza is to find the Pi Indy truck, an old freightliner shipping car converted with full-length windows, and join the parking-lot party. If you can’t wait for the next Instagram post, grab a sweet and savory Figgy Piggy Pi or an anything-but-basic margherita on an elephant ear–like crust with a nod to Naples at their stall in Sun King’s Carmel distillery, where you can up your game with a patio cocktail. 351 Monon Blvd., Carmel, 317-903-2612
Among the many, many pizza joints in Fishers, none can claim the pedigree of Rockstone, the sole pizza establishment in the multi-branch family tree of Sahm’s Restaurant Group. Here, topping choices go far beyond the usual to include avocado and roasted shrimp, and pies emerge from the wood-fired oven with slightly charred crusts that are thin yet sturdy. That’s important when you order the Deluxious, with its thick blanket of mozzarella and generous amounts of pepperoni, sausage, and veggie shards; the popular Buff Chick, scattered with roasted poultry and a kicky sauce; or the Papa Spinaka, piled with pesto, cremini mushrooms, goat cheese, and fresh spinach. 11501 Allisonville Rd., Fishers, 317-288-9761
One of a handful of long-standing local pizzerias that reimagined what goes on top of a crust, Keith and Nancy Carey’s wittily named spot has been drawing pizza fans for over three decades with a tender, thin crust and such combos as the Bomb with generous helpings of both meat and veggies, the Cajun with local Claus’s smoked sausage and shrimp, and the popular house artichoke with pesto and sun-dried tomatoes. 6235 Allisonville Rd., 317-257-1364; 12552 Gray Rd., Carmel, 317-706-8888
You might not think of this southside stalwart trattoria as a pizza place. But the destination known for Italian classics like shrimp diablo and housemade vodka sauce arose from a family-run pizza chain, Pasquale’s, which once had five locations in greater Indianapolis as well as franchises. All of the family’s restaurants are gone except Vito’s, which still serves the same hand-tossed pizza in palm-sized slices. 8031 S. Meridian St., 317-888-4867
Born as a food truck, The NY Slice set up shop in the shell of a fast-food joint in Greenwood Park Mall’s outlot. It’s the rare pizzeria where you can get a single, topped-to-order brick-oven slice in a drive-through. Conveniently, you could realistically eat one of these tidy folded triangles one-handed. 1201 Greenwood Park East Dr., 317-877-1009, Greenwood
Nestled into a storefront next to its sister restaurants Northside Social and Northside Kitchenette, The Nook is exactly that: a tiny, tucked-away gem. Grab a banquette inside and settle in with a glass from the curated wine list, then think pizza. The pies here—dubbed “artisan American style”—are 12-inch Neapolitan-esque beauties, their crusts basted with garlic oil. You can create your own pie or go with one of the specialties, like “The Nook,” laden with fennel sausage, nuggets of red wine–braised mushrooms, pickled red onion, and smoked bacon. 6513 N. College Ave., 317-253-0450
They may argue authenticity, but East Coast transplants used to eating their slices standing up have found a source for chewy, lovably floppy New York slices for three decades at the storefront spot Giorgio Migliaccio opened off Monument Circle in 1990. Restaurateur Elif Ozdemir, who bought the pizzeria last year, has no plans for changing that. There’s nothing like having a staffer point a spatula at you to take your order, then slide a crisped, piping-hot slice of pepperoni onto a paper plate for the most satisfying thing you’ll eat all week. 9 E. Market St., 317-687-9869
Jumbo slices of pepperoni and shaved Italian sausage are tucked inside paper sleeves for ease of eating at this family-run grab-and-go counter. The hot, no-nonsense slabs are thin and judiciously topped—the closest you might get to the classic New York by-the-slice experience. Pre-made pies are crisped to order, but you’ll be jealous of the guy stopping in to pick up an entire cheese pizza, hot and gooey from the oven, to take back home. 6225 W. 56th St., 317-552-2141
Panoony’s colossal 30-inch Big Noony eclipses most coffee tables and must be ordered a day in advance. Square-cut into 60 pieces, it is the go-to party order for seasoned Noonyheads, which is what owner Ian Patterson, a transplanted New Yorker, calls his devoted clientele. In any other setting, a pizza that requires a hatchback for delivery might get played out like a gimmick. Not at this fiercely independent shop that takes pizza-making seriously. Pies get piled with mostly traditional ingredients and divided into hefty, cheesy slices that will leave a proper grease halo on your paper plate. 1447 E. Main St., Brownsburg, 317-286-3500
Owners Richard Goss and Meg Jones have tapped into the magic of traditional Neapolitan pizza, focusing on a thinner crust (with both sauce and cheese applied lightly) baked at nearly 700 degrees in a brick oven made by Goss’s father. The pizzas come out crisp and chewy with a fiery flavor. The most popular order, the margherita, is loaded with fresh basil, a spread of mozzarella, and a base of bruschetta subbing for sauce. 229 S. Main St., Franklin, 317-738-3300
Open since 1978, this Lawrence fixture has the feel of a family-friendly neighborhood spot, complete with a party room. Its thin-crust option is just that, the cracker-like base probably best for only a couple of toppings. If you really want to pile on the pepperoni, mushroom, and green pepper (the most exotic garnish here is probably pineapple), the deep-dish option fares best. Its thick and crunchy golden ring encircles the mix of add-ons and sauce, covered by a layer of bubbled mozzarella. 11733 Pendleton Pike, 317-823-4466
Mick McGrath’s Irvington pizzeria opened 13 years ago, a come-as-you-are neighborhood haunt with local art on the walls and customers clustered inside the door, waiting for the next table to open. The first Jockamo has doubled in size and begotten others—all cozy spots where McGrath loads his crusts edge to edge with cartoonish amounts of droopy cheese and instant-classic combos like the Slaughterhouse Five’s pepperoni, ham, sausage, bacon, and Italian beef and the So-Cal’s fresh basil, peppers, goat cheese, and avocado. Balsamic reduction crisscrosses the Jockamo Special, and the menu lists two seafood pizzas as well as a pair of weekend Hangover Pizzas built around the curative properties of scrambled eggs and housemade chorizo gravy. 5646 E. Washington St., 317-356-6612; 9165 Otis Ave., 317-986-4545; 401 Market Plaza, Greenwood, 317-883-8993
Regulars line up for carryout pizza at this friendly neighborhood strip-mall joint. Here, a soft but sturdy dough gets a light smear of sauce before being loaded to the edge with toppings and blanketed with mozzarella. House specials include a popular Mexican pie that gets ground beef and jalapeños in on the action, and Around the World, which tests the tensile strength of the crust with sausage, ham, pepperoni, mushroom, onion, green pepper, black olives, banana peppers, and a generous layer of cheese. 2002 N. Arlington Ave., 317-359-0500
Pizza impresario Arnold Cohen may have gotten his start as the owner of a Pizza King franchise in Lafayette in 1965, but by the ’70s, his eponymous empire of cheery, family-friendly pizzerias was beginning to spread on its own to today’s nearly 20 locations around Central Indiana, even at Indy’s Victory Field. His success came with an expanded menu of burgers, pastas, and “stroms,” but it’s Cohen’s chewy-edged, St. Louis–style thin pies with well-chopped toppings that have been the Arni’s signature for over five decades. Multiple locations
Fat double-crusted pizzas prettily crimped around the edges get a lot of love at this British-inflected Broad Ripple favorite with another location in Westfield in the works. The single-crusted Indy-style deep dishes are as beloved as the fish and chips, and are as much of a feast. A chunky, crushed-tomato sauce adds even more heft to these pies, so prepare your fridge for plenty of leftovers before the binge. 924 Broad Ripple Ave., 317-257-4343
Former Peterson’s and Skyline Club chef Ricky Hatfield has been rethinking gastropub fare since this second location of the landmark Lansing brewery opened in November 2019. Having a spacious open kitchen outfitted with a wood-burning pizza oven means he can fire up some especially uptown bubbly-crusted pies, including a very respectable margherita and the “Goat Hollow,” dressed for dinner with cheddar ale sauce, goat cheese, prosciutto, and sweet figs. 501 Madison Ave., 317-390-4291
Que Wimberly and her two sons run this bustling 21-and-over pizza joint that highlights a handful of Indy’s Black-owned establishments in collaborations like the barbecue-sauced Wood Stock (featuring succulent brisket from Hank’s Smoked Brisket) and The Trap Pizza (lavished with shrimp, crab, Chef Oya’s OG Garlic Herb Trap Buttah, and Foodlovetog’s Young Bae Spice). The pies come in one size: a 12-inch rectangle square cut into eight piled pieces with spectacular mozzarella pulls. 6404 Rucker Rd.
The limited-edition pizza program at Charlie McIntosh’s Old World–style bakery began as an early COVID-19 pivot, with two sourdough-crust beauties offered alongside cherry tomatoes and house granola through the Amelia’s/Bluebeard online bodega. The salami-topped Meaty Boi and its gooey partner, Cheesy Boi, garnered a cult following as fans of the freeform pies pulled up to the bakery’s alley-side door for Tuesday and Friday pickup. They’re boxed with instructions for gently reheating them in the oven—just enough to reanimate the cheese and give the base a crispy reboot—assuming they make it home in one piece. 653 Virginia Ave., 317-686-1583
This West Virginia–based mini-chain satiates crowds at Carmel’s and Noblesville’s outdoor shopping centers, a welcome upgrade from traditional food-court pizza. Your best bet is to order the 16-incher and fill it half-and-half with two specialty pies. Hang on to summer flavor a little longer with the Street Corn, evoking elotes with golden kernels, cilantro, green onion, Tajín seasoning, and zigzags of creamy chipotle sauce. Sweet and smoky come together in the Pine & Swine, with chunks of pineapple and bits of bacon. In other choices, grapes are married with Gorgonzola, while capicola and hot peppers add heat to the Hot Mamma. Clay Terrace, Carmel, 317-688-7477; Hamilton Town Center, Noblesville, 317-774-7437
Though nothing fancy to look at, Daredevil’s made-from-scratch tavern-style pizzas have all of the thin-crust credentials. Toppings are distributed to the pie’s flat, sturdy edges and held in place with a layer of lightly burnished cheese. The sauce balances the tang with some sweetness. And the square cut provides four perfect amuse-bouche triangles. 2721 E. 86th St., 317-757-2888
The Italian-born chef who opened this spot six years ago sold it to his apprentice (a very European-sounding move) last year, but his recipes remain. The original list of 12 pizzas has expanded to 27, with toppings ranging from pepperoni to pears and rosemary potatoes. We’re definitely swept up in the passion of it all. 11640 Brooks School Rd., Fishers, 317-712-6369
Indeed, the dough is treated like royalty at King Dough, a cool modular outpost walled in with garage doors that open onto trellised patio seating in the near-eastside Holy Cross neighborhood. Owners Adam and Alicia Sweet debuted their wood-fired pizzeria in 2018 with the help of Indianapolis developers Tom and Edward Battista, focusing on a naturally leavened crust that emerges from the oven chewy and flavored with a tinge of sourdough and wood smoke. Toppings are thoughtful combinations like the ricotta, basil, caramelized onions, and black pepper that come together on the mellow R&B, and the surprisingly well-matched headliners of the Grape & Gorgonzola. 452 N. Highland Ave., 317-602-7960
(Deep Dish, Hand-tossed, Thin-crust)
At this homey West Clay spot, Chicago-style pizza reigns supreme—both kinds. The deep-dish pies here would win the approval of most Sox fans, but Roselli’s knocks it out of the park with crackery, thin-crust pies cut into squares that somehow retain their integrity under a liberal mound of toppings. The fennel sausage is legit, and the slightly sweet sauce is darn near drinkable. 4335 W. 106th St., Carmel, 317-228-9090
(Hand-tossed, Deep Dish, Detroit-style)
There’s just so much to love about the throwback kitsch of Rockstar Pizza: the gold records framed on the wall, the photos of celebrities under resin on all the tables, the salad bar, the face of Slash on every box. It truly has something for everyone, both on the walls and on the menu, as Rockstar will be happy to serve you anything from a thin-crust vegan pizza to a pepperoni keto pizza to a hand-tossed, deep-dish, or Detroit-style pizza. Locals love the keto crust, and thin-crust aficionados will dig the base that tastes like eating cheese and toppings on a big, shattering cracker. Daring eaters can attempt Rockstar’s pizza challenge, wherein two friends get 45 minutes to devour a 30-inch, one-topping pie. If you fail, it costs $50, but if you win, the pizza is free and you get a shirt and your photo on the wall. It’s a monster of a pie that, like the others, comes drenched in enough mozzarella to get that Instagrammable cheese pull. 922 E. Main St., Brownsburg, 317-858-1188
What’s Your Type?
While local pizzas seem to come in an infinite number of varieties, most owe their basic recipes to a handful of well-established regional styles.
West Coast chefs like Wolfgang Puck of Spago and Alice Waters of Chez Panisse are considered the inspiration for these super-thin pies that tend to be topped with themed gourmet sauces and cheeses, as well as fresh vegetables. The elaborate wood-fired style trended hard in the ’80s and ’90s at popular chains like California Pizza Kitchen and ushered in the age of the oven-centric performance kitchen.
Chicago Deep Dish
Lampooned as a bombastic casserole by the likes of Jon Stewart, the Midwest’s most celebrated contribution to the pizza lexicon traces its slightly fuzzy lineage most likely to Pizzeria Uno in the early 1940s, though it may be older. Suffice it to say that it has won legions of pizza purists over the last 80 years with its thick, buttery crust browned in a metal pan—cheese on the bottom followed by the toppings and a generous crown of chunky tomato sauce up top. Pies can take upwards of 40 minutes in the oven, so expect a wait.
First baked up in the heavy blue steel drip pans used in mechanic’s shops, this homey spin on Sicilian-style pies dating to the mid-1940s was largely unknown outside of the Motor City until the last few years, when a nation of pizza lovers looking for something new took to it like the latest model. Cheese dusted around the edge creates an especially crackly crust, and signature stripes of sauce across a bubbly bed of brick cheese give this comforting Grandma-style pizza a nice contrast of flavors and textures.
There’s a certain satisfaction to the no-frills pies reminiscent of the pizza buffets of your childhood or the chain pizzas you’d bring home to devour after a ball game. And while there are often some finer touches to these medium-thick, puffy and golden pizzas, it’s the fact that they go so well with the watch party or family movie night that keeps you coming back when fancier pies are available. Go for a supreme to get the maximum fall-in-your-lap topping action, and order extra marinara for dipping the crusts.
A few years after all those famous chefs reinvented pizza on the West Coast with duck sausage and smoked salmon, local restaurateur Jeff Berman was expanding locals’ notion of what could top a pizza at his Broad Ripple Bazbeaux, which opened in 1986 and is still the gold standard for innovative Indy-style pies. A handful of spinoffs with similar medium-thin, hand-tossed crusts and toppings such as Cajun shrimp, andouille sausage, and albacore tuna have helped make local pizza fans seem pretty savvy and daring for the last few decades.
Neapolitan (and Neapolitan-style)
An esoteric set of specifications governs what constitutes a bona fide pie in the Southern Italian city of pizza’s birth, and a subset of pizzaiolos in the United States has taken up the painstaking process at state-of-the-art New World pizzerias. High-protein “00” flour, natural yeast, and little else constitute the crust, while a light dusting of toppings doesn’t weigh down hand-stretched pies that emerge, usually after only 90 seconds in a lightning-hot shallow oven, “leoparded” with tiny scorch spots on the bottom and edge. Just don’t call it burnt.
Do you roll it or fold it? Start with the crust or the point? However you eat your New York slices, you’re tasting over a century of heritage for this style first served out of East Coast Italian groceries in the early 1900s, simply but richly topped with a light tomato sauce and aged mozzarella instead of Italy’s more traditional fresh mozzarella. The long strings of cheese may threaten to stain your shirt while you stroll around enjoying a slice. But you’ll gladly pay the cleaner for the sake of America’s first regional style of pie.
The Lou’s flat-as-a-cracker antithesis to the Midwest’s deep-dish Chicago behemoths is less well-known, but it’s the preferred pie at bars and mom-and-pops in a wide swath from Southern Missouri and Illinois to Central Indiana. Cornmeal often adds a bit more chew for this style, most commonly sliced into squares and topped with finely chopped pepperoni or crumbled Italian sausage. But Provel cheese, a processed blend of Swiss, provolone, and cheddar, is the true signature of the style—an acquired taste for mozz fans, but it’s the real deal for downstate folks in the know.
This hefty style of pizza often draws comparison to the Chicago deep-dish variety. The difference is the rectangular pan it cooks in and how a halo of crisped cheese forms around the dense, bubbly crust that’s similar to focaccia.
This high-rise pizza features an additional top crust that seals in the cheese and ingredients like an oversized pot pie. A layer of rich, chunky tomato sauce gets ladled (often very generously) over the entire pizza, along with a dusting of Parmesan, before baking.
Back in the late ’50s and early ’60s, when most locals had first tasted pizza in other cities, a few entrepreneurs decided to give burgers a run for their money at family-owned pizza joints still legendary in neighborhoods around the city center and south side. Was that fennel in sausage or oregano dusted on top? Logos almost always depicted a diminutive chef wearing a high white hat. And while debate rages about whether the few remaining sources for these flat, double-cheese pies have lost their luster, nostalgia keeps the boxes flowing out the door.
Best eaten after midnight with a pitcher of beer and a jukebox blasting the classics, these no-nonsense pies are a few notches above a frozen pizza you’d make at home but taste so much better because of the setting. Unapologetically classic toppings (think banana peppers or plain ground beef), spread to the edge of a more-crunchy-than-chewy crust, mean a couple of slices would suffice, but you’ll eat more for sure, drizzled with splashes of Frank’s hot sauce. You may box up the leftovers, but you’ll likely forget them on the table as you stumble home.
Western New York State
A closer kin to Detroit’s square and puffy pan-baked pies than NYC’s iconic wedges, this medium-thick style from the Buffalo region takes its toppings almost to the edge for the perfect crunchy perimeter with plenty of yeasty chew. Think bubbly focaccia smothered judiciously with some pretty radical toppings such as pulled pork, taco-seasoned beef, or, not surprisingly, shredded chicken with blue cheese and a generous drizzle of hot sauce. Be sure to get a side of “logs,” egg-roll wrappers stuffed with typical pizza ingredients or other familiar tasty fillings.
Fancier than your average takeout pizza but less fussy than Neapolitan, these pies are often the creations of breweries, food trucks, or chefs who just happened to inherit an oven from a previous tenant. Goat cheese, drizzles of balsamic vinegar, and nests of arugula might crown these elaborate mains, which are as fun for their smoky edges as they are for their unorthodox flavor combos.