When it comes to flourishing independent pizzeria operators and overall “pizza passion,” Detroit is the No. 1 pizza city in the U.S., according to a survey by Anytime Estimate listing the 15 best pizza cities in the country.

The September 2022 study found that Detroit has the most independent pizzerias per capita at 6 per 100,000 residents. That’s nearly double the average of 3.1 in the 50 U.S. cities that were analyzed.

Anytime Estimate scored the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S. on their “pizza prowess” and weighted the criteria as follows:

5x: Google Trends interest in 20 pizza variations
3x: Pizza restaurants per 100,000 residents
2x: Pizza restaurants per square mile
2x: Google Trends interest in general pizza terms
1x: Independent pizza restaurants per 100,000 residents
1x: Average price and affordability of cheese pizza (the cheaper the better)
1x: Average price and affordability of pepperoni pizza (the cheaper the better)
1x: Big chain pizza restaurants per 100,000 residents

The survey found that Detroit, in addition to boasting so many independent pizzerias, ranks No. 1 in “pizza passion,” meaning locals search Google for an “extra large variety of pizza styles.” Ohio ranks as the best overall pizza state, with three Ohio cities, including Cleveland and Columbus, falling in the top half of the rankings.

Related: What are the elements of an authentic Detroit-style pizza?

Interestingly, New York has the highest density of pizza shops per square mile—anywhere you find yourself in the Big Apple, there’s likely a pizzeria within 1.2 miles—but the city didn’t make it into the survey’s top 15 in part because of its low share of independent pizzerias.

According to the survey, Detroit ranks No. 1 for BBQ chicken searches, No. 2 for Chicago-style pizza, and, not surprisingly, No. 1 for its own Detroit-style pies. The Motor City is also No. 2 for taco pizzas and cracked the top 10 in pizzeria density (one pizzeria every 1.58 miles) and in best prices for pepperoni pizza ($7.54).

“Detroit may not be the capital of Michigan, but it’s the true pizza capital of the Midwest—and the country,” the survey concludes.

Fredi the Pizza Man, wearing a black chef coat, holds a pizza peel with a single pepperoni slice and a cutout of a blue puzzle piece representing autism

Independent pizzaioli like Fredi Bello of Fredi the Pizza Man make Detroit a top pizza city.

Rounding out the top 10 best pizza cities are: Cleveland, Ohio, (No. 2); Columbus, Ohio (No. 3); Boston (No. 4); Pittsburgh (No. 5); Indianapolis (No. 6); Providence, Rhode Island (No. 7); St. Louis (No. 8); Philadelphia (No. 9); and Norfolk, Virginia (No. 10).

The top 5 cities with the most independent pizza restaurants were Detroit; Richmond, Virginia (No. 2); Louisville, Kentucky (No. 3); Oklahoma City (No. 4); and Salt Lake City (No. 5).

Overall, Chicago came in at No. 14 on the list but stood out at No. 2 nationally in the “pizza passion” metric.

Related: Old Forge-style pizza is a cut above the rest

Despite its many famous pizza shops, New York ranked No. 22 on the overall list of the country’s best pizza cities. “New York has a lackluster share of independent pizzerias,” the study found. “With just 1.5 independent pizzerias per 100,000 residents, it’s half the average of 3.1 per 100,000 across the 50 cities we looked at.” Additionally, local New Yorkers “don’t show much of an interest in different styles of pizza, with a 14.7% lower average Google Trends rating across the 20 pizza variations we analyzed.”

The survey also listed the top 10 “worst” pizza cities”—those that were the “least impressive” according to the metrics used. They were Riverside, California; New Orleans; Birmingham, Alabama; Houston; San Antonio; Miami; San Diego; Phoenix; and Austin.

“When taken as a group, the bottom 10 pizza cities had just 2.6 independent pizza shops per 100,000 residents—16% worse than the average of 3.1 in the cities we reviewed,” the survey states. These cities also showed “scant pizza passion,” judging by residents’ search interest in a variety of pizza styles, and the pizzas there are also a little more expensive.

Anytime Estimate was founded by former loan officer Bill MacDonald in 2009 and helps thousands of home buyers and homeowners crunch the numbers on mortgages, home purchases, refinancing, and more.

Food & Ingredients