Monte’s Restaurant in Lynn, Massachusetts, is a cozy, unassuming spot with a pizza menu that’s about as basic as you can get. But when Dave Portnoy, a fledgling pizza influencer at the time, tried their cheese pizza, he gave it the only perfect One Bite score he has ever awarded to an American pizza shop.

Would he stand by that score today? Monte’s Restaurant probably shouldn’t ask Portnoy to come back. As we’ll see, it might not be worth the risk.

“The first perfect score in the history of pizza reviews,” Portnoy said in one of his early videos for Barstool Sports, posted on August 21, 2015. “This lives up to all the hype. Everything everybody’s been saying about this pizza—the sauce, the crisp, the texture. This is the best pizza I’ve had during my pizza reviews.”

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“As a pizza expert,” he continued, “as a champ of pizza, as the king of pizza, as the man who tastes pizza for a living—Team Pizza or die—Monte’s is a 10.”

Since then, Portnoy has sampled pies from more than 1,000 pizzerias. And he has been known to rescore—and downgrade—pizza shops, such as Nantucket-based Oath Pizza, which he also first reviewed during his “rookie” days.

Last June, he was asked to try out Oath’s new store in Manhattan—a request the small chain’s owners might have regretted. Portnoy accepted, but he seemed mildly peeved from the get-go. He noted that an Oath Pizza rep showed up at the Barstool Sports office “uninvited” and left a note requesting that he visit the new location.

“I gave this pizza a 9.3,” Portnoy said in his June 2023 review of Oath Pizza in Manhattan. “They should have shut up and never come back [to request a second review]. I was a rookie at the time. I was fat, I was gross, Fat Dave, blob, blehhhh….It’s a review that I’ve been embarrassed about because…I had no scoring system. I was a rookie. It was my first game in the big leagues, swinging at everything. I was an easy out.”

He then wolfed down a full Oath slice and finally pronounced it a 6.5. “I still like it,” he said. But, he added, “9.3 is the worst thing I’ve ever said. I like Oath, I’ll eat there in Nantucket. They’ll probably give me the stink-eye….Take the 9.3, lock it away, don’t dare me to come back.”

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Other than Monte’s Restaurant, Portnoy’s closest score to a 10—specifically, a 9.4—went to a trio of legendary pizza shops: Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn, DeLucia’s Brick Oven Pizza in Raritan, New Jersey, and the Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts location of Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana.

Monte’s Pizza has been in business since the 1940s. It was founded by Peter Motejunas, who was nicknamed Pete Monte. When Motejunas passed away in 1965, his wife, Ruth, took over the pizzeria and ran it until 1976, at which time she sold it to current owner Frank McAskill, a longtime Monte’s employee.

Portnoy certainly hasn’t reversed himself on his score for Monte’s: A compilation video posted on YouTube last year featured his all-time top 10 pizzeria ratings, and Monte’s headed up the list. And, as shown at the top of this page, Portnoy encountered the McAskill family at the One Bite Pizza Fest held in New York last September, where he cheerfully posed for photos and videos with them.

Here’s a list of other pizzerias that have received a score of 9.0 or higher from Portnoy, according to the One Bite Pizza Rankings website:

Luigi’s Pizza, Brooklyn: 9.3
Lucali, Brooklyn: 9.3
John’s of Bleecker Street, New York City: 9.3
Angelo’s Coal Oven Pizzeria, New York City: 9.3
Lazzara’s Pizza, New York, City: 9.3
Halftime Pizza, Boston: 9.2
Rosie’s Subs and Pizza, Braintree, Massachusetts: 9.2
De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies, Robbinsville, New Jersey: 9.2
Sally’s Apizza, New Haven, Connecticut: 9.2
Best Pizza, Brooklyn: 9.1
Regina Pizzeria, Boston: 9.1
Johnny’s Pizzeria, Mount Vernon, New York: 9.1
Sauce Pizzeria, New York City: 9.1
Angelo’s Pizzeria, Philadelphia: 9.1
Town Spa Pizza, Stoughton, Massachusetts: 9.0
Denino’s Greenwich Village, New York City: 9.0

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