Do You Have the Best Pizzeria in America?

There are hundreds of "Best Pizzeria" and "Best Restaurant" lists on the Internet, but what qualifies a business to rank as "best?"

It's a question that all of us get asked from time to time by friends and family. "What's your favorite restaurant?" or "What's the best pizzeria around here?"

The truth is, so many factors go into creating a memorable restaurant, I usually refer to the same places over and over again. It's not solely the food, the atmosphere or the service individually. It's the perfect combination of everything together–every time you visit. Let's take a look at some of the details that make a good restaurant great.

The food is consistently well prepared. This one should be obvious. At a great restaurant, you feel secure ordering anything, because you know it will be outstanding no matter when you order it or who happens to be in the kitchen that day.

There's always service with a smile. Customer service starts at the front door, with a friendly greeting and an escort to the customer's preferred table. Whether you run a sit-down restaurant or an order-over-the-phone pizzeria, customers should feel appreciated and happy with service–not angry and frustrated.

Every square inch of the facility is clean. Whether we're talking about the windows, the bathrooms, the floors, tabletops, dishes, or the kitchen, every part of the restaurant should be clean. Have you ever ordered an expensive glass of wine and found someone else's lip prints staring back at you?

Customers are regularly surprised by extras. Favorite restaurants are the ones where customers are surprised with a free teaser appetizer when they sit down, bread is warm from the oven when it arrives at the table, and a manager or owner comes around and asks (genuinely) how everything is going. These are all things that stay in a customer's mind and will get shared with friends.

Owners/chefs aren't afraid to think outside the box. At top restaurants you'll often see a changing or seasonal menu, which allows the chef to experiment and customers to try new things each time they come in.

The restaurant pays attention to small details. Soft napkins, nice soap/tissue in the bathrooms, good butter/olive oil with bread, etc. Even the smallest details stand out and help to move your pizzeria to the top of the list in a customer's mind.

So how does your pizzeria fare when you go through this list? How do you make your customers feel special, and what makes your pizzeria the "best?"