In a new report released earlier this week, the data team at Clever Real Estate ranked Memphis as the worst pizza city in the U.S. But don’t tell that to the owners of Little Bettie, a pizza stand located in the taproom at Wiseacre Brewing Co. in downtown Memphis. For that matter, don’t bring it up with Guy Fieri either.

Fieri spotlighted Little Bettie on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives last month, calling it “a funkalicious spot in Memphis with out-of-this-world pies.”

For its report, Clever Real Estate analyzed a “multitude of mouthwatering metrics” related to pizza in the country’s 50 largest metro areas. It declared Denver to be America’s best city for pizza, citing the food’s affordability compared to locals’ income and a bounty of glowing Yelp reviews for its pizza shops. Denver ousted Detroit, which held the top spot in the website’s best-pizza-city reports for the previous two years.

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But Memphis? The report called it “the worst city for pizza, with just 3.5 pizza places per capita and low affordability of pizza based on the median annual income.”

Memphians, however, seem pretty satisfied with Little Bettie as a pizza option.

Brothers Davin Bartosch and Kellan Bartosch opened Wiseacre Brewing on B.B. King Boulevard in 2020. Riddle joined them a couple of years ago. He introduced their beer-loving customers to his thin-crust pies with names like The Meatacre (red sauce, pepperoni, bacon, fennel sausage, mozzarella, Calabrian chilies and shaved garlic) and Whistle Stop (ricotta cream with lemon/lime zest, green tomatoes, sweetie drop peppers, black pepper honey and basil).

“We use our beer wort in our pizza dough,” Little Bettie pizza maker Jared Riddle told Fieri in the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives episode, which first aired on January 12. He described beer wort as “like a sugar water that feeds the yeast” to produce the alcohol in beer. “That’s a kind of unique thing that we bring to the table,” he explained.

Riddle’s dough formula consists of a poolish, water, ice, a blend of three flours (00, AP and a high-gluten bread flour), salt and beer wort. The dough proofs for 72 hours before it’s pizza time.

Fieri was particularly interested in Riddle’s specialty pizza called the Thud Butt, named after one of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys. It’s topped with mortadella, ricotta cream, black pepper honey, crushed pistachios, mozzarella and stracciatella.

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“It’s beautiful,” Fieri enthused. “It’s weird!”

After biting into the Thud Butt, Fieri said, “The dough is legit…The saltiness of the mortadella, the ricotta—nice and creamy but not too much—but once you get to this crumble of pistachios, that’s where it gets crazy. Everything’s fine, and what do you do? You drop the hammer and take me to black pepper honey. Bro! It’s a different dimension of pizza.”

Fieri’s conclusion: “Dynamite pie.” He noted that the crust has “a great chew but not super-heavy.”

Or, as one of Little Bettie’s customers put it, “It’s not a regular pizza. It’s a Thud Butt.”

“I don’t know what I get more of a kick out of,” Fieri told Riddle at the end of the segment. “The crazy place that you’re in, the unique food that you make, or the character that you are. But the combo…really makes this an experience. You are awesome.”

This photo shows Guy Fieri with the owners of Wiseacre Brewing and the pizza maker at Little Bettie.

(Little Bettie / Instagram)

After appearing on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Little Bettie’s was featured the next day in the Commercial Appeal, Memphis’ daily newspaper and website. In that article, co-owner Kellan Bartosch said the Thud Butt is “definitely our most popular non-red sauce pizza, and it is the only one of those to be a staple on the menu as we have rotated through a lot of the specialty and oddball pizzas.”

Kellan said shooting the TV segment with Fieri was “an absolute blast.”

“Jared said he was smiling ear to ear for a few days, but I think we all were,” Kellan added. “The show has been on the air for over 15 years, and, at this point, is a big part of [the] culture in our country. I’ve had countless people tell me they google DDD when they travel or that they watch DDD with their kids. So to have it show up at your business is a big deal, but it also is really fun…. A big part of why the show has had such appeal and longevity is because Guy Fieri himself is a real tour de force and, as far as we can tell, a genuinely good person too.”

Food & Ingredients