And the No. 1 city for American pizza fans is … no, not New York. Nope, it’s not Chicago, either. Hey, don’t give us that dirty look—we just report the news here, folks.
According to SmartAsset, which crunched data on pizza-related metrics from 150 of the country’s largest cities, Detroit is the best city in the U.S. for pizza lovers, with Chicago barely even cracking the top 50. Yes, you read that right—Chicago came in at No. 43, while New York finished in third place, behind Buffalo.
SmartAsset, a New York-based company specializing in personal finance technology, analyzed data from 150 of the largest American cities, focusing on total number of pizza restaurants; average quality of pizza restaurants; the percentage of highly rated pizza restaurants; the number of pizza restaurants per 10,000 residents; and the local cost of living.
The study pinpointed Detroit—known for its square, deep-dish, crispy-crust style of pizza—as the “pizza capital of the U.S.” The city, home to the legendary Buddy's Rendezvous, where Detroit-style pizza originated, boasts around 1,050 pizza shops and 15.5 places for every 10,000 residents. “In terms of quality, Detroit also scores well,” the SmartAsset report states. “The average pizza place in Detroit has a Yelp rating of 3.42. However, if you are a true pizza connoisseur and you’re only visiting Detroit for a brief time, you may want to do some research ahead of time. Only 11% of pizza places here have an average rating above 4.4, meaning popping into just any place may leave you disappointed.”
Rounding out the list’s top 10 were: Buffalo, No. 2; New York, No. 3; Vancouver, Washington, No. 4; Pittsburgh, No. 5; Peoria, Arizona, No. 6; Providence, Rhode Island, No. 7; Mesa, Arizona, No. 8; and Toledo and Columbus, Ohio, tied for No. 9.
Peoria and Mesa, Arizona, are both situated near Phoenix and, on the surface, may not seem obvious choices as pizza cities. But both have a lot of pizzerias, 45 shops per 10,000 residents in Peoria (population: about 154,000) and 17.7 places per 10,000 residents in Mesa (population: about 439,000).
All told, in fact, Arizona had six cities in the Top 25, the most of any state in the survey.
Cape Coral, Florida, ranked overall at No. 16 on the list, had the highest percent of “highly rated pizza places” at 21.9%, compared to New York’s rate of 17.2%.
Chicago, meanwhile, trailed behind less famous pizza destinations at only No. 43. “You may be wondering why this is so,” the report states. “Well, according to our data, Yelpers are harsh critics when it comes to Chicago deep-dish. The Windy City scored poorly in both of our quality-of-pizza metrics. One could argue that Chicago residents simply have higher standards for pizza, which is reflected in their harsher Yelp reviews. That’s certainly a possibility.”
Pizza history buffs, here's the story behind the quintessential Detroit pizzeria: Buddy's Rendezvous!
Other conclusions were less surprising. Midwestern cities scored particularly well in the study, while the South is the worst region for pizza. “In general, southern cities don’t have that many pizza spots and the ones they do have aren’t that highly rated,” the study concludes.