30 Best Pizzas

Get ready for a pie delivery beyond your wildest, sauce-filled dreams. It includes serious talk about crust, toppings, certified Naples-style pies and more.

Photo by Chris Kessler.
Photo by Chris Kessler.

Have you ever been force-fed pizza? Decidedly not. Those words would never be used with respect to pizza. Because this most ubiquitous of foods is a close-to-godly food. Its consumption does not require coaxing. It is with a mixture of pride and hunger that we offer this package, raised from a mixture of yeast, flour and water; baked in a blisteringly hot oven; and generously sauced and cheesed. Read carefully and make frequent stops so as not to miss key elements, including expounders on crust, toppings and frozen pies. Red wine not included, just highly recommended.

Lisa’s Pizza

I relive every early-life Lisa’s pie in my REM sleep. It’s brighter in that second-floor space than the tenebrous old days (thanks to a remodel a handful of years ago), and the firm thin crust still gets swiped with a thick, sweet tomato sauce and an application of toppings stamped with the classic label. Can’t go wrong with sausage, (fresh) mushrooms, onions and green peppers. 2961 N. Oakland Ave., 414-332-6360. 

Classic Slice

Although these days, the Bay View hipster pizza place is venturing deeper into vegetarian and vegan pizza territory, it’s not what I think Classic excels at. It’s with its “traditional NY-style” (as they word it) pies offered by the slice – pieces as long as your forearm. With that, I default to meat-lover creations like the Satiricon Sausage, with feta, onions and peppers. 2797 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 414-238-2406. 

Pizza Man's meatball thin crust pizza (left) and pear pizza on pan-style crust. Photo by Adam Ryan Morris.
Pizza Man’s meatball thin crust pizza (left) and pear pizza on pan-style crust. Photo by Adam Ryan Morris.

Pizza Man

The East Side location’s undisputed success inspired its owners to make a sibling. That is the (very busy) Man at the Mayfair Collection, which mirrors its brother’s menu and has some physical similarities (the same architecture firm worked on each). Both also have the same executive chef – Zak Baker – who has proven that the Pizza Man of North Avenue, pre-fire days, could evolve and flourish. The pizza is crisper, the toppings combined more creatively and tastefully than in days past. To those who balk at the area-wide dominance of thin crust, the Pizza Men offer a limited amount of pan pizzas daily and deep-dish only on Mondays. 2597 N. Downer Ave., 414-272-1745; 11500 W. Burleigh St., Wauwatosa, 414-249-2000.

Wells Brothers

Thin-crusting it down in Racine is not hard to do. Wells Brothers’ history dates to 1921, and descendants of the founders keep it all going, down to the thin-as-a-wafer pizza. They know how to do it up crisp and flaky, the melted cheese as smooth as a skating rink. The sausage makes savory breaks in the surface. Hold on, this is just pizza, right? Good pizza. 2148 Mead St., Racine, 262-632-4408.

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‘30 Best Pizzas’ appears in the December 2015 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find the December issue on newsstands Nov. 30.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.