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Madison WI pizza - where do I go?

I am new in town - am from the East Coast and am trying to get a handle on Madison's food scene. The pizza I have seen so far doesn't look very good - are there any good spots to get good pizza in Madison?

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  1. If you're looking for really good wood-fired pizzas, try Cafe Porta Alba (Neapolitan-style) or Greenbush Bar. For just your standard pie done well, go for Glass Nickel.

    I hope those aren't the places you've tried already... :)

    1. I moved here from NY last year and I have yet to find a good slice. Pizza di Roma on State is the closest approximation to east coast style but the crust is tasteless (among other offenses). It looks like the real thing, but it's not quite there. I'd be interested in your opinion of it.

      Roman Candle and Glass Nickel aren't terrible, you just have to think of them in a separate category. If you start comparing them to east coast pizza you'll just end up depressed.

      1. So many kinds of pizza, three suggestions, each quite different, Pizza Oven on Monona Dr. very flat crust, Angelo's, also on Monona Dr., and Paisan's.

        1. OK, I've heard from several people in my neighborhood very positive things about Cafe Porta Alba so I'll have to run over and try it. I have to say I tried Glass Nickel and it did depress me..... I haven't heard of Greenbush Bar or the 3 Darkdawn suggests so I will have to try those as well (anyone else care to weigh in on those??). Pizza di Roma, well, I appreciate ramensaurus's frankness so sounds like I should skip it!! (tasteless crust, I can do without). I am encouraged there are some possibilies....I will try them!

          1 Reply
          1. re: pizzalover

            I really like Roman Candle. Specifically the Professional and the Pastoral. Their menu is online.

            I also like the pizzas at Tutto Pasta. I haven't been to Greenbush yet (I'm new here too) but I've heard really good things from one of my foodie friends.

          2. You need to check out Ian's Pizza by the slice. There are two locations - the original location at 319 N Frances St and the newer location at 115 State Street (one block down from the Capitol building). http://ianspizza.com/locations.html. Check out the website. They have a lot of different combinations. My personal favorite is the Black Bean, Feta, Tomato, and Avocado slice. Amazingly good. Everyone that I have introduced it to loves that slice. I live on the East side, so Rosati's is my favorite place for take out. It has really great thin crust - homemade. Gino's Italian Restaurant has great pizza - this restaurant is located on State Street. On the west side, my Picasso's pizza, just off Verona Road - before PD, has absolutely amazing pizza and other italian dishes.

            I hope this helps.

            1. I love Ian's slices, although you might want to avoid the restaurant at bar time. (Too many drunks for my taste.) I don't care for the pizza at Cafe Porta Alba, although the ambiance of the restaurant is nice. As for Glass Nickel--the Fetalicious is great, their other pizzas, so-so. Some of the best pizzas that I have ever had here are at Lombardino's. Individual sized, usually three or four kinds to choose from, depending on the season. Delicious!

              1. As a Jerseyan (ite? boy?) who transplanted here twenty years ago, I found you will not find the pizza slices here that are malleable and dripping with grease that you may be used to. As long as you view Madison pizza by this new paradigm, then I think you will love Greenbush (fresh ingredients, crispy crust, and loveable atmosphere). For take out, we love Falbo's in Middleton. They pile on the cheese and sauce a little more there. I have heard good things about Roman Candle and the other new pizza joint in Middleton (the name is escaping me and the Isthmus website is not helping). Ians is fun for the kids with their Mac and Cheese pizza.

                1. Lifetime East Coaster (Maryland, Mass., New Jersey) now living in Madison for two years. Madison is a great pizza town -- THERE, I SAID IT! I like that people here aren't stuck-up about their pizza -- they'll put any old thing on there that might taste good, much as it might offend pizza purists. Ian's is my favorite -- the mac and cheese pizza is brilliant, and not just for kids. Chicken cordon bleu and philly cheesesteak are highlights, too. Glass Nickel is just a bit behind (their Thai chicken pizza is well-thought-out and delicious.) Roman Candle is a bit more upscale -- more parents, fewer students in sweatpants. What I've had there has been very good. I agree that Cafe di Roma is nothing special -- for a more New Yorky slice I much prefer Casa Bianca.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Machaca

                    In my opinion the best pizza in Madison is Cafe Porta Alba (In my mind, there isn't anything else even near their quality). Not at all "American" style so if you want pizza dripping with cheese and loaded with toppings-- this isn't it.

                    1. re: Machaca

                      Just wanted to note that after seeing this thread, I had to stop at Ian's last weekend when we were in town. Their slices are non-traditional, but very good. Had mushroom, mozzarella and pesto, and a spicy chicken with pico de gallo. Great crust, even on a slow Sat. afternoon, when things must have been sitting for a bit.

                    2. In my opinion the best pizza in Madison is Cafe Porta Alba (In my mind, there isn't anything else even near their quality). Not at all "American" style so if you want pizza dripping with cheese and loaded with toppings-- this isn't it.

                      1. Check out Bunky's on Atwood. They also have gluten free pizza!

                        1. Roman Candle is the best in my book.

                          1. I have been watching hoping that people would mention Ians Pizza - but no one has yet. I graduated in 2004 and just loved it. Very unique, with macoroni cheese pizza - which sounds weird, but if you have one slice, it is worth it. However, it may have gone under. I believe it was located by Dotty Dumplings?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: MNLawGirl

                              Ian's Pizza is still around, and doing very well for themselves. They have two locations (one of them on State Street).

                            2. I am from NY and so far my favorites are Ian's and The Roman Candle.

                              1. As a lifetime New Yorker, I have to say that in 4 yrs. in Mad. I have found Casa Bianca to be the closest thing to a classic NY pie. You might want to remind them to make the crust extra crispy as they get very busy and a little sloppy from time to time.

                                For "other" pizza's, I go back to NY. lol

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: NY_foodie

                                  I was studiously taking notes (I am an adventurous 'hound, my husband is not -- loves pizza, pizza, pizza) and noticed on the Daily Page that Casa Bianca is closed?!

                                  Is there another location? These posts are recent, so I'm a little confused.

                                  1. re: SLOLindsay

                                    Casa Bianca did close on Bassett but I think they are open out on Junction Road.
                                    Isthmus does not show "CLOSED" for that location. Here's a link http://www.thedailypage.com/theguide/...;

                                    While on the subject, do you have any recommendations for NYC in Chelsea/Flat Iron for dinner- any kind of cuisine.

                                2. You don't. You go to the Pizza Belt, the authentic Italian restaurants in the areas from Chicago to Milwaukee. The best: Wells Bros. in Racine. This is thin crust pizza - amazing flavor and taste. I have yet to find a "great" pizza place in the Madison area.

                                  1. I am from Madison, WI and LOVE Ian's, but I also like the pizza at Tuttos Pasta. I guess you'll just kind of have to try a few different places to see what ya like. Here is a list of most of the pizza joints in Madison WI: http://redrodger.com/madison-wi-pizza...

                                    I would start with Ians....

                                    1. My favorite pizza in Madison is hands down Ian's Pizza (www.ianspizza.com). They have a crazy selection of flavors, some of my favorite being their Chili Cheese Frito Slice, Guacamole Burrito, Salad Pizza, and they even know how to do a great, simple pepperoni slice. The price points are right, they sell them by the slice or you can get a huge 20" pie for as little as $13.

                                      They also have a huge salad bar that features tons of local ingredients when they can. The best part of the salad bar is it's build your own, so you can make whatever kind of salad you want and then they toss it infront of you. Cool stuff.

                                      Definitely check them out, they were voted Wisconsin's Best Pizza in by Food Network Magazine and have a great presence on Facebook (www.facebook.com/IansOnState).