HOME > Chowhound > Central South >


Birmingham Pizza

Sunday night I picked up an original crust, large pepperoni pie from Rocky's and was somewhat impressed beyond my initial assumption that it would be marginal. Somewhat sweet sauce, nice crisp medium-thickness crust, with serviceable (bagged) shredded mozz and ample (maybe too many?) pepperonis. Overall, a pretty good pizza, much better than two (reheated) lunch slices I had there recently.

I really love the pizza at Bettola as well, but we're talking two totally different types of pizza.

I've only had two (reheated) lunch slices at Cosmo's so I won't really judge them until I try a whole pie as slices aren't a very good representation of a pizzeria's ability to produce top quality pizza.

Mellow Mushroom's crust is too doughy. Yes I realize it's a chain.

Those four are the only places I have tried here so far. What are your favorites?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. 1. Davenport's-Thin and crispy crust, which is my preference.

    2. Dave's-More on the gourmet side, and rather expensive.

    3. New York-Good sauce and medium thickness crust.

    1. My favorite pizza places right now would be either Davenport's in Mountain Brook Village or DeVinci's. I had a really bad experience at Dave's last year and didn't care for the food and even less for the service there. I have never liked the crust at New York Pizza---it lacks seasoning to me. However, I have friends that really enjoy their pizza.

      The only thing about DeVinci's is that their pizzas aren't terribly consistent. When it's good, it's really good but other times it's just okay.

      For a chain, I really like Donato's pizza in Vestavia. Thin crust, toppings all the way to the edges.

      3 Replies
      1. re: gyp7318

        Devinci's pizzas have a fairly thick crust, which I don't care for. The service there is also incredibly slow--if you go there, be prepared to wait.

        1. re: pinotboy

          I went to Devinci's last night. The crust is definitely thick and the toppings are under the cheese. It was ok but nothing to write home about.

          And the "garlic bread" tasted like it had been toasted 2 hours before and the marinara was served in solo cups that had probably been filled in the AM. How hard is it to keep some on a steam table at a reasonable temp instead of serving it lukewarm in little solo cups?

          Anway, I thought the pizza tasted kind of like the pizzas found in the Greek pizza parlors in the Northeast, albeit much less greasy. I'll admit they're not stingy on the toppings. Would I return? Sure. Would I make a special trip? Doubtful.

          Nice enough folks though ...

          1. re: Dax

            My vote for pizza is Bottega Cafe. My husband and his family love Davenports, so we do eat there, but I don't love it. I rather have a white pizza from BC.

      2. Dave's definitely gets my vote for favorite local spot. I love the gourmet toppings! Tomatopie in Trussville is a close 2nd. Thin (but not to crispy) crust with just the right amount of toppings. My favorite cain is California Pizza kitchen. They're consistently good. I've heard good things about Guiseppe's (close to UAB) pizza, but so far, haven't gotten around to trying it. The calzones are wonderful!!

        1. I've never been impressed with Davenport's. Too many canned ingredients.

          We eat at Yankee Pizzaria and LaDama, but we live in Cahaba Heights. Both make decent pizzas, though.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Big Daddy

            Area 41 Pizza in the Town of Mt Laurel is great for gourmet pizzas. Also, the pizza at Bottega is about as good as it gets -- if you like the true Italian wood-oven style.

            For delivery, Rocky's is the way to go.

            1. re: eatyourveggies1

              Is the pizza at Bottega better than the pizza at Bettola? Bettola has a Naples-style wood oven.

              1. re: Dax

                I've had both w/Bettola being more recent than Bottega. I prefer Bettola b/c I think their crust has a little bit more chewiness in the crust. The wife/coowner said they import their flour from Italy to be able to get the right amount of gluten for their doughs. I'm not sure what type of flour Bottega uses but I don't recall that same kind of feel w/the dough.

          2. Partly depends on what kind of pizza you like.

            Davenport's in Mountain Brook has a very thin, floury crust that gets soggy if you try to put too many toppings on it, but I love their tangy sauce and their sausage. Canned mushrooms are a disappointment, though.

            Tortuga's in Hoover does Chicago-style pizza pretty well, if you like that.

            DeVinci's in Homewood has a very hearty pizza, medium crust, lots of toppings; we like the meatballs on the pizza there.

            The sauce on the New York pizza's a little sweet for my taste, but good basic pizza otherwise.

            It's been several years since we were there, but Cafe Ciao in Mountain Brook used to have very good pizza, thin crust.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bhamdining

              With DeVinci's you definitely get your money's worth. The pizzas are loaded with toppings and I can't eat more than one or two pieces. (I can eat half of a large at Papa John's in one meal.) However, I'm not crazy about how they put the toppings under the cheese before baking. They'll put the toppings on top of the cheese if you request it. Also, their chicken always tastes funny, like it has been frozen for three months, or it was put on the pizza frozen and thawed out while cooking.

              I agree that New York Pizza is good basic pizza. Some of their pizzas are better than others. Toppings for a large can be up to $2 each so you could easily make a $30 pizza.

              Dave's is overpriced and I haven't had anything there that was remarkable.

              Davenport's is excellent if you like thin crust, but a little pricey.

              I tried Baker's Famous Pizza in Bluff Park recently and did not like it - tasted funny.

              Salvatore's in Hoover (on 31) makes a great pizza and it smells so GOOD in there. However, don't order enough for leftovers as the reheated (in the oven) pizza wasn't good and the cheese was rubbery and wouldn't melt again.

              I'll have to try Rocky's next, after reading the above positive mentions of it.

            2. Are there no B'ham hounds who can give a report on Carnaggios'? When I lived in Alabama they easily turned out the best pie in the state.

              1 Reply
              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                Sadly, the Carnaggios of today is definitely not the Carnaggio's of the past. They moved from their Midfield location several years ago to Pleasant Grove. Then they briefly opened a place in Vestavia Hills which I believe is now closed due to plumbing problems. The food is a bit lack luster. They've added items which are not Italian and as a result, have watered down their specialties. I mean, who goes to an Italian place for a meat & three? They need to stick with what they're best at -- lasanga & pizza! Their pizza was absolutely fabulous. A moderately thin crust with just the right amount of a not-too sweet sauce. Oh, it takes me back . . .

              2. I ordered a pizza from Rocky's this weekend. It was the worst pizza I've eaten in Birmingham. The toppings were only on the middle section of the pizza (including cheese), so about 2/3 of it was just dough and sauce. The sauce is from a jar - definitely Ragu or something similar. The crust has no flavor. This is overpriced pizza for college students.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mb123

                  Wow, not my experience at all. Sauce was a little sweet yes.

                2. I forgot that I tried Davenport's thin crust pizza a while back. I thought it was a bit on the bland side, although I typically do like thin crust. I need to try Devinci's

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Dax

                    Davenport's seems to be enjoyed best by locals who grew up eating their pizza, like my wife. Yes, the thin crust is good, although you can get thin crust lots of places now.

                    Two words for what put me off to their pizza: Canned mushrooms.

                    1. re: Big Daddy

                      I agree, the canned mushrooms are a bummer at Davenport's. But I still l love it -- it's not spicy, but a bit tangy and a bit sweet, and I love the flouriness of the crust. They also have a great bulk Italian sausage they use; I know at one time they made it themselves. I've discovered the best way to enjoy it is to forget the vegetables and just pick a couple of meats -- the aforementioned sausage with Canadian bacon are my favorites. That way the crust doesn't get soggy with water off the veggies. It's definitely not a quiet, romantic, date night place -- I think on any given Saturday night half the kids in Mountain brook are there! But I love it because it's different.

                      Devinci's pizza is good, fairly thick crust with tons of toppings. If you get meatballs on your pizza, they're whole meatballs, not sliced like I usually have seen. The pasta dishes aren't as good; I once had pesto sauce that must have been made with dried basil -- ugh!

                      1. re: bhamdining

                        The all-meat pizza at Davenport's sound good for me; less so for my vegetarian wife. But that canned thing is one of my standard ways of assessing a restaurant like that. You know how it is, you pick out a standard dish or ingredient as a means of comparison.
                        And yes, Devinci's Pizza is very good. Frankly I like their whole menu. We ate there often when we lived in edgewood.

                  2. My thoughts:

                    I'm 100% Italian and from the northeast, so my expectations for pizza are both biased towards NY style pizza but at the same time, recognizing where I now live geographically, I lower my expectations accordingly. :-) I also like lots of different styles of pizza, so I'm pretty open to trying anything.

                    Bettola - was happy to see it open because of the emphasis on "doing it the right way" where right == Naples. What with the imported pizza oven and ingredients, etc... However, results are mixed. There's one pizza there that always arrives soggy and oily. I wish I could remember the name of it. They overdo the toppings on that particular one, and the dough in the center is soaked through. On the other hand, I've had other pizzas there that are outstanding. So, it's hit or miss.

                    Bottega - Fantastic wood oven pizzas. Just had a couple of them this week. Maybe my new favorite in town.

                    Davenports - Good for what it is, which is semi-crispy thin crust. I first encountered this as "St. Louis Style" pizza when I moved out there for college, and I have to be honest, it can't hold a candle to either traditional or NY style pizza. So, I've never really loved that style of pizza. Having said that, I like the atmosphere, and every once in a while, I like going there. Warning: service will be very slow.

                    New York Pizza - Never really been impressed with anything there, including the pizza.

                    Rocky's - Horrendously overpriced. Someone described this as "overpriced pizza for college students." Trust me, I work at UAB, the college students are not eating this. I don't know any student who eats there, not for these prices. I went there once for lunch, paid a fortune for a single slice (I think it was like close to $5 if I remember correctly) and it was -not good-. Sauce too sweet.

                    Guiseppe's - I haven't had any with traditional toppings, but their chicken pesto one is decent. Not earth shattering.

                    Worst "pizza" ever - Italia Express near UAB. I hesitate to even call this pizza. I don't know if they still do, but when I first tried it, they made what they called pizzas on pitas in a steam oven. No, that is not a typo. It was like pizza meets the middle east meets taco bell. It was ridiculous. I have never been back.

                    Gourmet Chain Pizza - CPK has a couple of really tasty gourmet ones. Brio does nice pizzas; unfortunately, they took some of them off of their menu.

                    Special Note on Chicago Style pizza - I don't really find this to be pizza so much as "deep dish calorie bomb of toppings with some bread in there somewhere" but given that disclaimer, Tortuga's in Hoover on 150 is the only place I know of that's really doing this style well in town.

                    And just for completeness...

                    Regular Chain Pizza - Given that I work with college students, we're often eating cheap, delivery pizza at the university. In those instances, Papa John's is much better than Pizza Hut or Domino's in my opinion. For eat-in, Mellow Mushroom is a decent place to hang out, but the pizza is not really a reason to go there. And it's pricey for what it is.

                    Looks like I need to try DeVinci's and Dave's based on reading here.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: flyerguybham

                      I just read a post on a local Bham board that said the Mellow Mushroom has closed. I can't confirm it though. Does anyone know if this is true?

                      1. re: sheilal

                        The one in Five Points had closed but recently re-opened.

                      2. re: flyerguybham


                        I may be going up to NYC in a couple of weeks for a few days. Any suggestions for what pizza place I should try? Thanks.

                        1. re: pinotboy

                          Please post any recommendations on the Manhattan and/or Outer Boroughs boards. A pointer can be posted here with the link.


                      3. I, like another hounder here, grew up eating Davenport's Pizza so I have to say it is still my favorite. A couple of others to consider are:
                        Bongiorno in Crestline- they make the 2nd best pizza in town. I think at night you can only get their pizza to go but I am not sure about that.
                        Lovoys- Remember I grew up here, so I grew up eating "italian" food at Lovoys. I think their plain cheese pizza for an appetizer before a hearty helping of Veal (patty) Parmiginia is still one of the bestpizzas around.
                        Like Bettola, but pizzas are just too small. Like the pizza at Brio, but don't like how crowded and noisy it gets there.
                        As for delivery, I prefer Dominos thin crust to all the others our there. Papa Johns is too sweet, and Pizza Hut is just too commercial for me.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: LCSteiner

                          ok, i've been lurking for a while, but feel obligated to comment here.
                          davenports: they cut their pizza into little squares. that should be enough to steer you clear, as some pieces are gooey cheesy unmanageable squares, while others are tiny pieces of misshapen crust (who would do that to pizza?). in addition, it's overpriced and mediocre at best. it seems that people who have grown up in bham/eating davenports are the ones that like this.
                          dave's: this pizza was ok, but horrendously overpriced. for 2 people, a pie with 1 beer each and split a salad was $55-60 after tip. yeah, we had a few toppings on the pizza, but still...
                          new york pizza: not quite new york pizza, but the best NY style pizza that i've had in bham.
                          bettola: this is fantastic, neopolitan pizza. definitely not your traditional NY pizza, but it is certainly reminiscent of pizza in naples. the pizzas are a bit small, but really not any more expensive than what should be the cheaper pizza places. also good apps, deserts, and atmosphere.
                          bottega: i've tried to get it a couple of times, but the wait is always too long. i'll give it another shot.
                          rocky's: not terrible, but not great either. also overpriced (seeing a trend here?)
                          cosmo's is decent (again, not fantastic); their atmosphere for brunch is great, with a nice bloody mary bar.

                          1. re: nola mike

                            I grew up eating Chicago pizza -- not the deep-dish style, which I didn't encounter until I started college, but a hand-tossed thin crust that was not at all crispy. [Sounds a bit like the description of Davenport's.] Just about everywhere I went up there, the pizza was cut into little squares, because it was so loaded with cheese, sauce and sausage. It could be a bit on the gooey side, yes, maybe even tending towards soggy at times. But, oh was it flavorful! And when you ordered sausage pizza, you got real Italian sausage (mild, and with a definite taste of fennel) and LOTS of it. I've never found anything to equal that kind of pizza (or sausage) anywhere I've been in the South (and I've been lots of places).

                            As for deep-dish style pizza, I think Tortuga's does a fairly credible job. [I'm closest to the one off 280, so that's where I get mine.] They use decent sausage, although like everywhere else I've been, they're much stingier with it than what I was used to. Their thin crust is OK, but it's still a bit too crispy for me; I definitely prefer their deep-dish.

                        2. Went back to Davenport's last night and got a pepperoni and sausage pizza (the two topping 15 inch "special" for $17.50, which I think is reasonable). First, I really like their crust, thin, but still a little chewy, with a bit of a burn, which I love. Sauce is ok, could use something else. Cheese? Wayyyyyyyyyy too much. Squares? Not a fan. Next time I will return on an off hour, request 1/2 the amount of cheese and ask them if they will slice like a pie should be sliced. I might be in heaven then. Leftover squares are ok right now for lunch, made tastier by a little squirt of Sriracha on each slice.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Dax

                            Oh and I forgot about hearing a guy at a table nearby asking for the wine list. You gotta be kidding me; at Davenport's?

                            1. re: Dax

                              I can list those wines for you right here: Red. White.

                              1. re: Big Daddy

                                Salvatore's is my favorite. I lived in NYC for 3 years in my 20s, and Salvatore's reminds me the most of the pizza store on the corner of my block in Greenwich Village.

                                And don't laugh: Domino's new Brooklyn-style pizza is not bad for "fast food/chain" pizza.....

                          2. How are the pizzas at Chez Lulu?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Dax

                              I have only had the Brooklyn Bridge (pepperoni and Italian sausage), and it was OK but not great. Additionally, the service there can be downright awful--the waiter I had the night I got that pizza was a complete space cadet who seemed to be on drugs, did not keep our water glasses filled, and brought our wine to us in what were basically shot glasses (that may be all of the stemware they have).

                              I like Lulu a lot for Sunday brunch, but that is about the only thing that draws me there.

                              1. re: pinotboy

                                Shot glasses, or juice glasses, are the norm for sips of wine at Chez Lulu. Garlic soup continues to get me there.

                                1. re: pinotboy

                                  There's lots to draw me to Chez Lulu, including the pizzas. My only problem is they're pricey, but good and different. More like the wood-fired pizzas at Bettola (although the latter is better) than like the pies discussed elsewhere in this thread.
                                  Chez Lulu is funky, down to the alternative waitstaff and wine glasses. But's it good food in a fun atmosphere.

                                  1. re: Big Daddy

                                    Went there for lunch and opted for the torte of the day, which was roasted peppers, prosciutto, kalamatas, and a few other ingredients. I thought it was delicious if a bit spendy at $8.50/slice. The complimentary bread is good enough to get me next door to buy a 1/4 loaf of wheat sourdough for later eats. I thought my waiter was very attentive.

                              2. I had a long post but i lost it. Ordered a 15 inch Soprano from Cosmo's yesterday and I could barely eat more than two slices. It's described as "Cracker thin crust with red sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil and a sprinkle of parmesan." The crust was thin and awesome, but the whole thing was coated with cheap Parmigiano-Reggiano (think Sysco/Kraft can, not fresh) which is overpowering in itself but there were also large patches of dried basil mixed in. I was thinking it would be along the lines of a Margherita pizza (like the attached photo from one at Bettola) but I was way off and at $20, that might be it for Cosmo's for me.

                                1. The House Special pizza at Cosmo's is excellent. Yes, it's a bit fancy (goat cheese and fennel sausage) but the combination is delicious. Davenport's pizza is more a gloppy cheese mess and Dave's is just a sham. Bottega Cafe and Bertolla both make great pizza.

                                  1. I am surprised that there are only a few mentions about Salvatore's Pizza. They have a location on Hwy 280 and hwy 31 and I think it is the closest to New York style considering that the owner is from there. Real thin crust, fresh baked, sauces made from scratch, nothing frozen or canned. That's my favorite and now they have an Italian cafe in English Village called Bambinelli's and they serve that pizza there as well.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: bartender22

                                      I find it hard to believe they don't use canned tomatoes to make their sauce, particularly this time of year. Why not just use canned San Marzano's which are better than any plum tomatoes during winter in the South.

                                      And although many NYers will disagree, New Haven is the pizza mecca, not NY or its boroughs.

                                      1. re: Dax

                                        Ha, I guess I was thinking more about canned vegetables more than the sauce but you are probably right.

                                        That's the thing about pizza, though. It is so versatile and everyone likes it a different way so there are always so many conflicting opinions. I like it all different ways.

                                        1. re: bartender22

                                          I'll have to check it out, thanks

                                          1. re: Dax

                                            I ordered a large pepperoni and italian sausage there last Sunday. The pizza crust was pretty good with a little bit of char which I like. However, they used way too much cheese and sliced the italian sausage way too thickly - should be very thin! I'll probably go again, but ask for a lighter hand on the cheese. Service was a little hit or miss but they just recently opened, right? The bartender mentioned 1/2 price bottles of wine Monday and Wednesday so I'll definitely give them a shot when it gets warmer - I like the patio.

                                    2. Tried Za-za yesterday for lunch. Two slices (a "blt" and some porky one) and a drink for about $5 but they were also offering a $7 combo with a two slices and a small salad (no idea on drink). Anyway, the slices are closer to sicilian, which I love at times. Not quite as thick but very far from neapolitan. And they do offer corner slices if you ask (the thick corner slices offer more crust, which I love). They were short on sauce and toppings (average amount of cheese) but the toppings seem to be of high quality and tasted great individually. I liked the BLT with the bacon, arugula, and tomatoes, but as a whole both slices needed more bacon and more sauce. Pork one had chunks of what seemed like pancetta and pepperoni, although again needed more sauce and hunks o pork. I'll probably return when in a mood for sicilian, but won't rush back whenever I'm just in the mood for pizza. Generally I avoid overly sauced anything (including pizza) but there is a time when too little is just annoying.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: Dax

                                        Sounds interesting. Where is Za-za? What kind of oven do they use?

                                        1. re: Big Daddy


                                          I think they are just using commercial convection ovens based on the pans I saw.

                                          It's at 20th and 2nd Ave N.

                                          1. re: Dax

                                            I had the two slice and salad combo today at Za Za, and I agree completely with Dax's comments above--way too short on both the sauce and the toppings. If I go back (not in a rush), I will try the pasta next time.

                                              1. re: Dax



                                                Bhamsandwich piece on them:


                                                I guess I need to get back and try the pasta or the breakfast.

                                            1. re: Dax

                                              I live about two blocks from Za Za and I haven't had better Pizza in a long time, flavor-wise. A little known fact: At breakfast tehy do great eggs any way you like em. And the Sunday brunch Breakfast Pizzas I hear are good.

                                            2. "Tomata Pie" in Trussville is really good. Brick oven cooking with all fresh ingredients. They have a $5 off coupon on $20 order that’s good for a couple more days (12/31/09). Coupon is online:

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: wheelbarrowracers

                                                I can't believe I've only seen Salvatore's on here a few times. Guys, from a guy who lives in Brooklyn (me) to a guy who came from Brooklyn (him) - this guy is it.
                                                The only real authentic NY style Pizza in Birmingham are at his shops. Been to all the others mentioned here except for Dave's and a few are good for what they are, but not exceptional and generally overpriced...Most of them just seem like slight twists on Big-Chain quality level delivery stuff. But if I had to pick a pie for delivery from one of those guys, I guess I should throw in my .02 and say Papa Johns gets my vote for that - but I worked at one in high school for a bit of extra cash so maybe I'm biased ;)

                                                1. re: Suzukiguy

                                                  Bettola and Bottega are no where near the lowly "big chain quality level;" I do not think you have even tried them if you lump them in that category.

                                              2. Has anyone tried Johnny Brusco's on Lorna in Vestavia yet? We went to the shop in Jasper while at the lake last w/e and it was GREAT. Good sauce and plenty of good quality toppings, chewy crust, We had an eggplant and sausage pizza and a meatball sub. The meatballs were really good, firm, yum. If the Vestavia shop is as good, JB's is going to be our new Bham pizza favorite.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: curej

                                                  Answered my own question last night. Went to the Vestavia Johnny Brusco's location (near Leonardo's, across the street fro Moe's). The pizza was very good (sliced meatball and eggplant). The iced tea was horrible, though. Dishwater. So unless you're cutting calories (if so, WHY ARE YOU EATING PIZZA) I'd stick with a cold brew. We really like this pizza....I fully appreciate how people's taste in pie differs, but I encourage you Bham hounds to give it a try.