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Best Pizza places in the South Bay, CA

  • m

First of all, I'm new to this site. Second, I love pizza and I'm always looking for new good spots. My favorites in the South Bay are Applewood Pizza, Paxti's, Howie's Artisan Pizza, and Pizza my Heart. What are all your favorites in this area? Thanks!

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  1. As all those places are in greater palo alto (ie, the south peninsula), would you consider recommendations on the peninsula? In my book, the south bay starts around route 237, 5 miles south.

    If so, I might suggest you try La Strada, Babbo's in the Stanford Shopping Center, and Pizza Chicago.

    1. Cool thanks for the suggestions. Yea when I meant south bay I had San Mateo down to San Jose in mind. My definition of south bay could be wrong LoL. I haven't heard of La Strada and Babbo's, but I'll check them out.

      7 Replies
      1. re: MT650

        No worries - and welcome. Not trying to be snuffy, just trying to figure you your parameters.

        La Strada is one of the upscale places on University Ave, but they have a nice wood oven. Babbo's is a smaller joint with high end european-style pies. More like Howie's, I think. Donato Enoteca is a highly regarded italian place in Redwood City, they have a few pizza on their menu.

        On the more industrial side of things, you'll want to try Amici's, which has a branch in Menlo Park and another in Mountain View. Very, very thin crust, pretty good, a local chain. GF and I went to California Pizza Kitchen a few months ago, and thought it wasn't that bad. She had snidely called it KFC for years - there's one just off University. Pricey for what you get, but good quality. With Pizza My Heart, the pizza changes completely when you order thin crust - I highly recommend, in fact had leftover PMH thin crust for dinner tonight. I've been told you can only get thin crust at the PA PMH, as its a legacy of the Pizza A GoGo staff. As noted last week, Round Table really isn't that bad. Round Table was founded in Menlo Park (maybe the first store in PA?). On the super-industrial side, don't forget Costco - I was at a corperate event where about 50 big costco pies were brought in. If I needed to feed 1,000 people in a hurry, they'd be on speed dial.

        Between the high and the low you'll find Oregano near the PA / MV border (actually in Los Altos), which has a wood oven. I ate there once and found it unremarkable, but it's hard to believe someone would go through the hassle of using wood and make lousy pizza. Likewise Pronto Pizza, near the atherton line but in Redwood City. I haven't tried Pronto, and there's not been much comment on them here.

        Some people are huge fans of Speederia in San Carlos. They claim to be "real new york", and I don't really get the place. Paper plates and almost no toppings. Still, it's worth a try, especially if you understand "real new york style", which I don't.

        On the unusual side is Cafe Silan, directly across from the Amici's in MP. Silan features Afghan food, but also have a wood oven, and make pizza. The place is charming, cozy, friendly. I always eat afghan there - which is excellent - and it includes endless fresh bread out of their oven (we'll usually eat our way through 3 plates of the piping fresh awesomeness), but Melanie Wong likes the pizza. Silan is also on my love-list because they have half-bottles of Ridge wine. Sit-down affair, but relaxed.

        Another place to try is Tony's on Willow. It's a pretty straight-up place - just pizza. The joint has changed hands a few times in the last couple of years, but I stopped by recently and was pleasantly surprised. They don't have a lot of toppings, no anchovies or sun dried tomatoes, but the Chorizo is great (probably from the market next door), and the bang per buck is fabulous. A large with three toppings was only about $18, vs a medium 4 toppings at PMH over $20. Next time I'll ask for heavy sauce, though - that was the one failing of that pizza. No atmosphere, so get delivery or to go.

        Also rans - Frankie Johnnie & Luigi in MV, I consider about the same as Applewood - pedestrian. But if you like Applewood, you might like them. At least the crust tastes fresh. The Oasis (MV / PA border has pizza, never tried it). Spotta in downtown PA - ho hum. Escape from NY - average.

        1. re: bbulkow

          >Also rans - Frankie Johnnie & Luigi in MV, I consider about the same as
          >Applewood - pedestrian.
          it's been too many years since i've eaten at applewood, so i cant compare,
          but for "old school' [heavy crust, heavy cheese, heavy meat], i like FJLT,
          e.g. the Stromboli.

          it's actually not a lot more expensive than round table, but much better
          and quantity is pretty fair.

          also their meat pizzas turn into very good cold pizza.


          i think costco pizza is pretty bad. i liked round table long ago, but i
          feel their ingredients have gotten cheaper and more pre-fab. if in
          the south bay, i'd always go to FJTL over RT.

          1. re: psb

            Maybe it's just my more recent distaste for heavy crust heavy cheese.

            I remember really liking FJLT in the mid 90's, so it's worth a try.

          2. re: bbulkow

            "Paper plates and almost no toppings." Went here on Saturday for the first time with the family so there were a variety of slices on the table (usually have been there with one dd). Never noticed sparseness of toppings until now - dd's pepperoni. We also had the Brooklyn Special (tastiest) & the mushroom & those seemed fine.

            Anyone who loves pizza should check out tiny little Speederia in San Carlos. Crisp crust, fairly thin*, not gooey cheesy.

            *fairly thin- since we ordered by the slice, noticed some were thinner than others but all still had good crust.

            1. re: ceekskat

              I may have caught them late on an off night. They're highly recommended, anyone a fan of the thin new york slice should certainly check 'em out.

              1. re: ceekskat

                +1 for Speederia. The best NY (manhattan) style pizza by the slice in the bay area. If you are familiar with that style, you will "get" this place. Just know that it is not a restaurant, it is a take away counter with two high top tables inside.

                Speederia Pizzeria
                711 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

              2. re: bbulkow

                A few more thoughts on the chains, because some people aren't into those places or go to them by default:

                Round Table Pizza is a QSR chain, maybe a notch better than Domino's and Straw Hat, but not by much.

                California Pizza Kitchen is also a chain, but a notch above Round Table. They became famous for their bbq chicken pizza, which wasn't bad in its day. However, I have found their ingredients to often be lacking in freshness as they've grown. They are a mass-market, sysco quality operation now.

                Pizza My Heart is also a chain with locations in the south bay and the Santa Cruz area. They do a decent by the slice in the NY style (large slices, thin crust, variety of toppings, reheated in a pizza oven to order).

                Amici's is more of a family, sit down experience with large locations and an extensive menu with pastas, entrees and pizza. The ovens are not really burning wood (although some say they are) , and the prices are high for what you get. I've had good food and poorly executed food, so it is hit and miss in my experience. For the price, it's not worth the crapshoot when there are so many other options.

            2. Since Howie's opened, I haven't been going to many other places. But other favorites in the area not already mentioned include:

              - Giovanni's in Sunnyvale for New York gas-oven style pizza.

              - A Slice of New York in San Jose for the same New York style, done differently. It's a tiny place, mostly take-out.

              - Pizza Antica in Santana Row, San Jose for more Italian-style pizza. But there are many places in San Francisco that do this better. The easiest to get to in the South Bay is Gialina in Glen Park, just of 280, though that's much more an individual Gialina-style than a more traditional Italian-style.


              2842 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131

              A Slice of New York
              3443 Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose, CA 95117

              Giovanni's New York Pizzeria
              1127 Lawrence Expressway, Sunnyvale, CA

              Howie's Artisan Pizza
              855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301

              1. Pizza Antica - Santana Row
                Pizza Chicago - Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara

                1. Cicero's Pizza, in San Jose at the Cupertino border, is my suggestion. Family-run since 1968, super-thin crust and tasty sauce are distinctions.

                  1. Since you are willing to go up to San Mateo I'd suggest Rainbow Pizza. There style is not for everyone but I love it. I grew up on it since was just down the hill from my family home. There pizzas come with a ton of toppings and loaded with cheese so if you have any dairy problems I'd abstain. All there dishes are great and I have tried a ton of them. They serve good Greek and Italian food. No it isn't high quality, fancy cuisine, but it is down home and tasty.


                    1. Vito's in Sunnyvale on Reed (@ Lawrence Expy.) has a great stringy cheese, good crust, has been there for 20+ years.

                      DiMaggio's (Joe's nephew) on Monterey Hwy @ Capitol Expy. in San Jose has good pizza, and positively mind-blowing stromboli.

                      Saw the mention about Cicero's here, another great place as well.

                      1. Another vote for A Slice of New York asliceofny.com. Straight forward NY style, thin crust pizza

                        Close second is Cicero's. The crust is crispier and a bit more oily.

                        1. Di Napolii pizza in South City is excellent.

                          1. Just went to Howie's Artisan Pizza today. It was my second time there and I wanted to see if it was any different from my first time there. It's pretty good, but I certainly don't think it's one of the elite, especially since it's so expensive. I tried The Works and some mushroom type pizza. Maybe I'm not trying their speciality. Any suggestions from anybody that's been to Howie's?

                            1 Reply
                            1. Donato Enoteca in Redwood City.


                              Donato Enoteca
                              1041 Middlefield Rd, Redwood City, CA 94063

                              1. Here is a recent thread about pizza. This discussion covers the bay area, but there are a lot of good recommendations for the peninsula and south bay.


                                1. San Remo Pizzeria on San Carlos Ave has pizza with excellent crisp crust at the bottom. Tony and Alba's in Mountain View is good but pricy in my book. Not a fan of Amici's (oily) or Frankie Johnnie & Luigi (thick and bland).

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rotiprata

                                    When was the last time you had the pizza at San Remo? My last visit was about 6 months ago and the pizza was undercooked and soggy in the middle. In fact, on three visits in a row last year we had poorly executed food and aloof service. Do you think we hit bad nights, or is this place not living up to it's reputation anymore? I suspect the latter.

                                  2. - Village Host (Burlingame location is the best food and customer service, IMHO, but they have another location in Belmont) - been going for years. This is not your artisanal crust and fancy toppings place; it's your neighborhood old-school pizzeria that's so welcoming with great pizzas and hold/cold sandwiches. Give it a try!

                                    - North Beach Pizza (San Mateo)

                                    - Amici's (San Mateo, they have a few locations in the South Bay)

                                    - Rainbow Pizza

                                    - Howie's - I haven't been, but I'm curious to give it a try soon

                                    Hope you enjoy!

                                    1. Again for A Slice of New York in San Jose! Their pizza is great; their house calzone...it is beyond words.

                                      1. We like Pizza Antica in Santana Row. Thin crust, great toppings. Good salads and starters. Good people watching.

                                        Santana Row
                                        355 Santana Row, San Jose, CA 95128