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What makes a good pizza, to YOU?

So having recently moved to a new part of NJ, by the shore (I'm originally from Northern NJ) I've been on the hunt for some good pizza because a friend who also recently moved into the area says he doesn't see the big deal about NJ/NY Pizza. He says he prefers Domino's, which broke my heart. I asked around the boards where to find nearby good pizza, and was given many recommendations, most of which disappointed.

I started wondering, is my taste in pizza completely skewed?? My preference is probably closest to a NY-style pizza, a crispy charred but softly pliable crust, not too much sauce .... more emphasis on cheese, cheese that drips off the sides of the slice, where it makes a stretchy mess as you pull your slice away from the pie, so much that you have to ravel it up. An outer crust that is crispy but still bread-like and bubbly, that I don't mind finishing off with them. (I hate being left with hard crackers at the end). It's the kind of pizza that I would get late night at college, or at the cool teenage hang out after school, usually a pizzeria that doesn't have much decor, but the charm of fluorescent lights, a TV with the game on, and Italian guys loudly busting on each other behind the counter. I've usually been able to get this type of pizza at any nearby pizzeria when I was living in Bergen County and by Rutgers, but it doesn't seem as common down here by the shore.

A lot of the recommendations I've gotten were places with super thin crusts, a restrained scattering of cheese, and skinny slices. Is this what's considered "good"? I saw a lot of reviews that complained about overly oily, overly cheesy pizza, which to me, is part of the nostalgia of eating pizza.

So out of curiosity, what is it that makes a good pizza to you? A clean simple sauce or super garlicky sauce? More sauce than cheese, or more cheese than sauce? Cracker-thin crusts or crusts with some air bubbles? Floppy fold-able slices or perky and straight?

And if you have a recommendation I'd like in the Jersey Shore/Monmouth County area please let me know =)

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  1. "...with super thin crusts, a restrained scattering of cheese, and skinny slices."

    Works for me. Add a traditional meat, (pepperoni, sausage, anchovy), or garlic and basil and we're done here.

    1. I made the best pizza - once. At my then mother in law's house in the Tuscan countryside, we decided to clean out the brick oven located at the back of the house. My then husband got a fire going for 24 hours. Meanwhile I went into the village and with sign language managed to buy fresh yeast, then all the other components and set about making pizza dough. I made a fresh sauce, cut all the toppings and made pizza bases and covered them with sauce. Everyone added their own toppings and cheese and the pizzas went into the brick oven. They were heavenly and were eaten under the grapevine trellis with local chianti.

      1 Reply
      1. re: smartie

        This sounds like something I'd truly enjoy! It must have been a wonderful time.

      2. To me, there is no one best pizza. It's like asking "what's the best meat?" or "what's teh best sandwich?" There are different answers at different times. In Chicago we have thick, stuffed, cracker-style thin, New York style thin, coal-fired, wood-fired, Neapolitan, bakery style.... There are excellent examples of each.

        What counts most is quality ingredients and somebody who cares overseeing the process. Domino's and the other chains lack both. So just like a good loaf of bread benefits from someone who understands dough and baking, a good pizza benefits from someone engaged in the process. The style of the finished product is often less important.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ferret

          Absolutely- I like them all. I can never understand how people can limit to just one kind.

          In St. Louis, the local style is thin almost cracker crust, slightly sweet tomato sauce and provel cheese. The best make everything from scratch.

          1. re: wekick

            I'm totally about being open-minded to different interpretations of a dish. But everyone has their preferences, what they grew up with, maybe due to their region, or their mother's cooking, which can define for them what they love about that dish. For instance, some people are very strict about what they call chili. At an Italian restaurant I worked at, some people would scoff at our cake-like tiramisu, or our version of marsala. Similar to pizza, hot dogs can be very regional. I think some people might like it steamed or boiled, but if I go out of my way for a dog, it better have some snap to it.

            Pizza I can enjoy in any form, I would never turn it down. And I can appreciate all the variations. There's a stuffed pizza I adore from another restaurant I worked at. But to really conjure the experience that I associate with pizza, it has to be "NY-style".

        2. The one that I'm eating. I've never had bad pizza.

          6 Replies
          1. re: beevod

            I've never had bad pizza.

            Boy I sure have!! When I was in navy school in Great Lakes, Ill (outside Chicago) in the early 70's. A Roach Coach from a local joint just outside the gate would come around to the barracks and you could buy "fresh made" pizzas off the truck. The box they came in would have tasted better. We thought it was because of the box, time on the truck, or something else, so we went to the joint. They were just as bad in person!

            By contrast, the place outside the gate at the next school, in Vallejo, CA, was great!

            1. re: al b. darned

              I may have already said it in this or another thread, but i had MOSTLY bad pizza IN ITALY.

              1. re: mariacarmen

                it has been a while, but IIRC, most of the pizza I had in Italy was pretty good. Augusta, Sicily and La Spezia come immediately to mind.

                1. re: al b. darned

                  i had a pizza in Torino - the best the whole 5 months in Italy, multiple times in various towns located south of and between Milano and Torino (Alessandria province, Piemonte region) - all simply bad, at least 3 in Venice - very blah, and one in Umbria - decent. I never made it to Napoli, didn't try pizza in Genoa, Cinque Terra, Roma, Tuscana or Firenze (too much else to eat!) Trust me, I was dying to have really great pizza in Italy!

                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    Mariacarmen, what specifically about Italian pizza did you not like? Is it a particular style of the pizza there, or did you just keep getting pizza with low quality ingredients? I've never been to Italy myself, so I'm just curious.

                    1. re: mariacarmen

                      hehehe, well that's your problem right there! Got to go south of Roma for good pizza! I bet if you made it to Napoli you wouldn't be saying any of this! LOL

            2. I also prefer NJ/NY style pizza. Thin, slightly charred crust, sauce that must be salty enough to stand up to the crust, but unlike the OP I don't like it too cheesy. I like thin cheese that's a little browned and bubbly. Cheese should be salty, too, and I like it oozing a little bit of grease.

              I have had bad pizza. My kid's birthday party at an unnamed place with a giant robotic singing mouse---worst pizza in the universe.

              1. Definitely NY/NJ pizza is the best for me. It also kind of trickled over in to Pennsylvania where I grew up, and it's all I knew pizza to be when I was young. I can eat at every fancy place, every chain place and nothing for me here in Texas will ever be good enough. You're right about the oozing cheese and pliable crust, it's what pizza should be about to me.

                1. Greasy and lots of cheese. I'm starting to think that for me, the less toppings the better. I love almost everything but a loaded/supreme pizza loses its punch (like watching a 24 news network). There is too much noise to concentrate on the important stuff. One or two toppings and any crust style will work for me.

                  1. I feel like it is a matter of ingredients for me. Thin crust or thick, Chicago Style, New York Style, Cleveland Style (this actually exists lol) can all be great if executed correctly (read as "traditional for the region". The ingredients make all the difference. By that, I mean I think all pizza tastes better with certain additional ingredients which are not always included in pizza. Often, these are things that I must include when making pizza at home, because many pizza places do not do them.

                    Crushed garlic. About 1 good sized clove rubbed in with EVOO...

                    Enough salt. Low sodium pizza is is just not right. It's like drinking non-alcoholic beer. You need salt in pizza. It doesn't need to be "salty", but certainly not too far away...

                    One thing that I think makes pizza better is anchovy paste. I use a very small amount (less than 1/2 tsp on a 14" pizza and rub it in the crust with the olive oil and garlic. Don't cringe anchovy haters. It doesn't make the pizza at all "fishy". It just gives a depth a flavor that you don't always find. My wife hates fish, and always loves my pizza when I add this.

                    As far as toppings: Roasted vegetables are a necessity. I love carmelized onions, brussels sprouts, and Red Peppers. Raw veggies on a pizza are no good. canned are downright disgusting.

                    Another thing is a few tsp of EVOO on top. I prefer fruity olive oils, like Spanish Arbequina. "Peppery" olive oils are not for me...on anything.

                    A pinch of Greek oregano sprinkled on top of the cheese.

                    Fresh sweet tomato sauce (if applicable). It must not be too "raw" tasting. It needs to be an actual coherent sauce. I've had pizza way too many times which has had what tastes like raw canned tomato paste in the sauce. It's metallic and disgusting. Why the hell would you do that?

                    1. Even with all the different styles, the sauce and quality of the crust define to me whether the pizza is top-notch or a lesser thing. Thick or thin crust are both great, but if it is a pre-formed slab of cooked dough on which they are heaping toppings, then the pizza from it will never be any good, to me. Fresh-made dough will make it closer to sublime. A too sweet sauce will turn me off the pizza unless somehow all the other components compensate for it.

                      All the other things to me are incidental (cheese, toppings), although of course some types of cheese make the pizza experience different (gourmet vs. hole in the wall).

                      1. brick/wood oven, well made dough cooked perfectly (with a few bubbles and some char), minimal amount of a simple sauce made with delicious tomatoes, and topped with perfect fresh mozzarella, with some fresh basil leaves. Simple, perfect, delicious.

                        1. This would be my 'perfect' pizza:

                          Has to be thin

                          A slight smattering of marinara-type sauce

                          Must have anchovies!! and garlic!!!!!

                          Authentic mozzarella

                          Small bits of fennel sausage

                          Wild arugula

                          Red chili flakes/Calabrian chiles,

                          Oregano sprinkling

                          A sprinkling of some grana padano or pecorino romano

                          And finally, few drops of a really good EVOO

                          1. You know, I originally started this post with the intention of just focusing on the basic components of the pizza. But since people are listing their favorite toppings, I just gotta mention mine. I'm usually pretty simple, I like it plain or with sausage, or margherita if I want something different. But when I was working at an Italian restaurant, one of the chefs whipped up a pizza for me that he thought I'd like. Grilled eggplant (grilled is key), dollops of goat cheese baked into the cheese, and arugula. I absolutely LOVED it, and have not been able to eat it since, since that's a pretty customized pizza. I failed at making pizza last time I tried, but I'm going to have to give it a shot just so I can have those toppings again...

                            1. My ideal pizza is pretty much like yours. Though in my favorite pizza joints the cheese level you describe would be ordered as "extra cheese." I grew up in Connecticut and don't see a whole lot of difference between this sort of pizza in NY or NJ-so I'd like to vote to call this type of pizza NY/NJ/CT pizza-or Tri-state pizza if you prefer :-)

                              Toppings? Sausage and mushroom or plain cheese.

                              I lve in the Bay area now and rarely get to eat this most favorite slice-so out here I settle for the thinner crusted, lightly cheesed farmer market driven toppings. It's good stuff-but it's not a proper "slice."

                              1. You're going to get a lot of different answers, but mine is right. ;)
                                I don't have a crust preference--it can be thin and crisp or thick and chewy, but it should be made only with flour, water, oil, salt and yeast. The sauce should be lightly seasoned--I want to taste the tomatoes. The toppings can be strewn heavily on a thick crust or lightly on a thin one, but they had better be on top of, not underneath, the cheese. And that cheese smoked or plain(mozzarella, goat's, cheddar, jack, whatever) should be applied lightly.

                                The quality of the ingredients matters, of course, but sometimes that's not enough. There's a well-loved pizza place in Needham, MA that uses all locally sourced, high quality, organic ingredients, but I've never had a pizza I liked there. So maybe magic should be on my list of necessary pizza ingredients.

                                1. The minimum criteria for being good is being balanced. No matter what the style or toppings are, both the amount and number of components need to be balanced. Beyond that, it gets way too subjective with preferences for toppings - Though, I'm open to any, as long as the pizza is balanced.

                                  I respect Domino's for being balanced. Sure, the ingredients are cheap, but the crust/sauce/cheese ratio is spot on (assuming you get the thin crust) and they do a very good job of putting on the right amount of toppings (course, the flavor from them is another issue). Therefore, I think Domino's has good pizza.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: ediblover

                                    Despite my slight bash on Domino's in my original post, I actually like Domino's the best out of all chain pizzas.

                                    1. re: ediblover

                                      I have never actually tried Domino's pizza, but since we order pizza every week from my son's favorite local place, I am willing to branch out a little. What types of pizza do they do well? My son won't eat anything but pepperoni; the rest of us will try anything.

                                      1. re: Isolda

                                        I'd recommend the thin crust, and please, do NOT get their sides (heroes, pastas, etc.); although, their new chicken has been getting luke-warm receptions. Topping wise, it's all cheap stuff, but their pepperoni and most meat toppings are acceptable (And better than other chains'). On the other hand, the vegetables toppings, while attractive, barely make a note.

                                    2. For me, there is no one set of criteria for what makes a "good pizza".

                                      What makes for good Neapolitan style pizza would not work for Chicago deep-dish, and vice vers obviously.

                                      But when done right, both can and are good pizza.

                                      If you want to speak in generalities, then loosely distilled I would have but one criteria: quality ingredients.

                                      1. The reason I started this topic was because my definition of a good pizza contrasted so greatly to others, which lead me to understand that even the basic components of a what someone defines as a "good" pizza is very subjective. I didn't intend the question to be a search for a universal definition, was just interested in seeing people's personal preferences.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: nanobabes

                                          I totally understand this. We love a local pizza place, but when I bring it up with friends, the opinions range from "Are you kidding?" to "That's our favorite, too."

                                        2. I like a thin crisp crust that shows evidndence of baking on a very hot stone. The toppings should be defatted pepperoni and sausage, plus crimmini mushrooms and full fat mozzerella and provolone, but a bit of Romano is welcome. I like a strong taste of fennel and garlic in my sauce.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: Kelli2006

                                            "defatted pepperoni and sausage"

                                            I actually had to look that up; a brand new concept to me (I don't think I'm interested).

                                            1. re: MGZ

                                              Wait--it's not just blotting the grease off with a paper towl when the pizza comes out of the oven? That's what I thought she meant. We do that regularly when I make homemade pizza.

                                              1. re: Isolda

                                                I fold 4 pieces of paper towel into a book and then lay out all of the pepperoni in a single layer, fold the other side over and nuke it for 45 seconds on 30%. I blot it after it is removed from the microwave to soak up the now rendered grease. I like to prepare my pricked links of Ital sausage in a frying pan with a bit of water to steam it, so you can remove much of the fat. Apply them to the pizza as usual and you don't need to blot with a paper towel before serving/eating. There is still enough fat for flavor, but the pizza doesn't taste like an oil slick.

                                                I like to apply the white button mushrooms on the top so their moisture can evaporate in the oven instead of sogging the pizza crust. This is not necessary if you use criminis because they are much drier.

                                                Yes I have OCD. :(

                                                1. re: Isolda

                                                  um, blotting? pour quoi? the reason i order pepperoni is in the hope that they have those little pools of oil....

                                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                                    Mariacarmen, same here. I espeically love it when the pepperoni is thinly sliced so that as it cooks, it curls up to cup the little pools of spicy oil and then the edges get crispy. :)

                                                  2. re: Isolda

                                                    Add me to the blotters although, I tend to feel a little embarrassed to do this when eating out, I don't want my fellow table mates to be offended, like there is something wrong with the communal pizza in some way.

                                                    It's a body weight thing, I blot the extra grease to lower the extra calories so I can consume more food in general, like the olive oil and bread or dessert. ;)

                                              2. I like many different kinds of pizza. But I only love Neapolitan. Thin, slightly puffy crust, a few rounds of buffalo mozzarella, and a delicate wash of tomato sauce.

                                                1. Pizza is like sex. When it's good, it's good. When it's bad...it's still good.

                                                  So many preferences...

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Agree with those who feel that all styles are good if they are made with care and quality ingredients. If I were to have a last pizza I would probably go with a Chicago Deep Dish. if I could only have one style the rest of my life I would go with what I consider California style: golden brown crispy crust, between thin & thick, with olive oil, various items from the garden and different cheeses depending on what's available from the cheese shop.

                                                  2. Neapolitan style crust, some tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and some basil leaves. I don't object to roasted vegetables being thrown on too. The best pizza I've ever had was the Margarita DOC at Trianon in Naples, however it only slightly eclipsed the same pizza as prepared by the Egyptian family that ran the take-out pizzeria opposite my old apartment in Turin (in fact, my friends who visited me while I lived in Turin still rave about those Egyptian-made Italian pizzas!).

                                                    Another country that consistently gets pizza right (in my opinion) is Romania. You can rarely tell it apart from a good Italian pizza, but it's always less than half the price. I love traditional Romanian food (great for vegetarians- really!) but I couldn't resist ordering more than my fair share of pizzas while I was there. The attached photo shows you the kind of pizza you can get for three dollars in pretty much any Romanian town or city.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                        Wow. I might move there as well.

                                                      2. re: Jetgirly

                                                        I love Romanian food too: eastern european meets mediterranean in so many yummy ways!

                                                      3. I'm with you on the crust - I want something left at the end of the slice that's a bit chewy, slightly charred, and tasty on it's own.

                                                        But one of my biggest complaints would be about pizzas that are overly greasy and covered with too much cheese. If I can see pools of grease congealing on the top of the pizza, I lose my interest. My second complaint would be too many toppings, leaving the pizza greasy.

                                                        1. i like it thin, charred, not too cracker-like, a little droop is good, foldable is good, a little wet in the middle is good, tomato sauce should be well-herbed, not bland. tend to like more cheese than less. i don't mind a bit of grease.

                                                          i had pizza all over Italy (except Napoli) and was not impressed.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                                            I like the way you think, sounds exactly like my ideal pizza. I totally embrace the grease.

                                                          2. A good pizza to me has to have a delicious crust, not too thin or crisp with rich generous flavorful toppings and baked with just a hint of char.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: eatswjoy

                                                              Novelli! You stole my line, lol.

                                                              MadeGreek, that's exactly how I like my pizzas, too, and good tip on the anchovy. I always have a tube of anchovy paste in the fridge. I'll try that.

                                                              Nanobabes, grilled eggplant and goat cheese sounds like a winner.

                                                              I like two kinds of pizza that I cannot get here where I live, so I make it myself. One is traditional Chicago-style pizza with fresh dough, in a spring-form pan with fresh ball mozz, and my own sauce. I bake it slow and long so it's a thick pie, without being soggy. The calories are off the charts so I don't make it unless I have company.

                                                              The other is on the charcoal grill, which took a several tries before mastering (so the crust didn't stick or was overcooked). Again, fresh dough (I use a French bread dough as pizza dough) and my own sauce, the pizza tossed til it's thin then lightly grilled over slow coals so its crisp but not brown, then quickly adding the toppings and a tiny bit of mesqite to the coals allowing the cheeses to melt, covered of course, to soak in that terrific smell.

                                                              When I cook on the charcoal grill, I use a sauce of BBQ with hickory, then black beans, corn, red onions and a mozz./cheddar blend.

                                                              Generally, I despise pizza chains. I worked in one in high school and we had to grind a "filler" into the mozz using a giant VCM. The filler tasted like crap, but it stretched the cheese, increasing profit. Nasty.

                                                              1. re: natewrites

                                                                "I worked in one in high school and we had to grind a "filler" into the mozz using a giant VCM."

                                                                Vile. What chain was this?

                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                  It was vile. "Noble Roman's," and this was in the early 1980's. Whatever the "filler" was, was responsible for turning the cheese slightly brown. I must have been inadvertantly traumatized by this, for I can't stand to look at cheese that's too browned.

                                                            2. Have you been to any places on the Seaside boardwalk? I personally love Maruca's pizza. Great crust, huge slices and just the right amount of grease.
                                                              Although I have friends that love 3 Brothers.
                                                              Pete& Elda's in Neptune has the cracker like crust but I have grown to like it. Vic's in Bradley Beach is supposed to be very good too, but I haven't been there yet.

                                                              1. The pizzerias I grew up around were mostly Greek-owned and served thick crust, lots of sweet, oregano-y sauce, and the cheese was on top of the other toppings. There was corn meal or flour on the bottom. Typical toppings were pepperoni, green peppers, onions, sausage, hot banana peppers, bacon, and pineapple. This is the kind of pizza I prefer. My favourite topping combo is pineapple, hot peppers, and green olives.

                                                                1. A hangover can greatly improve a mediocre pizza.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: relizabeth

                                                                    Which is why I'm not sure if a lot of the college pizza joints I used to frequent were actually good or not ...

                                                                  2. I hit up Settebello in Henderson NV this past weekend while I was in Las Vegas. Awesome pizza, just the way it should be. Not Pizzeria Bianco good, but a beautifully made pie that was super tasty!

                                                                    1. Hmm, I would have to say that I prefer more cheese than sauce so that I get a cheesy mouthful with every bite. I like crisp crusts that are not too thin. The big thing for me is the quality of the ingredients although as a kid nothing seemed to beat a microwaved slice of leftover Domino's cheese pizza. Oh, I pretty much prefer cheese pizza (no toppings) although I can be persuaded to eat a vegetarian one.

                                                                      1. I like thick cut pepperoni on mine, the kind that bakes into little cups. Fresh mozzarella, and a scattering of basil leaves.

                                                                        1. Showing effort. Showing consideration. Showing that you know about baking and cooking.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: tommy

                                                                            My guy makes a great home made pizza and I love it! He puts so much effort and care into it that I'm not sure he could make a bad pizza if he tried! The first one, with the gigantic, puffy crust was hilarious and fun and still quite yummy!

                                                                          2. I have had so many different kinds of good pizzas. and so many bad ones since leaving the Northeast.
                                                                            Good: my dad's homemade sauce and Italian bakery pizza dough. we would spread out the dough and put all kinds of great vegetables that had been sauteed separately in olive oil on there, very little or no cheese, an occasional anchovy or olive. mmm. we also used to make alsatian style pizza at home: fry up some bacon and onions, top with heavy cream and nutmeg and bake. wow.
                                                                            also good: Pepe's pizza in New Haven. Living in NY at the time I didn't think it was all that, but what I wouldn't do for that homestyle, brick oven thick crust right now.
                                                                            pretty good: the pizza I had in Italy. had friends in Tuscany that owned a pizza shop, was good topped with mascarpone and prosciutto, everyone got their own pizza and ate from the pizza tray with knife and fork. better were the deeper dish square pizzas sold by the lb near the beach or my aunt's homemade pizza with fresh Neopolitan cherry tomatoes and oregano, abolutely no cheese but served with fresh buffalo mozzarella from the source on the side. unfortunately they were stuffing me so thoroughly i could barely enjoy anything the day she made that, I would still have to say that was the best tasting pizza I've ever had.
                                                                            I also miss Una Pizza Napolitana, which I hear has moved to San Francisco. He made a great pie. The pizza we had at a resto in Napoli was actually terrible though.

                                                                            the bad: the sickly, doughy, sad pizzas that are even considered gourmet and lack even the crunch of pizza hut down in the south. it is rumored that good pizza cannot be made because to the water difference here. i have not had anything resembling good pizza or Italian food here. there are many other things but pizza is not one of them. i buy frozen now.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: fara

                                                                              The water has zero to do with it.

                                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                                  trying to give them the benefit of the doubt- but why do you think this is?

                                                                              1. I like so many different styles of pizza, thick to thin crust (as long as it isn't undercooked or too too thick), most ingredients in varieties of one to three per pizza. What i don't care for are-
                                                                                Every kind of meat possible on one pizza
                                                                                Green peppers (that's all I can taste)
                                                                                Hamburger (really dislike this one)
                                                                                fresh herbs on top (they get too burned- put them underneath something)
                                                                                Beef in general
                                                                                Canadian bacon
                                                                                whole wheat crust, or any "alternative" ingredients in the crust

                                                                                Some of my favorites are-
                                                                                white pizza
                                                                                herbs (unburnt)
                                                                                italian sausage
                                                                                black olives
                                                                                artichoke hearts
                                                                                good mozzarella
                                                                                goat cheese
                                                                                anchovies (preferably a lot of it ground up into the sauce, but i like slices too)

                                                                                Mostly, not too too much topping but don't be chintzy with it, either.

                                                                                1. As a student, the main thing that made a pizza slice good was if I felt like I had "eaten a 20 pound turkey" after eating it [there was one place notorious for its huge slices I would frequent]. Also, the best pizza was the one that had just come out of the oven and hadn't been sitting there for hours waiting to be reheated. Nowadays, 1] the perfect crisp-to-chew ratio of the crust, 2] the right consistency of the vegetables [not to dry or soggy], & 3] good tasting sauce [not too metallic, not too sweet, not too thinly/thickly spread] seem to be what does it for me. More often than not, this means I make pizza at home.

                                                                                  1. i've come to the conclusion that oven temp is critical, the closer to blast furnace the better, 600 to 800 degrees f is pretty ideal. a decent crust and decent toppings are certainly important. A load of mozzarella barely melted is disgusting. The cheese needs to brown and don't over do the cheese. Wasn't it Bill Cosby who said he wished he had bothered to chew his pizza while wolfing it down as a reflection on his heart disease later in life. I used to say pizza was never bad, but no longer.