The BEST Pizza in Charlotte, NC: Local Recommendations

Charlotte is one of a few booming cities across the Southeast with an electric vibe and an emerging food scene. And let’s be honest – whether or not a city has good pizza is an early test of how mature a city’s food scene really is. Finding the best pizza in Charlotte, NC, is a must-do activity for any local or visiting foodie.

My grandfather owned a small pizza place when I was growing up, and I loved spending summers there. I am unsure whether it is nostalgia or my still childlike palate, but pizza is still my favorite meal.

Even so, I am much more picky about my pizza than I was as a boy making ranch pizzas with green pepper and pepperoni. I’ve spent the last decade trying nearly every pizza in the Charlotte metro area, and now I am glad to share my favorite pizza spots with you.

Who Makes The Best Pizza in Charlotte, NC?

Charlotte offers a wide range of pizza options, including classic Neapolitan pies, several New York-style pizzerias, and one extremely large slice. While a staple like Hawthorne’s The New Yorker (cheese pie) is hard to beat on a routine Friday night, Inizio’s pistachio pizza will blow your mind when you are ready to try something new.

Still, even among styles, no two pizzas are alike, and small tweaks can add up to big changes when it comes to a pizza’s flavor profile. And we’ve perhaps never been more excited to offer a tour of Charlotte, so let’s dive in.

The best pizza in Charlotte, NC is often New York style pizza.

Top 10 Pizzerias In Charlotte, NC

Charlotte offers several Neapolitan-style pizzerias, such as Inizio’s, and even more New York-style pizzerias, like Hawthorne’s. But there are a few surprises along the way, and while I wish there were more authentic Chicago-style pizza places in the metro area, Chicago Pete’s has that covered too.

1. Inizio Pizza Napoletena: A Taste of Naples in Charlotte, NC

Often referred to as Inizio’s, Inizio Pizza Napoletena may be the most authentic Neapolitan-style pizza in all of Charlotte. All you have to do is try Inizio’s to realize that the technique and ingredients are superior to many other “authentic” pizzerias, both in and out of the Charlotte market.

There are a few keys to making truly authentic Neapolitan pizza, including:

  • 00 Flour
  • San Marzano Tomatoes
  • Hot Wood-Fired Oven

While it is not quite this simple, it’s pretty close. Simplicity, ingredient quality, and consistent technique are all at the heart of Neapolitan pizza.

Inizio’s wood-fired crust will lead you back time and time again. The wood-fired oven heats to 900°, which enables Inizio to cook its pizza in only 90 seconds. The result is a perfectly fire-kissed pizza crust. Plus, the wood fire adds flavoring.

Plan a trip to Inizio Pizza Napoletena for a fantastic atmosphere and even better pizza. Inizio’s is among the best pizza in Charlotte, NC.

We recommend the following:

  • Margherita (the most classic Neapolitan pizza)
  • Pistachio (pesto instead of red sauce)
  • Limone e Capra (available in summer)
Inizio Pizza Napoletana is one of the best pizzerias in Charlotte, NC.

2. Luisa’s Brick Oven Pizzeria: Authentic Brick Oven Pizzas

Luisa’s Brick Oven Pizzeria is also a popular pizza spot in South Charlotte. In contrast to Inizio Pizza Napoletena, Luisa’s is much more approachable (and also more affordable). Luisa’s dishes up original hand-tossed pizzas, and they partner with a platform called “Slice,” which means you can purchase pizza through the Slice app or online.

I was first introduced to Luisa’s because of their lunch buffet, which was one of the best deals in South Charlotte around the time I worked in the area. I hit up Luisa’s at least twice per month and never left disappointed.

While not as authentic as Inizio’s, Luisa’s still makes very good pizza. Delicious pizza. Plus, for families, the low-key environment is especially inviting.

We love pretty much everything Luisa dishes up, but you have to make sure you try the Luisa Pizza. It includes sliced tomatoes, pesto, ricotta cheese, and garlic. It is phenomenal.

To check out some of the best pizza in Charlotte, NC, we recommend the following:

  • Luisa Pizza (a house original)
  • Bianca Pizza (no sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and provolone)
Luisa's Brick Oven Pizzeria

3. Benny Pennello’s: Huge Slices and Creative Toppings

Benny Pennello’s opened in NoDA back in 2015, and it’s been an important part of Charlotte’s food culture ever since. The pizza tastes great, but what makes Benny’s special is the atmosphere, the location, and the absolutely massive pizza slices.

Benny’s is located in an old gingham factory in a neighborhood traditionally known as Charlotte’s most artsy neighborhood. Murals and fun people are all around. Before you even try the pizza, you will be glad that you showed up.

Still, the pizza is the headliner. Benny’s serves pizza by the slice from 28″ pizzas! For comparison, several New York-style pizza spots on this list serve large pizzas that are 18″. An 18″ inch pizza is big enough to feed a family and have leftovers.

A 28″ pizza is not only MASSIVE but also unheard of, and when you slice up a 28″ pizza, the resulting slices are huge! How big? One slice of Benny’s pizza takes up two paper plates. 😋

What do we recommend? Try the following:

  • Slice of Cheese Pizza (classic)
  • Slice of Pepperoni Pizza (also classic)
  • Slice of The Bros Cheese (broccoli, beer cheese, and crispy onions)
Benny's serves the largest slice of pizza in Charlotte, NC.

4. Sal’s Pizza Factory: A Local Gem for Pizza Lovers

If you like loads of toppings, you will love Sal’s Pizza Factory. Sal’s uses a hand-tossed, thin-crust pizza that is similar to most New York-style pizzas. But unlike New York-style pizzas, this New Jersey twist has a crispier crust.

And about those toppings? Sal’s loads them up so high that you might be tempted to start your first slice with a fork. Picking up the slice isn’t that easy, and folding it like NY-style pizzas is nearly impossible. The loaded toppings don’t happen by accident. It’s an intentional part of Sal’s unique approach to pizza.

While it is a unique approach, Sal’s still has authentic roots. The owner’s dad moved to the United States from Napoli, Italy, before slowly building a local chain of pizzerias in New Jersey. That heritage now lives on in Charlotte.

Most of the pizzerias on our list have their own unique specialties in addition to the classic pizzas that we all know and love. That is one of the reasons that Sal’s and others landed on this list of the best pizza in Charlotte, NC.

What do we recommend? Try the following:

  • Cheese Pizza (it’s extra cheesy)
  • Pepperoni and Pineapple
  • Buffalo Chicken (it has massive chunks of chicken)
  • Chicken Broccoli Alfredo (white sauce and also big chunks of chicken)
Sals Pizza Factory is among the best pizza in Charlotte, NC.

5. Intermezzo: European Flair and Gourmet Pizzas

Intermezzo serves a unique role in this list of the best pizza in Charlotte. Why? Well, Intermezzo offers an extensive menu beyond pizza, and its non-pizza menu offers elevated and artisan options. For example, the Bruschetta is served with fresh mozzarella, and they also serve Ricotta and Goat Cheese Crostini.

How many local pizza joints do you know serving Ricotta and Goat Cheese Crostini? Exactly. Intermezzo is a great option when you want pizza but also want a date-night-type atmosphere.

Intermezzo offers enough date-night-level variety that you can choose an artisan personal pizza, while your date might choose Blackened Chicken Pasta, Eggplant Musaka, or Stuffed Peppers.

Whatever you choose, make sure you save room for the Crêpes. We recommend the following:

  • Pesto Chicken (we love venturing beyond red sauce)
  • Mexican Pizza (seasoned beef, black beans, cilantro, and spicy crema)
  • Intermezzo Supreme (a house special)
  • Crêpes (for dessert, of course)
Intermezzo Pizza

6. Pure Pizza: Farm-to-Table Pizza in Charlotte, NC

Fresh ingredients make a difference, and Pure Pizza sets out to prove that’s even the case when it comes to pizza. While many pizza places set out to include the best Italian ingredients, Pure Pizza takes a local, farm-to-table approach.

The difference is notable.

Pure Pizza makes a traditional Neapolitan-style pie but substitutes some of the traditional ingredients, like San Marzano tomatoes, for items you can find at the local farmer’s market. The result is fresh and delicious.

We recommend trying the following:

  • Pure Country Pizza (caramelized garlic and country ham)
  • Wild Mushroom Pizza (mushrooms and truffle oil)
  • The Chorizo (chorizo, shaved radishes, onions, cilantro, lime juice)

7. Hawthorne’s New York Pizza & Bar: NY-Style Pizza and More

I’ve probably eaten at Hawthorne’s more than any other pizza joint on this list. That’s a testament to the good pizza, very cheesy Garlic Cheese Bread, and their local expansion. We’ve lived in several different neighborhoods in the Charlotte metro, and Hawthorne’s was always nearby.

Hawthorne’s NY Pizza & Bar serves the most authentic New York Pizza on our list, and the quality and consistency are phenomenal. And as a side note, the street car extension wreaked havoc on the original Hawthorne’s location for a while, so we are glad to see them expanding and thriving.

We recommend trying the following:

  • New Yorker Cheese Pizza
  • Buffalo Wing Pizza (also called “The Inducer*”)
  • Garlic Cheese Bread

*Legend has it this pizza will induce labor. Seriously! There are multiple news articles about it! You know a restaurant has captured the hearts of its community when it is this important to the family.

Hawthorne's NY Pizza.

8. Portofino’s Italian Restaurant: Classic Italian Pizzas with a Twist

There are only a few true Italian restaurants on this list, but Portofino’s is certainly one of them. We love a good story, and that’s what you find at Portofino’s. Josh and Gino were two childhood friends from Naples, Italy. Winding roads brought them back together, and they now dish up Italian classics in Charlotte.

For those days when you aren’t in the mood for pizza, this is the place to go when you are in the mood for lasagna or manicotti. Still, they make great pizza too.

For a truly Italian-style pizza in Charlotte, we recommend the following:

  • Sausage Pizza
  • White Pizza with Broccoli

9. Bisonte Pizza Co.: Buffalo-Style Pizza in the Queen City

You’ve heard of buffalo wings, but have you heard of buffalo-style pizza? It is equally as good, in my opinion, and no one will force you to eat it with blue cheese when you want to dip the crust in ranch dressing.

One thing that sets Bisonte apart is that they have several specialty crusts that you won’t find anywhere else. Try the sesame or cajun crusts when you are in the mood for something different.

Bisonte Pizza Co. is one of our go-to places for the Super Bowl because you can order great pizza and the best wings around.

We recommend the following:

  • Buffalo-style Pepperoni (the best pepperoni in Charlotte)
  • Carolina Gold Chicken Wings (you will thank me later)
Bisonte serves some of the best pizza in Charlotte, NC, and they have great wings too.

10. Brixx Wood Fired Pizza: Artisan Pizzas and Craft Beer

I know this list is about pizza (for the most part), but I have to say that I love Brixx Stixx. These garlic parmesan breadsticks might be a starter, but they are the best breadsticks that I’ve ever had in my life.

And since Brixx makes that good of breadsticks, you know they make good pizza too. There are now more than 25 Brixx locations across the southeast, but make no mistake about it: Brixx is a Charlotte original. They opened their first wood-fired pizzeria in the Dilworth neighborhood in 1998.

We recommend that you check out the following:

  • The Americo (pepperoni and mushroom)
  • The Buffalo Chicken
  • Brixx Stixx

More Of The Best Pizza in Charlotte, NC

I love Charlotte, and I love pizza. So you can imagine that it was hard to narrow down the list of the best pizza in Charlotte, NC, into a top 10 list. Luckily for you, there are a few more pizza stops I recommend considering.

The Crust Pizza

Bonus – Chicago Pete’s: Bringing the Windy City to Charlotte

The one gripe that I have about the Charlotte pizza scene is that there are many Chicago-style pizza options. My wife grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and I would prefer that I not feel the need to eat six deep-dish pizzas every time I visit.

Chicago Pete’s is the only place near Charlotte proper that serves authentic Chicago-style pizza. They might rank higher on the list if they had longer operating hours, but because they are located in Uptown, they have limited hours on the weekend.

Bonus – Mama Ricotta’s: Traditional and Gourmet Italian Pizzas

Mama Ricotta’s is my favorite Italian restaurant on the list. While other Italian restaurants rely heavily on noodles, cheese, and sauce, Mama Ricotta’s is much more refined.

Mama Ricotta’s pizza is fantastic, but I have to recommend Amma’s Cheese Ravioli in Butter & Sage. Still, if you plan to share food with a significant other, you could split a pizza and the ravioli and leave quite satisfied.

Bonus – The Crust Pizza: From Naples (Florida) To Charlotte

The Crust Pizza is fairly new to Charlotte, but it quickly became one of my favorite places to take our kids. As the name implies, this pizzeria is all about the delicious and flaky thin crust.

Beyond the crust, two things stand out to me about The Crust Pizza. They load toppings to the very edge of the pizza, and they cut the pizza into square slices. The square slices make this the perfect place for kids.

So these are the places that serve the best pizza in Charlotte, NC. There are plenty of options, with fun vibes and fantastic food. Pick one, or make a plan to try them all!

The Crust Pizza in Charlotte, NC.

Exploring Different Types of Pizza in Charlotte, NC

There is a time and place for Domino’s and Papa John’s, but it is time to branch out if those are your go-to pizza joints. Charlotte offers a variety of pizza, including classic Neapolitan pizza, New York-style pizza, farm-to-table pizza, Buffalo-style pizza, and even deep-dish Chicago-style pizza.

Each style of pizza is unique. You might find a new favorite type of pizza, or you may find that you like them all. Regardless, Charlotte offers too much pizza variety not to explore your options.

Enjoy these recommendations? Once you finish visiting the top pizza spots, check out the best BBQ in Charlotte next. And if you are not from Charlotte, plan a trip soon. Charlotte is worth visiting, in part because of the growing food scene.

Our Favorite Pizza in Charlotte, NC

While deciding on the best pizza in Charlotte, NC, may come down to your personal preference, Inizio’s offers the highest quality pizza, in our opinion. For a cheaper option, check out Sal’s New York-style pizza. You will be glad that you did.

Both Inizio’s and Sal’s offer the highest quality pizza, but the creativity each pizzeria offers is another tie that binds the two together. Inizio’s summer menu includes Limone e Capra, while Sal’s offers creative combinations like Chicken Broccoli Alfredo.

Of course, both locations offer the classics, and they are well-done classics. Still, every now and then, we recommend trying something new. Inizio’s and Sal’s offer something for nearly any mood or occasion.

Conclusion: Experience the Best Pizza in Charlotte, NC

We recommend that you start with Inizio’s for the most authentic Neapolitan-style pizza. Or, for a more approachable (and affordable) pizza night, you can try Sal’s Pizza Factory or Hawthorne’s NY Pizza + Bar. The best pizzerias in Charlotte, NC, feature high-quality ingredients and unique topping combinations.

Jeremiah moved to the Charlotte area with his wife, Erin, back in 2013. The family has grown over the years, and they now call the Carolinas home. They enjoy hiking and adventures, road trips, backyard fire pits, and pizza night. Jeremiah loves to explore, and looks forward to sharing tips, tricks, and resources for your next trip.