Forget Naples, Rome or New York City – the best pizza in the world is found in São Paulo. Or, at least, that’s what the locals will have you believe. With a history of Italian immigration and a reputation for excellent restaurants, the city is said by Paulistanos to have the planet’s best pies – and they make a very convincing case. From super-traditional Neapolitan offerings to something more São Paulo-style (thin crust, heavy on the toppings), there’s a pizza to suit everyone. Here’s a selection of the city’s top pizzerias.
Widely regarded as the best place in the city for pizza, Bráz provides an interesting combination of traditional Italian methods with São Paulo-style pizzas featuring extravagant toppings. All the classics are here, while the house pizza, the eponymous Bráz (sauteed zucchini with mozzarella and parmesan), is delicious. If you’re looking for something a little different, Bráz also offers a special selection of pizzas based on traditional Italian pasta dishes – the Carbonara (pancetta, mozzarella, eggs, black pepper and pecorino) is a daring choice but works perfectly.
The original Bráz Pizzaria is located in the southern neighborhood of Moema, but they have just opened a new restaurant (there are now six in total) named Bráz Quintal, which has a gorgeous open-air dining room with cozy wood fires.
One of São Paulo’s newest pizzerias and already one of its best, Carlos opened in 2015 in the artsy neighborhood of Vila Madalena. Since then it has attracted plenty of attention with superb individual-sized pizzas, made with excellent ingredients and served in a comfortable, intimate dining room.
The standout on the menu is the Burrata pizza, made with sweet grape tomatoes, a thin layer of mozzarella and parmesan, and topped with black pepper, fresh basil and creamy dollops of burrata. Make sure to save room for dessert too, as Carlos serves a delicious tiramisu made with Brazilian sugarcane spirit cachaça in place of Marsala or brandy.
Arguably São Paulo’s best authentic Neapolitan pizza, Leggera Pizza Napoletana is located in the traditionally Italian neighborhood of Perdizes and is tucked in behind the imperious Allianz Parque soccer stadium, where the city’s ‘Italian club’ Palmeiras plays its home matches.
Leggera prides itself on serving individual-sized VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana, ‘true Neapolitan pizza’) pies, so don’t mess around and order the Margherita Verace, made with tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, basil, parmesan, olive oil and absolutely nothing more.
Located in the heart of the quirky Italian neighborhood of Bixiga, Speranza is one of São Paulo’s most traditional pizzerias, having been at the same address for 60 years. Though its location and decoration scream traditional Italian pizza, Speranza’s style is notably more Paulistano than Italian.
They pride themselves on excellent service, big pizzas and lots of toppings. While they offer a very good VPN margherita, first-time visitors should go for something more typically São Paulo, such as the Calabrese Speciale (spicy Calabrian sausage and mozzarella) or the Carciofini (artichoke hearts with garlic and parmesan).
Of all the pizzerias on this list, 1900 serves by far the most typically São Paulo-style pies – high-quality versions of what most of the city’s takeaway joints offer. On a Paulistana pizza, anything goes. This means that some of the toppings may sound a little strange to visitors, such as the Salmone (cream cheese, salmon and dill) or the São Paulo favorite, Portuguesa (ham, palm heart, eggs, onions, olives and mozzarella), but don’t be afraid, they are well worth a go.
1900 also serve sweet pizzas, which often leave tourists lost for words, either out of disgust or pure, unbridled joy. Nutella and strawberry pizza, anyone?
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