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PIZZA, PIZZA: WILMINGTON'S BEST SLICES

Updated: Feb 16

We’re turning up the heat and showcasing the Best Pizza's in Wilmington, NC and surrounding areas. We're paying tribute all month long to one of America’s best loved foods. Keep it simple with a Margherita, or seek out one of the extraordinary combinations from Benny's Big Time, Girls with Dough, Gondolfo's, WilmyWoodie, Brooklyn Pizza Co, Jay's Incredible Pizza, Za Pie, Slice of Life, Salita, and Michaelangelos.


Best Wilmington NC Pizza

Q&A with Owner, Ben Knight


Benny's Big Time Pizzeria is what the name suggests - big, fun, tasty, and Italian. Owner, Ben Knight, grew up eating Italian in a local family-owned restaurant weekly, and even when the family wasn't eating out, "it always seemed like there was spaghetti on the table!" Benny's captures the nostalgic Italian American family night and gives it a little update. "It's the perfect place to bring the family and share a meal. And perhaps some drinks without your family. Italian food makes people happy. Benny's Big Time takes happiness to the next level," says Knight.


What is Benny's showcase Pizza?

We serve classic Neapolitan pizza made in wood-fired 900-degree Mario Acunto ovens. It's characterized by a thin, elastic, lightly crisp, charred crust and fresh ingredients. Our most popular pizza is the Kevin McCalister, a ricotta-based pizza with fresh mozzarella and taleggio cheese and finished with our flagship hot honey.


What are the 3 critical elements of a great pizza?

The first and most important element of great pizza is excellent ingredients. We tasted almost every tomato available and created our sauce with a unique blend of pear and plum tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and garlic. Our mozzarella is made fresh in Charlotte from an artisan cheese maker - Siano. Our dough is made by hand daily, proofed for 48 hours before it is stretched per order also by hand. We use only 00 Italian imported flour, which has an entirely different protein content from American wheat. This is key. The second important aspect of making a great pizza is having a great pizza master control the heat in a wood oven. When cooking at high temperatures, pizzas can burn quickly or not cook properly if the oven is too cool. Having an experienced cook is vital to making a great pizza. The last is having fun. Pizza makes people happy, and guests can taste the difference if your team isn't having fun.


What's new & happening at Benny's?

Benny's has recently expanded our pizza-making portfolio to include two classic styles - N.Y. thin and the delicious pan pizza called the Grandma. Both are outstanding examples of great pizzas. We also make all our pasta in-house. Benny's appreciates our guests and offers a variety of weeknight specials to make eating out during the week what it should be - easy!


Song-to-sing-along-to while munching the Kevin McCalister?


Benny's Big Time Pizzeria
Benny's Big Time Pizzeria

Q&A with Owners Terri & Jim Diecchio


"We do what we do because we love pizza, but also because after decades in the industry, we wanted to do things our way in our own brick and mortar. Opening Salita has been a collection of "oh sh*ts" and more delays than we can count, but in the end, it is all worth it, for we know a little bit of magic happens when we can find joy in the challenges — when the ordinary becomes art. And that art becomes memories," Terri Diecchio.


What is Salita's flagship Pizza?

Meyer Lemon Pizza. We always have a lemon pizza. It's a different pizza you won't find anywhere else in Wilmington. All of our pizzas are sourdough, naturally leavened, made with a blend of 5 different organic flours from NC/SC and organic olive oil. Malted white flour and sprouted wheat are from Lindley Mills, rye is from Carolina Ground, and einkorn and farro are from Anson Mills.


The Meyer Lemon is a different pizza featuring thinly sliced Meyer lemons in season. A Meyer lemon is a cross between a citron and a mandarin. This pizza starts with herb cream topped with our house 3 cheese blend and slices of Rockets Robiola from boxcar handmade cheese out of Durham, NC. We then add roasted onions, parsley and thinly sliced Meyer lemons and finish with a sprinkle of grana Padano before going in our wood-burning oven. Post-bake is finished with Maldon sea salt, crushed pistachios, ricotta salata and a drizzle of Sicilian olive oil.

Song-to-sing-along-to while munching the Meyer Lemon Pizza?


What's new & happening at Salita's?

We always have something going on at Salita; we do special pop-ups twice a month, featuring a completely different menu and cuisine, like Salita Mezze featuring a rotating seasonal menu inspired by the flavours of Greece, Turkey and Lebanon. Cafe Salita is a rotating seasonal menu inspired by European cafes and wine bars; it also features our ever-changing selection of natural/organic wines. We also offer wood-fired sourdough bagels every Saturday and Sunday morning from 9-sellout, and they sell out fast.


Salita Pizza Wilmington NC
Salita Meyer Lemon Pizza

Q&A with Co-Owner Erin Langston

Owner Kevin Langston worked in the restaurant industry for years before starting the food truck with his spouse, Erin Langston. The Langston's always wanted to have their own pizza restaurant and after many discussions, decided a food truck was the best fit because it provided the flexibility needed to balance work with family life. "While we love all types of pizza, we always felt wood-fired pizza was the best, so we opted to build our truck with a wood fire oven," says Co-Owner Erin Langston. "We had the idea to hang the oven off the back of the truck to give us a one-of-a-kind design but also so people could see the beautiful hand-laid tile on our oven while they waited for their food."


What is WilmyWoodie's showcase Pizza?

The Honey Blue Bleu is one of our many fan favorites. It's a pizza that sounds a bit strange, but it's absolutely delicious. It includes Muenster cheese, hand-breaded fried chicken breast, blue cheese, blueberries, and our housemade hot honey.


What are the 3 critical elements of a great pizza?

  • The crust needs to be a little crispy while still a little soft on the inside. Our crust is always finished off, so it's like a delicious breadstick at the end of your pizza slice.

  • The sauce - We use high-quality tomatoes and cook our sauce with fresh herbs and spices to give it a hint of sweetness to counter the acidity of the tomatoes.

  • The cheese - You can't skimp on the cheese! We choose to use high-quality mozzarella with a touch of buffalo milk. That combination helps to keep things cheesy without being chewy.

Song-to-sing-along-to while munching the Honey Bleu Bleu?


WilmyWoodie PizzaTruck
WilmyWoodie PizzaTruck

Q&A with Owner Jay Askew


Jay's Incredible Pizza started when two friends working together for 7 years saw an opportunity in the Wilmington pizza market. Tom Hayes, a full-time real estate investor, and Jay Askew, a lifelong "pizza guy," came together to start Jay's Incredible Pizza. The menu is a mix of Incredible favorites and new pizza creations every 2 weeks. "And we are the only pizza place in town to make Chicago-style pizza," says Askew.


What is Jay's showcase Pizza?

The Incredible Pizza is our flagship pizza at Jay’s Incredible Pizza. The Incredible Pizza has our signature homemade dough and sauce with a bottom layer of mozzarella cheese followed by pepperoni, ham, salami, mushrooms, red and yellow onions, roasted red peppers, green peppers, tomatoes, garlic, sausage and topped with another layer of mozzarella cheese.


What are the 3 critical elements of a great pizza?

a. A great dough.

b. Fresh ingredients.

c. Proper cooking methods. In our case, two stone ovens.


What's new & happening at Jay's Incredible Pizza?

We have freshly prepared ingredients prepared daily and feature a new and different Pizza of the Week every two weeks. Right now for the Super Bowl, we have the Doritos Chili Pizza, and the Jalapeno Popper Pizza.


Song to sing along to while munching the Incredible Pizza?


Jay's Incredible Pizza
Jay's Incredible Pizza

Q&A with Owner Tammy Tilghman


"Girls With Dough is a beautiful full service Italian restaurant," says Owner Tammy Tilghman. We have a full bar, a lounge with a TV and leather couches, and plenty of tables to accommodate all. We take a lot of time and pride making everything in house with fresh ingredients. We have truly made Girls with Dough a place everyone feels welcomed and loved. I used to own Magnolia Social Cafe that was also located in the up and growing Riverlights. After only being open for about a year and learning more about the master plan for this beautiful neighborhood I started thinking what else could be a great addition to this beautiful area and then I thought immediately of a pizza place. Pizza is a food that no matter where you travel around the world everyone can relate to Pizza and loves it! So, I immediately started working on my concept, ideas and a business plan. I presented the concept to the developer and here we are today. Getting to live a dream of mine."


What is Girls with Dough showcase Pizza?

The Tuscano, which was inspired by creativity in more Italian originated toppings. It has a basil pesto base, mozzarella, grilled marinated chicken, roasted red bell pepper, and a parsley finish. What makes this pizza unique is that it is not a traditional red sauce base, but pesto-inspired. Then we bake it at a high temperature opposed to most Pizzerias where the general cooking time for a pizza is around 7-10 minutes at 500ºF. However, we cook ours at 650ºF for 3 minutes, which gives our pizza that rustic taste that everyone loves.


What's new & happening at Girls with Dough?

We have our Super Bowl Packages running until February 9th, Valentine's Day couple’s specials on February 14th, and New Menus this month with more weekly specials to come.


Song-to-sing-along-to while munching the Tuscan0?




Q&A with Owner John Moyer

We’re incredibly passionate about the pies we create at Za Pie, and our menu reflects that. We offer over 15 unique specialty pies, but what truly excites me is our “special of the month” pie. My team has a great time brainstorming new, innovative recipes for the monthly special; they’re all so passionate about the food we create. Out of all the new pies we’ve developed this year, I would say the Chicken Alfredo has been our most popular. One of our favorite things to do is put our own original twist on classic dishes such as a simple Alfredo pasta, the Philly cheesesteak, or even the Greek gyro! We love to get creative with our specials because it’s the best way to give people something they’ve never tasted before.


What is the Za Pie showcase Pizza?

Our Chicken Alfredo pie starts like all of our pies do, with our secret dough recipe. It’s then covered in a creamy Alfredo sauce base and topped with spinach, 3 cheese tortellini pasta, Bacio mozzarella cheese, grilled chicken, crumbled bacon, chopped broccoli, and fresh garlic. Finally, it’s finished with a dusting of black and red pepper flakes. What sets our Chicken Alfredo pie, and all our dishes, apart is our commitment to sourcing only the highest-quality ingredients. When you combine this dedication with our historical dough recipe and add in toppings packed with flavor, you get a pie that keeps our customers coming back for more! 


What's new & happening at Za Pie?

This year we’re really focused on bringing the people what they want! We’ll be adding some fan-favorite appetizers and desserts to the menu. We will also be extending our delivery radius to go over the bridge beginning this spring or summer! We’re still working on nailing down the cutoff point so that we can continue to service Monkey Junction and Carolina Beach efficiently. As for our goals in 2024, maintaining cleanliness without sacrificing productivity continues to be a top priority at Za Pie. We’re proud to share that we received our fourth consecutive 100% health rating in 2023 and you know we’re shooting for our fifth this year!


Song-to-sing-along-to while munching?


Za Pie Pizza
Za Pie Pizza

Q&A with Owner Brad Sywolski


Our recipes and products originate in Brooklyn, New York, so high-quality ingredients are the foundation of our menu,” says Owner Brad Sywolski. “Then, the skilled hands of Brooklyn Pizza Co. employees transform those classic ingredients into the delicious menu items our customers have known and enjoyed for nearly three decades.

Sywolski had been a customer of Brooklyn Pizza ever since moving to Wilmington from New York in 2001. “For years, my family enjoyed Brooklyn Pizza at least weekly, usually on Sunday afternoons or Friday nights. Eventually, I became a part of the Brooklyn Pizza Co. family culture before I started at the restaurant several years later. Simply put-it is and always will be my favorite slice,” says Sywolski.


What is Brooklyn's showcase Pizza?

Our standard Brooklyn-style pie is our flagship pizza. However, I would say that a showcase and favourite of many of our customers is what we call our "Grandma Pie." This is a Sicilian-style pizza, which means it has a thick crust, unlike our regular pie, and it's rectangular. The texture is focaccia-like, full of delicious air pockets, resulting in more crunch than a standard pie," says Sywolski. "While we offer a regular Sicilian Pie, the "Grandma Sicilian" is made with our fresh mozzarella, which is made in-house, plum tomatoes, and basil. With fresh ingredients like these, you'll question whether they came from your Grandma's garden."


What are the 3 critical elements of a great pizza?

Dough, Sauce, Cheese


The recipe for the dough is simple, flour, water, oil, salt, and yeast. Yet several variables affect the end product, such as how large a bowl is being mixed, the water’s temperature, and how fresh and active the yeast is, just to name a few. Skilled hands are required to roll that dough into individual weighed-out balls, which are then proofed for approximately 24 hours. From there, the pizza maker hand stretches each and every pie. To the pizza maker, the dough is their canvas. They have a very high standard for how the dough must feel when stretched, as with any finely hand-crafted product. It takes years to be able to read the dough by touch.


We depend on Pomodoro tomatoes at Brooklyn Pizza Co. for our sauce. Those tomatoes provide the balanced sweetness that plays well with our chosen mozzarella. In addition, our Pomodoro whole peeled deseeded tomatoes are blended with spices and a few other secret things.


We use buffalo milk mozzarella. This is a pricier choice, but it makes all the difference. It has an ultimate creaminess and a slight salt note on the back end that is a perfect pairing with our signature sauce.

 

What's new & happening at Brooklyn Pizzeria?

We just had the second anniversary of establishing our second location at 5327 Oleander Drive (next to Tidal Creek Market). Gaining traction at our Oleander location has been rewarding, and we love watching it grow. We've got some awesome art on the walls, too! Come sit at the bar and enjoy a slice or three!


Song-to-sing-along-to while munching?

If you're hanging out with us in the shop, we're usually bumping Brooklyn's finest - Jay Z, Nas, Busta Rhymes and the Notorious B.I.G. most often. But we think for the "Grandma Sicilian", we need something a bit different. This Pizza calls for a little Andre Bocelli. Any of his classics. Straight from Nona's kitchen radio to our ears.


Brooklyn Pizza Wilmington
Brooklyn Pizza

Q&A with Owner Ray Worrell


Owner Ray Worell, originally from New Jersey, moved to Wilmington, NC, in 1989 to attend school at UNCW. After working in the restaurant business for several years, he worked at Slice of Life for the owner, Ian Mosely, before buying the company 3 years later in 2001. "We now have 4 locations of Slice of Life: Downtown, Wrightsville Beach, Pine Valley, and Porters Neck. When I tell my friends in New Jersey that I have 4 pizza places in Wilmington, they think I'm crazy. But each location has a dedicated clientele."


What is Slice of Life's showcase Pizza?

That would be our White Pizza: It starts with our signature crust, garlic, and olive oil. Then, we top it with fresh ricotta cheese, sliced tomatoes, and basil and add grated parmesan and mozzarella.


What are the 3 critical elements of a great pizza?

Honestly, I think there's only one, and that would be the crust. When I started, I had a friend, Chris Hendricks, a recent culinary school graduate in Oregon, to help us develop a dough recipe. We spent two months refining it. We switched out regular salt for kosher and olive oil and even purified the water. Now we use reverse osmosis to purify the water and replace all the minerals that the process strips. Our New York-style thin crust is a signature style of Slice of Life.


What's new & happening at Slice of Life?

All locations are now open seven days a week. Live music in Porter's Neck on Sundays. New drink specials at all Slice of Life's.


Song-to-sing-along-to while munching the White Pizza?


Slice of Life Pizza
Slice of Life Pizza

Q&A with Owners John Thompson & Paul Lore

It all started with two childhood friends. John Thompson and Paul Lore grew up two houses down from each other in New York. The two even started school together and were in the same kindergarten class. That friendship has lasted for 45 years and now, the friends and business partners are opening a new Italian eatery in Leland. Both are excited to bring something new to the community. “Gondolfo was Paul’s father’s name,” Thompson said. “He was a very special man, and we wanted a name that would inspire us as well as bring his name to the community.”


What is Gondolfo's showcase Pizza?

The Crostata, is made with freshly tossed dough that has provolone & mozzarella cheese baked into the dough. It then gets topped with filetto di pomodoro, tomatoes, Italian sausage, and garlic, and finished with fresh basil.


What's new & happening at Gondolfo's?

We serve up authentic NY-style pizza seven days a week. It's so good, "Y'all Can't Fuhgettaboutit."


Song-to-sing-along-to while munching the Crostata?


Gondolfo's Pizza
Gondolfo's Pizza

Q&A with Owner John Moyer


John Moyer opened the Michaelangelo's at Monkey Junction in 1994. At one point, he owned and operated eight Michaelanglo locations but eventually sold all but this one. Though much of the Home Depot shopping center has changed, Michaelangelos has continued to thrive in this busy location.

"It's the perfect location in this shopping center at the intersection of Carolina Beach Road and College Road," says Moyer. "We are open for lunch, so you can stop in and grab a slice. Then, with a seating area and a quick-moving line, you can be in and out in no time. And then, on the weekends, we are open until 10 pm, so you can enjoy a late-night snack on the way home from the beach or order delivery."


What is Michaelangelo's showcase Pizza?

We specialize in authentic New York-style pizzas, but the one that really steals the show is The Godfather. It is a behemoth of a dish, coming in at 24”. This pizza is a crowd pleaser, perfect for big gatherings, birthday parties, school events and more. We even have some regulars who order it every year as a tradition for a kid’s birthday or some other annual event. We always have a good time making The Godfather because it’s so large it causes a bit of a stir. The Godfather isn’t just about size, it packs a lot of flavor too. Like all our pies, it starts with 100% whole-milk cheese and a variety of fresh toppings meticulously prepared in-house every day. To ensure the freshest possible taste, we proudly source the produce we use from local farms. You can order the 24” pizza as one of our 8 specials or build your own, choosing from any of our 19 toppings. The Godfather comes however you want it!


What's new & happening at Michaelangelo's?

We are continuing to listen to customer feedback to inform our flavor profiles. We’ve been experimenting with some original ideas to complement the classic taste and friendly atmosphere people expect from Michaelangelo’s. Be on the lookout for some new dishes soon!


Song-to-sing-along-to while munching?



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