GTPulse: Prepare for National Pizza Day
When my boys were growing up, we started a weekly tradition of making or ordering pizza once a week. We called it “Happy Pizza Friday,” a nod to a custom started by a radio station where I had worked who ordered pizza for the office every Friday. Happy Pizza Friday was one of my favorite traditions. The boys would excitedly chant “happy pizza Friday,” over and over and I couldn’t help but joining in.
Pizza is extremely important to Americans. According to a Pew research survey, 98% of Americans eat pizza, with 93% adding they eat pizza at least once a month. Pizza is so famous, some 350 slices are consumed every second in the United States. And, 33 million Americans even claim that if they had a choice, they would choose pizza as their last meal on earth.
Even though Americans have made pizza their own, modern pizza was created in the once independent kingdom of Naples. Sure, flatbreads with toppings were consumed by ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, but the pizza that we know and love was the brainchild of the Neapolitans. Most of the population of Naples were considered to be lazzaroni, or, the working poor. They needs inexpensive food that was filling, could be consumed quickly, and would be satisfying for every meal. The earliest pizzas were covered in tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies and garlic. Many Italian authors at the time ridiculed the innovation, calling the eating habits of the Neapolitans disgusting.
Over 120 years later, Italy was unified, and Naples was visited by King Umberto and Queen Margherita. According to legend, the King and Queen were bored from the diet of fine foods and asked to try an assortment of pizzas from the city’s famed Pizzeria Brandi. The Queen loved the brand that was simply called “pizza mozzarella,” a pie topped with soft mozzarella cheese, red tomatoes and basic—a nod to the Italian flag. Since then, the pizza mozzarella is known to the masses as the Margherita pizza.
With so much love for the pizza, it’s no wonder that it has its own holiday. National Pizza Day happens on February 9th, and, GT Pulse surveyed our readers to find who has the best pizza in Traverse City. After compiling results from our non-scientific survey, we’re featuring the top five establishments as chosen by our readers.
So, whether you’re going to start your own “Happy Pizza Friday” tradition, or you’d like some research prior to your own National Pizza Day celebration, we hope you enjoy this little slice of some of Traverse City’s favorite pizza shops.
#1: Charles & Reid
Dan and Kirstin Karabacz moved back to Michigan from Colorado to raise a family and start a business. Their baby, Jaqueline, was born first. But,
shortly thereafter, Dan and Kristin decided to re-envision a Traverse City favorite: Alley’s Pizza. Alley’s had been known for their amazing Detroit style pizza, a pie that has been called a myth by some, however, Charles & Reid kindly disagrees. Although toppings can range from just cheese to plenty of meats and veggies, a true Detroit style pie has to be square, it has to be baked in a pan and it has to have a thick layer of sauce on top. My favorite: The brick with pepperoni—if you want extra sauce, ask for it Tsunami Style
*Located in the alley on East State Street in Traverse City. Open Tuesday-Saturday from 3pm-9pm. Call ahead to order at 231-252-3497
#2: That’sa Pizza
With locations on North Long Lake Rd, East Hammond Rd and on US 31 in Acme, That’sa Pizza has Traverse City covered with delicious pizza. While That’sa Pizza dominates the specialty pizza—with pizzas ranging from the Mellow Mushroom Pie to the Idaho potato pie—their design your won options are great, too. They have white or wheat doe, gluten free options and lots of crust options to make your pie perfect. My favorite: The BBQ Chicken pizza, topped with chicken, bacon, red onion, cilantro and house made bbq sauce is deliciously unique.
*Open seven days a week from 11am-9pm. Dine-in, delivery and pick up available. That’sa Pizza also has an extensive menu featuring sandwiches, wraps and other favorites, like chicken wings.
Peegeo’s is a Traverse City institution. Opened in 1983, by a guy who quit a real job and had no idea how to make pizza. Turns out, George was good at making pizza after all, so he tried his hand at burgers and fish. Peegeo’s has been more than a restaurant to locals—it’s been a community gathering spot. Whether you drop in to enjoy your pizza in the dining room, or you’re picking something up to go, you’re likely to see a friend or neighbor while you’re there. The most popular pizza at Peegeo’s has to be the Mike’s Sicilian, and it’s easy to see why. Peegeo’s pie makers actually paint the deep dish crust with garlic butter, then, layer it with mozzarella and two toppings of your choice. Then, another layer of mozzarella is added, along with diced tomato, Italian spices and parmesan. If you love the taste of Mike’s Sicilian, but you want a smaller version, go for the Jill’s Sicilian, which captures the spirit of the original, only in a personal deep dish size. My favorite: Jill’s Sicilian with a side of the incredible char-broiled wings.
*Peegeo’s, located on High Lake Rd. in Traverse City, is open daily from 11am-9pm and delivery is available Wednesday-Saturday from 3pm-8:30pm.
In the spring of 1981, the Kolarik family decided to open a pizzeria in downtown Traverse City. The name, “Paesano’s” was chosen quickly because it means a friend, a brother or pal who lives down the street. Ever since then, Paesano’s has strived to make the best pizza in Traverse City. Using scratch made dough and only the freshest ingredients, Paesano’s pizza is bursting with flavor. My absolute favorite is the Pizza Bianco Mediterranean, made with Provincial herbs and garlic, and topped with a blend of mozzarella, asiago and fontinella cheeses, kalamata olives and artichoke hearts. It’s truly delicious.
*Paesano’s is located on East Front Street in downtown Traverse City. Pick up and delivery is available. Open Monday-Thursday from 11am-8pm, Friday and Saturday from 11am-9pm. Closed Sundays.
#5: The Filling Station Provincial
The Filling Station is a family owned microbrewery and restaurant located just off the TART Trail in Traverse City’s historic railroad district. All pizzas are wood fired and every aspect of the flatbread pizzas—from dough to oils—are created in house. If you’re looking for something insanely spicy, the Filling Station delivers with the Firebox: topped with firebox sauce, jalapeños, roasted red peppers, yellow peppers, habanero peppers, roasted chicken, sesame seeds and mozzarella. My favorite is the Stump Jumpers pizza which puts mushrooms front and center with garlic oil, roasted garlic, roasted onions, criminology and oyster mushrooms, parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
*The Filling Station is open Wednesday-Monday from 11am-10-m. In-person dining, outdoor dining and to-go orders are available.