best pizza in the world

The best pizza in the world — It’s not in Italy

by Michael on December 3, 2012

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Pizza is our go-to food on the road, our favorite is New York-style. And when we return from a trip it’s usually the first meal we eat. On our year-long journey we tried pizza on six continents, including at its birthplace in Naples, to seek the best pizza in the world. But what surprised us most was where we found the best and the worst pizza.

 Pizza in Asia

best pizza in Hong Kong Paisanos

Paisanos in Hong Kong served up pizza that was very close to New York style.

pizza in North Korea

We hadn’t expected to see pizza in North Korea. But our guides kept referring to their own version of Pizza Hut. While it was a bit undercooked, it wasn’t bad for pizza in, well, North Korea. (Photo courtesy Russell Ng)

Pizza Chiang Mai Thailand

The owner of Pulcinella da Stefano in Chiang Mai, Thailand hails from Italy so his pizza was almost Neopolitan in style. 

best pizza dessert pineapple bali

A pineapple and banana dessert pizza in Bali. What a great idea!

Pizza in Vietnam

We were surprised to find an upscale Italian restaurant in Hanoi, complete with marble columns and tuxedo-clad waiters. This being Vietnam though, it was still really cheap.

Pizza Siem Reap Cambodia

Pizza in Cambodia? Why not, we even ate an authentic Philly cheesesteak there.

Pizza in the Middle East

In the Middle East we ate authentic pizza along with an Arabic version that while not pizza, sure had a lot in common with it.

Pizza in Dubai

No one affiliated with this restaurant in Dubai was Italian, but they put out a pretty good product. 

Israel food Arab zatar flatbread

In the Arab market in Jerusalem we tried zatar flatbread. It was ‘pizza-ish” enough to be included here. Also, we really liked it.

Pizza Tel Aviv

We almost walked right past this pizzeria in Tel Aviv because we thought it was a Dominos. But look closely at the logo, it’s Pizza Domino and no relation to the American chain. It may be the closest we came to authentic New York style pizza.

Pizza in Africa

best pizza in the world Namibia

We don’t surprise easily but were gobsmacked to come across a pizzeria in Swakopmund, Namibia. It was pretty good too. 

Pizza in Italy

Many people have a love/hate relationship with authentic Neopolitan pizza. The type served in Naples is different than what many expect. (Particularly if they were weaned on New York-style since childhood.) It turns out that authentic Neopolitan pizza is kind of soupier than expected. Some say it’s due to using fresh buffalo mozzarella. Either way, it takes some getting used to.

Pizza Naples Italy tomato

A plain  pizza in Naples, a bit soupy for our taste. 

Pizza Naples Italy rocket

Larissa’s favorite topping, fresh arugula or rocket.

Pizza Italy french fries

This is what happens when a self-proclaimed world traveler can’t admit that he doesn’t speak his grandparents language and orders a pizza that he thinks comes with potato slices on it.

Pizza in Australia and New Zealand

best pizza in the world Auckland New Zealand Sals

Sal’s in Auckland, New Zealand boasted of authentic New York style pizza. It came pretty close, even with Wisconsin mozzarella.

Best pizza in the world Australia Clare Valley Stone Bridge winery

Craig from  Stone Bridge Wines in Clare Valley, Australia manages to serve up delicious  wood fired pizza and award-winning wines. This was the runner-up for best pizza.

best pizza in the world Perth Australia

The pizza from Embers Wood Fired in Gooseberry Hill outside Perth, Australia. Although no one working at the place seemed to be over the age of 12, the pizza was the best of our entire trip. This is the Pizza Siciliana  with fresh ricotta, cacciatore sausage & marinated eggplant. That’s right, our top two pizzas were both from Australia. What an upside down world we live in.

The worst pizza we had

worst pizza in the world Pizza Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is known for being half-Italian (just like Michael) so we were disappointed in this gooey mess. Three fist-sized hunks of mozzarella were placed in the center of the pie before going into the oven. Since they’re too big to melt properly, the chef just smears them around the pie after it’s baked where it turns into a gelatinous clump.

On the flip-side, Argentina did provide us the greatest taste sensation of our trip: Read “Is dulce de leche the best flavor in the world?”

Is a coal mining town in Pennsylvania the “Pizza Capital of the World?”

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at finding the best pizza in the world in Australia. We may have found the best gelato in the world in New Zealand, where it’s made by a mad scientist from Italy.

What type of pizza do you like? Do you eat pizza with your hands or a knife and fork? To us, a knife and fork for pizza is just plain wrong.

To follow our journey around the world in search of the tasty and quirky and receive valuable travel tips subscribe here.

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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Roger Graham December 3, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Hi, I am from Clare and to have my good mate Thommo and his pizzacome runner up is fantastic. i play futsal and squash with him and he is handy at this also. Loved all the picks on this pizza page . Roger

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Michael December 3, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Glad to see our pics met with your approval. We were surprised that the 2 best pizzas were from Australia.

Cheers,

Michael

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Lillie - @WorldLillie December 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Fascinating!!! Who knew?!

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Michael December 3, 2012 at 11:10 pm

I guess we all know now!

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Steve December 3, 2012 at 10:18 pm

The worst pizza I ever had was on a British Airways flight to Rome. They served a sponge biscuit with ketchup and cheese spread and called it an authentic pizza. All the Italians on board were understandably unimpressed.

The second worst was also in Argentina, but in Mendoza, and looked very similar to yours from Buenos Aires.

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Michael December 3, 2012 at 11:12 pm

There’s a reason there aren’t any pizzas from England on this list, although we went to Pizza Express in London which was decent.

Cheers,

Michael

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Elvis March 31, 2013 at 2:36 am

Well in the UK… Check out Franco Manca in Brixton – pizza in London that is more than worthy of inclusion. Also Princi London in Soho is not bad for a slice.

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Andrea December 4, 2012 at 12:49 am

You’ve clearly done your research! Yay Perth. I’ll have to head out there and try it for myself.

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Michael December 4, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Perth is so wonderful. More Sydneysiders need to overcome their fears and go see it.

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Cat of Sunshine and Siestas December 4, 2012 at 6:54 am

Loev the concept! I was shocked (in a bad way) with how much pizza I ate in Romania, but when in Rom-ania, there was little else in our budget! Still, I’m a Chicago girl and make it a staple, so no complaints!

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Michael December 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Not to start a debate here Cat, but are you a fan of Chicago-style pizza?

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Steph | DiscoveringIce.com December 4, 2012 at 11:53 am

Ha, are those handprints in the soupy one from Naples? :O Also the one with chips on top…hahaha
I’m hungry now! Great round-up! The one from Clare Valley in Oz looks the best!

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Michael December 4, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Hi Steph,

It was a close call between the two pizzas from Oz. But the chips on pizza in Italy, who knew?

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Micki December 4, 2012 at 11:55 am

Oh gosh, I shouldn’t have read this before lunch. Now, I’m starving, and in desperate need of a good slice :) .

Really interesting results – I never would have expected the best pizzas to come from Australia. The world is full of surprises!

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Michael December 4, 2012 at 6:31 pm

I hope you had that slice today.

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Liz December 4, 2012 at 11:59 am

I think one of the best pizzas I had was in Slovenia. It was amazingly fresh and delicious! But I love Italian pizza as well, it’s what I eat for lunch and dinner whenever I’m there! Those pics made me so hungry!

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Michael December 4, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Sounds like we’ll have to head to Slovenia soon.

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Sharon December 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Your french fries pizza is pretty funny!

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Michael December 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Spoken like a former McDonald’s employee.

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Barbara December 5, 2012 at 2:42 am

Hi Michael & Larissa,
You have really eaten your way around the world! Fascinating!!
It goes to show, you sometimes don’t go just with reputations(like Naples’ reputation for pizza). Knock around and see what the other guys have created that is just as good/better!

Cheers!

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Michael December 5, 2012 at 9:51 am

Much of it also comes down to personal preference. Many people love the authentic Neopolitan pizza but it just wasn’t to our taste.

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Katja December 6, 2012 at 10:50 am

Hahaha – pizza patatine wurstel! My students used to love it. I’m not a massive fan, but I have come round to it more in the last three and a half years. I’m still more a biancaneve con speck e rucola kind of a girl, though.

If you’re in London, Rosso Pomodoro does decent pizzas in a proper wood-fired oven. Pizza Express does OK at certain things (LOVE their doughballs), but I was put off them when I asked for a pizza bianca and (a) they didn’t have a clue what I meant and (b) decided that the best way to make it would be to put besciamella on it. Bleurgh.

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Michael December 6, 2012 at 11:35 am

I don’t care for besciamella on my lasagna either but that seems to be how most places serve it. Not in my house.

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Katja December 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Not in my house either, Michael. Ragu, pasta, cheese e basta when I make it. Which reminds me – I haven’t made it for ages, and it’s now very much cold enough to start doing so again …

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Michael December 6, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I made a huge tray on Sunday which has been dinner all week. Can’t beat it. BTW, my grandfather’s secret to cooking sweet onions for his pizza was low heat over 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 peanut oil. I guess it’s not such a secret now.

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jerry December 6, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Modern Pizza in New Haven. The name is “Modern” but the wood-fired ovens are ancient.

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Michael December 6, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I’ve been there with my brother. Love the white clam pizza. I would have included it above with the US pizzas but the photos were all fuzzy.

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Terry at Overnight New York December 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Who need Italy? I’m fascinated by Bali’s pineapple/banana version.

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Michael December 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Since your web site is all about New York, do you have any NY pizza recommendations?

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D.J. - The World of Deej December 8, 2012 at 3:45 pm

That definitely surprises me! Of course, seeing the pizza you had at the winery in Australia I can understand why. Probably the most beautiful pizza I’ve ever seen!

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Michael December 8, 2012 at 8:20 pm

There was even a place in Sydney called Sven’s with a Swedish theme. Believe it or not they had good pizza too.

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LeX @ LeX Paradise December 11, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Australia! really? This is an eyes opening! I would love to try it out!

The worst one that I had was in France, I was just unlucky!

Cheer!

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Michael December 13, 2012 at 10:21 pm

We had some pizza in Paris in that was decent. Of course we looked like pigs since we were eating it with our hands while everyone else was using a knife and fork.

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judy cadman January 31, 2013 at 11:24 am

Loved this blog! and all the pizza options….was amazed to find out that Australia has the best….lived there for 1 & 1/2 years, but never got to Western Australia. Now, if i ever have the chance to return, that’s where I would start my trip….and find those great pizzas…thanks for renewing wonderful memories of that stunning country.

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Larissa January 31, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Glad to bring back memories, Judy. We were surprised to find out that few Aussies from the east have ever been to Perth–they really should go, if only for the pizza :)

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Robert March 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm

This was obviously a great trip, but the idea of actually judging a continent or country (or even a city) by trying two or even six places is ridiculous. Which I’m sure is part of the joke, but still…

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Michael March 24, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Hi Robert,

As you can imagine it’s difficult to eat pizza in every place since we were also trying donuts around the world. Sometimes all those carbs can fill you up.

Thanks for checking in.

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Andrea April 14, 2013 at 5:03 am

have you ever eaten pizza in Naples? those aren’t images of a pizza made in Naples. these will be the typical crappy copies made ​​in other parts of the world. In Naples don’t exist pizzas with a cornice often more than 4 mm.

told by an Italian, even from a Neapolitan.

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Michael April 14, 2013 at 7:56 am

Hi Andrea,

Thanks for writing but we did eat pizza in Naples and those ARE pictures of pizza in Naples. Sorry to disappoint. While we liked the crust the topping was too wet for our taste.

Ciao.

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Andrea April 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm

pizzeria that was? There was a lot of people when you have eaten?You have to eat it “Da Michele” pizzas in Naples are very different from pizzeria pizzeria … and then I do not think you can deny that Naples is the best pizza in the world, is his place of birth … and to say that the best fast food in America is not found or …

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Andres April 26, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Can i ask you the place of the Argentinean pizza? I am from Buenos Aires and i have been in many other countries, and pizza here is one of the best in my opinion. Maybe you went to a tourist trap here in Buenos Aires.

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Michael April 26, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Hi Andres,

I’ll keep the pizza place in BA private but it was definitely not a tourist place. It was in a local neighborhood. We also had pizza in an Italian restaurant in the Palermo section and it was better but still not to our taste. Sorry about that. Thank you for your comments.

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Pablo August 29, 2014 at 1:56 am

That’s right!… Probably they went to a crappy cheap place… Argentina make one of the best pizza ever!… or probably you “foreigners” not get to use to eat “real pizza”… around the world they changed the taste… the real one is the cheese with mozzarella and tomato sauce… the rest is variation

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Michael August 29, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Hi Pablo,

We went to several places at different price ranges. It just didn’t do it for us. Thanks for sharing your opinion.

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Wave May 7, 2013 at 7:43 am

One of the best pizzas I’ve had outside of the USA is in Australia, specifically Melbourne cooked in wood fired stoves and a Greek pizza cooked the same way in Sydney. Runner-up is in Scotland at the Filling Station in Edinburgh, I usually stop in for a pint and a pizza whenever I’m there. The worst I’ve had in my travels was one in Tokyo, Japan, so bad it actually made me ill, though I’ve had better ones in Kyoto, Japan.

Cheers!

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Michael May 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Hi Wave,

Thanks for the recs. what is a Greek pizza?

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Pablo May 17, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Hi there… I wanna point out that for SURE, you just had bad luck in BA. I tried hundreds of pizzas in hundreds of places around the world and I can asure you that the best pizza in the world is in Buenos Aires.

” Since they’re too big to melt properly, the chef just smears them around the pie after it’s baked where it turns into a gelatinous clump.”

That’s simply not true, unless it’s a new bad quality restaurant. Pizzería in BA have incredible ovens with no-gas only wood and fire inside, where the heat is so strong that melts with no problem half kilogram of mozarrella cheese. I’ve seen it lots of time, -it is the only way they do it-

I agree with Andres, you were into a trap. And please notice, there’s no good pizzería in Palermo, and there are only a few real pizzerias in “local neighborhoods”, most of them are at downtown, like Guerrin, El Cuartito, Las Cuartetas, Los Inmortales, Banchero.

By far, argentinian pizza is the best in the world, nothing compared with italian style (thick cookie with almost no cheese).

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Michael May 17, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Hi Pablo,

Thank you for your passionate pizza comments. We had pizza at several neighborhood places, none of them were touristy like Kentucky Pizza which we avoided. I still don’t like putting the cheese on the pizza in a block, particularly when it doesn’t melt.

Thank you for the recommendations for the next time we go to BA which is a wonderful city.

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Lina Benedetti July 20, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Hey Michael, I too am a world traveler and a writer for a travel and lifestyle magazine. I find your search for great pizza around the world fun and enjoyable and really liked some of your choices in Asia. However, I disagree with you with the fact that you excluded Italy to make the very best pizza. As obviously the article only expresses your personal opinion and taste, you could’ve considered to include a top selection of italian pizza. Even though for being an American you’re used to different flavors and food richer in salt and condiments you could be more open to different culinary experiences, since you’re now a self proclaimed citizen of the world. Each country has its own products and Italy probably has the best food quality in the world and it’s the reason why they don’t need to season much their dishes. As for pizza, pasta and their local cusine is concerned they are the Messiah. Italian pizza? Mamma mia!!

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Michael July 20, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Hi Lina,

Thanks for your note. Since I’ve tasted and enjoyed food in over 60 countries I’m not sure how not being overwhelmed by pizza in Naples makes me not open to different culinary experiences, but I appreciate your hometown loyalty. What I didn’t like in Naples was how wet and soggy the pizza was in the middle. Nothing having to do with salt at all as you suggested since I don’t care for a lot of salt.

Other than that Italian food is one of my favorites, it’s what I grew up with so it’s comfort food too.

I hope you keep enjoying your pizza. Ciao.

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Freya October 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Great post, all those pizzas look delicious. I cannot help it but the best pizza I ever had was in Naples, Italy. I also love the pizzas in New York but the Naples one was one of a kind. I guess you also have to be a bit lucky to hit the right place.

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Michael October 26, 2013 at 8:18 pm

As a native New Yorker, New York pizza still holds a special place for me. I guess a lot of it is what people grew up with too.

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Vinicius December 29, 2013 at 5:50 pm

I believe when you come to São Paulo in Brasil and taste the pizza from here you’re going to review your rank.

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Michael December 29, 2013 at 10:18 pm

I look forward to it.

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Steph March 11, 2014 at 1:54 pm

You can’t put buffalo mozzarella on your pizza. Italians don’t. It doesn’t melt but only gets wet. Go back to naples and ask for a margherita. It’s just the best you can ever taste. Never put buffalo mozzarella on your pizza. NEVER.

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Michael March 11, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Thanks for the tip for next time.

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Kimonoskunk June 20, 2014 at 12:15 pm

I do like your choices and will try a good many in the surrounding states. But since you are from Philly, take a trip to Oley, Pa, (just outside of Reading) and stop at ‘Bella Italia’ right on route 662.
Their giant slices are as long as my forearm, and their specials are 2 of these monster slices with a soda, for $7.00. And I bet you can barely finish one slice. I usually get the bbq chicken slices, and my wife the anchovie selection.
Please try them and let us know how blown away ya are.

Be Blessed…
Kimonoskunk

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thomas cappiello August 22, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Hi,
I’m always interested in someone’s pizza experience and opinion and understand thoroughly about taste and one’s reference. For me, my dad being from New Haven but me from California, learned from a very early age that New Haven has the “best” pizza, so that is my gold standard. Particularly Modern, and Pepe’s. Bimontes, a Pepe’s spinoff was great too, back in the day. I love all pizza though, and try to try it everywhere. I just don’t have the world in my back pages like you do – but sure look forward to it. I didn’t have rocket on a pizza until I got one in Sydney, and loved it. But I never had a good pizza in Australia, in fact the worst one ever, utterly nearly inedible, was in Australia. I look forward to trying pizza in Italy, in particular. Thanks for your article. I haven’t read the Pizza Bianco article yet though. A close friend of mine just went there as wasn’t impressed. I have yet to try. Varasono’s in Atlanta GA, is on my list too, as is Patsy’s in NYC.

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Michael August 25, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Love Modern pizza in New Haven. Usually can walk right in while there’s a line down the street at Pepe’s.

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Dominica Ferrari December 7, 2014 at 3:21 am

Hi, I know this is an old blog but was super excited when I found it because Embers is my restaurant (and my little sisters).
Thanks so much for picking us as number one. We laughed a lot about the staff comment as we do have a lot of younger staff (especially in our takeaway).

Once again thanks, and hopefully we will see you again one day.

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Michael December 8, 2014 at 4:03 pm

I’m guessing by your last name that you are Italian. Which explains the delicious pizza.

Ciao.

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