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If you're in the NoDa neighborhood and craving a late-night slice, Benny Pennello’s is going to be your savior. The slices are beyond huge – it takes two plates just to hold one. The topping options here are not extensive and not customizable, but if you are looking for a simple pepperoni or veggie slice with a beer, Benny’s has you covered. They are open until 3 a.m. on weekends, and they serve local beers (in cans), as well as local favorite King of Pops popsicles in the freezer case.
Although this gem is located about 25 miles away from Downtown Charlotte, it’s well worth the drive. This Mooresville pizzeria imports buffalo mozzarella, “00” flour, and San Marzano tomatoes weekly, and they bake up their pizzas in wood-fired ovens that are custom-made in Naples, Italy. Top off your authentic Italian experience with gelato or a cannoli, both of which are made in-house. The counter service is quick, the employees super friendly, and you can always catch a soccer game on one of their many TVs. Don’t miss the caprese salad –
getting to taste that fresh mozzarella in all its glory is simply divine.
Inizio Pizza has locations in Ballantyne and Dilworth, and they pride themselves on recreating classic Neapolitan-style pizza, which is baked in a wood-fired oven for 90 seconds. This quick cooking time, as well as the imported Italian “00” flour, results in the chewiest and most delicious crust ever. Make sure you order the crowd favorite: Pistacchio Pizza with rosemary, pistachio pesto, and buffalo mozzarella. My personal favorite is the Maria with a variety of mushrooms and truffle crema. Make sure to save room for cannoli or gelato; both are house-made and well worth the splurge.
Pure Pizza has locations in Plaza Midwood and in the Seventh Street Public Market in Uptown. Pure has so many creative menu options, particularly their crusts – you can get original, gluten-free, or sprouted ancient grain, which is made with quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. Their toppings are no less innovative – try the chorizo pizza, topped with shaved radishes, cilantro, and lime juice, or the smoked salmon with capers, dill créme fråiche, and red onions. Their salad offerings also go far beyond the usual pizza joint house salad and venture into kale and goat cheese territory.
For a classic New York-style slice, you can’t go wrong at Hawthorne’s. Their ultimate spinach pizza topped with mozzarella and Gorgonzola is my favorite, and they are well known for their buffalo wing pizza. This pie is not only delicious, but it is called “The Inducer” as it has been known to put many expectant mothers who are past their due dates into labor! Another great option, pregnant or not, is their thick and chewy Sicilian-style pizza. Round out your meal with the garlic knots and a Hawthorne’s salad, made with pepperoncini and tossed in a bleu cheese balsamic dressing.