The Best Pizza City in the USA: The “Modernist Pizza” Reveals

What about New York? No. Chicago? Also, no. The title of best pizza city in the United States goes not to those long-established standard-bearers of pizza but to Portland, Oregon, an innovative West Coast upstart.

That is the conclusion reached by Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya, the authors of the forthcoming compilation “Modernist Pizza,” due out in October. With three volumes and nearly 1,700 pages, it covers the history of pizza, over 1,000 recipes, pizza-making techniques and tools, and where to find the best pie – all in exquisite detail and with breathtaking photography.

“Modernist Pizza” is geared toward individuals who are “passionate and curious about food.”

Myhrvold, who served as Microsoft’s chief technology officer from 1996 to 2000 before departing to pursue other interests, told CNN Travel in a video interview that this labor of love took nearly four years.

He stated that they completed their pizza tours, which included visits to 250 pizzerias, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak shutting down operations. Myhrvold admitted that he had no clue Portland would win the gold when the pizza investigating and sampling began.

“We knew Portland had undergone a foodie Renaissance of sorts in the last 20 years. But I didn’t particularly think that pizza was going to be as good there as many [other] places.”

To conduct comparisons, the Modernist team traveled to major cities and smaller communities throughout the United States, some of which have a long history as primo pizza havens. They were as follows:

Chicago
Detroit
Los Angeles, California
Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey The tri-state region
Pennsylvania’s Old Forge
Philadelphia
Phoenix
Iowa and Illinois’ Quad Cities
San Francisco Bay Area
St. Louis Seattle

What makes Portland unique? According to Myhrvold, everything boiled down to innovation and a desire to be the greatest. According to him, there is no single style that defines Portland pizza save for the characteristics of inventiveness, an emphasis on high-quality ingredients, and “people wanting to do a great job.”

Myhrvold attributes the emergence of the excellent pizza area to two artisan establishments — Apizza Scholls and Ken’s Artisan Pizza. “If you’ve got a really good role model, that helps, versus other places where the pizza is terrible.”

“In general, where you find good food, you find some obsessed person who is trying their damnedest to make their food the best they can.”