Now more than ever, no food is immune to excess. Doughnuts have been turned into burger buns, lobster rolls are adorned with with caviar, and hot dogs get topped with foie gras. Pizza, of course, is no exception. Read on to learn about the most outrageous pizza toppings in America.
America’s 10 Most Outrageous Pizza Toppings (Slideshow)
When you get down to it, you can technically call any flat bread with stuff on it “pizza.” But for today’s purposes, we’re narrowing that definition a bit, culling from our list of the recently-announced 101 Best Pizzas in America. These are real pizzas, not just gimmicks meant to attract tourists or the especially gluttonous. Sure, these pizzas are outrageous, but they’ve been constructed with an eye for balance and harmony. They’re not just outrageous for the sake of it, they’re also delicious. They work.
So what exactly makes a pizza outrageous? First, it needs to deviate from the norm. There was once a time when chicken was considered an outrageous pizza topping, but today it’s available at just about every New York slice joint. But being different isn’t synonymous with being outrageous, which is more difficult than it appears. You can open up a can of tuna and dump it onto a plain pie, but nobody’s going to want to eat that. At the end of the day, an outrageous pizza needs to be different, unexpected, creative, a little outlandish, and so tasty that when a customer goes out on a limb and orders it they’re rewarded with a flavor combination they’ve never experienced before, one they want to return to again and again.
So if you’re looking for a cheese pizza with caviar and gold leaf on it, you won’t find it here. These pizzas weren’t slapped together for publicity; they were created by chefs who were looking to redefine what a pizza could be, all while keeping an eye on balance and deliciousness. At the same time, there’s no denying that there’s a sense of fun here, too, because at the end of the day, eating an outrageous pizza should be a really good time.
Over the past 30 years, chef Frank Stitt has been credited for significantly raising the bar in Alabama’s culinary scene. As if the success of his restaurant Highlands Bar and Grill and the roster of culinary talents that have launched their own successful careers after spending time in his kitchen weren’t impressive enough, he’s now going ahead and doing the same thing for the state’s pizza scene. While devoted regulars may have trouble steering themselves away from Stitt’s classic dishes at Café Bottega, like the seared beef carpaccio, Niçoise salad, and chicken scaloppini, they’ll find themselves particularly rewarded by any of the eight pizzas on the menu. There’s a white pie with fennel sausage, a grilled chicken and pesto combination, even a pizza with okra and corn. But the restaurant’s signature pie and biggest crowd-pleaser is the “Farm Egg,” which is topped with mushrooms, guanciale, Taleggio, and porcini oil.
You can practically envision the folks behind Gusto Pizza Co. — Friends Josh Holderness, Joe McConville, and Tony Lemmo — sitting down over a few beers before opening their imaginative Des Moines pizza shop in 2011, and coming up with their menu as an hours-long snort-inducing punfest. “Thai Kwon Dough” with peanut sauce and chicken? “Seoul Food” pizza with Korean-style marinated skirt steak and sriracha mayo? “Vincent Van Goat” with goat cheese and fried sweet peppers? “Fromage-A-Trois”? Very fun. But don’t mistake the levity for anything less than a serious approach to some delicious pizzas featuring perfectly balanced crispy-chewy thin crusts.
12 of the Most Over-the-Top Pizzas
T ransforming pizza from a humble staple dish into a vehicle for outrageous toppings and mind-boggling crust styles is undoubtedly an art form.
Big chains like Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, and KFC have all gotten in on the action, right alongside their mom-and-pop pizzeria counterparts. Whether it’s a fast-food concoction that incorporates a base of fried chicken, one that involves an infusion of unusual substances, or an expensive culinary stunt topped with gold foil, here’s are 12 of the most controversial, unexpected, and bizarre pizzas to grace the earth (and our taste buds).
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Banana Curry Pizza (Sweden)
Brazilian pizza is not the name of a specific kind of pizza, but is used as a blanket term for all the unique toppings of pizza you’ll find in that country. And you will find a lot, due to the rodizio-style — aka all-you-can-eat — service at many Brazilian restaurants, like Pizza a Bessa in Brasilia. First of all, the pizzas are thin-crust, and are likely to have sliced tomatoes or ketchup instead of pizza sauce. Toppings include green peas, carrots, beets, and potato sticks, and dessert toppings range from plantains to guava paste.
Pineapple Pizza Is A Hot-Button Issue
Many people either love pineapple as a pizza topping or detest it. However, in 2017, Iceland’s president, Gudni Thorlacius Johannesson, turned the topic into a hotly debated issue when he joked that pineapple pizza should be banned. The comment quickly drew media attention worldwide, and Johannesson released a follow-up statement in Icelandic and English:
“I like pineapples, just not on pizza,” he wrote. “I do not have the power to make laws which forbid people to put pineapples on their pizza. I am glad that I do not hold such power. Presidents should not have unlimited power. I would not want to hold this position if I could pass laws forbidding that which I don’t like. I would not want to live in such a country. For pizzas, I recommend seafood.”
The 101 Best Pizzas In America
Photo Credit: Ravi Bangaroo
Arthur Bovino, the Executive Editor for The Daily Meal, announces the names of the '101 Best Pizzas in America' for 2015.
This is our fourth annual attempt to seek out America's best pizza, and our third 101 (our first list covered a mere 35 -- what were we thinking?). You know the expression, "It's a hard job, but somebody has to do it"? Well, we love pizza, but we make this list as hard on ourselves as we can. It's one of The Daily Meal's most compulsively tracked rankings. Why? Because Americans love pizza. It's a truly democratic food, an inexorable part of Americna life, something everyone knows (or thinks they know). People take pizza very seriously. So we do too.
Have you had a stranger tweet that he wants to take you on a pizza tour of Queens, drive you around in a truck for a classic Flushing slice, then pull out a med kit filled with fresh basil, oregano, and Parmigiano-Reggiano to "Dom DeMarco" it up? Have you ever collected a year's worth of pizza suggestions drenched in love and vitriol from hundreds and hundreds of readers? Tried to locate and make sense of every single national and local media list of America's best pizzas to ensure you haven't missed a pie? Arranged and rearranged travel schedules in an attempt to personally sample the purported best pizzas in as many American cities as possible? We've ridden in that truck. We've done all that, and more, since compiling last year's 101.
No list is perfect. And we have to remind ourselves at least once a year that other people are allowed to write about pizza, even when they're wrong (especially when they're wrong) -- even when, as TripAdvisor did this year (two years after naming San Diego America's Top 10 Cities For Pizza. San Diego?), they name Brooklyn's Juliana's (No. 41 on our list last year) the best pizza in America (tasty for sure, but really?) and round out the top three with places in St. Augustine, Florida, and Anchorage, Alaska. No such thing as bad press, right? (OK, we'll say it: Some people really should have their pizza-writing licenses revoked.)
So unlike many arbitrary lists, rankings diversified for the purpose of geographical engagement, and "expert" listicles chosen by a handful of New York's food writers, we approached our rankings methodically and comprehensively.
We started big, ordering extra-large, extra-cheese, considering 800 spots in every corner of the country -- about 100 more than last year. How did we narrow this number down to just 101? To begin with, we eat at as many pizzerias as we can ourselves. This editor has personally visited nearly half the places that made the list this year. The Daily Meal's in-house pizza experts -- including eight-time James Beard award winner and editorial director for The Daily Meal Colman Andrews, Eat/Dine editor Dan Myers, and Restaurant editor Kate Kolenda -- along with our city editors, Culinary Council experts, and Culinary Content Network bloggers, pitched in.
But we also called upon a blue-chip, geographically diverse list of pizza panelists -- chefs, restaurant critics, bloggers, writers, and pizza authorities -- asking them to share their considerable pizza experience with us, and to vote only for places where they've actually eaten. (If you're in food media or are a recognized pizza expert and you disagree with this list and didn't vote for it, send us an email with your pizza cred and we'll consider you for our panel in 2016.)
We're going out on a thin-crust slice to say there's never before been such a comprehensive list of pizzas voted on by such a large and qualified group of experts. Certainly, this year's 109-member panel is The Daily Meal's longest, most impressive, most star-studded pizza-expert roster ever, including 31 more pizza mavens from across America than we had last year.
So who says the 101 pizzas on this list are the country's best? How about "The Pizza King" Dan Janssen, for starters, the owner of an artisanal Maryland woodshop who last year revealed that he has survived on a diet of pizza alone for the last 25 years? Other panelists included television personality, chef, food writer, and lover of gas-station pizza Andrew Zimmern restaurant critic and wine columnist for the Los Angeles Times S. Irene Virbila 2012 Classic Italian first-prize winner at the World Pizza Championships in Naples (Italy) Elizabeth Falkner New York City pizza tour impresario, Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box author, and Guinness World Record holder for his pizza box collection Scott Wiener of Scott's Pizza Tours New York City's modernist cuisine pioneer chef Wylie Dufresne of Alder (chef of The Daily Meal's 2014 Restaurant of the Year) New Haven culinary walking tour expert Colin M. Caplan Broward Palm Beach New Times food critic Nicole Danna James Beard Award-nominated author of How Italian Food Conquered the World, How Italian Food Conquered the World author John Mariani of Mariani's Virtual Gourmet lead senior content strategist and managing editor at MSN Ilana Bergen USA Today's "Great American Bites" regional cuisine columnist Larry Olmsted and other experts from HuffPost, The Detroit News, Food Network, Thrillist, the Miami Herald, The Virginian-Pilot, and numerous pizza blogs across America. (Read on for this year's full panelist list.)
We also have a special expert this year: America's foremost authority on pizzaology (says it right there on the July 8th comic strip), "Blondie's" Dagwood Bumstead. That's right, Dagwood weighed in. Can't top that.
Photo Credit: Comics Kingdom
How about his take on what makes for the perfect pie? "An outer crust that is crispy but still bread-like and bubbly, not too much sauce but definitely homemade," advised Mr. Bumstead. "An emphasis on cheese, (lots of cheese!). It must have cheese dripping off the sides of the slice, so it makes a stretchy mess when you pull your slice away from the whole pizza. Last but not least, only the freshest ingredients to top it with! And how about some jalapeños to spice it up a little!" You knew there was a reason you always liked that guy, right?
This year, Dagwood and his fellow panelists finalized a list that spanned 24 states. The top 10 states for pizza (nine, technically, plus the District of Columbia -- "Pizza Without Representation") included New York (27) California (11) Connecticut (nine) Pennsylvania (seven) Illinois (six) Massachusetts (six) Washington, D.C. (four) New Jersey (four) Oregon (three) and Texas (three).
For the third year, the birthplace of American pizza, New York, featured the most pizzas. But for the first time, the Empire State's share of the pie diminished, with only 27 spots (it scored 30 spots in 2013 and 35 last year). And within the state, the percentage of places from New York City's five boroughs was also less than last year (85 percent in 2015 versus almost 90 percent in 2014). In 2014, Brooklyn reigned with 13 spots, leading Manhattan (11), Queens (four), Staten Island (three), and the Bronx (one). Those 31 spots fell to 23, with Brooklyn and Manhattan tied at nine, Staten Island and Queens ranking two spots, and the Bronx's tried-and-true Louie and Ernie's representing it once more
After New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia tied for second, featuring six spots each, with Boston and New Haven, Connecticut, not far behind with five apiece. Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., also tied with four spots each, and then seven cities tied with two pizzas per: Atlanta, Austin, Vegas, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Providence, and yes, Robbinsville, New Jersey (population 3,041).
Among out honorees, you'll find old standbys like Joe's in New York's West Village, Una Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco, and Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, and a few surprise climbs up through the ranks: Buddy's in Detroit and Chicago's Coalfire made it into the top 10. But you'll have to check out the full list below, then read the gallery captions to learn why each place landed where it did. We will say that the top two pies were separated by just one vote (this is a big year for both of the pizzerias that produced them: one 90 this year and the other is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary).
One last thing: We know who we and our many panelists think serves the best pizzas in America, but we'd also like to know who you think does. That's right, we'd like you to vote too. Check out the list, then click into our survey (learn more about the popular vote) and weigh in with the places we missed or that you think should have been ranked higher (or lower). We'll publish the results in a few weeks.
#101 Ghigiarelli's, Old Forge, Pa. (Red: Tomato, brick cheese)
Photo Credit: Arthur Bovino
The Twilight Zone of pizza.
You have to credit a town that calls itself the "Pizza Capital of the World," especially if no one would have heard of it otherwise. Not Naples, Italy. Not New York City or Brooklyn, not Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New Haven. Nope, Old Forge, Pennsylvania, claims this distinction, and on placards for the town, no less.
Some six places -- Anthony's, Arcaro & Genell, Brutico's, Revello's, Rinaldi's, and Ghigiarelli's -- make up the pizzerias that constitute this gutsy claim. This Twilight Zone of pizza, this pizza capital of its own fashioning, might as well be a different country, too -- they even have their own pizza language. Order by color (red or white) or by the cut or by the tray.
The mysterious cheese combination that covers the pizza in Old Forge is an enigmatic brick that coats your teeth and tongue in a curiously comforting yet puzzling way. The white pizza is calzone-like in that it has crust on top and bottom, but the way to go is the red pizza.
#100 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, Los Angeles, Calif. (Margherita)
California is one thing, but how will New Yorkers take to 60-second cooked Neapoltian pies?
New Yorkers are still waiting for the planned five New York City locations of the West Coast-based Chipotle of pizza that co-creator and former Michael Mina corporate chef Anthony Carron and Umami Burger founder Adam Fleischman announced in late 2013, promising they would start "opening within the next year."
Anyone doubtful of the possibility of quality, personalized, 60-second-cooked Neapolitan pies cooked by 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria and showing up next to the Starbucks in every neighborhood can nurture their chain-pizza skepticism, but they can't ignore the seven locations in California, two in Nevada, one in Illinois, and international offshoots in Dubai and Japan (where seven more are slated to open over the next decade).
#99 Piece, Chicago, Ill. (Pepperoni and banana peppers)
In a city known for deep-dish, Chicagoans long ago learned how to give Wicker Park brewery and pizzeria Piece a chance ("Pizza is good for you!"). Owner Bill Jacobs had already started, sold, and made Piece with moving beyond the successful Windy City bagel family business they sold in 1999 (you'd say "rest in Piece," but after his pizza success with Piece, he's actually now back into bagels too!) three years before this New Haven homeboy ventured into pizza in 2002.
The haters protested, but they were soon at Piece eating this New Haven-style joint's thin-crust red, plain (no mozz), and white (plain crust brushed with olive oil, diced garlic, and mozz) pizzas, all of which get at least a small Piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano, oregano, and olive. Ingredients. You can have a classic New Haven pie with fresh tomatoes or clams (of course), and, in some kind of pan-New Haven Piece accord, there's also a nod to Bru Room at Bar's signature mashed potato pizza (No. 61). Is it puzzling to see chips and salsa and warm spinach and tomato dip on the menu? Sure, but having brought quality New Haven-style pies to Chicago and bought out his lease so he can do so for years to come, Jacobs has brought Piece of mind to Windy City denizens, and delivery to boot.
#98 Artichoke Basille, New York, N.Y. (Artichoke Slice: Artichoke hearts, spinach, cream sauce, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano)
Photo Credit: Artichoke Basille
In 2008, using what they learned while working at their family's restaurant Basille's in Staten Island (now closed), pizzaiolos, cousins, and best friends Francis Garcia and Sal Basille took a party dip, put it on a pizza, and turned a sliver of a shop on New York City's 14th Street into a pizza icon and cash cow.
They now have five other New York City locations of Artichoke Basille's Pizza (and one in Berkeley, California), and there is still a line out the door, along with pizza fiends standing outside trying (unsuccessfully) not to burn the roofs of their mouths on the creamy, cheesy signature artichoke slice.
They've made it to The Tonight Show and even landed their own show on Food Network's Cooking Channel. Not bad at all. There are some who might argue that the crust isn't what it used to be, but (and we say this with love) "Cuz, you can't argue it's not a New York City pizza icon!"
#97 Tony's Place, Philadelphia, Pa. (Tomato Pie: mozzarella and tomato sauce)
Photo Credit: Matthew M/Yelp
You want fancy pizza? Yeah? Think you can handle fancy pizza? OK, go somewhere else. You won't find it at Tony's, thank all things holy. Like several great pizzerias on this list, Tony's started as a place that only served tasty, salty things in order for you to buy more booze. Yes, Tony Mallamaci opened a small bar on the corner of 10th and Jackson Streets in South Philly in the late 1940s. His brother Dominic joined him, and they started selling homemade sandwiches (specialties included roast beef and meatballs) as well as thin crusts with homemade tomato sauce on top (no mozz!).
Dominic and Tony moved to the present location in 1951, drawing customers in with free slices of tomato pie. The menu has long since expanded to include pasta dinners, burgers, chicken Parm, "filet of flounder," jalapeño poppers, and a variety of other doubtful bar menu, Italian-American, and Restaurant Impossible standards. But the pizza? As anyone from Philly will tell you, "Best. Tomato. Pies. Ever." You can top them with anchovies, pepperoni, green peppers, mushroom, sausage, and onion, and, for a limited time around Valentine's Day, they're even served in the shape of a heart.
#96 Micucci's Grocery, Portland, Maine (Sicilian Slab: San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, mozzarella)
Photo Credit: Arthur Bovino
Micucci Grocery was opened in 1951 by Leo and Iris Micucci, and has been family-operated ever since. It's more sandwich counter-meets-deli-meets-dry-goods store than pizzeria. But the reason to visit this Portland icon is in back, up the stairs to the left where "slabs" of American-interpreted Sicilian-style pizza are baked and set on shelves.
The word "slabs," doesn't do these slices justice -- a curious hybrid for sure, they're nowhere as heavy as the gut-bombs most descriptions convey. Half-again bigger than the conventional Sicilian slice, and just as thick if wetter and more doughy, Micucci's slabs may not be authentic Italian, but they feel like an idealized iteration of the focaccia style you've always sought, but never experienced.
Each is about a half-foot long. There's an uneven inch-and-a-half to ¾-inch cornicione, which is not much different from the rest of the slice, save that it's dryer for not being covered by the brush of sweet sauce and incomplete layer of mozzarella coating the rest of it.
"Pillowy" and "airy" have been used to describe these pizzas, and undoubtedly will be as long as Micucci continues to do things this way (the right way, mind you). Imagine a fluffy, light focaccia -- almost an inch high in some places but no thinner than one third of an inch anywhere -- that's doughy and a bit wetter than most with layers of bubbles. There's a scattering of Italian herbs on top, with cheese rivulets and sauce undercurrents around raised puffy sections of dough. There's no undercrust to speak of, but some crispy spots of cheese in places, especially along the edges.
It's not pizza in any other traditional regional American sense, nor can you say it's precisely Italian. But there's something intensely right and satisfying about it. Consider the warm, airy pleasure of freshly baked dough without much crust to speak of, the tang of sweet sauce, and the salty pull of just-melted cheese, and you get the idea of a fresh Micucci slice.
#95 Pizzeria Locale, Boulder, Colo. (Funghi: Mozzarella: pecorino, fontina, porcini, roasted white mushroom, garlic, shallot)
Photo Credit: Pizzeria Locale/Alex Joyce
It shouldn't be surprising that Frasca, one of America's best restaurants, launched an offshoot that serves some of the best pizza in the country. What happens now that restaurateurs Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson have teamed up with Chipotle to launch the restaurant as a fast-casual concept, however, remains to be seen.
There seems to be a thought out there that America needs a high-quality fast-casual Neapolitan pizza chain. Maybe it's true that there's a gap in a market dominated by somnambulant franchises that have been content to churn out doughy, overly sweet-sauced gut-bombs for years. Maybe there's really nothing wrong with the idea of rotational hearth ovens powered by gas and infrared of rotational hearth ovens powered by gas and infrared that largely take the human element out of cooking. Or maybe Americans will think pizza from a fast-casual spot should be able to be eaten with one hand and without a knife or fork, you know, like what New Yorkers would call "a slice."
What has been made clear so far is that this self-described contemporary pizzeria inspired by the traditional pizzerias of Naples knows how to bring it.
The full-service Pizzeria Locale in Boulder serves 14 pies (seven each white and red), among them the funghi, which, for $20, you can next-level with Umbrian black summer truffle. The menu at the "quick-serve" Pizzeria Locales in Denver (where there are two), Kansas City, and soon Cincinnati features 10 11-inch pies that are a little more mainstream (though a version of the mais pizza with sweet corn, ham, crème fraîche, and garlic did make the cut). But you can craft your own interesting combos with their 25 toppings.
25 of the Craziest Burger Toppings in the U.S.
There are plenty of ways to dress a burger besides lettuce, cheese, and tomato. (Sushi? Um, okay.) In preparation for National Hamburger Day on May 28, we’re serving up the most unique burger-enhancing toppings in the U.S.
1. HOT FUDGE // MCGUIRE'S IRISH PUB // PENSACOLA, FLORIDA
Why wait for dessert? Patrons of the Irish saloon can mix sweet and savory by ordering a three-quarter-pounder Black Angus beef burger covered in a scoop of hot fudge-drizzled vanilla ice cream.
2. RAMEN // RAMEN BURGER // VARIOUS LOCATIONSJason Wong, Flickr // CC by NC-ND 2.0
Keizo Shimamoto's iconic Ramen Burgers can be found stateside at various flea markets and food courts across New York. This burger packs USDA prime beef patties between noodle-buns seasoned with scallions and shoyu glaze. At the height of the craze, hundreds of diners lined up to try this phenomenal burger creation.
3. CREAM CHEESE // GRILL 'EM ALL // ALHAMBRA, CALIFORNIA
Heavy metal-inspired Grill 'Em All's food truck and restaurant (Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider has eaten there!) has two cream cheese-topped offerings: Napalm Death, which also has pickled jalapeño, jalapeño poppers, and habanero aioli and the Witte with deep-fried bacon, Sriracha, grilled onion, and malt vinegar aioli. Cream cheese is a frequent addition to their rotating burgers of the week, and the joint has been featured on Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate and won Season 1 of The Great Food Truck Race.
4. PEANUT MAYONNAISE // MATT'S PLACE // BUTTE, MONTANACraig L., Yelp
At The Treasure State’s oldest drive-in restaurant, the most popular menu choice is a surprising one. Those in the know opt for the Nutburger—a beef patty covered in a crushed peanut mayonnaise.
5. PULLED PORK // B SPOT // VARIOUS LOCATIONS
A carnivore’s delight! The menu at this casual eatery, with eight locations in the Midwest including Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit and Indianapolis, includes the award-winning Porky: a burger covered in pulled pork, coleslaw and Cleveland-style barbecue sauce (made with brown mustard).
6. MANGO, PEAR, AND PINE NUTS // FLIP BURGER BOUTIQUE // ATLANTA
At Top Chef All Stars winner Richard Blais’ upscale burger joint—where they claim to “take the American classic and flip it on its head”—you can order burgers comprised of steak tartare, shrimp, lamb, and bison. But perhaps the most unique offering is the raw tuna tartare patty that comes dressed with soy dressing and wasabi mayo, and topped with Asian pear, avocado puree, pine nuts, and a mango sphere.
7. BACON GRILLED CHEESE // VORTEX BAR & GRILL // ATLANTA
Atlanta’s Vortex Bar & Grill ups the ante with their Triple Coronary Bypass: two patty melts and a bacon grilled cheese serve as buns. The sandwich consists of two slices of white bread, four slices of thick, buttery Texas toast, 18 strips of bacon, 24 ounces of sirloin, 18 slices of American cheese, three fried eggs, and mayo. The 7000-plus calorie meal comes with cheese- and bacon bits-covered tots.
8. FRIED BANANA AND PEANUT BUTTER // BOSTON BURGER COMPANY // BOSTONChristina O., Yelp
Many burger joints offer tributes to Elvis Presley and his love for peanut butter and banana sandwiches. (Order up variations at The Vortex Bar & Grill in Atlanta and Grumpy’s Bar & Grill in Minneapolis.) At Boston Burger Company it’s The King, which is layered with peanut butter, bacon, and fried bananas, and dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Have mercy!
9. DOUGHNUTS // CYPRESS STREET PINT & PLATE // ATLANTA
The concept of doughnuts-as-buns isn’t exclusive to famed Minneapolis food truck Eli's Donut Burgers—The Original in Portland, Oregon offers a glazed buttermilk donut slider appetizer, and Chicago’s Buzz Bar was known to serve up a doughnut burger with truffle aioli and caramelized strawberries. Presently, at Cypress Street Pint & Plate, the Sublime Doughnut Burger is served with applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, and caramelized onions sandwiched between local bakery Sublime's freshly baked doughnuts. (Sublime has their own take on the burger, as well.)
10. CAESAR DRESSING // LITTLE MIKE'S HAMBURGERS // OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
The specialty at this Oklahoma City institution is the Caesar Burger, which is drenched in the creamy dressing. Bonus: You can tell yourself you basically ordered a salad.
11. STUFFING AND CRANBERRY SAUCE // WAHLBURGERS // VARIOUS LOCATIONSWahlburgers
Celebrate Thanksgiving all year at Wahlburgers, the famous burger chain backed by Mark Wahlberg and his brothers Paul and Donnie. (So far there are locations in Massachusetts, Florida, Nevada, New York, and Pennsylvania.) The famed siblings crafted the Thanksgiving Day Sandwich with seasoned turkey, stuffing, and roasted butternut squash, and slathered it with housemade orange cranberry sauce and mayo.
12. JAM // WEST EGG CAFÉ // ATLANTA
At West Egg Café, burgers are topped with tomato jam, pimento cheese, and bacon to create the “PB&J." At Boston Burger Company, "the Sophie" uses fig jam with prosciutto, goat cheese, candied walnuts, and arugula.
13. CAVIAR // SERENDIPITY 3 // NEW YORK CITY
Ordering the Le Burger Extravagant at this Manhattan tourist landmark will get you a Wagyu beef burger infused with 10-herb truffle butter, topped with 18-month-old cave-aged cheddar, shaved black truffles, fried quail egg, and Kaluga caviar. Of course, you’ll need to plan in advance (48 hours) and pony up a whopping $295 for this burger, which is held together with a solid gold, diamond-encrusted toothpick. (You can finish off the decadence with the $1000 Tahitian vanilla bean and edible gold leaf sundae.) If that’s too rich for your blood, they also offer a more modest caviar burger with sour cream and cucumber, a steal at $18.50.
14. FRIED ICE CREAM // FLORIDA STATE FAIR // TAMPA, FLORIDA
Among the fare for sale at the annual Florida State Fair in Tampa: a bacon cheeseburger covered in lettuce, onions, pickles, tomatoes … and one sizeable scoop of deep fried ice cream.
15. PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY // SLATER'S 50/50 // SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIAAselicia S., Yelp
The Southern California outpost (there are also shops in Anaheim Hills, Huntington Beach, Pasadena, Rancho Cucamonga, and San Marcos) has no shortage of creative dishes. See: the Sriracha Burger and the Hawaiian, which comes with spam. But the Peanut Butter & Jellousy may be the most out there, with peanut butter and strawberry jelly covering a slab of beef and bacon (plus, it gets major points for its name).
16. FRITOS // FIFTH THIRD BALLPARK // COMSTOCK PARK, MICHIGAN
Each year, just north of Grand Rapids, fans of the city’s minor league baseball team the West Michigan Whitecaps are given the chance to vote a new food item into the stadium’s concession stand. The 2009 offering stuck: a giant slab of five patties, American cheese, chili, salsa, nacho cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and Fritos. The burger can be cut into four pieces with a pizza cutter for sharing, but finishing the entire 5000 calorie sandwich by the end of the game earns you a T-shirt and your photo in the Fifth Third Burger Wall of Fame. Batter up!
17. FOIE GRAS AND TRUFFLES // BURGER BAR // LAS VEGAS
Indulge your late night cravings on the Las Vegas Strip with chef Hubert Keller's $60 Rossini burger. He tops Australian Wagyu beef with sautéed foie gras, shaved truffles, and black truffle sauce. Or feel free to add your own creation. The restaurant’s list of toppings includes coleslaw, macaroni salad, asparagus, pineapple, and large shrimp, among others.
18. KIMCHI // UMAMI BURGER // VARIOUS LOCATIONS
The popular chain—with locations in California, New York, and Chicago—offers a Korean barbecue-inspired dish that comes with Gochujang glaze, sesame aioli, Korean ketchup, and caramelized kimchi.
19. SHRIMP // BURGER & BEER JOINT // VARIOUS LOCATIONS
At this Sunshine State favorite, you can order burgers named after classic rock songs like the Paradise City, where the beef is thick (a half pound) and topped with poached and seared Cajun spiced shrimp.
20. MAC AND CHEESE // ZOMBIE BURGER + DRINK LAB // DES MOINES, IOWASanDee W., Yelp
At the quirky, undead-themed restaurant you can choose from cleverly named burgers such as the Dawn of the Dead, They’re Coming to Get You Barbara, and The Walking Ched. The last shoves a burger, cheddar cheese, and a scoop of macaroni and cheese between two pieces of deep-fried mac and cheese.
21. PIZZA // NOSH // PORTLAND, MAINE
This is no ordinary pizza burger. At Nosh, the Slab Burger uses two slices of pie to sandwich a beef patty, provolone cheese, red pepper, marinara, and pesto.
22. HOT DOG // MOTHER'S FEDERAL HILL GRILLE // BALTIMORE, MARYLAND
No need to decide between two barbecue classics at this Maryland eatery. Order up The Dog [PDF] and have your Angus beef topped off with an all beef hot dog, chili, and cheese sauce.
23. SUSHI // 26 BEACH // VENICE, CALIFORNIAChristine T., Yelp
This oceanside spot claims to make the only California roll hamburger in the world. To make the one-of-a-kind burger, they take a beef patty then stack it with snow crab salad, avocado, sushi ginger, lettuce, tomato, nori, and wasabi shoyu mayonnaise.
24. BUTTER AND MAPLE SYRUP // BUTTERMILK KITCHEN // ATLANTA
Breakfast burger? Bring it on! Order the special Dad’s Waffle ($13 at this Southern eatery) and bite into a huge burger patty on a sourdough waffle, doused in butter and maple syrup.
25. COMMUNION WAFER // KUMA'S CORNER // CHICAGO
In 2013, the Chicago kitchen created a holy controversy with their "Ghost" burger. After local Catholics objected to the deity—a burger with ghost chile aioli, goat shoulder, a red wine reduction they dubbed the blood of Christ, and an unconsecrated communion wafer—the restaurant promised to donate $1500 to the Catholic Charities of the Chicago Archdiocese. Their offering was refused.
The 25 Most-Over-the-Top Bloody Marys in America
The streamlined initial recipe of vodka and tomato juice now serves as a mere jumping-off point for everything under the sun in these 25 totally off-the-wall Bloody Marys.
Photo By: Rockit Ranch Productions
The Barn Yard Bloody Mary at Farmer's Table, La Mesa, California
While largely an ode to refined, farm-to-table cuisine, this Cali eatery has tongue-in-cheek fun with its theme during brunch, when five wacky Bloody Marys are on offer. The Peter Rabbit (cheese-stuffed mushroom caps and assorted veggies) and the Butcher's Block (sage-fennel sausage and braised short ribs) set the stage in a comparatively sedate way, but the showstopper is the $45 Barn Yard, a cornucopia of bacon-wrapped shrimp, fresh mozzarella, seasonal vegetables and a whole roasted chicken, meant to satisfy four thirsty (and famished) farmhands.
The Sumo Mary at Sunda, Chicago
You'll need a pretty strong constitution to wrestle with the 32-ouncer at Chicago's Southeast Asia-referencing Sunda. It tips the scales with half a grilled cheese sandwich, braised pork belly, Chinese broccoli, pickled daikon, shishito peppers and roasted potatoes, a crab sushi roll, the Filipino spring roll known as lumpia and a saucy duck bao. Talk about a knockout.
Mama Betty's Bloody Mary at The Bellwether, Studio City, California
Sharing is encouraged during The Bellwether's convivial brunch hours &mdash except, that is, when it comes to cocktails. That means you're fully within your rights if you bogart your Bloody Mary, appetizingly assembled from house-infused habanero vodka, house mix, bacon salt, pepperoncini, cornichons and an adorable mini BLT.
The Brunch for Two at Party Fowl, Nashville, Tennessee
This Nashville funhouse certainly isn't guilty of false advertising when it comes to its infamous Brunch for Two. There's no reason to bother with anything else on the menu, considering this goblet-proportioned offering provides patrons with more calories than they can possibly need in a day, presented on sticks precariously stacked with fried okra, a halved avocado, Scotch eggs, olives and two split hot Cornish game hens.
The Big Fix at Flipside, Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville strikes again, thanks to Flipside, which makes a play for Party Fowl's Bloody Mary crown with The Big Fix. A dill pickle and bacon share real estate in a frosted mug with a skewer brandishing fried chicken cutlet wedges and Tater Tots, and a massive snow-crab claw is draped dramatically over the side.
The BBQ Bloody Mary at That Boy Good BBQ, Oceanside, California
That Boy Good treats its Bloodys in much the same way it approaches its low-and-slow-smoked meats. The chef whips up his own Mary mix (flavored with a dash of BBQ sauce, of course) and uses his all-purpose rub to rim the glass. Jalapeno-infused vodka joins the party, as do celery, olives, limes, pickled veggies and the coup de grâce, a hulking smoked rib.
The Motherlode Mary at Black Iron Kitchen & Bar, Telluride, Colorado
You may want to postpone hitting the slopes after you've gotten a load of the Mary at this apres-ski lounge at the Madeline Hotel. Not only is there a fair amount of vegetation involved (cherry peppers, pickled okra, haricots verts and baby corn), but it packs a protein punch, too, thanks to multiple rashers of crisped bacon and a brawny lamb slider.
The Bloody Best at The Nook, Atlanta
We've got Georgia on our minds, thanks to the awe-inspiring Bloody Best at The Nook. A 32-ounce tumbler barely contains the lava-red drink soused with black pepper vodka, to say nothing of the skewers strung with steak, Tater Tots, pepperoncini, bacon, hard-boiled eggs, beef straws and a slice of buttered toast.
The Chubby Mary at The Cove, Leland, Michigan
Seafood (in the form of oysters, shrimp and lobster) is a pretty standard addition to Bloody Marys. Yet The Cove, situated in Leland's Fishtown neighborhood, serves a Bloody that's, well, a fish out of water in a rather delectable way: A whole smoked chub rises from its brackish, horseradish- and vodka-spiked depths.
The Pizza Bloody Mary at Homeslice, Chicago
While we don't necessarily think of pizza parlors as standard brunch destinations, this quirky Chicago pie slinger is actually a brilliant option for anyone whose go-to fast breaker is a leftover, refrigerated slice. And truly, there's no better hangover cure than a spicy, tomato-rich Bloody, crowned with a chilled triangle of Hawaiian-style 'za &mdash although the accompanying Miller High Life pony might just jump-start a new buzz.
The Bloody Mary Bar at Andiron Steak and Sea, Las Vegas
Not only is Andiron's Bloody Mary bar DIY, but it's bottomless as well, meaning you can spend the better part of the day composing bespoke cocktails from bottles of original, spicy, roasted tomatillo or briny, clam-permeated juice, plus 12 salts, 21 hot sauces, and myriad bowls overflowing with Marcona almond- or blue cheese-stuffed olives, beef jerky, bacon, poached shrimp and Slim Jims. And it's up to you how heavy a hand you use with the vodka or tequila. Hey, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
The Shellfish Bloody at Luke Wholey's Wild Alaskan Grille, Pittsburgh
This seafood haven carries its under-the-sea motif straight through to brunch, gamely loading pint glass-proportioned Bloodys with everything from spice-rubbed prawns to whole, flash-fried soft-shell crabs in season, adorably adorned with two pimento-stuffed olives for eyes.
The F*%# Brunch Bloody Mary at Anvil Pub, Dallas
Anvil Pub may thumb its nose at brunch with its colorfully named cocktail, but it's only served to bolster the weekend crowds at this Deep Ellum haunt. One of four flagrantly insane tipples (the others are a breakfast sandwich-mounted mimosa, a chimichanga-capped sangria and a cinnamon roll-cloistered screwdriver), the Bloody comes reinforced with revolving toppings such as a bacon cheeseburger, beef jerky, Brussels sprouts, shrimp, asparagus, crawfish and a half-pint of PBR.
The Bloody Buck at Buck's Naked BBQ, Maine
Dry-rubbed, hardwood-infused meat finds its way into most everything at this duo of Maine-based BBQ joints. And that very much extends to the drinks menu, where margaritas, dark and stormys and, yes, piquant Bloody Marys come opulently accessorized with slow-smoked baby back ribs.
The Build Your Own Bloody at The Wayfarer, New York
The most-jaw-dropping aspect of The Wayfarer's Bloody Mary is how utterly customizable it is. In fact, it's possible to come up with well over 1,000 variations by mixing and matching ingredients from the stupendously stocked bar. Start with a base of traditional mix, tomato water or kale-enriched green juice, pick your poison from a selection of house-infused cucumber or black pepper vodka, individualize your rim with poppy and sesame seeds, smoked paprika or celery salt, and go nuts with garnishes such as shrimp, roasted tomatoes, cheddar cheese, pepperoncini and pork rinds.
The Hail Mary at Star Bar, Austin
Taking the "everything's bigger in Texas" motto to heart, Star Bar proudly proffers this veritable kitchen sink of a drink &mdash if you can even call it that. You'll need to plow your way through a cheeseburger, chicken nuggets, cheddar smoked cocktail sausages, cubes of cheddar and pepper Jack cheeses, hard-boiled eggs, pickled okra, dill pickles and gherkins, cherry tomatoes and celery, as well as powdered mini doughnuts and a full-sized honey bun, before you get to anything that can be consumed with a straw.
The Chicken Fried Bloody Beast at Sobelman's Pub & Grill, Milwaukee
Family-owned Sobelman's rules Milwaukee's Bloody Mary scene and regularly nabs national press for its 40-ounce behemoths. And while that amounts to a pretty stiff pour of Tito's, the alcohol is effectively counteracted by a serious serving of food that's more full-on brunch than mere garnish. Celery stalks and skewered vegetables are overshadowed by bacon-wrapped jalapeno cheese balls, cheeseburger sliders and (this is the "Chicken Fried" part) a whole four-pound bird, procured from Ray's Butcher Shoppe in Greenfield.
The Bloody Homer at Icehouse, Minneapolis
This may be Minneapolis, not Springfield, but we have no doubt that Homer Simpson would make Icehouse his home away from Moe's &mdash especially since his eponymous cocktail comes in a Duff-emblazoned glass, thoroughly swine-ified with both candied bacon strips and a mini, "bacon-bedazzled" doughnut. Mmmm . bacon-bedazzled doughnut .
The Bloody Mary at The French, Naples, Florida
What's in a name? Not a whole lot when it comes to The French's far-from-basic Bloody that brings a taste of France to Florida, by way of fresh-pressed tomato juice embellished with cornichons, pickled onions, salami, spicy boiled shrimp, steak tartare on a toast point and a tiny French flag.
The Bloody Best Bloody Mary at Chef Point, Watauga, Texas
Unsurprisingly, you could easily fill a list of over-the-top Bloody Marys exclusively with entries from Texas. Watauga joins the fray with this leviathan cocktail from Chef Point, based on a double order of spicy Bloody Mary plus 16 ounces of domestic beer. If that sounds like a lot of alcohol, know that it's hardly a match for the sheer amount of booze-absorbing food that umbrellas it: a portion of "Better Than Sex" fried chicken, a cheeseburger, waffle fries, bacon, a blistered jalapeno pepper, asparagus spears, assorted pickled things and a pair of poached shrimp.
The Lobster Bloody Mary at Brant Point Grill, Nantucket, Massachusetts
Bloodys brimming with hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, mac and cheese, brownies and whole fried chickens not your style? Elegant imbibers will appreciate this crustacean concoction courtesy of the Brant Point Grill at the White Elephant Hotel. It features housemade tomato juice mix, locally distilled vodka, a spicy bacon salt rim, and a quarter-pound of lobster.
The Bakon Bloody Mary Masterpiece at Sam's Tavern, Seattle
Since it's off-menu, we're letting you in on one of Seattle's best (but not all that well-kept) secrets: Sam's is home to one of the best darn Bloodys in town. It certainly doesn't hurt that it's spiked with locally made, bacon-infused vodka. But as usual in the world of out-of-bounds Bloody Marys, it's the accoutrements &mdash celery, cheese cubes, tomatoes, olives, onions, cocktail weenies and a cheeseburger slider with the works &mdash that send this drink into the brunchtime-tipple stratosphere.
The Meaty Man at The Attic, Long Beach, California
You may not expect to find something so unapologetically meat-centric in sunny SoCal, yet the folks at The Attic seem wholly unconcerned with beach-physique maintenance &mdash at least when it comes to their Bloody Mary. It's enriched with a triad of indulgent proteins: a short-rib slider perched on a house-baked bun, a rasher of thick-cut fried bacon and a Slim Jim-stuffed olive.
The Southwestern Bloody Mary at Kachina, Denver
So special it's available only on Sundays, Kachina's Southwest-inspired Bloody Mary bar is truly beautiful to behold. Sure, you'll find the usual suspects like celery and bacon, but you can really go for broke with more novel add-ins such as prosciutto, Manchego, chorizo-stuffed olives, pickled cactus, shrimp escabeche and blue corn waffles.
The Checkmate at Score on Davie, Vancouver, British Columbia
Oh, Canada! You may want to consider taking a day trip across the border for brunch, in pursuit of Score on Davie's totally off-the-wall Bloody. Boozy tomato juice is merely the base (and practically beside the point) in this eminently edible cocktail that's chock-full of roasted chicken and chicken wings, a Sriracha-glazed pulled pork slider, a hot dog topped with pulled pork mac and cheese, a full-size burger, a batch of onion rings . and, oh, a brownie for dessert.
Is there anything mac and cheese DOESN'T go with?
Mango salsa is delicious enough to be put on everything, even a hot dog. So summery!
6. Arugula Pesto and Caramelized Onions
Ummm. who knew pesto on a hot dog could look so incredible?!
7. Caramel Popcorn
Caramel popcorn. On a hot dog. With cheese and bacon. This is a thing that happened.
8. Corn Chutney
This chutney includes celery, tomatoes, honeydew melon, and dill. You'll want to eat it even without the hot dog.
9. Ramen Noodles
Who needs a bun when you could wrap your hot dog in ramen noodles?
10. Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Onions
This is just weird enough where you HAVE to try it to see how it is.
11. Celery and Blue Cheese
It's basically like eating wings, except you're not eating wings, you're eating a hot dog.
12. Crushed Salt and Pepper Potato Chips
It's basically a known fact that potato chips make everything better.
13. Cheese, Marinara, Basil, and Pepperoni
Who says you have to choose between pizza and a hot dog? Not us!
14. Pastrami and Swiss Cheese
While we're at it, who says you have to choose between a reuben and a hot dog?
15. Fried Onions and Pickled Cucumber
It's really something when fried onions and pickles are the most normal hot dog toppings on a list.
16. Muenster Cheese, Mayo, Bacon, and Avocado
Of course avocado makes a good hot dog topping!
17. Cream Cheese, Jalapeno, and Bacon
It's basically like a jalapeno popper on a hot dog wrapped in a bun.
18. Bacon, Fried Onions, and Potato Salad
I mean, you're going to be eating potato salad anyway, so you might as well put it on your hot dog instead of next to it.
French fries, cheese curds, gravy, and a hot dog. All you need for a perfect summer meal.
20. French Fries
Or you could just wrap your hot dog in French fries and leave it at that.
15 Deliciously Different Ways to Eat Cauliflower
Yes, it&aposs undercover cauliflower, caught in a dozen delicious disguises. These clever recipes replace starchy potatoes, refined flour, and white rice with delicious, nutritious cauliflower. Looking for what to cook with cauliflower? Here are a dozen ideas for cauliflower that will keep dinner interesting and exciting.
"A great way to add some zip to your cauliflower. This recipe is low-carb and resembles a loaded potato! Very unique and down right tasty!" says BOOKCHICKADEE.
"This recipe is unbelievable," says volleyballmom. "I served it to two cauliflower non-lovers and didn&apost tell them what it was until they were finished raving about it. I wasn&apost sure that straight veggies and pork was going to be enough for my big boys, so I made some rice anyways to add to the dish. The rice is now in my freezer." Also, check out these 4 easy ways to rice cauliflower in 5 minutes.
Oh, cauliflower, you&aposve outdone yourself. Among the interesting things to do with cauliflower, pizza crust must rank among the most outrageous. Now, the texture isn&apost identical to pizza crust. But this crust is delicious in its own right, and a healthier delivery system for pizza toppings. The key is to squeeze out all the moisture from the cooked cauliflower before baking.
"This is &aposwow&apos on the tongue!" says lisandreasings. "A very flexible recipe — I can see adding leftover mashed potatoes, kale, or artichoke hearts to the mix. Phenomenal with aioli garlic mustard sauce." For more, check out our 7 Best Crispy Cauliflower Cakes.
A Highly Scientific Analysis of Pineapple as a Pizza Topping
The debate has raged on for more than half a century now — is pineapple an acceptable topping on pizza?
It’s an ongoing , multi-thread argument on Reddit, a persistently insulting meme and I even got some hate for it when I ordered it as part of my investigation into the Domino’s pizza tracker . But I’m here to say that the debate ends now .
While I myself am pro pineapple on pizza, I have developed a highly scientific, unbiased method to decide if pineapple on pizza is indeed valid. I have determined five relevant areas of expertise to judge pineapple as a topping and consulted three experts in each area to give a definitive answer.
Here’s what they had to say — and the final verdict…
Pizza is Italian. While some pseudo know-it-all smartasses sometimes like to claim otherwise by saying flatbreads started elsewhere , the modern pizza was invented by Raffaele Esposito in Naples in the late 1800s. Given that, it makes sense that the first stakeholders in this debate should be traditional Italian chefs.
I first speak to Amanda Vasquez (formerly Presti), who grew up with her Italian immigrant grandparents here in the U.S. Vasquez had previously weighed in on my piece about the food in Goodfellas , and she’s very much an Italian chef in the traditional sense. When it comes to pineapple on pizza, she says, “I’m not a big fan of the flavor pairings of tomato and pineapple. I don’t like sweet flavors in general, and it’s not very traditional.”
Giuseppe Fanelli, though, owner of Tredici North in Purchase, New York, and a winner of Chopped , says that he’s pro pineapple on pizza, as long as it’s done right. “I’m a very technical chef, meaning if you’re going to apply an ingredient, it has to fit and be an accompaniment. So if you’re using pineapple, it should be pre-cooked the same day if you’re cutting it in large cubes, or it should be thinly sliced,” Fanelli says. Also, he says ham isn’t the only acceptable pairing to pineapple on pizza, as it would also pair well with porchetta or shrimp.
Hawaiian thin crust pizza
Finally, renowned pizza chef (and James Beard Award winner) Chris Bianco says he doesn’t care for pineapple on pizza, feeling there’s too much acidity with both the tomato and pineapple. But he adds, “I don’t judge people. Marry who you want, love who you want and put whatever you like on your pizza. Personally, though, I’m not a fan.”
So while Bianco says not to hate pineapple pizza lovers, he personally doesn’t approve, putting the Italian chefs group definitively in the “no” column.
PIZZA EXPERT GROUPS — FOR: 0 AGAINST: 1
Next we turn to the origins of Hawaiian pizza itself, which is as much Hawaiian as it is Italian — that is to say, not at all. Sam Panopoulos was a Greek-born chef who moved to Canada and created Hawaiian pizza in 1962 in his Ontario restaurant. Panopoulos passed away in 2017 , but lived to see what a controversy he had created. As he once explained to the BBC, “We just put it on, just for the fun of it, to see how it was going to taste. We were young in the business and we were doing a lot of experiments.”
So while Panopoulos wasn’t Italian and Hawaiian pizza certainly is more Canadian than Hawaiian, does that alone make it invalid? After all, while sausage and peppers are traditional Italian fare — and thus, an acceptable pizza topping — pepperoni was born in America by Italian-Americans, not in Italy proper, yet no one disputes its legitimacy as a pizza topping.
Greasy Hawaiian and pepperoni pizza with ham and pineapple
Given all this, I turned to food historians to “judge” the history of pineapple on pizza to determine if it’s somehow less “worthy” as a pizza topping. Julia Skinner , author of Afternoon Tea: A History , asks, “Is ‘Hawaiian’ pizza a legit kind of pizza in a truly traditional sense? Nope, probably not. Still, if you find a food that makes you happy, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.” In other words, she says no, but in a nice way, much like Chris Bianco.
That said, the remaining two food historians I spoke to gave pineapple on pizza the historical seal of approval, with Repast Supper Club host Sam Bilton saying, “Historically speaking, it was commonplace to serve sweet dishes — like tarts or creams — alongside savory pies or stews, so I don’t think pineapple on pizza is that odd in that context.”
Then there’s professor Ken Albala , an author and editor of a wide variety of books about food , who says, “All cooking is a matter of evolution. To say, here is the correct dish and other forms aren’t legitimate, would be to consign the dish to a museum and have people stop eating it. Food, like language, evolves whether people want it to or not. That’s not to say there isn’t bad pizza, but when you start saying one form is legitimate or authentic, it’s essentially meaningless. So yes, I laud pineapple on a pizza. I put it on my own pizza now and then, especially fresh, grilled and cut into little cubes.”
PIZZA EXPERT GROUPS — FOR: 1 AGAINST: 1
With the scores tied, I next turned to the most unforgiving of groups: Food critics. “I, for one, do not care for pineapple on traditional pizza because the flavors are redundant,” says Jim Mumford, blogger at Jim Cooks Food Good . He elaborates, “Each part of a pizza plays a role the crust is yeasty and gives texture, the cheese is fatty/salty, etc. When approached like this, a pizza and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich are very similar. So, in a PB&J, having two jellies is redundant, and on a pizza, having two flavors [the other being the tomato] that carry sweet/fruity notes is unnecessary.”
However, Greg Thilmont , a food critic who covers Las Vegas food and beyond, opines, “People get very factional and partisan about their pizzas. Obviously there’s the New York/Chicago roustabout that’s always going on, and then you can mix in Detroit and New Haven, too. Basically, people have their prejudices about pizza, and those are based on regionalism. Then there’s another level of pizza snobbery and Hawaiian pizza is looked down upon by many as either being child food or gauche. I was a real asshole for a lot of my life when it came to pizza, but in the last couple of years, I’ve had a couple of Hawaiian pizzas and you know what? It tastes good! Pineapple is delicious, and it’s used in meat all the time. That’s what makes al pastor so good — the pineapple, especially if it’s good pineapple, like Maui Gold pineapples. Canadian bacon can also be of high quality too.”
Given all that, Thilmont says if the ingredients are high quality, Hawaiian pizza “is a fine pizza.”
But when reaching out to food writer Gary Allen of On the Table , he decisively says, “I’m not a big fan of sweet ingredients on savory dishes like pizza,” putting the majority of the food writers firmly against pineapple on pizza.
PIZZA EXPERT GROUPS — FOR: 1 AGAINST: 2
If you’re unfamiliar with what a flavor chemist is, Wikipedia describes them as the following: “A flavorist, also known as flavor chemist, is someone who uses chemistry to engineer artificial and natural flavors.” So these guys determine taste on a microscopic level, and perhaps it’s because of this that the flavorists I interviewed were the only stakeholders with a consensus, with them all giving pineapple on pizza a scientific thumbs up.
“When we’re talking about food pairings, we’re talking about things that both reinforce flavors in each other, as well as flavors that provide contrast,” explains flavor chemist Terry Miesle of FONA International . “For example, when you put garlic on a steak, you’ve got a lot of sulfur compounds and sugars, and those reinforce the steak, but you can also taste the contrast, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to tell it’s there. With pineapple on pizza, it’s doing both of these things — it’s reinforcing and contrasting — but with different components of the pizza.”
So when it comes to pineapple and tomato sauce, Miesle says that those two are contrasting and reinforcing each other in different ways. While both are fruits that have acids, tomato sauce has lactic acid and a little bit of citric acid, while pineapple has a lot of citric acid, no lactic acid and some ascorbic acid (which is vitamin C). So while these are all acids, they’re different acids — and different tastes — so they contrast each other.
As for the pineapple and cheese, these reinforce each other in ways that aren’t obvious. Miesle explains that cheese has a fruity component to it, which is why it changes as it ages and why you can taste the difference between cheeses that age for six months, versus a year, versus 10 years. That’s also why they say cheese “ripens” just like a fruit does. Also, cheese, tomato, ham and pineapple all caramelize when heated, reinforcing that flavor throughout.
Miesle helpfully drew up a little graph to illustrate what he’s saying:
While it’s a little technical, basically, the chemicals on the left are what we as humans are evolutionarily capable of tasting and the Xs stand for intensity. As you can see, the four major ingredients that are on top of the bread all balance each other out, providing both contrast and reinforcement.
Is there, however, such a thing as too much contrast? Absolutely, and Miesle explains that that’s why some tastes come off as offensive. “Just imagine lemon on pizza,” he offers as an example. He goes on to explain that the reason why people may not like pineapple on pizza is because of personal preference, as it may provide too much contrast with the other flavors they associate with pizza.
As for reinforcement, there is such a thing as too much of that too, and Miesle says if you’ve got too much reinforcement, everything tastes the same and dull. Pineapple and ham, however, tends to balance things out, making it a sound flavor topping for pizza (go science!).
In addition to Miesle, I spoke with Gary Reineccius , professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota’s Food Science and Nutrition Department, who says, “I don’t see any scientific issues,” with pineapple on pizza, going on to explain that another thing that makes it an acceptable topping is that it holds up under heat, whereas something like avocado — also a fruit — would not.
I got the same answer from flavor scientist Susie Bautista , who also added that the texture of pineapple is another component that makes it a good topping, as it has a slight crunch to it, much like pepper and onions.
PIZZA EXPERT GROUPS — FOR: 2 AGAINST: 2
With the opinions all tied up at two groups for pineapple on pizza and two against, I turned to an indisputable tiebreaker — those whose insight into pizza is just as deep as the PhDs, scientists and historians who came before them: voice actors who have portrayed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
To my great surprise, Townsend Coleman , who portrayed Michelangelo on the original 1987 cartoon series, says (in his trademark surfer dude Mikey voice), “There are so many things that go on a pizza and pineapple is definitely not one of them. Anchovies and hot fudge, why don’t you try starting there, dude!” When he switches back to his regular voice, Coleman reiterates by saying, “Pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza — it’s sweet . You can call that something else, but it’s not pizza.”
However, Robbie Rist , who portrayed an anchovy-hating Michelangelo in the original 1990 film, says that he’s “all for it” when it comes to pineapple on your pizza.
Which brings me to Rob Paulsen , who portrayed Raphael in the original cartoon, then Donatello in the 2012 Nickelodeon series (he’s also the author of a new memoir, Voice Lessons: How a Couple of Ninja Turtles, Pinky and an Animaniac Saved My Life ). With everything left up to his tie-breaking vote, Paulsen tells me the following: “ Raphael says, ‘Pineapple on pizza is a sin against Italy — and nature! It should only be considered as a smoothie additive and an underwater home for square, pants-wearing sponges.’”
PIZZA EXPERT GROUPS — FOR: 2 AGAINST: 3
So, there you have it folks: To my great disappointment, pineapple on pizza is officially cancelled. It was a close call, but by my very scientific and democratic analysis, the “no’s” have it by just a hair.
RIP pineapple on pizza, you had a good run.
Brian VanHooker is a writer at MEL. He is the co-creator of the John O'Hurley pilot ‘The Tramp’ and co-created 'Barnum & Elwood.’ He also hosts a TMNT interview podcast.