It is hard to underestimate the ubiquity of pizza in Israel’s culinary scene. It is served not only in virtually all Italian restaurants – still the most popular foreign ethnic sector here when it comes to food – it is now on the menu of most cafés and bars as well.
It also goes without saying that, over the course of the long pandemic, pizza delivery was a lifeline during lockdowns. The big winners here were the pizzerias, both neighborhood eateries and chains, which have sprouted like mushrooms throughout the country.
In recent years, the pizza scene has even begun to take on some of the luster that now characterizes Israeli gastronomy as a whole. More and more talented chefs have chosen to specialize in artisanal pizza, and the designation pizzaiolo (pizza master) has become a badge of honor in the profession.
There are even sub-specialties now: thick-crust, thin-crust and Neapolitan. And to make sure pizza is accessible to all, vegan and gluten-free options are increasingly available.
What follows is a list of some of five of the best places to experience the delights of pizza these days, beginning with metropolitan Tel Aviv. This follows our previous look [admittedly now somewhat dated] at a dozen of Israel’s top Italian restaurants – and is the prelude to Part 2, which is planned to include locations further afield as well.
All the entries have English menus, and offer take away and/or delivery. As usual, they are not ranked, but listed in alphabetical order.
Ambiance: A small neighborhood eatery on a slightly isolated corner with a few advantages – it is just blocks from the beach, this attracting returning foot traffic at the end of each day, and without any nearby restaurant competitors. There are a few tables indoors, and larger picnic-stye ones on the sidewalk, while the place also does a brisk take-away business. Bezzo’s claim to fame: it was ranked 7th best pizza slice in the world by an international magazine.
Hours: Daily, 08.00-23.00 (serving continental breakfast in the morning, pizzas from noon)
Pizzas: The crust resembles a thick yet airy focaccia, made from sourdough that spends 72 hours rising. Unusually for a pizzeria that is not certified kosher (since it is open on Shabbat), there are no meat toppings whatsoever, and the resulting vegetarian pizza is served in squarish rectangular slices. Nevertheless, on any given day, there are eight varieties available, four of which are permanent fixtures, with a total of 16 varieties on the weekly menu. There are no gluten-free crusts, but the salad menu offers great alternatives.
Beverages: A refrigerated display case is stocked full of cans and bottles of natural juices, domestic and international beers – some quite strong and exotic – and even wines and pre-mixed cocktails.
Other menu items: Cheese balls (a mixture of three cheeses baked into a roll); baked pasta differentiated by various sauces and extras (like pizza toppings); and a sizable variety of generously portioned salads. The house desserts are tiramisu and chocolate crunch yeast cake.
Recommended: Pizza Roma (tomato, artichoke, Parmesan and mozzarella), Pizza Shifka (peppers, spinach leaves, mushrooms), and the Caprese salad.
Bezzo Pizza. Not kosher. 22 Hayarkon St. corner 9 Zerubavel St., Tel Aviv. Tel. (03) 559-5905.
Ambiance: Brooklyn is part of a well-respected pizza family in Tel Aviv, belonging to the same group that owns HaPizza and Shine [Café]. There are two branches, a veteran one on north Dizengoff and a newer one near Masaryk Square. The latter is furnished with multi-colored metal chairs and tables, largely outside on the sidewalk, while the inside space is designed like basketball bleachers. Kids love to climb here, and the whole place is particularly family-friendly.
Hours: Sun–Wed, 16.00–23:30; Thurs. 16.00–0.00; Sat., 13.00–23.30; closed Fridays. The Dizengoff branch has a similar schedule but most days closes a bit earlier.
Pizzas: As the name hints, the pizzas are true New York-style, which means unabashedly thin crust and eminently foldable. The dough (the same as in the other restaurants in the family) is purist and wholesome, containing no oil, eggs or sugar. The pizza menu comprises three categories: Vegetarian, Meat and Vegan, with a white (bianca) option in the first two. Pizzas are sold either by the slice, or as a giant tray – which feeds up to four people. There are no gluten-free options.
Beverages: Mostly soft drinks, with only two (yet notable) alcoholic drinks – imported draft beer, and a refreshing homemade frozen margarita [currently at the King George branch, coming soon to Dizengoff].
Other menu items: There no side dishes or alternatives to pizza at all. The sole exception is one dessert made from the same dough as the pizza – a nutella calzone.
Recommended: The Carnivore (with three kinds of meat); Corned Beef; and the Green Goddess (vegan, white).
Brooklyn Pizza. Not kosher. 88 King George St./276 Dizengoff. Tel. (03) 687-7748 or (03) 902-5040.
Ambiance: A funkily designed pizzeria-cum-restaurant in the heart of Tel Aviv’s trendy Florentin neighborhood. There is Indoor seating at a bar and tables, and outdoor seating at high tables, with a lively soundtrack that can be heard throughout the premises. As one of the culinary stars of southern Tel Aviv, it can get crowded. The slogan of La Tigre – which takes its name from the striped Italian pizza oven – is unforgettable: “Eat Napoli and die.”
Hours: Mon-Thurs, 17:00-01:00; Fri-Sat., 13.00-01.00; closed Sundays.
Pizzas: It is the only pizzeria in town to be a member of the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, attesting to the authenticity of the Italian origins, ingredients and products of La Tigre, whose pizza chef trained in Naples. The dough here is the result of a 72-hour process, while the 14 specialty pizzas include classic red (with tomato sauce), white (bianca) and vegan options (but none gluten-free). Before you start eating, the waitress will instruct you on cutting your whole pizza with scissors.
Beverages: The bar serves classic cocktails, but many with a twist that veers them towards the specialty category (like gin amarena). There are also Italian and French beers, both on tap and in bottles, as well as a limited but adequate list of Italian wines (all available by the glass).
Other menu items: La Tigre has a non-pizza food menu that practically rivals the main event – six Italian-inspired starters whose components could add up to a whole meal even for those abstaining from carbs. And the same goes for the desserts, which are listed on a separate menu.
Recommended: Cauliflower with caper aioli, Sweet potato brûlée (non-pizza section of the menu); the Fiamma (spinach cream) and . Carciofi (artichoke) pizzas; and the Baked Pineapple (dessert)
La Tigre. Not kosher. 9 Yedidya Frankel St., Tel Aviv. Tel. (03) 632-5359.
Ambiance: This chain has grown to encompass a large swath of central Israel, with four branches from Airport City to the Sharon. It boasts the largest premises of all the entries in this list, to match its motto of “All Day Italian” (starting with its business lunch). There is indoor and outdoor seating, and a decent soundtrack.
Hours: Daily, 12.00-23.00.
Pizzas: There are no fewer than 12 specialty pizzas, including the basic Porto, on which you may add many of the traditional toppings. What sets these pizzas apart is the fact that all may be ordered with gluten-free crust and/or vegan cheese.
Beverages: There is a full-page Drinks menu comprising three sections: Cocktails (classic and specialty), Wine (red, white and rosé, all available by the glass) and Beer – one imported brew on tap, and three interesting ones in bottles (including gluten-free!).
Other menu items: Pizza Porto boasts the most comprehensive menu of any on this list, with four substantive non-pizza sections on the menu: Antipasti (Appetizers), Salads, Principale (Main Courses) and Pasta (once again, all with gluten-free and vegan options).
Recommended: Arancini (antipasto); Bacon Pizza (from smoked goose breast), Breakfast Pizza (with sunny side up fried egg); Cheesecake (dessert)
Pizza Porto. Not kosher. 93 Sokolov St., Ramat Hasharon (plus three more branches), Tel. (03) 800-0888.
Ambiance: The restaurant sits in a desirable location on a key corner in Levontin, with diners at tables inside enjoying the wafting aroma of delicious pizza slices, while others may sit in the pleasant al fresco area (heated in winter). It is self-service when ordering, and the wait staff is friendly and efficient.
Hours: Daily, 12.00-0.00.
Pizzas: The Roman-style – i.e., focaccia-like crust – pizza, conceived by gourmet Chef David Frankel, is made (in the restaurant’s own words) with “selected flours, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt [and] endless toppings…” Indeed, what distinguishes SuperPizza is the emphasis on sourcing premium imported cheeses and meats for the toppings, which are piled high on each rectangular slice. On any given day, there are at least 21 varieties of pizza to choose from. Occasionally, there are also fun double-crust pizza “sandwiches.” There are limited vegan (but no gluten-free) options.
Beverages: A nice range of imported Italian soft drinks, beers and wine. Noteworthy is the draft Peroni, which is sold at the “happy hour” 1+1 price all day-long.
Other menu items: A rather limited selection of salads – either burrata (also called antipasto) or Caesar – and desserts that are constantly rotating, but usually include tiramisu.
Recommended: Anything smothered with the outrageous variety of delicious, imported smoked meats/charcuterie. A good vegetarian option is the potato cream under a layer of crumbled feta cheese and green onion.
SuperPizza. Not kosher. Levontin St. 19, Tel Aviv. Tel. (03) 743-4499