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Twenty pizza joints. Dozens of toppings. Blocks of cheese. Pounds of meat. Deep dish. Sicilian. Thin crust. Thick crust. Pass the nitroglycerin tablet.

Pizza! On the hunt for the Triangle's best pies 

Clockwise from left: Bella Mia, margherita; Pepper's, pineapple and jalapeños; Mellow Mushroom, Thai Dye; Panzanella, pepperoni and olives; Frank's, eggplant, onions and cheese

Photo by D.L. Anderson

Clockwise from left: Bella Mia, margherita; Pepper's, pineapple and jalapeños; Mellow Mushroom, Thai Dye; Panzanella, pepperoni and olives; Frank's, eggplant, onions and cheese

Twenty pizza joints. Dozens of toppings. Blocks of cheese. Pounds of meat. Deep dish. Sicilian. Thin crust. Thick crust.

Pass the nitroglycerin tablet.

Over the past two weeks, our writers have traveled the Triangle searching for the perfect pizza: that rare blend of a perfectly baked crust, layers of cheese and carefully considered toppings, both meat and veggie. We also wanted to determine if the mythic quality of some pizzerias was warranted. Shockingly, pizza hype is alive and well.

Our writers graded the various aspects of the pizzas on a scale of 1 (abysmal) to 10 (spectacular) and then determined an average score. A note about the grease factor: The lower the number, the more copious the grease, which, unless you like a sheen on your palate, we consider a negative.

Vegans, it is possible to find a delicious and guilt-free pizza, as Victoria Bouloubasis demonstrates in her survey of three dairy- and meat-free pies.

Finally, choose your own pizza adventure with Emily Wallace's illustration.

If you want to go way, way back, pizza can be traced to the Persian empire when soldiers baked flat bread that was covered with cheese and dates, according to the website What's Cooking America. But Italy is thought to be the cradle of pizza: In 79 A.D., reports What's Cooking, evidence of a flat flour cake and marble slabs that portended the modern pizzeria were found in the ashes of Pompeii after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

Pizza migrated to America in the late 19th century and became widely popular in the 1950s. In fact, it was in 1958 that Annamaria's Pizza House, Durham's first pizza place, opened on the northwest corner of Sixth and B streets, the present-day intersection of Clarendon and Green.

Opendurham.org has a lovely opus about Annamaria's, which eventually moved to 107 Albemarle and closed in 1986, when the building was demolished. Damian Stamer wrote a history of the hangout, a favorite among Duke students. (The paper is in the comments on the opendurham site.)

Amedeo's, which started in 1963, is thought to be the first pizza place in Raleigh.

People tend to feel very protective about their favorite pizza—in a mama bear defending her cubs kind of way. Please feel free to disagree and tip us and our readers to your preferred pizza joint by commenting on this article or any of the Related Stories below.

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