There’s an old saying that there’s no such thing as bad pizza. I’m not sure that’s true, but even if it is, some slices are definitely better than others.
Fortunately, that’s not a concern in the Annapolis area, where terrific pizza can be found everywhere from sports bars to high end restaurants.
It’s tough to pick a favorite spot for pizza in the region; it all depends on my mood at the time. But whether I’m looking for a flatbread topped with a creative combination of locally-sourced ingredients, a classic slice of cheese or a flaky square that reminds me of childhood, Annapolis has my pizza needs covered.
Here are five places I love for pizza in and around Annapolis:
Charlie’s Bar at Mangia Italian Grill and Sports Café: My first introduction to Mangia pizza was, like many other people’s, at the end of a long evening of downtown Annapolis bar-hopping. The simple cheese slice I ate that night was delicious – and that wasn’t just the beer talking. Starting with the crust, which has been made with the same recipe for nearly 20 years, the pizza is a good one. Traditional, simple and great with a beer or without.
Fox’s Den: Tucked in a basement on Main Street, Fox’s Den has some of the best drinks in town – and some of the best pizza. I love their sophisticated toppings, but my favorite thing about Fox’s Den pizza is its chewy, charred crust.
Ledo Pizza: The first thing to know about Ledo Pizza is that it’s rectangular. No round pies here. The second thing to know is that though the chain now has locations as far south as Florida, in its heart, Ledo is a Maryland joint.
The first Ledo Pizza opened in 1955 in Adelphi, near the University of Maryland. As a kid, my family would regularly make the trek down to College Park for square slices of pepperoni and mushroom pizza. That version became my gold standard for pepperoni and mushroom. I loved its sweet sauce, flaky crust and thick slices of pepperoni (filled, naturally, with that glistening oil that makes pepperoni so good).
Today, no matter where you are in Anne Arundel County, there’s likely to be a Ledo nearby – and the pizza still tastes like it does in my memories.
Carpaccio Tuscan Kitchen and Wine Bar: Carpaccio is known for its thin-crust pizzas cooked in a brick oven. Though the restaurant offers tons of toppings, including some creative combinations (goat cheese, olives, roasted garlic and roasted peppers!), the classic margherita is a tried and true favorite.
BAROAK Cookhouse & Taproom: Over the past few years, “flatbreads” have become the new pizza, popping up on menus all over town. Though the two dishes are similar, they have some minor differences – flatbread crusts might be a little thinner than some pizza crusts and their shape will be rectangular or oval, not perfectly round, like traditional pizzas.
BAROAK’s flatbread magic starts in the crust, but it’s the unique topping combinations that set them apart from other pizzas. Crab fans should not miss the Naptown. Lump crab, charred corn, pea greens and tomatoes over lemon ricotta and mozzarella? That might not be a classic pizza combo, but it is a good one.
neo: One of the newer pizza joints in the Annapolis area, neo is all about creative combinations, like the fiery “Fuego” (topped with chorizo, jalapeno pesto and scorpion pepper aioli) and the “Downtown Philly” (a pizza-based spin on the cheesesteak).
Café Mezzanotte: This Italian restaurant has been a Severna Park community staple for decades, though in recent years, under new ownership, the kitchen has stepped up its game, with a focus on fresh, seasonal produce sourced locally.
Mezzanotte’s contribution to the pizza world comes in flatbread or pizza form. The lunch menu offers eight different options, ranging from vegetarian to meat-heavy. They’re all topped with excellent ingredients, but if you’re struggling to choose one, you can’t go wrong with Il Classico, which loads sausage, bell peppers, onions and mozzarella on a traditional red sauce.
MOD Pizza: MOD’s 800-degree gas-fired oven can cook a pizza in three minutes or less, which means that you can be in and out of the restaurant with lunch break time to spare. With mix-and-match sauces and toppings, or signature pizzas for those who prefer less choice, the restaurant offers something – and something quick – for every pizza lover.
Rams Head Roadhouse: When I was a kid, my family didn’t always drive to the University of Maryland for Ledo’s when we needed a pizza fix. Sometimes, we headed over to Generals Highway to a now-shuttered dive called Rudy’s Tavern.
My grandparents often met us there and my grandfather would, invariably, order the “garbage” pizza, which was topped with just about every option on the menu. As a little girl, I’d struggle to pick the whole thing up (I usually gave up and used a fork).
Rudy’s is long gone, but its original pizza recipe lives on at Rams Head Roadhouse, which opened in that same location. Go for gold when you’re ordering – the more toppings the better – trust me, the crust can stand up to a pile, even if my childhood hands couldn’t manage the load.
Photos courtesy of Rams Head Roadhouse and Charlie’s Bar at Mangia