When people think about Alabama, pizza may not come to mind.
Barbecue? Of course. Fresh seafood? Yep. But pizza? Many critics scoff and say you can only find good pizza in places like New York City, Chicago and Detroit.
But those critics are wrong, because there are places all over Alabama that serve some seriously delicious ‘za. It would be easy to make a list of 100 Alabama pizzas you should try, just saying.
But for the sake of brevity, I narrowed it down to five pizzas you should try. I tried to include a little bit of everything. There are the crowd favorites (the Sticky Fingers at Terry’s Pizza), the unique one (Soul Pie at Slice) and the pizza you should get while on vacation at the beach (the Chicken Club at Papa Rocco’s).
Now, let’s get down to business.
Soul Pie at Slice Pizza and Brew
725 29th St. S., Birmingham and 3104 Timberlake Drive, Vestavia Hills
If you’re looking for a unique pizza, then you should make your way to Slice as soon as possible. The popular Magic City pizzeria serves some of the most unique slices you’ll ever try – and they’re all made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
There’s the Lakeview pizza, which is topped with horseradish sauce, roasted cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions, shaved red onions, asiago and arugula. There’s the Wing and a Prayer, which is piled with ranch dressing, red and green onions, blue cheese crumble, bacon, braised chicken and tomatoes. You can’t go wrong with either of these choices.
But the most unique – and most surprisingly delicious – ‘za at Slice is the Soul Pie. The crust is topped with black-eyed peas, Conecuh sausage, turnip greens, bacon, grilled onions, and pepper jack and cheddar cheeses. None of these ingredients seem as though they should work on a pizza, but they do. Just give it a shot.
Extra Special Pizza at Mata’s Greek Pizza and Grinders
1708 Quintard Ave., Anniston
Chances are, when you get to Mata’s, you’ll have to wait in a long line to order. The wait is worth every second and more. That’s because the pizzeria serves some of the best pizza around – and many (including me) say it’s the best in the state.
Mata’s, which has been open since 1980, serves some seriously impressive pies, but since you can’t try them all at once, you should order the Extra Special Pizza. This pie is a must-try: It consists of onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and black and green olives, which are sprinkled with feta cheese then smothered in lots of white cheddar cheese. And I mean a lot of cheese, y’all. It’s like going to cheese heaven.
Remember while ordering that the pizzas at Mata’s aren’t like most of the other pizza joints: The toppings are piled so high on the thick crust that one piece will go a long way. Not that you’ll mind leftovers.
Sticky Fingers at Terry’s Pizza
7900 Bailey Cove Road SE Unit A, Huntsville
If you grew up in the Rocket City, you probably have fond memories of Terry’s Pizza. The local chain was a Huntsville landmark, and it was the first place that many people tried pizza for the first time. It opened in 1959 and closed in 2006 because of the death of the owner, Lou Pejza.
Luckily for Rocket City natives, the owner of local grocery chain Star Super Markets bought the recipes and started selling the pizzas at his stores. And even more luckily, a brick-and-mortar Terry’s Pizza opened in 2018 so people could get the full restaurant experience while eating their pizza.
While you’re at Terry’s, you must try the Sticky Fingers, which is one of their signature pies. The crust is stacked with mushrooms, sausage, pepperoni and extra cheese, and it’s a flavor explosion. Take one bite and it’s pretty obvious why it’s a customer favorite. And if you’d like, you can order the Sticky Fingers pie as a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.
The Aretha’s Franklin at Pie Factory
Locations in Florence, Muscle Shoals and Jasper
The Shoals area is known for its musical heritage. Legends from the Rolling Stones to Bob Seger to Aretha Franklin have recorded in the river region.
When the Pie Factory opened in Florence in 2013, they paid homage to that musical heritage and the area’s history while naming some of the pizzas after musicians. You’ll find the Muscle Shoals Sound pie, which is a feast of hot sauce, double pepperoni and mozz piled on top of a thin-style crust. You’ll definitely enjoy that one.
But our favorite Shoals-named pizza has to be the Aretha’s Franklin. It’s a ranch-based pie topped with red onion, hot sauce, chicken, gorgonzola, jalapenos and chives. I normally don’t like jalapenos on pizza, and I loved this one. My dining companion normally doesn’t like chicken on pizza, and she loved it. It’s just a good pizza, period.
Best of all, Pie Factory has expanded to Muscle Shoals and Jasper, so you can enjoy these pies in even more places across Alabama.
The Chicken Club Pizza at Papa Rocco’s
101 W. 6th Ave., Gulf Shores
I know “the beach” probably doesn’t pop into your head when you think about pizza. But maybe it should, because Papa Rocco’s has some seriously fun pizza – and an even better atmosphere.
The popular Gulf Shores bar bills itself as the “home of warm beer and lousy pizza,” so immediately you know they don’t take themselves too seriously. There’s usually live music every night and photos of famous guests dot the wall – you’ll find pictures of folks like Mike Ditka, Tom Brady and Kenny Stabler. Plus, you’re just a walk away from the sandy white sands of the Gulf beach. It doesn’t get much better than that.
If you’re in the seafood mood because you’re at the beach, there are seafood pizza options. But since pizza is a comfort food, why not go for the ultimate comfort food by ordering the chicken club pizza? The hand-tossed crust is topped with alfredo sauce, chicken, mozzarella, tomatoes, bacon bits and spinach, and it’s super delicious.