Pizza is the ultimate crowd-pleaser. A good one wins total devotion, but a declaration of "the best" one can spark civil unrest. So, at the risk of starting a pizza war, we've named our top five, but we've also added a few specific-needs knockouts to help keep the pizza peace … and because five just isn't enough in a city so seduced by the slice!
THE TOP FIVE
Sydney's best authentic Neapolitan-style pizza
Shop 3, 141 Longueville Road, Lane Cove 9428 3297
It really is becoming "Via" Napoli, as Luigi Esposito's much-loved pizza heaven expands shop by shop to take over a whole block. Sublime pizza by the metre and an epic loyal following means you can never have too much space.
Shop 9, 417-421 Bourke Street, Surry Hills 9332 3633
The authentic, utterly delicious pizza here gets the seal of approval from the Verace Pizza Napoletana, and from hordes of Sydney pizza lovers too. The margherita is hard to beat.
1/248 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst 9332 3766
Lucio is the constant comfort of Darlo's Republic 2 courtyard, serving up top-quality, authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, plus the crowd-pleasing "Lucio" – half-calzone, half-pizza.
379 King Street, Newtown 9557 2224
All polished concrete, street-art covered walls and loud pizza-loving crowds – it's Naples, Newtown style. Keep an eye on the blackboard for tempting seasonal specials.
261 Bronte Road, Charring Cross 9090 2089
The next best thing to an Italian holiday might well be Vacanza's lovely puffy-crust pizze (try the baby arancini, too). There's also a branch in Surry Hills.
You'll find terrific calzone – the half-moon-shaped folded pizza – at any of our top five pizzerias. The half ham-and-ricotta calzone, half margherita pizza offering at Lucio is justifiably famous. Another must-try is La Casa's polpette calzone, stuffed with oozy fior di latte and "Mamma's" meatballs, topped with a splash of bright, tomato-sweet red sauce.
271 Lyons Road, Russell Lea 9712 3882
PIZZA FOR KIDS
To say kids love pizza is an understatement. Lily's is a sprawling space that caters well for big groups and kids (high chairs, kids menu, baby change facilities) and the pizza gets the junior tick of approval.
Meanwhile, the kids at stalwart pizzeria Frank's are with parents who ate at Frank's when they were kids. The decades-old restaurant moved to a new site a few years ago, but the pizza – non-fuss, wolf-it-down fare – hasn't changed between generations and nor, we suspect, have the prices.
162 Prospect Highway (entry via Quinn Ave), Seven Hills 8818 5555
137 Parramatta Road, Camperdown 9519 3404
PIZZA FOR ADULTS
And then there's the pizza-with-drinks option that tends to work better sans kids. Pair a margherita with a margarita while you soak up the view and laidback vibe at Hugo's Manly, or head to the newer packed-out and pumping Frankie's Pizza bar, where pizza and booze is an all-hours option.
Manly Wharf, East Esplanade, Manly 8116 8555
50 Hunter Street, Sydney
It seems most cultures have a version of pizza (we'll leave it to you to debate which came first; some say the Greek pita). Lebanon's flatbread "pizza" – manakish – might be topped with minced lamb, tomato and onion (lahembajin) or simply with zaatar and olive oil. One of each at low-key Monoosh is a bargain at less than a tenner.
Sahara does the familiar fresh-baked folded Turkish pide, but the "Isparta", named for a city in Turkey, is an Italian interloper, flat-out and topped with chargrilled eggplant, tomato and mozzarella.
170 Enmore Road, Enmore 9550 6606
Westfield Shop 2185, 159-165 Church Street, Parramatta 9687 7898
LOW/NO GLUTEN PIZZA
Gluten-free pizza bases are becoming easier to find – although it's always wise to phone ahead to check. At Ventuno, you can get gluten-free pizza and a lovely water view to boot. Agape – the restaurant and spin-off food truck – uses spelt for its pizza bases. The good-for-you ancient grain is low in gluten and has a nutty flavour.
1385 Botany Road, Botany 8668 5777
21 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay 9247 4444
The genius combo of Nutella and pizza is, happily, not too hard to find in Sydney's pizzerias. One of the best versions is at Rosso Pomodoro, where it's served as a calzone with roasted flaked almonds.
Mario's, a popular suburban pizzeria, has three dessert pizza options: apple, Nutella and banana – the latter a tropically inspired calzone with honey-sweetened base, banana filling and topping of vanilla gelato and desiccated coconut.
Shop 90-91, 24 Buchanan Street, Balmain 9555 5924
81 Edwin Street, Croydon 9797 8326
Try Roman-style pizza al taglio (by the slice) at the new Cipro, 21 Fountain Street, Alexandria
ON THE HORIZON
Rumour has it, the crew behind Redfern's Milk Bar are set to open a pizza joint in the same 'hood. Watch this space …
What's your favourite place for a pizza in Sydney? Jump on the comments and share your recommendations.
Angie Schiavone is the editor of The Sydney Morning Herald's Good Food Under $30 Guide.