What is YOUR favorite pizza place in Greater Manchester?
He was a man named Evandro Barbieri who first brought pizza to Manchester back to the early 1970s. First working in the kitchens of the Midland Hotel, he went on his own and opened Bella Island on Booth Street in 1970, quickly followed by Bella Napoli in 1973.
People lined the streets for a table at his restaurants, eager to try this brand new cuisine of pasta and pizza – a far cry from the usual high tea most people had every day back then. Chips and Egg, Spam Fritters and the occasional Chicken kyiv were about as exotic as most dinner plates at the time, so when Barbieri came to town people went a little crazy.
Over the next few decades, Manchester was pretty quiet on the pizza front, with the occasional exciting new opening taking the pre-party crowd by storm (CROME) and not much else. If you wanted pizza, a visit to your local Italian restaurant was necessary, or the local kebab shop.
It wasn’t until about 8 years ago that the ‘pizzeria’ became a force to be reckoned with in the city as a string of casual venues began to arrive. There was Slice on Stevenson Square (which are now at Oxford Road Station), Crazy Pedro who launched their own “part-time” spot for pissed off revelers and of course – by Rudy in Ancoats.
Since then, we’ve seen all kinds of types and toppings in our pizzas, from New York to Detroit, from African-inspired to famously meme-created Shrek’s Pizza – which, unfortunately, was not worthy of the internet’s prolonged hype and obsession. Italian Roma, Indian calzones, vegan, all-you-can-eat and even Anglo-Saxon pizzas – Manchester has it all.
As is now customary with these pieces, I’ll start at the bottom of the list of your favorite pizzerias, reviewed and suggested by our Facebook followers. As is also the case, there were some rather odd responses to the question, with as many as 50 people proclaiming “ME— as if their homemade efforts were as good as the ones on this list here.
A lot of people put ‘ASDA‘ as an answer and while I really rather enjoy an ASDA build your own pizza on a Friday night, they seem to overlook Manchester’s Finest’s preference for championing local independents.
There was also a follower who took the time to write “No idea” as an answer, thanks for that, and another guy who said “Your mother“. Now my mom can make nasty Bacon Butty but pizza – she’s terrible – so sorry about that one. Good try though.
I’ll start with a few pizzerias that you might be surprised not to have received more recommendations from, including the excellent Michele’s Antica on King Street, which is often nicknamed “The best pizzas in the world” due to the strength and popularity of its Naples branches, and Pizza Cugini – run by three cousins in Bolton – first in their aunt’s garden and now at Edgworth Cricket Club.
Also down here is Pickle Ricks – a Rick & Morty themed New York pizzeria in Hazel Grove (and well worth a visit), as well as the reddish favorite I knead the pizzawhich has recently secured its own place in the inner city urban village of Hatch, and will soon be opening a new Italian restaurant in Heaton Moor called The Bourbes.
Finally, and we’re still at number 10 here, is RAMONE and their big slices of Detroit (with the warm honey dip of course) and lucky mom who recently opened their own brick-and-mortar location in Chorlton and are pioneering an exceptional menu that brings together influences from Senegal, Spain and Chile.
Alright, the next step at number 9 is Crazy Pedro, one of the pioneers of today’s pizza resurrection in the city and boasting some seriously crazy toppings. Right now they have a special Nando’s pizza on the menu, loaded with Peri Peri Chicken, Spicy Fries, Halloumi, Peas and a special Peri Peri Mayo. Available all night until 4am – Pedro’s is the perfect place for pizza while you’re getting hammered – and they seem to be doing pretty well. If you find yourself in there and feeling peckish, I will always recommend their “Mac Daddy” which is basically a Maccies Big Mac on pizza.
The next step is double zero in Chorlton, who have been impressing for the past few years with their Neapolitan pies and popular BYOB policy. It’s rare to find this place not crowded, with people flocking from far and wide to get a taste of their full menu and topping combinations. Wood-fired and cooked in seconds, they’re exactly how they should be: crispy, moist and absolutely covered in cheese.
Another Neapolitan favorite is Ciaooo on Swan Street, which comes in at number 7. Located in what could be the Northern Quarter, or possibly Ancoats – don’t call it that either. I think it’s highly likely that you’ve seen pictures of the pizzas here at Ciaoo at some point in your time on social media – because these pies look absolutely unreal. With regular monthly specials, usually with extravagant and imaginative toppings such as their current Mac & Cheese special (topped with burrata) or their wild boar salami topped with fried zucchini, sausages and burrata. They are very compatible with Instagram, but unlike some places, they also get away with the goods in real life.
Finally at number 6 is Bakery32 in Stretford, a relative newcomer to the city’s pizza scene, but a joint that made quite an impression and gained very loyal customers during this time. Their mix of New York and Neapolitan style pizzas really put them on the map; big, thin, crispy but also chewy – it’s the best of both worlds and this place around the corner from my house has NOT been kind to my double chin. The Hot Honey Pepperoni is a highlight, as is their Burnt Basque Cheesecake for afters.
Now on to the top five, and there are a few surprises here. But also, no surprise at all…
A huge SOCIETY favorite and set to open his own Prestwich spot any day now, Dokes comes from the brain of Michael Clay who also owns Elnecot, and once you know it, it all makes sense. Elnecot has championed the best of British produce for years, and that’s something that continues with Dokes, coined as ‘Anglo-Saxon’ pizza because of the long list of British ingredients that go into each one. You’ll find Welsh chorizo, Wilshire truffles, British burrata and hot Saddleworth honey on these exceptional pies – and Michael is always on the lookout for new produce and combos to add to the menu.
Bursting onto the scene in 2019 with their own gaffe in Failsworth, the Corner Slice team recently expanded their operations to include a dark kitchen downtown – opening up their exceptional Detroit pies to even more of us, hungry pizza-ficionados. Detroit pizza means those huge slabs of dough and cheese are cooked to perfection in blue steel metal containers – which Corner Slice imported from the United States of America. They’ve taken over Jimmy’s kitchens in Ancoats for the summer, so if you want one go.
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These New York-style pizzas are available as a huge 22-inch pie, alongside their traditional 14-inch and slice at Nell’s new stand-alone restaurant and Slice Bar in the KAMPUS development on Canal Street. Nell’s has become extremely popular in a short time, helped by very good marketing during the COVID pandemic, as well as the quality of their pizzas. Oh and their £7.77 lunch deal is very hard to beat.
A huge surprise here, but probably not for its many loyal lovers and fans – Cibus Pizza in Levenshulme. This place caught our eye in 2019 when owners Marco & Giorgio opened a little pop-up on Saturday afternoons outside Electrik in Chorlton. At the time they operated upstairs at Fred’s Ale House in Levenshulme, as well as regular spots at Levvy Market. They now have their own restaurant right next to the Union Inn, continuing that established quest for exceptional pizza, with an additional menu of pasta dishes and small plates.
Of course, Rudy’s is number one. It has to be the least surprising result since Red Rum showed up at the 1979 Grand National wearing roller skates. Starting life as a small pizzeria in the newly transformed Cutting Room Square in Ancoats in 2015, Rudy’s has since been the catalyst that has grown and shaped the town’s pizza landscape, from the Neapolitan tart boom to huge deliveries during lockdown. They were voted the 10th best pizza in the WORLD in 2019 and their growth continues, with new locations in Sale, Chorlton, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Soho, Sheffield and soon on Portland Street in the city centre.