Because we’re Very Online, Step Out Buffalo has gotten its fair share of criticism. Well, probably a bit more than a fair share. Sometimes, people point out: “Why does Step Out always tell us what we *need*? All this stuff is not stuff that you need.”
Well, that’s just wrong. According to psychologist Abraham Maslow’s iconic Hierarchy of Needs, craft cocktails, charcuterie, great food from Black-owned restaurants, and yes, even a good blowout all meet the psychological need to reward ourselves for working hard; to feel a sense of accomplishment while supporting our neighbors. So there.
All this is to say, you neeeeeed underrated pizza in your life, especially now, during a global pandemic. One by one, small businesses are succumbing to financial realities and being tossed into the burn barrel. The rich are somehow getting richer as the poor are.. well you know the rest.
The biggest, most popular, most Instagram-savvy, most industry-connected pizza places will probably come out of all this okay. It’s the corner, neighborhood joints, the bright lights on an otherwise darkened strip of road that need (yes, need) well-deserved support right now.
The following list* is meant to connect you to those places, even if you already know them. For the purposes of this article, we defined “underrated” as a pizza place that maybe doesn’t get the love it deserves — even if that place is wildly popular. So yeah, places like Picasso’s, Just Pizza, Jay’s Artisan and Macy’s Place were all up for consideration.
900 Main St., Buffalo
When we’re talking about “underrated pizzerias”, we’re talking about an under-the-radar place that’s the best within about 5 miles and Lovejoy Pizza on Main Street in Buffalo easily fits that bill. Both Bocce and La Nova are a stone’s throw away, but LoveJoy is a low-key, go-to for many Allentowners and downtowners.
The standard cheese-and-pep pie features a crispy crust, zesty sauce and thicc AF cheese. It’s decadence without somehow being too greasy, not an easy trick to pull off. Rather than being Instagram ready, the specialty pies at Lovejoy mostly focus on classic Italian American ingredients: capicola, spinach, ricotta, Italian sausage and cherry peppers. Tradition over novelty.
2154 South Park Ave., Buffalo
Buttery crust and fluffy dough = luxuriousness. That crust pushes the standard cheese-and-pep above average, but specialty pies and slices like Cheeseburger and Barbecue Chicken Finger truly hit all of your pleasure zones, even the ones nobody else knows about.
This So-Buff spot also has a solid menu of Italian American classics, like lasagna and chicken parm. This is a big plus if some people in your COVID bubble are feeling pizza and some aren’t.
2210 Niagara St., Niagara Falls
Let’s face it: The Falls has a lot of good pizza. According to our Niagara County sources, Frenchy’s is seriously underrated because of good pie in working-class digs: a drop ceiling, wood paneling and a surrounding neighborhood that is straight out of a West Side Gunn song. Despite all that, Frenchy’s is a cult favorite and has massive pull in the Cataract City. It also serves up that rectangular Falls-style pizza that a lot of Buffalonians just don’t know about, but should.
2352 Sheridan Dr., Tonawanda
While we love medium-thick Buffalo style pizza in this town, sometimes you gotta switch it up and Olisi’s NY Style Pizza is massively underrated when it comes to indulging the downstate side of your pizza love affair.
Olisi’s has a big selection of slices, which, as any New Yaw-ker will tell you, is critical. Philly steak, white pizza, chicken in the grass and Buffalo chicken slices were all available on our latest visit.
Olisi’s also has tons of seating, that will hopefully go to good use someday.
5. Metro Pizza
920 Clinton St, Buffalo
Located on the fringes of Kaistertown, Metro is one of those bright lights that need your support right now. Locals know it’s the perfect go-to after Beggar’s Night – or any other night for that matter. Not super thick but “dough dominant”, the pizzas at Metro are great for soaking up alcohol and slipping into a carbohydrate coma. Also, don’t sleep on Metro’s subs and salads.
*Well, if you’ve made it this far in the article, it’s time to reveal — this list of underrated pizza spots in WNY kinda is clickbait, as all listicles are. And you fell for it. Well done us. Our metrics are slowly, slowly ticking upward.