Why pizza is perfect for travel

Is there a more delicious, family-friendly food on the go?

Let me set the scene. You’re on a dream vacation somewhere you’ve never been. It’s approaching dinner time, so you and your family begin to scour menus in hopes of finding a great spot. You quickly realize, however, that each of you have different preferences and it’s rather difficult to settle on a restaurant that can accommodate each of your desires. (Something spicy! With veggies!! Nutella!?!). Your child starts to fuss with hunger just as you feel your stomach growl too. A slight panic sets in. Then, you witness what could only be a revelation: a gleaming pizza delivered in perfect form to an outdoor table at a nearby restaurant. Welcome to the moment of realization that your search is over: pizza to the rescue!

Is Sean on our honeymoon in Paris with me or with this pizza?

These days it seems like every month celebrates one kind of food or another, so I’m not sure how much to invest in the fact that October is National Pizza Month. (When isn’t a good month for pizza?) Given its popularity, even dubbed “America’s favorite food,” I’m not sure who exactly needs a reminder to eat pizza, but if you’re looking for a reason, here you go. For me, just one bite can surface great memories of childhood and birthday parties and all sorts of fun, but over the past few years I’ve also begun to appreciate pizza as the perfect travel food.

Sharing a “veggie bomb” at Modern Apizza in New Haven, Connecticut

While it might feel silly to extol the virtues of pizza—oh, so widely beloved—I’m not sure we would’ve managed our travels without it. Generally speaking, kids (and adults!) of all ages tend to love pizza. Depending how it’s ordered (and how it’s prepared), pizza can be a relatively healthy food. Eliza usually eats more vegetables when pizza is the vehicle—and the same goes for ourselves too. (A full plate of mushrooms and peppers, not so tantalizing. But put it on a pizza, and molto buono!) Pizza tends to be particularly cost-effective and shareable, as far as dining out goes. A single pie or two can often feed a family, whereas ordering multiple entrees can add up. And can you name a more consistent, yet versatile, meal that can often accommodate a range of dietary needs, including increased availability of vegan and gluten-free options?

Dollops of pesto on a grilled pie at Al Forno in Providence, Rhode Island

As for our own travels, we’ve happily pizzaed our way around the world and there’s no chance of us stopping soon. We’ve never worried about getting tired of the same old order: Pizza around the world tends to look (and taste) pretty different, and you’ll often find pizzerias featuring different styles or regional toppings, which will naturally add a little variety into your pizza diet. If you recall our eleven food rules to live by when on the go, another way you can spruce up a sturdy standby like pizza is to add on an intriguing appetizer, decadent dessert, or flavorful local drink. And if you order too much, don’t forget to bring the leftovers home (or to your hotel room) to refrigerate, or else take your chances the next day. Whether you’re looking for your slice (or full-on pie) to be functional or full of flair, remember: there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy it—although the knife and fork fight doesn’t seem to be resolving itself any time soon.

Everyone has their own picks, but we’d find it impossible to pass up a meal at these spots:

  • Lil’ Frankie’s (19 1st Ave., New York, New York): Our downstairs-and-around-the-corner neighbors for years has a menu that’s just as delicious as it is welcoming up until 4 a.m.
  • Modern Apizza (874 State St., New Haven, Connecticut): Modern became our staple before we could test the rest of New Haven’s illustrious pizza scene. We don’t get there too often, but any time we’re driving between Boston and New York, we’re stopping. 
  • Depot House of Pizza (53 Essex St., Andover, Massachusetts): There’s no replacement for hometown heroes, and Sean’s childhood favorite has grown into a lifetime favorite.
  • Al Forno (577 S Water St., Providence, Rhode Island): Maybe we’re biased by how fresh it is in our memory, but we recently escaped for a date night together (thanks to a visit from Sean’s parents!) and experienced Providence’s legendary grilled pizza.
  • Seirinkan (2-6-4 Kamimeguro, Tokyo, Japan): One of our all-time-favorite orders was two personal pies in Tokyo. There we were, over all the way from New York, absolutely delighting over a simple marinara and margarita, the only two pizzas on their menu!
We left New York for the almost-divine delight of Seirinkan in Tokyo, Japan

These five personal favorites could well be rivaled by countless other spots around the world, but this only means we should be keeping our palates prepared for more pizza parties. We’ve recently been getting acquainted with Rhode Island red strips at our local bakeries (i.e., an approach to pizza you really can only find in the state), but we hope to be able to dine our way through Italy sometime in the not too distant future. Even though I grew up in Michigan, I’m sorry to say that we still haven’t done a deep dive when it comes to pizzaing in Chicago and I haven’t yet brought Sean to try a Detroit-style deep dish. Then, there’s the cracker-thin crust of St. Louis. And the Buffalo-style, rumored to be a peaceful meeting point between Chicago’s and New York’s crusts. But there’s also that favorite pizza pie we had in Point Reyes Station, California, and another we had in Athens, Greece, and another we had in Tallinn, Estonia, and how many favorites is it possible for us to have had in New York and—well, the list will continue to go on and on.

Before your next trip with friends or family, do yourself a favor and scout out a tasty pizzeria in advance so you’re at the ready with a solid suggestion when it feels like you can’t find a spot for everybody. And you can drop these 15 interesting facts to impress them while you wait for that perfect pie.

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