What's the best pizza in Jerusalem? Tasting a slice of the holy city

In Jerusalem proudly brings to you a roundup of some of the best pizza places in the city. And yes, they are all kosher.

 Anthony's Pizza (photo credit: NOA ROSEN)
Anthony's Pizza
(photo credit: NOA ROSEN)

Jerusalem is the biggest city in the country with an incredibly diverse population, home to native Israelis, as well as any number of immigrants and expats from communities all over the world. 

Naturally, a city this diverse has a culinary tradition that is equally varied. A truly beautiful and gastronomically euphoric multicultural melting pot.

But I’m American, so I also look for American food. And truly, is there any food more quintessentially American than the humble pizza? Yes, a dish built of thousands of years of somewhat similar Greek, North African, Persian and Jewish dishes that all culminated into something made in the Italian city of Naples but will forever be associated with the phrases “New York-style” and “Chicago deep dish.” There really is nothing more American than this.

And as an American, I will of course be in a city thousands of kilometers away from my country of birth to sample the same food I would get from the diner down the street from me. 

Joking aside, I am not alone in being an enthusiast of pizza in Jerusalem. Pizza has happily been embraced by Israelis over the years – which makes sense, considering this dish has a global reach and can be found anywhere. 

 Mystic Pizza (credit: NOA ROSEN) Mystic Pizza (credit: NOA ROSEN)

But we Americans will always hold pizza in a special place in our hearts as a food that we, for some reason, think is special and unique to us. But that aside, Jerusalem has plenty of English speakers living here, including from the good old USA. Some live here full-time; some only come for the year for yeshiva, seminary or another gap-year program; and others may just be here on vacation. 

Regardless of why you’re here, for many Americans there is no better cure for homesickness than sitting down somewhere for a good slice of pizza. The question “What is the best pizza place in Jerusalem?” is surely on the minds of many of you.

Now, some things that must be considered when it comes to pizza in Jerusalem are specifically the presence of certain well-known names.

By far, the single most famous pizza place in Jerusalem is Big Apple Pizza. Meant to be classic New York-style pizza, the Big Apple chain has several different eateries throughout the city – and some outside of it. For English speakers in Jerusalem, it is downright iconic and often flocked to by Anglos of all stripes. 

Other places to consider are two other chains – Pizza Hut and Pizza Shemesh. 

Pizza Hut is arguably the biggest pizza chain in all of Israel, and there are locations throughout the country. They even have one in Ramallah. 

Pizza Shemesh is a bit different. This brand is entirely Israeli and therefore frequented more by native Israelis than Anglos. It is and also very widespread,  rivaling Pizza Hut in distribution and locations. It also stands out for another reason – the pizzas are very inexpensive.

However, this article will not cover these three pizzerias. They all have achieved such a dominant presence here that covering them isn’t needed. No, this article will discuss a selection of other pizza places that can be found in Jerusalem.

Another thing to note is that this will focus only on pizzerias, not restaurants that also offer pizza. There are many places like this, usually Italian restaurants or cafés that include pizza on their menus. No, this will cover only places that center on pizza. They can have other things on their menu too, but pizza has to be the real, main attraction.

And with that out of the way, In Jerusalem proudly brings to you a roundup of some of the best pizza places in the city. And yes, they are all kosher.

Pizza May, 5/10

Full disclosure, I started with this place because I happen to live very close to it. Tucked into a corner on Hapalmah Street, Pizza May is a classic American-style pizzeria with ample room to sit down and eat. 

So naturally, I ordered a plain pizza (NIS 80).

One notable thing about it is that for those interested in watching the pizza be prepared and baked, this may be for you. 

Pizza May pizzas aren’t showy, but they are visible. Everything from the rolling of the dough to placing the sauce and cheese on to sliding it in and out of the oven is easily seen from anywhere in the pizzeria. 

Unfortunately, however, the quality of the pizza itself isn’t that good. The flavor was on the blander side, and the crust was at times a bit too chewy. 

One thing that did help, though, was the added spices and sauces – something Israeli pizzerias love providing on the side.

Overall, I’d give it a 5/10.

 Buchman’s Pizza (credit: SARA REICH) Buchman’s Pizza (credit: SARA REICH)

Buchman’s Pizza, 5.5/10

This pizza place is a bit more unique. 

Having lived in Modi’in for several years, I was familiar with the Buchman’s pizza brand, and I have very positive feelings toward it. I still remember enjoying a delicious slice every Friday with my family before Shabbat.

Naturally, I couldn’t ignore the brand’s Jerusalem location when doing this list. 

Located in Talpiot, Buchman’s pizza has a more unusual style of pizza, with the pies being rectangular as opposed to circles. This implies more of a Sicilian style compared to the more classic New York-style pizzas. For this article, I again chose the plain option (NIS 64).

So how was it?

Right away, it was clear that the dough was way too chewy, and the sauce was severely lacking.

The pie was also very inconsistent. Some parts of the pie had thicker dough, while others were thinner. Some parts had more sauce and cheese, others had less. 

One positive side to it was the flavor, which was very good – even if it was a bit weak at times. Some extra oregano may have helped a lot.

I wasn’t very happy about this, but I thought maybe it was a one-off mistake. Unfortunately, as I learned when ordering delivery, it wasn’t.

 Buchman’s Pizza (credit: NOA ROSEN) Buchman’s Pizza (credit: NOA ROSEN)

Not only did the delivered pizza have the same issues, but the pizza also came with the cheese almost completely smudged off and stuck on the top of the box. Evidently, they neglected to include one of the little plastic tables on top of the pizzas that keeps this from happening.

But the flavor is still good, even if it’s a bit weak. 

 Mystic Pizza (credit: NOA ROSEN) Mystic Pizza (credit: NOA ROSEN)

Mystic Pizza, 6.7/10

This quaint pizzeria is on Harav Herzog Street and boasts both a diverse menu and a track record going back some 30 years.

They have pizzas, they have pastas, they have salads, they have desserts – and some of these desserts in particular are really fantastic. Really, if you’re hungry, chances are that Mystic Pizza will have something you like – assuming you don’t have any dietary restrictions aside from kashrut.

But having said that, we aren’t here to rank desserts. We’re here for pizza! And as the name implies, Mystic Pizza still puts pizza front and center as the true core of the menu. With that in mind, we ordered a nice plain pizza from here, too (NIS 69). So, how was it?

Overall, 6.7/10. The pizza itself was good and all, but it had some glaring issues. 

In particular, the biggest problem was the crust. Eating it had some sort of weird lingering taste that I’m not sure how to describe. 

However, it was still good – just not particularly so. There are several far better options available. 

Craft, 7/10

This pizza place has two locations in the city. The first is in the Mahaneh Yehuda shuk. This location is rather small – but that isn’t too surprising for eateries inside the crowded market. The second place is much larger, located on Shlomzion Hamalka Street. It is much bigger and is a better place to sit down and eat.

From this one, I decided to order a regular plain pie (NIS 55). After all, when it comes to classic New York-style pizza, you can’t really go wrong with plain. 

So how did this one stack up? 

Right away, there are some wonderful positives to Craft’s pizza. Firstly, the crust and dough were phenomenal. It may not be as good as New York pizza, but it certainly is a strong enough selling point. It also has quite a nice “flop” to it. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, “flop” refers to when you hold the pizza slice up, and the front half will flop down a bit with nothing supporting it

The flop actually is indicative of a lot of things. With New York-style pizza, the dough is very thin, and that makes it sensitive to the heat of the oven. If the slice doesn’t have a flop at all, it was probably overdone. If there is too much of a flop, then it was underdone

Craft’s flop was well within that golden area of an ideal flop. 

Having said that, there were some downsides to it. The tomato sauce was lacking in flavor, and the cheese wasn’t doing a good enough job of picking up the slack. That being said, the sauces and spices on the side that pizza places love to provide helped make up for it. Overall, 7/10.

 La Piedra (credit: EMILY ANFANG) La Piedra (credit: EMILY ANFANG)

La Piedra, 4/10 or 8/10

This was probably my biggest shock when doing this article.

La Piedra is notably not a New York-style pizzeria. It’s Italian style. Located on Gershon Agron Street right by Paris Square – also very close to the Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street –  this place has a lot going for it.

Even though the restaurant is rather small with about 20 seats inside, outdoor seating is also available.

The atmosphere is lovely, with the hanging lights and decorations giving the entire place a warm and welcoming feel.

Adding to that is the fact that the service here is excellent. The staff is topnotch and all speak English, something that is no doubt helpful with all the American gap-year students at the Conservative Yeshiva across the street. Not only that, but La Piedra is right next to a Shufersal that has paid parking. And while paid parking can be annoying, it’s still a welcome sight in a city infamous for its sheer lack of parking options.

In summation, this is the perfect location for a date night or a family outing, or just eating dinner with friends.

The place also boasts a menu with a variety of pizzas and some other foods – trust me, try the mozzarella sticks. They’re worth it.

Sure, the pizzas are somewhat small and expensive, considering their size, but they are fantastic nonetheless. I’ve had several of their pizzas in my time in Jerusalem, the White Forest pizza (NIS 72) in particular being incredible. 

But I tried being more limited to plain pizzas to keep everyone on an even footing, so this time I wanted to sample the Margherita pizza (NIS 55). 

However, since I had been to the place several times already, I figured I’d try ordering a home delivery this time. 

This is where I got my shock.

First things first, the pizza was cold. Secondly, the pizza was unsliced. I couldn’t believe it.

Determined, I decided to reheat it and then sliced it myself. Afterward, I eagerly took a bite but was in for even more disappointment. 

The dough was very chewy – in fact, it was even somewhat soggy – and the crust was no better. The cheese and sauce had little to no flavor, either. It was incredibly disappointing.

But I know La Piedra is better than this, and this doesn’t change my view of it. This pizza may have been a 4/10, but it normally is an 8/10 experience. I still recommend La Piedra to anyone – just make sure you eat there and do not get delivery.

 Bardak pizza (credit: AARON REICH) Bardak pizza (credit: AARON REICH)

Bardak Pizza Bar, 9/10

I finally took the time to go to Bardak on Keren Hayesod, which may have one of the most interesting gimmicks as far as the menu goes.

The menu has a wide range of pizzas, but what makes it interesting is that they are each named after different neighborhoods in Jerusalem, with each bearing different toppings and spices and more.

Since this is clearly the restaurant’s central gimmick, I broke from the norm and tried one of the specialty pies. I chose to order the Rassco pizza (NIS 89). Also known as Givat Havradim or Rose Hill, this is a beautiful neighborhood, and the pizza was certainly something unique for the eyes.

This pizza featured garlic confit, a mix of spices and antipasti, and bite-sized bits of vegetables like sweet potato distributed throughout the pie. These were very small pieces of vegetables, and it would seem at first glance that they wouldn’t be overpowered by everything else, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Rather, the small pieces were incredibly flavorful and balanced out with everything.

Surprisingly, the pizza sauce was sweet. That isn’t something everyone will love, but I certainly did. 

After that came the spicy aftertaste, gradually increasing as you eat more to round off this delight with a pleasant kick. And then there’s the dough – which was perfect. Like Craft pizza, Bardak’s pizza had a perfect flop. 

That isn’t to say it was entirely perfect, however – it definitely could have used a bit more cheese. Plus it was also on the pricier side. But still, in terms of sheer quality, it was topnotch. An easy 9/10.

 Anthony’s Pizza (credit: NOA ROSEN) Anthony’s Pizza (credit: NOA ROSEN)

Anthony’s Pizza, 10/10

I had heard of Anthony’s Pizza, but this was the first time I had the chance to actually go, and I was not disappointed. 

To better clarify, it was absolutely mind-blowingly incredible. 

Anthony’s Pizza is on Shoshan Street and has quite a few places to sit down and eat. Each table comes equipped with Tabasco sauce, in case you want something really spicy.

There were quite a few things on an incredibly diverse menu. One of my dining companions specifically called out the tomato soup as being fantastic. 

I was told in advance that I should try one of the more obscure pizzas, one with potatoes and blue cheese. While I’m sure it would be amazing, I instead went with the regular Margherita pizza (NIS 54) – and I did not regret it.

I’ll begin with the crust. It was fresh and wonderful. Easy to eat, not too chewy and not too tough. 

The sauce was great too, balanced and evenly distributed and overall satisfying.

But then there is the cheese. This is where it really shines. The cheese had an incredible pull, and its flavor and texture complemented the crust, dough and sauce perfectly.

There’s just something about this cheese that makes it so incredible. 

But, of course, not everything could be perfect. Specifically, the service I experienced at Anthony’s was terrible. It took forever for them to take my order or bring the check – and I never even ended up getting the garlic bread I ordered, though they didn’t charge me for it, thankfully.

But in terms of the pizza itself, this may just be the best Jerusalem has to offer.

Of course, there are many more pizza places in the city than just the ones listed here – and that’s not even mentioning the many non-kosher ones as well. So don’t limit yourself to just where I ate. Go out and experience pizzas too.  I assure you, there are no shortages of places in Jerusalem to enjoy. ❖