“YOU CAN’T SEE everything, but you can try,” is a common traveler mantra. My personal mantra happens to be, “You can’t have every pizza in the world, but you can try.” And I have tried. Whenever I visit a new country I make a point of ordering at least one pizza, usually to the confusion and annoyance of my travel companions. There is much to be said for sampling the local fare, but pizza aficionados know the gratification of finding a truly sublime pie in a surprising place. Here are 5 unexpected places in Europe to find great pizza.
Coincidentally, I found one of the best Hawaiian pizzas I’ve ever had in the country whose president suggested a ban on Hawaiian pizza. Kirkjubæjarklaustur is a small town just off the Ring Road in the southeast of Iceland, and their lone restaurant, Systrakaffi, boasts a fantastic Hawaiian pizza. I realize this may put me at odds with many in the pizza-eating community, as the “pineapple on pizza” debate is as contentious as ever, but even my skeptical friend admitted (begrudgingly) he was happy he tried a slice. While you’re there, walk off the calories at Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, just a 5-minute drive from town. The rolling hills and quiet pastures make for a nice after-dinner stroll.
Pizza might seem out of place on a table set with corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, shepherd’s pie, and soda bread; but that’s not to say the Irish can’t throw their hat in the ring. The Dough Bros are a local Galway staple, specializing in wood-fired artisan pizza, and a favorite of students from the local university. If you don’t mind a little spice, try “The Tandoori”, which looks as good as it tastes. It’s best to call ahead, as the place is always slammed at peak hours. But if you do find yourself waiting for a table, just head over to the Spanish Arch, or grab a pint at the King’s Head Pub down the road. Nothing is more than a 15-minute walk away, and the pizza is worth the wait.
Between Nyhavn, Christianborg Palace, Tivoli Gardens, and Christiania, there is so much to see in Copenhagen that you may not want to spend your time sitting at a restaurant. For a quick bite near the city center, go to Pizza Huset, a small, easily-missed shop a five-minute walk from Nyhavn. Wedged between a café and a Mexican restaurant, this place is nothing fancy, but they really nail the basics. Perfect for travelers on-the-go, you’ll want to grab a bite here before heading out to explore the city.
Jedro, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Being on the coast of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik certainly shares some of the Mediterranean’s culinary traditions—Italian-inspired cuisine, lots of fish, and hostesses luring you toward their tables. The food itself, however, has its own unique character. Many dishes feature ham as their centerpiece, and pizza is no exception. At Jedro, a restaurant right in the middle of Dubrovnik’s old town, the waiter enthusiastically recommended any pizza with Dalmatian ham as a topping, and I was glad I took his advice. Draped over the cheese almost like bacon, the ham is salty but not too salty, giving the pizza a distinct, savory flavor. Jedro is right off the Stradun, the city’s main thoroughfare, and close to the old fortress walls.
Pizza Nemo, Ohrid, Macedonia
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I’ll be honest, finding good pizza in the Balkans isn’t easy. I had a lot of unsatisfying meals in my search for a stand-out pie, but I finally found what I was looking for in Ohrid, a lakeside town in Macedonia. After you’ve wandered the town, and explored the nearby Galicia National Park, check out Pizza Nemo in the city center. This place really prides itself on its pizza; the waiter cited four or five options as his “favorites”, which didn’t exactly help me narrow it down. I settled on the house specialty “Nemo” pizza, which featured pork, pepperoni, some veggies, and a dollop of sour cream. What really set this pie apart, however, was the Bulgarian-brand chili sauce that came on the side. A flavor somewhere between Sriracha and Frank’s Red Hot, a few dashes gave the pizza just the right kick. And like most Balkan countries, Macedonia is incredibly cheap. A pizza, appetizer and dessert will only set you back around $7 USD.
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