Historically, Collin County has not been a sanctuary for Italian immigrants. In fact, according to the United States Census Bureau, there are just 291 Italian speakers in the county — or 0.0299 percent — out of a population of 1.03 million (2019). Not fertile ground for pizza authenticity, although that ground shifts when you consider the number of ex-New Yorkers mingling in our midst.
Yet pizza thrives — exuberantly, in all its wood-fired, San Marzano tomato, mozzarella di bufala (or facsimile thereof) glory. We lift the crusty veil on this apparent incongruity to taste a wealth of delicious pizzeria currency.
2730 S. Central Expressway, McKinney | (469) 625-2898
Family-owned Barro’s is a multi-site pizzeria with a location in McKinney, the lone sibling outside its Arizona home front. Barro’s claims that its secret family recipe dates to the early 20th century when Grandma Angelina Barro crafted pizza and pasta in Italy. The family settled in Chicago in 1930 and opened their first restaurant there in 1961 before moving to Southern California and later to Mesa, Arizona. But all this roaming did nothing to taint that family formula. We took on the Barro’s special with pepperoni, ham, mushroom and onion, laced with strands of green pepper on top. The stocky crust is flakey on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, animated by a tangy-sweet sauce with a kick of spice on the finish.
3949 Legacy Drive, Suite 100, Plano | (972) 491-2777
Ferrari’s is a family-owned pie operation, deploying recipes handed down by grandmothers and making its bones with New York-style pizza, a style derived from the classic Neapolitan pizzas perfected in Naples, Italy. It’s thick and crispy around the edges and delectably chewy and thin on the inside, for perfectly foldable slices that easily slip into the muzzle. Ferrari’s finishes this formula with a thin smear of robust tomato sauce that makes the flavor explosive while keeping the sharpness at bay. We folded and savored the marvel flaunting pepperoni, sausage, beef, mushroom, onion, peppers and black olives. Kitchen sink extra.
Cavalli Pizza Napoletana
6851 Virginia Parkway, McKinney | (972) 540-1449
Cavalli Pizza Napoletana bills itself as DFW’s most authentic Neapolitan pizza, and it’s tough to argue against this plucky boast. Cavalli has all the right elements: flour from the Caputo Mill in Italy, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala from Italy (in addition to housemade examples), and a wood-fueled brick oven that hits 900 degrees, insta-baking these dough discuses into legendary Naples goodness. We opted for the capricciosa, an ensemble of mozzarella, mushrooms, artichokes, kalamata olives, basil and ham, seared and blistered into smoky, saliva-inducing bliss. A Neapolitan kiss.
Kenny’s East Coast Pizza
4701 W. Park Blvd., Suite 101, Plano | (972) 519-9669
Kenny’s is a buzzing joint with a cozy bar, photo-gallery-covered walls punctuated with wooden pizza paddles, and a wall of fame. That institution of achievements showcases the winners of the “Bada Bing Challenge,” in which a team of two contestants attempts to scarf down a 32-inch pepperoni pizza in under 30 minutes. Those who fail must pay $50 and log their mugs on the wall of shame. Who knew pepperoni pizza could be so stridently moralistic? We put away these infantile taunts and opted for the adult pepperoni, a piping hot potpourri of mushroom, singed red onion, fresh basil, white truffle oil and lots of pepperoni polka dots — all on a light, solidly crispy crust. Bada Bing a go-go.
2231 Sam Rayburn Highway, #100, Melissa | (469) 885-8900
Marco’s Pizza is a franchised pie flinger based in Toledo, Ohio, and founded by Italian immigrant Pasquale “Pat” Giammarco in 1978. It has hundreds of locations scattered across 34 states (including dozens in North Texas), Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and India. But don’t let that dissuade you. Like most modern pizzerias, Marco’s fully embraces build-your-own-pizza dynamism, offering a choice of crust styles (original and crispy thin) that you can carpet with a wide variety of toppings, including spinach and steak. But Marco’s has some appealing specialties too, like the Hawaiian chicken (pineapple, bacon) and the Philly, a pie with green peppers, mushrooms, thinly sliced steak, and cheese sauce to help the three signature cheeses swim around. Sacrilege, maybe, but desecration can be delectable in the right hands.
Numero 28 Allen Ristorante Pizzeria
190 E. Stacy Road, Suite 1404, Allen | (972) 678-0384
The New York-based restaurant group behind this famed joint has extensions in New Jersey, Miami and Austin. And it travels well. The ambiance is addictively engaging, and Numero 28 Allen features recipes handed down through five generations and serves wicked dough concoctions forged in a wood-fired brick oven. The ingredients are fresh and authentic. We opted for the prosciutto pizza, an understated pie with mozzarella and a smooth, balanced sauce crowned with crisp arugula and delicately chewy parmesan shavings. The prosciutto di parma bursts from this ingredient curtain with rich, sweet-salty goodness, unleashing layers of flavor that skid effortlessly off the edge of the crust’s charred crispness.
300 W. Princeton Drive, Suite 13, Princeton | (972) 736-3524
Pizza Plaza is a glorious slot-in-the-rampart. There’s a dining room, but there’s no dining in. Yet while you’re waiting for your pie to bake, you can browse the gallery of Dallas Cowboys greats across the decades, some autographed. Above the order window, there’s the famous image by photographer Ruth Orkin, “An American Girl in Italy,” which depicts a 23-year-old Yankee woman strolling the streets of Florence, seemingly oblivious to the men ogling her visage. It’s a metaphor. Be oblivious to the surroundings. Savor the pies. We relished the deluxe, a crispy, tasty crust platforming pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, mushrooms and black olives, laced faintly with a sauce that didn’t punch above its culinary pay grade.
6720 Alma Road, #400, Suite 13, McKinney | (469) 793-6393
It’s twisted all right. But in a good way. Pizza Twist is a 50-plus unit franchise that will rock your pizza world. It bills itself as a leader in Indian-fusion pizza. You’ll find zigzags like paneer tikka masala pizza and assorted tandoori brethren. We sunk our teeth into the achari chicken pizza, a radical rick of achari curry, cheese, jalapeño, garlic chicken and cilantro — an explosion of flavors that challenges pizza orthodoxy with joyful audacity. Imagine if the Neapolitans had had curry. What butterfly effect would that have had on our current reality?
1006 E. 15th St., Plano | (972) 509-1400
Urban Crust is where pizza gets on its metro hip, burrowed in a tavernesque 19th-century harness and saddle shop in historic downtown Plano. There’s a chandelier made of chains and Edison bulbs and a bridle display paying tribute to the building’s past. But tanning and leather crafting scents have given way to the heady aromas of wood-fired crust fabrication. With stunning results. We entranced our tongues with the black & bleu, a culinary chorus of pesto, bleu cheese, roasted ’shrooms, caramelized onions, juicy wood-fired sirloin, and dots of sauce. Who’d-a thunk the horse and buggy business would be disrupted by upscale dough works?
1055 W. Audie Murphy Parkway, Suite 106, Farmersville | (972) 782-7600
This is the quintessential hole-in-the-wall. From the outside, Pizza Street looks like a dive — a plunge from perilous heights. That theme carries through to the dining room, which isn’t really a dining room because, despite the tables and chairs, there is no on-premises dining. But don’t let that twist your knickers. Pizza Street pies burst with diverse flavors platformed on fluffy crusts with pleasantly singed edges. We opted for the taco pizza with salsa, cheddar, fresh tomato and a choice of chicken or beef. Think of it as a street taco with Neapolitan thrills.
In case you missed it, here’s Local Profile’s guide to the best BBQ places in Collin County.