The best pizza in Iowa, according to Iowans

Photo courtesy of Happy Joe's Pizza & Ice Cream

By Nikoel Hytrek

February 7, 2024

Whether you’re bar-hopping, out-and-about, or looking for an easy dinner option, Iowa has no shortage of pizza locations. That’s why we asked our audience for recommendations for the best spot in the state.

They gave us about 350 comments and about 125 different spots. But a few rose to the top.

Number one was Pagliai’s, both the Iowa City and Grinnell locations, with a whopping 123 endorsements.

Pagliai’s was officially opened in 1957 by the son of immigrants from Northern Italy. According to the history section on the website, the Pagliai family first shared their recipes shortly upon arriving in Zook Spur, Iowa, a former mining town on the border between Polk and Dallas counties.

The original restaurant was a bar in Ames, but as the food grew more popular it took on restaurant status. The family was able to expand to Grinnell in the mid-60’s.

Karen Wallace told us on Facebook, “Was great first time I visited in the 60’s, still as great today.”

Mabe’s Pizza in Decorah took the No. 2 spot, with 92 endorsements.

The restaurant was originally Mabel’s Lunchroom (named for founder Mabel White), and it opened in 1953, without pizza on the menu.

It was renamed Mabe’s Pizza in 1968 when pizza became a permanent menu item.

Great Plains Sauce & Dough Co. in Ames came in No. 3, followed by Casey’s (all locations), and Wig & Pen Pizza Pub (Iowa City and Ankeny locations) rounding out the top five.

Because so many spots were mentioned, the following is not a complete list, but we want to give some love to the smaller locations around the state because there was so much enthusiasm from every corner. I grabbed every restaurant that had five or more endorsements.

(One problem: Napoli’s. There are multiple restaurants with this name all over the state, without seeming to be connected. Maybe it’s safe to say your luck will be good at any of them!)

Western Iowa

Bob Roe’s Point After, Sioux City

Breadeaúx Pizza, Corning/throughout the state

Chopper Davo’s Pizza, Sioux City

El Fredo Pizza, Sioux City

Godfather’s Pizza, Cherokee

Jerry’s Pizza, Sioux City

Pasquale’s Pizza, Humboldt

Pizza King, Council Bluffs

Woody’s Pizza, Estherville

Central Iowa

The Brickhouse, Alden

Centro, Des Moines

Chuck’s Restaurant, Des Moines

George’s Pizza and Steakhouse, Pella

Georgioz, Colfax

Gusto Pizza Bar, Des Moines

Happy Joe’s Pizza, Urbandale

Jeff’s Pizza Shop, Ames

Leaning Tower of Pizza, Ankeny

Pete’s Pizza, Indianola

Pickles Pub, Kamrar

Pyra Pizzeria, Norwalk

Sonny’s Pizza Bistro, Saylorville

Zeno’s, Marshalltown

Eastern Iowa

The Airliner, Iowa City

Basal Pizza, Waterloo

Chad’s Pizza, Cedar Falls/Dyersville

Geno’s Pizza, Preston

Harris Pizza, Davenport

Mama Nick’s Circle Pizzeria, Waterloo

Marco’s Italian and American Foods, Dubuque

Mike’s Pizza & Steakhouse, Ottumwa

Nana Rosa’s Pizza, Reinbeck

Need Pizza, Cedar Rapids

Pizza Haus, Williamsburg

Rusciano’s Authentic Taste of Napoli, North Liberty

The Safe House Saloon, Lansing

Shot Tower Inn, Dubuque

TJ’s Pizza, Clermont

Tomaso’s, Cedar Rapids/Marion

Vitale’s, Clinton

The Wedge Pizzeria, Iowa City

Zoey’s Pizzeria, Marion

  • Nikoel Hytrek

    Nikoel Hytrek is Iowa Starting Line’s longest-serving reporter. She covers LGBTQ issues, abortion rights and all topics of interest to Iowans. Her biggest goal is to help connect the dots between policy and people’s real lives. If you have story ideas or tips, send them over to [email protected].

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