I am an admitted barbecue and pizza fanatic. Whenever I travel, these are usually the two main food groups I look into when visiting. Barbecue is actually pretty easy to scope out; the problem is that you have to pretty much sample their chicken, ribs/pulled pork, and brisket in order to be able to properly judge the pitmaster's abilities. With pizza, you can pretty much after one slice just how good - or bad - their product is. Very rarely is a second or third visit required to give it a thumbs up or down.
As far as Cleveland goes I think I've pretty much had what people routinely call their favorites. I don't typically find myself in the Akron/Canton area all that much, so I really can't say that I've sampled the notables there. Here is a small list of pizzerias I've been to in the last month or two with a brief description of what I thought.
Upper Crust Pizza, Chicken & Ribs
15631 Puritas Ave
Cleveland, OH 44135
This was a recommendation from my brothers-in-law. With the amount of pizza that is ordered by the two of them I knew I had to try it. While over a friend's house that lives in the neighborhood we decided to give them a try. As with the other pizzas in this review, this is what Peter Reinhart calls pizza americana (a catchall term for mainstream American pizza). We ordered a pepperoni and sausage that held up pretty well to delivery. I would describe it as moderately greasy, with a thinner crust under the cheese than you find with most pizzas of this genre. Upper Crust Pizza certainly qualifies as a decent neighborhood pizzeria, but nothing to go out of your way for.
2188 Murray Hill Road
Cleveland, OH 44106
The name seems to suggest that it's somehow Italian, hence closer to a napoletana style. Don't be fooled. LP is americana all the way. Thankfully they sell it by the slice - so this little experiment only set me back a couple of bucks. It could have been that the person making the pizzas was being entirely too generous with the cheese, but the dough underneath was borderline cooked. Could it have been an isolated incident? Maybe. Even so, cheese aside, I think La Pizzeria is an average pie in the Unversity Circle/Little Italy area.
Reddi's Pizza Parlor
5781 Dunham Rd
Cleveland, OH 44137
One of my wife's friends was pimpin' this place. Reddi's Pizza Parlor is your classic neighborhood sit-down pizza place that you remember from your childhood. Serving up a classic pizza americana, Reddi's turns out an above average product. The crust (or cornicione as it's technically called) is not large like Antonio's but has a similar feel to it, but smaller. The sauce and cheese are properly portioned to where the grease doesn't get out of control. The staff was also really friendly - with the cashier being way above average in beauty. I think Reddi's is actually above average for the area. Should you have a reason to be in the Garfield Hts, Walton Hills area I would recommend giving them a try.
I met my sisters at AMP 150 for a few drinks and was very surprised at how good the Mushroom Flatbread was. While I'm not even going to pretend like it was pizza, the cracker-like appetizer was absolutely delicious. It was essentially a shit load of diced up Killbuck Vally Mushrooms with some sort of citrusy flavor to it on top of an oblong cracker thing. I don't like mushrooms, but this was the best thing I've eaten with fungi since the scrumptious steak at Downtown 140. If you go, you must try.