Regionally speaking, pizza may be more synonymous with Chicago, New York, or even New Haven. But in Tucson, pizza is the pride of some of the city’s best restaurants. That’s especially true for Pizzeria Bianco, whose namesake chef won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2003. Chris Bianco has been defying convention since 1988, when he began pioneering the artisanal-pizza movement from a tiny shop in the corner of a Phoenix neighborhood grocery store. But today, he’s hardly the only one in town looking to unusual ingredients or techniques to stand out. Read on for some of the most inventive pizzas, toppings, and sauces found in Tucson restaurants. The Hawaiian at Magpies Gourmet PizzaWe know what you’re thinking, brah: every pizzeria in the history of time has had a hawaiian. Big deal. But the one at Magpies threw us for a Pipeline-sized loop. Beyond the usual suspects (pineapple, canadian bacon), the toppings include feta, garlic, and brown sugar. Righteous. Roast beef at Rocco’s Little Chicago PizzeriaRoast beef would seem out of place as a topping at most pizzerias, but it fits right in with Rocco’s Midwestern-inspired menu. Try it on the Heart Attack Special, also loaded with sausage, pepperoni, and prosciutto, or build your own stuffed pie. May we suggest pairing it with green peppers? It’d be like an italian-beef sandwich, but a pizza. Which is awesome. Curry sauces at Renee’s Organic OvenDon’t get us wrong, we love marinara. But it can get a little monotonous (mari-notonous?) after a while. Which is why we think the curry sauces at Renee’s make for some of the best pizza in Tucson. There’s a red version on the thai chicken pizza and a coconut version on the vegan cashew thai pizza with zucchini and cilantro. Hop bread at 1702At this craft-beer bar, you can drink your brew and eat it, too. Its hop bread—which isn’t technically pizza but is made from dough, cheese, and marinara sauce, so whatever—is sprinkled with fresh hop leaves, which 1702 says is “like an eating an IPA.” Cheers. Pistachios at Pizzeria BiancoLeave it to a James Beard Award–winning chef to experiment with toppings no one else is. Chris Bianco has been lauded for his pizza for years—even the New York Times once admitted it was “perhaps the best in America”—but we’re especially intrigued by his use of Arizona-grown pistachios. Taste them on the Rosa, which is also topped with red onion, rosemary, and parmigiano reggiano. Pretty much everything at Reilly Craft Pizza & DrinkEven this beer garden’s most basic pizzas have a twist: fennel pollen on the sausage and pepper pie, nutritional yeast on the vegan pie, and truffle cheese on the crimini-mushroom pie. There are a few next-level creations as well, such as the Speck and Egg with two kinds of cheese.
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