Cape Cod Pizza: Flat Genius

Cape Cod PizzaCape Cod becomes a more diverse place every year, with all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds moving to and visiting it. But one food seems to tie them all together: pizza.
This is obvious if you look at the numbers: there are over 100 pizza places on Cape Cod, making for an average of about 7 per town. That’s a figure only Dunkin Donuts can compete with!

Best Pizza on the Cape

We don’t mean to “flatten” anyone’s reputation here, but CapeCod.com has tackled this in the past with The Short List on pizza, a voting system that lets the Cape Cod community cast votes on the best of the area’s cultural scene.
The community delivered: pies from all corners of the Cape made the list. Check out the results (linked above) to see which ones are closest to you.

Types of Pizza and Where to Find Them

If you don’t count putting fried clams on pizza, which surprisingly few Cape restaurants do, the area isn’t really noted for its own style. Such recognition is reserved for places like New York, Chicago, Greece and the fatherland of savory pies, Naples, Italy.

But Cape Cod pizza joints do cover these area’s distinct styles, many times putting their own saucy twists on tradition.

New York style pizza is typified by a thin, crisp crust which is still pliable enough to be folded (as in, folded in half, like Ralphie Marino says is a must). You can find a pie reminiscent of this in many shops on Cape Cod, especially at places like Red’s Pizza, 703 Main Street, Harwich.

For Greek style pie, a well-oiled pizza baked on a thin pan which usually includes Greek-oriented toppings like olives and feta cheese, seek out none other than George’s Pizza House. This highly-rated local favorite is located at 564 Route 28 in Harwich Port.

Neapolitan pizza is probably the closest thing to the “original” Italian dish still served in American shops; although the actual first pizza was likely nothing more than flat, oily bread with a few splotches of melted mozzarella. This style is represented best by Sweet Tomatoes, which have two locations at 461 Station Avenue in South Yarmouth and 790 Main Street, Chatham. BZ’s Pizzeria and Mexican in Dennisport also has a single Neapolitan listed on their menu.

For those who have a gluten allergy, try Wicked Fire Kissed Pizza who has multiple GF options in addition to their standard items.

One other location, though technically not located on the “Cape side” of the canal, would be criminal for us not to mention. Marc Anthony’s, located in the small village of Onset between Buzzard’s Bay and Wareham, has a massive menu combining elements of Neapolitan, Greek and New York styles in addition to fresh pastas.

Local Pizza Ingredients

Though Cape Cod’s history with pizza has focused on traditional styles, there certainly are some genre-defying establishments.

Take Crisp, a flatbread-focused joint on Main Street in Osterville. Crisp uses local ingredients right down to the Cape Cod Sea Salt, and blends them into gourmet combinations with bold flavors.

Pizza Barbone on Main Street in Hyannis grows its own tomatoes and over a dozen other ingredients on their rooftop garden. Many aspects of the facility are traditional; its pies are Neapolitan, baked in a wood-fired oven specially shipped from Italy. But their weekly lunch specials can bring a whole host of combinations, unique to what’s peaking up from the rooftop roots. Check out this review of Pizza Barbone from the Phantom Gourmet.

Cape Cod Pizza Facts

The first Pizza on Cape Cod is a title many have argued over, and no available documents definitively prove one restaurant over the other. However, like most areas of the U.S. during the late 1950s, pizza caught on pretty quickly once the mystique of “foreign ingredients” and techniques was overcome by ravenous appetites for this new phenomenon.

If we had a best guess, it seems the now-demolished “Little Italy” restaurant in what was once called the “Little Taunton” area of Dennis served the first iteration of pizza pie on Cape Cod. The establishment began serving it sometime in the late 40s or early 50s.

Another early contender was the Pizza House on Main Street, Buzzards Bay, which functioned under the pizza-serving purpose beginning in 1955 at the latest; likely before. Evidence for this comes from a June 17th, 1955 newspaper clipping detailing an alcohol sales violation.

No matter which specific restaurant first served pizza on Cape, there’s more than enough evidence to suggest it was a known food to small circles of families here at least as early as the mid-40s.

History of Pizza

As you may now realize, pizza has its roots in Naples, Italy – but many cultures worldwide have their own versions of flat bread served with toppings and/or sauces.

Raffaele Esposito of Naples is commonly attributed with the savory title of first pizza, although food historians have speculated that his 1889 creation was based on pies from previous decades.

When Italian immigrants flooded to America in the early 20th century, many ended up selling their own varieties of pizza in small Italian markets. The first brick-and-mortar pizza shop opened in 1905 by Gennuardo Lombardi in New York City.

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