There’s no question that one of the most popular foods in the history of food is pizza. Odds are that you’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love a good slice of pizza, right? The average American eats an average of 48 slices of pizza per year, and according to YouGov – Illinois is in the top 20 states of pizza joints per capita. Statistics show that there are about three pizza restaurants per 10,000 people in the Land of Lincoln. The latter statistic got us at ILLINOISouth thinking…what are some of the best places to order a pizza in our 22-county territory? So we asked around, and we have 25 finalists – with at least one pizza joint per county. If you’re hungry while reading this, it’s an almost certainly you’ll be eating pizza for your next meal – hopefully from one of the restaurants we’re about to mention!
For the last 40 years Mario’s Pizza in Greenville has become a fan-favorite for folks in and around Bound County. One thing that sets Mario’s apart is their crust. Yes, they have the traditional thin crust and deep dish, but they also have an ‘extra thin’ crust for folks who are into a lighter pizza with more a little more crunch.
While you’re in Casey checking out the World’s Largest things, make sure to get dinner at the award-winning Greathouse of Pizza. Everything about this place is amazing, from the pizza pot pies (yes, you read that right) to their ever-changing specialty pizzas. But the claim to fame here is their deep-dish, as Greathouse of Pizza is consistently named one of the top ten deep dish pizza joints in Illinois!
When it comes to pizza in Clay County, Anthony’s Wild West in Flora is a staple in the community. When there’s not a pandemic, they’re well known for their pizza buffet – it’s one of the best around in terms of selection. Aside from that, Anthony’s Wild West also has a promotion called ‘Wild Wednesday’ – offering up an extra-large, five topping pizza for a measly thirteen bucks. What a bargain!
Since the 1930’s the Knotty Pine Inn and Motel in Breese has been serving up food to loyal patrons in Clinton County. One of the fan-favorites at Knotty Pine is of course, the pizza. They offer everything from six-and-a-half inch mini pizzas all the way to extra large (in case you’re really hungry), and there are gluten free options as well!
One of the hidden gems of this list is Llama’s Pizza in Palestine. They’ve been ‘spittin pies since 2010’ in Crawford County with some unique specialty pizzas. Fans of a little spice will love Llama’s hot pepper pie – complete with jalapenos, pepperoncini, banana peppers, green peppers and hot sauce. They also offer up a pickle pie and a chicken wing pie, among other creative takes on pizza!
If you’re driving along Interstate 70 through Cumberland County, a stop at Carl’s Pizza in Greenup is a must. Carl’s has 18 toppings to choose from, along with half a dozen specialty pizzas to try. On top of that, they also do Chicago style deep dish pizzas as well as gluten free options, including cauliflower crust.
For a solid piece of pie that never disappoints, be sure to visit DiMaggio’s in Albion. They offer up your traditional pizzas, toppings, and sizes – along with fresh red bell peppers that pair well on almost ANY choice of pizza.
There are not many bad ways to cook a pizza, but one of the best ways to do so is wood fired – and that’s exactly what they do at Embers Pizza in Vandalia! Embers offers up 14 different specialty pizzas, as well as several options to build your own. From a BBQ chicken to Wild Mushroom, the options are plentiful! Oh, and a pro-tip…you can order ANY pizza as a calzone for no additional charge if you’d like.
Many communities have that one staple, the go-to, the always amazing pizza joint that never disappoints…and in McLeansboro that perfectly describes Auten’s Pizza House. Owned and operated by Dick and Lucille Auten since 1978, it’s hard not to fall in love with this place after a visit. Auten’s is hands down the best bang for your buck in ILLINOISouth. You can get a small, three topping pizza for three dollars! If you’re hungry, don’t worry – Auten’s large, all meat pizza will only run $12.50, and it’s tremendous!
If you have been to southern Illinois, the odds are pretty good that you have heard of Joe’s Italian Foods and Pizza. The location in Newton is top notch, and rarely empty. They have been dishing out some of the best pizza in the area for over 20 years! At Joe’s they have a little bit of everything – from seven specialty pizzas to options such as deep dish, cauliflower crust, Chicago style, and stuffed pizza. For those with a HUGE appetite, they also have 18-inch pizzas. Their lunch special can’t be beat either – which includes a 7” pizza, a salad and a drink for just over six bucks!
Back in 1982 a new pizza joint at the time opened its doors in Lawrenceville. It went by the name of Bobe’s, and in the 38 years since – it has turned into one of the premier pizza joints in southeastern Illinois. There are now multiple locations for Bobe’s including Mount Carmel and Olney, but Lawrencevile is where it all started. There are thirteen specialty pizzas featured at Bobe’s, and of course you can always create your own. One of the most unique offerings is the honey mustard chicken pizza. They also have pizza bowls available – which is an option for anyone who’d like their pizza without the crust!
For more than thirty years Sam’s Pizza and Pub has been cooking up unique pizzas in their brick ovens, and there are flocks of loyal patrons that visit their Highland location quite frequently. One of the most unique pies they serve up is the Mac Daddy – which is a tip of the cap to a Big Mac. The Mac Daddy has secret sauce, beef, onion and cheese topped with lettuce, pickles, and sesame seeds. Whatever you may choose, there really isn’t a wrong decision at Sam’s!
Whether you’re in Salem or Centralia, one of the best pizza places in Marion County is Mamma Antonia’s Trattoria. Mamma has five house pizzas available, along with another eight specialty pizzas to choose from. If you’re a fan of Chicago deep dish, Mamma has that too! If you’re a fan of Italian beef sandwiches, they actually have a pizza with Italian beef, pepperoncini and banana peppers – talk about delicious!
There are a couple of counties on this list that had more than one pizza joint create some buzz, and Monroe County is one of them. Actually, both establishments reside in Waterloo – Pie Hard Pizza and Custard Company as well as Hopskeller Brewing Company. We’ll start with Pie Hard, which is known for it’s wood-fired quirky named pizzas. The Darkwing Duck is unique, as it features duck pastrami, cheddar, apple fennel slaw, and duck fat thousand island! We’re pretty sure there aren’t many places in the whole state the serve up pizza like that! Hopskeller also features some VERY interesting concoctions, but they’re all delicious. Hopskeller has 17 of these wood-fired creations, using everything from brisket and prosciutto to caramelized pineapples. One thing is for sure, if you’re in Monroe County for anything at all – it doesn’t matter if you’re hungry or not…you HAVE to stop for some pizza!
One of the longest running restaurants to pick up a tasty pizza in ILLINOISouth can be found in Du Quoin. Alongi’s Italian Restaurant has been feeding thousands of folks since 1933. Alongi’s has a very simple, yet delicious pizza menu. All pies are thin crust with a handful of options to create your own pizza. There are also mini pizzas to munch on as an appetizer while you’re waiting on something else you may have ordered!
When it comes to picking up a delicious pizza pie in Randolph County, look no further than DiCarlo’s Pizza & Pasta in Red Bud! There are 18 items to choose from in which you can top your pizza with – if you decide to create your own. If you’d rather choose a specialty pizza, there is no going wrong with the Frank Special. Frank knew what he was doing when he created this beast – it has an olive oil base with ham, tomatoes, pepperoncini and obviously cheese. The taco pizza is another very popular option amongst visitors.
While you’re in Olney trying to track down some White Squirrels, you’d better stop to get a bite to eat at Pizza Fast! When it comes to bang for your buck, look no farther than Pizza Fast – and that’s no joke. You can get a personal pizza with three toppings for less than five dollars! But if you’re hungry, no REALLY hungry, you can order their twenty inch pizza known as the ‘Bigun.’ Cauliflower crust is available for any pizza as well. When the buffet is up and running, you can try SO many of their creations – but one of the best is the Jesse Baker. The aforementioned Jesse Baker pizza comes loaded with nacho cheese, pulled pork and bacon!
St. Clair County
Another one of the counties in ILLINOISouth that had multi-representation is St. Clair. We’ll start with one of the most famous pizza joints in the Metro-East…Papa Vito’s. The pie here is great, but one very popular menu item is their take on a pizza roll. While they’re considered to be an appetizer, they’re SO good – you can make a whole meal out of them. Papa Vito’s is now up to four locations – two in Belleville, one in Millstadt, and the original establishment is in Waterloo. We’ll move on to another fan favorite in O’Fallon which serves up wood-fired pizzas like nobody’s business…Peel Wood Fired Pizza. The creative takes on pizza here are just ridiculous! You can order anything from a Crab Rangoon Pizza to Shrimp Scampi Pizza – and we promise you won’t be disappointed. If you’re looking for an app to try while the pizza is cooking, we HIGHLY recommend the Prosciutto Involtini – you can thank us later for that tip. The third and arguably the hidden gem of the entire group is a pizza that comes from a little place called Mike’s Place in Summerfield. For the last 35 years, Mike’s Place has attracted folks from MILES around for a taste of their well-known pizza. Mike’s will do cooked or uncooked pizzas for carry-out as well. Without a doubt their best option is the Supreme – which includes pepperoni, hamburger, Canadian bacon, sausage, mushrooms and onions. Believe us, when Ruth brings that pizza over to you, the salivation will begin pretty much immediately!
For the last thirty years, Little Italy’s in Mount Carmel has been making phenomenal pizza for folks in and around Wabash County. With all of the high school and college students in Mount Carmel, Little Italy’s has become quite popular. During 2020, they’re currently open for carry out and delivery, but if you order one of their deluxe pizzas – you definitely will not regret it!
If you ask about pizza anywhere in Washington County, it’s highly likely that 9 of 10 people will point you to Girolamo Pizzeria in Nashville. Girolamo’s has a relatively simple pizza menu, with your traditional 15 toppings to choose from. They do have original crust, hand-tossed, deep pan and gluten free to order – along with five different specialty pizzas. From first hand experience, we can tell you the chicken bacon ranch pizza is definitely the way to go, if you’re so inclined.
Fairfield is the next stop on our pizza journey where Classic Pizza and Pasta has a very loyal following. Feeling adventurous? Try to take on their Big Kahuna – a pizza with ten toppings including five meats and five vegetables. Another pizza that jumps off the page at you is their Mac and Cheese pizza – which is topped with your choice of pepperoni or bacon and topped with even more cheese. Based on the menu alone, there’s no wonder Classic Pizza and Pasta has such a loyal following!
One of the best places to order a pizza in White County would be Mimmo’s Italian Restaurant in Norris City. Mimmo’s has a handful of specialty pizzas, all of which are delicious – including the Chicken Alfredo pizza. Of course, you can also create your own pizza – and some people have been very brave. Mimmo’s offers a 20-inch party pizza, and there have been several folks attempt to take it down; a few have succeeded, but many have failed. One thing is for sure, whether you’re starving or just a little hungry – Mimmo’s is definitely worth a visit!