Pizza Wars Chapter 2: Villaggio vs Pier 49

Exterior of Villaggio SLC. (Courtesy

Exterior of Villaggio SLC. (Courtesy

By Luke Jackson


To begin, a quick shout out to the Papa John’s delivery team. A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were craving that sweet, sweet flavor only provided by the Papa. The nameless driver quested through snow, ice and sleet to place the pie safely in my hands. We all are forever indebted to those delivery drivers who constantly brave the elements so that we may stay warm on our cushiony thrones. Thank you, delivery drivers.

Now, the main course. Two lovely individuals, Barb and Dan, recommended to me Pier 49 and Villaggio respectively. I personally had never heard of either of these establishments and was immediately excited to give their pies a go. To reiterate my overall mission: I am searching for the best slice of pepperoni pizza here in Salt Lake City — a journey that I hope will not only expand my palate but my heart and mind as well.

Pier 49 — 49ER Pizza

Pier 49 is technically located in Murray, close to Fashion Place Mall, but I decided to give it a go. On the door is a large blue, gold and red sign which confidently reads “San Francisco Style Sourdough Pizza.” I, for one, wasn’t even aware that The Golden City laid claim to their own style of pizza. It was an intriguing introduction to an intriguing pie.

The description for the 49ER Pizza brags of over 100 thick-cut slices of pepperoni located on a jumbo size. I opted for a large, and while I didn’t actually count, I can attest that there was nary a naked spot to be found. The smell of this pepperoni behemoth is reminiscent of the fast pizza industry — a Dominos’ or Papa Johns’. The look followed suit with these beloved popular establishments. This isn’t a bad thing, but I was hoping for a more unique aesthetic.

Upon sinking my teeth into the first piece, I was struck unexpectedly by a sweetness in the dough — a sweetness I’ve never found in a slice of pepperoni pizza. It was as if the dough was glazed in the same way an apple danish is. This strange sweetness slowly overpowered the classic tomato sauce and crispy pepperoni. It quickly became the only flavor my palate could focus on.

Aided by its abundance of pepperoni, the pie itself was a pretty greasy rendition of your classic pizza. Sans the sweetness, it didn’t accomplish anything different from the stuff you find at your average fast pizza establishment.

Villaggio – Pepperoni Pizza

No fancy names found here at Villaggio. The pizzeria is tucked away by a hair salon down South State Street. The interior has a cozy atmosphere and the pizza masters behind the counter welcomed me with a smile. The first thing that stood out to me was the sheer size of this bad boy. The large 18″ did not disappoint in terms of value and I really got the bang for my buck I was hoping for.

However, upon placing the pizza in my car, I was struck by the smell. This moment is always an important one for me; I feel that the smell of a pizza is integral to the experience. It might just be me, but folks, I’ll tell you, Villaggio pizza does not smell great. It was almost like someone sprinkled Italian seasoning on day-old lukewarm milk — not very appetizing.

My worries, however, were whisked away once I got that first bite. Suddenly, I was transported to the concrete jungles of New York. There I was at a standing table listening to the hustle and bustle of the city around me. The smooth, buttery tomato sauce is classic New York. The crust is a gentle crunch with not too much flavor. The slice itself is large and perfectly foldable, wonderful for catching any runoff of savory juices. Villaggio really sneaks up on you. It took me by surprise and was a delight through and through.

The Verdict

Villaggio’s classic pepperoni took the competition by a mile this time. Sorry to Pier 49, but the contest was not even close. I decided to see how Villaggio stacked up against Nuch’s, our winner from last time, a few days later. The two pizzas present very different styles, but Nuch’s ran away with it. The freshness of the ingredients is just so evident in that Tony Pepperoni. It’s a tough one to beat.

Though, I must say, if it were a value competition, Villaggio would be my new champion. Nuch’s is oh so tasty for your tummy, but not so much for your wallet. Excellent showings from both Pier 49 and Villaggio. While they may not be Salt Lake’s best slice, they are worth the trip.

If you know the best slice of pizza in Salt Lake City, contribute to my journey by letting me know by email or Twitter!


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