A co-worker of mine from my Trader Joe’s days is moving to the Happiest of Valleys to State College to open up the first TJ’s in the area. First of all… I’m insanely jealous. State College is the best place in earth, and I wish IIIIIII were moving there! Second of all… I can’t believe they’re getting a Trader Joe’s there, WHY couldn’t this happen during my 4 years at Penn State… WHYYYY!
Anyway, Chris is moving from New York and asked where to get good pizza. While obviously nothing is as good as NYC pizza (I’ve only had it ONCE believe it or not), you can totally get a great pie up in Happy Valley.
Canyon Pizza: No good SC pizza list would be complete without discussing Canyon. Canyon Pizza is located in the center of “Beaver Canyon”, the main drag of apartment buildings off campus on Beaver Ave. Starting at about midnight, you’ll find a line of 100 post-frat party drunk freshman standing outside waiting to get their $1 slice with Ranch Dressing . You absolutely want to stay away from this whole scene. The pizza itself is not bad, it’s thin crust and large slices. They aren’t anything special but they are $1/slice and I’ll admit, you can’t say you’ve lived in State College without partaking in this tradition.
Canyon pizza: 5/10 Pizza Points
College Pizza: Just down the road from Canyon on Locust Lane is another $1/slice establishment. Talking in terms of $1 slice joints, I personally always have preferred College >Canyon, but that might just be me. It also might be my lack of patience, because the College Pizza line is NEVER as long. I’ll give College Pizza an extra point for knowing how to get the crowd movin’.
College Pizza: 6/10 Pizza Points
Bell’s Greek Pizza: I’m not sure what’s “Greek” about Bell’s, but it is probably the most unique pizza place in the area. You can get slices here and actually have more choices than just plain or pepperoni. Bell’s is greasier and has a thicker crust, so you’ll probably appreciate it (if you’re drunk) if you’re into that type of thing. I’m not. Bell’s is my boyfriend Dave’s favorite and he still insists on grabbing a drunk slice when we’re visiting (I go to Pita Pit next door instead!).
Bell’s Greek Pizza: 6/10 Pizza Points
Gumby’s Pizza: While I’m still on the “drunk” pizza topic, I had to mention Gumby’s Pizza. This place was always my least-favorite. Friends always ordered Gumby’s because of their buy-a-pizza, get-a-pokey-stick deal. This place is just a wannabe Pizza Hut, and the pokey sticks are just pizza without sauce. The Pokey Sticks can be delicious if (like I mentioned…) you’re drunk, but the pizza will most likely make you sick with the tons of grease and thick crust.
Gumby’s Pizza: 4/10 Pizza Points
Inferno Brick Oven & Bar: Okay so this restaurant was “Hi-Way Pizza” when I was in college, but I’ve been here several times visiting since then. Inferno does NOT belong in State College. With that being said, it’s probably the nicest pizza place you can find in the area. The pizzas could be considered “artisan”, they’re small Brick-Oven style with the charred bottom crust and some interesting ingredient choices. Great atmosphere and Inferno’s “Sin” drinks are amazing- so strong, delicious, and $5 on special. Go here to drink! Pizza comes 2nd.
Inferno: 7/10 Pizza Points
Faccia Luna: While Faccia Luna isn’t in walkable distance from Downtown SC, it is totally worth the drive. One of my favorite restaurants in State College, Faccia Luna’s pizza is fabulous. Thin brick-oven style crust is the Faccia way, so don’t overload with toppings or it’ll get too soggy. Other favorites here are their Chicken Caesar Salad and Pesto Bread app. Great atmosphere and date-night spot.
Faccia Luna: 9/10 Pizza Points
Brother’s Pizza: Another drive-worthy spot on Benner Pike (Take College Ave East until just before the Nittany Mall) is Brother’s Pizza. While they have other locations, I think this is the best one. Brother’s is your typical thin-crust pizza, nothing too special about it besides it being really consistently good. This is your best take-out pizza bet, if you can get out there. If you lived anywhere else, the 5-10 minute drive would feel like nothing but in State College, this will seem SUPER out of the way. Suck it up and try it. Dee-lish.
Brother’s Pizza: 9/10 Pizza Points
Margarita’s Pizzeria: Saved the best for last. Margarita’s is hands down my favorite pizza place in State College. It was always a gamble if they’d even be open, but once you figure out their schedule (and they happened to be sticking to it), you will never want to go anywhere else! Crispy-thin crust, well seasoned sauce, not too cheesy, not too greasy, just-perfect pizza is what they have here. They also make the best Chicken Parm sandwich ever. LOVE Margarita’s. It’s close to Atherton on Beaver Ave so it’s never too crowded either.
Margarita’s Pizzeria: 10/10 Pizza Points!!! Ding ding ding, we have a winner!
For your enjoyment, The School Philly’s post about the Top 10 Late-Night State College Joints
To my State College/PSU friends: What is your favorite pizza and why?
To everyone else: What type of pizza do you prefer? Deep Dish? Thin Crust? Brick Oven? Let the great-pizza debate begin!