America’s Most Pizza-Loving States: Iowa

Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

With the Super Bowl this Sunday, party hosts will be stocking up on beer, chicken wings, hot dogs, and pizza. Of course, pizza. National Pizza Day is Friday, Feb. 9. That’s why IowaBets.com decided to take a break from Iowa sports betting and look at the 10 states where pizza is most popular.

IowaBets.com utilized two combined data points to develop the ranking of the 50 U.S. States in terms of loving pizza. We utilized Statista.com to get the pizzerias per 100,00 in each state and Google Trends to get the searches for “Pizza” over the past 12 months (Feb. 1, 2023-Feb. 1, 2024). Once acquiring that information, we averaged out the ranking of the states to get our final rankings.

Top 10 Pizza-Loving States

Overall Rank, State Pizzerias Per 100,000 Rank “Pizza” Search Ranking Total Average Ranking
1. Rhode Island 1st (37.3 pizzerias) 1st (100 interest) 1
2. Connecticut 2nd (36.8 pizzerias) 2nd (88 interest) 2
3. Pennsylvania 3rd (36.2 pizzerias) T-3rd (86 interest) 3
4. Delaware 6th (34 pizzerias) T-3rd (86 interest) 4.5
5. New Hampshire 8th (33.5 pizzerias) T-3rd (86 interest) 5.5
6. Massachusetts 7th (33.6 pizzerias) 6th (82 interest) 6.5
7. New Jersey 4th (35.7 pizzerias) T-10th (70 interest) 7
8. Ohio 9th (32 pizzerias) 7th (78 interest) 8
9. Iowa 5th (34.6 pizzerias) 12th (69 interest) 8.5
10. Indiana 13th (29.1 pizzerias) 9th (74 interest) 11

 

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How Iowa Cracked the Rankings

The northeast dominates the list, although it’s surprising to not see New York on it, since the Big Apple has some of the best pizza in the world. Iowa, at No. 9, is best known for Quad City-style pizza, which tends to have more malt in the dough, more spice in the sauce, toppings under the cheese (so they’re not really toppings) and the round pies are cut into strips, not slices. Quad Cities-style pizza originated in 1952, thanks to Tony Maniscalco, Sr.

According to a Washington Post survey, Yelp! reviews and food bloggers, there is a lot of good pizza in Iowa, be it Quad Cities-style, New York-style, Sicilian, Chicago-style, or the Neapolitan style Caitlin Clark bakes for herself.

But as is true in every state in the country, pizza preference is personal. For every foodie who raves about sauce made from crushed San Marzano tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, freshly-stretched mozzarella and artisanal pepperoni, seared to perfection in an oven built from bricks shipped over from Rome, there’s someone else who craves Domino’s, Papa John’s, Little Caesars, or Pizza Hut.

At No. 1 on the list is Rhode Island, where great pizza can be found in the Federal Hill neighborhood and where grilled pizza was supposedly originated at Al Forno in Providence. Across the border is No. 2 Connecticut, where New Haven is a pizza capital. There, Pepe’s has been churning out coal-fired pies since 1925 and both Modern and Sally’s have been selling slices since the 1930s.

No. 3 Pennsylvania is famous for Old Forge pizza in the Scranton area and a plethora of trendy,  high-end small-pie pizza spots in Philadelphia, where cheesy, crusty Greek-style pizza used to be the norm. The South Philadelphia section also is a favorite stop for more traditional Italian pies. Pittsburgh, known for putting French Fries on sandwiches, has pizzas that tend toward more cheese and a chewier crust. A CBS News poll a few years ago ranked Pittsburgh as the second-best pizza city in the U.S. with Philadelphia fourth. Methodology, however, was questionable as Rochester, N.Y., ranked at the top and New York City and Chicago didn’t make the list.

At Nos. 4 and 5 are two small states that love their pies. No. 4 Delaware is a little different,  thanks to the sauce swirls started at Grotto Pizza. New Hampshire makes our chart at No. 5, thanks to a half-dozen pizzerias the Washington Post considers among the best in the nation. No. 6 Massachusetts is a pizza mecca and Bostonians can argue over South Shore vs. North End. There are lots of delicious options. New Jersey (No. 7) grows great tomatoes, so it’s not surprising the state has great pizza from one end to the other. Razza in Jersey City is considered a must-try.

For pizza states 8 to 10, we leave the northeast for the Midwest, and although we find it hard to fathom that Ohio, Iowa and Indiana are bigger pizza states than Illinois, where Chicago Deep Dish is a staple, we’ll trust the data.

In No. 8 Ohio, Columbus-style pizza might be round, but the slices are rectangular, the crust is flakier, and the toppings go to the edge. Hard to fold and eat on the run, like you might a New York slice. No. 9 Indiana pizza is similar to Ohio pizza in style, but the crust might be a little crisper.

So, count on a lot of pizza at Super Bowl parties in Iowa. and make sure you have an Iowa sports betting promo code if you decide to legally bet on the game.

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Author

Howard Gensler is a contributing writer for IowaBets.com. Before his focus on U.S. sports betting, Howard worked at the Philadelphia Daily News, TV Guide and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Howard is also a founding editor of bettorsinsider.com.