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An Impromptu Personal Pizza Crawl In Nashville And Beyond

Article by Delia Jo Ramsey

Photography by Delia Jo Ramsey

Originally published in Franklin Lifestyle

It was a random sunny July Sunday, when it felt too hot to sit poolside, but somehow, just right to eat piping hot pizza. (Trust me. I’m as confused as you are.)

“Let’s go on a pizza crawl,” I told my boyfriend, as we rarely ever have a simultaneous day off. 

I’ve been writing about food for 15 years, and feel so lucky that it’s my daily grind but also still my passion. It’s not abnormal for me to take a “day off” and randomly decide to go on a food trek. Sometimes it’s to try a bunch of new restaurants, sometimes it’s to fulfill a specific craving, but rarely do I want to eat the same thing over and over. 

But that wasn’t the case when I was a child. 

My mom and Fred could never believe all the things I eat today, as they’d say I was the world’s pickiest eater, growing up. I refused to eat school lunches, sandwiches, or anything really. Each day for elementary and middle school, I packed pepperoni slices, cheese, and crackers, and that was my lunch for years on end — so you can see it’s a nostalgic food for me.  Since losing two parents in the past four years, it’s become a comfort food of sorts. There’s just something about saucy circular pie topped with spicy sausage and perfect pepperoni cups, and of course, lots of cheese (I’m the self-proclaimed “queen of queso, after all). On days when grief and anxiety and loneliness took my appetite, pizza still sounded good. 

So that’s why, I think, pizza became my mission. It was healing — something I could control. Counting pizzas. 

First, we hopped on and made a reservation for St. Vito — one of the toughest reservations in town to snag right now, then started plotting stops based on what was open on a Sunday afternoon. After hitting 10 stops in one day, I figured "Why stop here?" 

With my birthday (I’m a Leo) coming up in a few weeks, I had the idea to hit up 41 pizza places before my 41st birthday. After nine in one day, I figured it would be a simple mission. And people following me on my social media @diningwithdeliajo seemed to be into this project, all messaging me with suggestions for what to try next, while also asking me to rank the pizzas - a surprise I didn’t expect. 

It started with 41 slices of pizza over 21 days, and along the way, the City of Chicago discovered my account and invited me to experience their city for the first time to cover, get this — Pizza City Fest. Talk about a dream assignment! Oh, but wait — I just ate so much pizza. 

If you’re wondering, yep. I completed my mission. Then I took a two week pizza break (It got old - I wanted no red sauce for that interim) and headed off to Chicago where I consumed 26 more slices in 24 hours. Phew! It was like a pageant of pizzas of all kinds, and I was FULL. 

If you’re counting slices, that’s 67 different slices of pizza (just one bite of many, that’s how we do it) over a matter of 39 days. 

Would I do it again? Hmmmm, I’m not sure. I’ve prided myself in changing it up for every meal, so committing to one dish for even just a few weeks time bored my palate a bit. But as long as I have help to eat these foods, or I get to travel again? I’d definitely consider it. 

What do I think makes a good pizza, after consuming all of these types, back to back? My short answer: I lean towards a fast-fired Neapolitan-style pie. The flour and ingredients for me feel far less filling — thus allowing me to eat more pizza. But I do think after careful consideration, it’s my preferred style of pizza. Detroit-style crispy squares and Chicago Deep Dish are great and certainly have their own lane, but they are so, so filling. So for a pizza crawl, I’d stick on the lighter style of slices. Tavern-style works great for that too! 

But even today, just a week later, I’ve already ordered more pizza. It really has helped my healing journey, and the journey helped me connect with so many people — so was it really ever about the pizza? Or is it about the journey itself and those I got to share this special, cheesy slice of my life with?

Here’s the list of all 37 spots I hit in the Nashville area for a slice of saucy pie. (Not ranked, just listed in the order I ate them.) 

  1. Love Language
  2. St.Vito Focacceria
  3. Pinky Ring Pizza 
  4. NY Pie
  5. Midnight Oil
  6. Gio’s Chicago Pizza 
  7. Home Team 
  8. Frankie’s
  9. Roberta’s
  10. Dicey’s
  11. Two Boots 
  12. Bella Napoli
  13. Ophelia’s 
  14. Tailgate Brewery West 
  15. The Wedge Pizza + Pub
  16. Emery Woodfired 
  17. Desano 
  18. PennePazze
  19. Donatos
  20. Smith and Lentz
  21. Sal’s Brentwood 
  22. Calabria Mt Juliet 
  23. Sam’s place Nippers Corner 
  24. Fayzano’s
  25. Blaze
  26. Il Forno 
  27. Paradise Pizza (Antioch)
  28. Amicos Nolensville
  29. Porta Via
  30. Folk
  31. Nicky’s
  32. Rock n Dough
  33. Emmy Squared
  34. 5 points 
  35. Slim n husky’s
  36. Golden Pizza and Indian cuisine 
  37. Taco Bell Mexican pizza (had to do it y’all!) 

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