PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATE ABBOTT

For more than 15 years, Stuft Pizza has been serving one-of-a-kind pies and tasty slices in Old Town La Quinta. The restaurant, helmed by John Bertram, distinguishes itself with a robust pizza menu and a variety of other options that are uncommon for a pizzeria.

While Stuft Pizza opened in 2004, its signature dough goes back much further — as does its history. Bertram’s parents launched the brand in 1976 with three L.A.-area locations.

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The business quickly grew into a franchise that saw interpretations of the pizzeria ranging from takeout only to full-service microbreweries.

Today, the family business resides in the desert. The opening of Stuft Pizza in La Quinta marked Bertram’s first foray into the restaurants, alongside his sister and parents. The concept became a local favorite, and in 2014, Stuft Pizza expanded to a second location in Palm Desert.

Throughout the years, one thing has remained constant: the dough. “The pizza starts with my dad’s recipe that was created 45 years ago,” Bertram explains. “We still make the dough by hand from scratch every morning.”

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Stuft cooks up 20 different varieties of pizza in two locations.

While the 1970s recipe stands the test of time, Bertram always tweaks details such as water temperature and the type of flour they use. Similarly, the menu has grown to include a selection of one-of-a-kind pizzas that diners won’t find anywhere else. With more than 20 varieties on the menu, where does a diner dig in? Bertram’s suggests the Napa Valley, a creative pie with Canadian bacon, applewood-smoked bacon, carmelized onions, mushrooms, slow-cooked apples, mozzarella, and brie, topped with a mango drizzle. “It’s pretty unique,” he says, “and people either love it or they hate it.”

If you want something more traditional, Stuft Pizza serves classics such as a Hawaiian, a meat lovers-style named The Heavyweight, and a barbecue chicken option. Guests can also create their own combos.

Beyond the pies, Stuft’s menu covers all the bases: soups and salads to pastas, ribs, even filet mignon. Bertram suggests the summer salad, a customer favorite with roasted chicken, romaine lettuce, and mixed greens with seasonal flavors like grapes, apples, dried cranberries, candied walnuts and gorgonzola cheese, all topped with a chipotle honey mustard dressing.

With options to surprise and delight everyone, it’s no wonder Stuft Pizza earns this distinction from Palm Springs Life readers and editors. stuftpizzabarandgrill.com

Winners Voted by Our Readers

Palm Springs

Bill’s Pizza

Bill’s is known for its distinctively themed pies, such as the award-winning Elton John, topped with garlic-infused olive oil sauce, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, spinach, red onions, feta, and a four-cheese blend. billspizzapalmsprings.com

Desert Hot Springs

Rocky’s New York Pizza

Over 30 years, the family-owned pizzeria became known for its build-your-own pies, as well as Italian favorites such as calzones, pastas, and made-to-order cannolis. rockyspizzadhs.com

Cathedral City

Upper Crust Pizza

Thick crusts and generous toppingsmake Upper Crust a local favorite. Wings, salads, calzones, sandwiches, and pasta round out the menu. uppercrust-pizza.com

Rancho Mirage

The Slice

The Slice offers an expansive menu with salads, sandwiches, pastas, and pizza. Don’t miss the pizza fries, an generous portion of French fries topped with marinara and cheese, or a slice of the signature stuffed pizza. theslicepizza.com

Palm Desert

Stuft Pizza

While it shares a menu with the location in La Quinta, the Westfield Palm Desert pizzeria offers one service that La Quinta doesn’t: delivery. stuftpizzabarandgrill.com

Indio

Polo Pizza Company

Tucked next to Tack Room Tavern at Empire Polo Club, Polo Pizza offers a picturesque setting to enjoy a freshly made pie. Try the namesake Polo Pizza, topped with white sauce, cheese, baby spinach, dates, and carmelized onions. Daily specials include meat and vegetarian options. polopizzaco.com