Whether you are a thin-crust/hand-tossed tribal member, an Italian Napoli-style purist, a classic Chicago-style, deep-dish enthusiast, or somewhere in between, the best pizza in Palm Springs and beyond will lead you to your own, personal, slice of pie-paradise.
VIDEO: Giuseppe's Pizza & Pasta owner Joe Funkey talks about the traditions of making Chicago Style Pizza.
Giuseppe’s Pizza & Pasta in Palm Springs is owned by the family Funkey, who have made it their business to involve two generations in the operation of three restaurants and a bar. Owner, Joe Funkey, hails from Chicago, and when the former mortgage officer and his wife, Sue, decided to switch professions after the housing collapse in 2007, they opted to become restauranteurs. Joe knew pizza as a connoisseur, and the couple opened Giuseppe’s in a small space in Cathedral City.
After two successful years building a following, they moved to their current location in Palm Springs in the Smoke Tree Shopping Center. Daughter, Kimberly, took over operations and catering and son Donovan is also involved with running the family-owned bar and other restaurants. While Giuseppe’s offers a full menu of Italian specialties, pizza is at the core of their success.
Chicago pan pizzas are made in the classic style, with cornmeal crust, thick slices of mozzarella layered at the base, and a hearty, crushed tomato sauce slathered on top with a slight dusting of parmesan. When the pans come out of the oven, pizzas are brushed with a thin finish of butter and sliced. The hallmark cornmeal pizza dough is used for both deep-dish and hand-tossed/thin-crust pizzas on the menu. Hand-tossed pizzas are cut into squares in the Chicago tradition and many of the ingredients on the menu hail from Chi-town, from sausage to the Giardiniera. Try the House Special for a tried-and-true taste of Chicago, or go with other customer favorites; Joe’s Special or Eggplant Parm.
1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive/Smoke Tree Shopping Center, Palm Springs. 760-537-1890; www.giuseppesps.com
PHOTO BY LORI COHEN-SANFORD
The Elton John is a rock star-powered mix of garlic-infused olive oil sauce, artichokes, spinach, tomatoes, red onion, feta and four-cheese pizza blend. This version is on a gluten-free crust.
Bill’s Pizza in Palm Springs offers pizza by the slice, by the pie, and is a popular spot for locals and visitors. Centrally located in the heart of downtown Palm Springs, foot traffic is brisk and the large variety (over 20 at last count) of unique combinations for sauces and toppings offers something for everyone. In fact, customers are encouraged to customize their own creations. The crust is a sourdough, hand-tossed, recipe and Bill’s prides itself on using fresh, quality ingredients. A definitive Palm Springs fixture, fun varieties include the Elton John, Hammer & Sickle or the Bacon Me Crazy. This is a cash-only establishment, so be aware of the “no-green, no service” policy.
119 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-5571; www.billspizzapalmsprings.com
PHOTO COURTESY BIRBA/F10 CREATIVE
Sometimes simple is simply the best. Margherita pizza at Birba stays true to a thin-crust, Italian-style philosophy.
Birba in Palm Springs takes its name from the Italian word “birbante,” roughly translated as rascal or scoundrel. The restaurant is heavy on pizzas but also has a wider menu of appetizers and entrees, a full bar, outdoor only dining area, and is open for dinner only. It is a popular option for groups looking for pizza in a more upscale dining setting where they can enjoy blazing fire pits in the cooler months, misters in desert heat, and live entertainment during the peak of tourist season. Pizzas are made on thin crusts and cooked quickly in wood-burning ovens. A small, but unique selection of specialty pizzas star and a chef’s special “Piece of the Pie!” rotates through the menu along with other specials. The “Piece of the Pie!” program donates proceeds from each special pizza to local charitable organizations, such as The Boys & Girls Club, Animal Shelters, and other local organizations.
622 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760-327-5678; www.birbapalmsprings.com
PHOTO COURTESY OF PIERO’S PIZZA VINO
Capricciosa pizza at Piero’s is made with tomato, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms, artichokes and black olives.
Piero’s PizzaVino in Palm Desert is known for authentic, Napoli-style pizza, and owner, Piero Pierrattoni, would have it no other way. Hailing from Florence, just outside the Italian birthplace of pizza in Naples, Piero explains it simply, “anyone from Florence knows what good pizza is.” He became VPN certified in authentic Napoli-style pizza but modified the dough recipe slightly to include the use of a “mother” yeast starter. This allows the dough to develop at a slower proof covering a 24-hour cycle. He credits the light, airy crusts of pizzas made at Piero’s with this attention to proper dough-making and the correct, “ratio of sauce to cheese.” According to this passionate pizza expert, “a true pizza lover should enjoy the crust more than the toppings.” That isn’t to say that toppings are given any less attention on a Piero’s pie. With “red” and “white” versions, and gluten-free crusts made in-house, customers go for options like the Calabrese, or Cappricciosa (reds) or the Alda or Bubba Bubba (whites).
73722 El Paseo Dr., #1, Palm Desert. 760-568-2525; www.ppizzavino.com
PHOTO COURTESY STUFT PIZZA BAR & GRILL
Flatbread pizza at Stuft is a popular choice for a lighter pizza fix, while the thin and regular crust pizzas are great for gobbling.
Stuft Pizza Bar & Grill has two locations on the east end of the valley — the original in Old Town La Quinta and a newer location in Palm Desert at the Westfield Mall.
Owner, John Bertram has been operating in the Coachella Valley for 12 years and learned the family business from his father, who started Stuft in the Los Angeles area more than 40 years ago. Bertram says the secret to the popularity of Stuft pizza is in the crust and sauce recipes, developed by his Dad. The proprietary yeast formula used for the crust and spice-mix used for the sauce have developed a loyal following of California pizza fans. The regular crust is “flavorful” due to the yeast and thin and flatbread crusts are also offered. Pizzas can be ordered with seven different sauces and range from the most popular across both locations, Pepperoni, to Everything but the Kitchen-Sink, which is appropriately named for the five types of meat, extra cheese, veggies and pineapple piled on top of it. In addition to the popularity of their pizzas, the restaurants offer a full bar and menus with more than 100 items to choose from.
78015 Main St, Ste. 1, La Quinta, 760-609-4836 or 72840 Hwy 111, Palm Desert /Westfield Mall. 760-610-7990; www.stuftpizzabarandgrill.com
Lori Cohen-Sanford is a private/personal chef, cooking class instructor and owner of Nourishfoods Organic Meal Services — www.nourishfoods.biz. Tastes Around Town will appear weekly. Follow her on Twitter @nourishfoodsps.