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Pizza: A Slice of Heaven: The Ultimate Pizza Guide and Companion Paperback – February 8, 2005

3.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Having consumed 1,000 slices of pizza in one year, across 20 states, Canada and Italy, Levine certainly possesses a firsthand, encyclopedic knowledge of the dish. But in his attempt to create "the ultimate guide and companion," he has constructed an unwieldy book with too many toppings. It is at once an anthology of reprinted essays and articles, a collection of celebrity mini-memoirs, a history of pizza both ancient and modern, and a collection of capsule reviews of dozens of pizza purveyors (including classic pizzerias, larger chains and staples of the frozen-food aisle). For the essays, Levine (New York Eats) raids the stables of the New York Times and Condé Nast on the East Coast, and culls from various Pacific coast journalists in the West. Highlights include an amusing piece by Jeffrey Steingarten on how to create a 700-degree heat source at home, and Levine's own seminal 2002 Times piece, "The State of the Slice." But Nora Ephron's memory of her "first time" eating pizza is disappointingly brief and hurried, and actor Ed Norton's 79-word cameo appearance in a paragraph about stromboli feels out of place. New York gets the most attention with reviews from all five boroughs, Westchester and Long Island (an eating trip to Italy merits just 10 pages). Levine at least ends on a high note, profiling the top six pie makers he encountered. B&w photos. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Author and radio and television personality Ed Levine has been called the "missionary of the delicious and the Homer of rugelach," by Ruth Reichl in the New York Times. He is a regular contributor to the New York Times, and is the author of New York Eats and New York Eats (More), which was a finalist for the Julia Child Cookbook Award.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Universe (February 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789312050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789312051
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,895,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
`Pizza, A Slice of Heaven' by New York Times culinary journalist, Ed Levine and a proverbial cast of thousands is a digest of many different opinions about pizza making around the country and around the world. The cover states that the author includes contributions from Nora Ephron, Mario Batali, and Calvin Trillin, but the `and many others' includes many heavyweights in the world of writing about food in general and pizza in particular, including Jeffrey Steingarten, Ruth Reichl, Robb Walsh, and Peter Reinhart.

There have probably been many more books recently on pizza, but the only one really worthy of consideration to my knowledge is Peter Reinhart's recent `American Pie' which takes a much less democratic and much more analytical and rational and professional approach to the search for the greatest pizza. It is immensely satisfying that these two very different books came up with the identical conclusion that the very best American pizza is Chris Bianco at Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, Arizona. Bianco was easy to pick, as he is the only pizzaiolo to have been awarded a best regional chef award by the James Beard Foundation.

For those of us who do not live within easy driving distance of Pizzeria Bianco, all is not lost. Things are especially good for those of us who live in Levine's `Pizza Corridor' stretching from Boston to Washington, D.C., the landing sites for the great wave of immigrants from southern Italy in the latter half of the 19th century. Particularly good are pizzas available in famous shops in New Haven, Connecticut, New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and, to a lesser extent, in Baltimore and Washington.

Levine's book is collected from two or three kinds of articles, depending on how you want to slice them.
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Format: Paperback
Most of this book is written as a guide; depending on where you live, you can look up your area to find the best pizza around. Ed Levine ranks pizzas all across the country and in Italy. In general, the best pie is found in the New York City area. The best in the world is Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, Arizona - Chris Bianco is originally from the Bronx. I have gone to Totonno's Pizza - rated the best in New York - and it is exceptional.

SPECIAL NOTE: Levine is ostracized from Chicago for calling deep dish pizza "a good casserole at best." The negative reviews on this cite are all from disgruntled citizens of Chicago.

The beginning of the book contains the history and science of pizza, as well as pizza essays by various writers. Of course, there is also a recipe. The trouble is, to make pizza right, you need a nine-hundred-degree brick oven. The method they have of duplicating this at home is to have an outdoor charcoal pit. Without the pit, you use your own oven. Most ovens only get up to about five-hundred-degrees so the pizza takes a little longer to cook and the crust does not come out perfectly. However, home-made pizza is almost always better than delivery pizza. I tried the recipe in my own oven and it came out pretty good.
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Format: Paperback
Have you ever visited a city on vacation and wanted to know where to find the very best pizza? Well look no further than this well-written and comprehenisive guide to America's favorite food...Pizza! Food Writer Ed Levine who has had a lifelong love affair with Pizza provides the info in this outstanding book that comes in the year when Lombardi's in New York celebrates its 100th anniversary as the first licensed pizzeria.

Levine spent over a year touring over 200 pizzerias in 20 states, Canada, and Pizza's native home of Naples, Italy and sampled thousands of slices to provide the necessary ammo for this ambitious book. But not only that, Levine consulted with the food writers in the various cities he visited with many contributing essays on pizza for the book. Levine visited the mom & pop pizzerias as well as the major chains. Levine doesn't try to hid his disdain for the big chains noting that, "It kills me when people say Pizza Hut's great." He has similar dislike for frozen pizza, even the new, gourmet rising crust pizzas don't grab accolades from him.

But more than that Levine reveals how passionate people are about good pizza and how people can vividly recall their favorite pizza joints even if they are no longer around. He guesses that perhaps only 1,000 pizzerias out of 63,000 serve something better than mediocre, a sobering thought to those of us who truly love a good pizza.

Clearly Levine favors Northeastern part of the country due to their long Italian heritage but Levine has found many good pizzas in the south and west as well such as Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix. Perhaps Levine's biggest excitement comes not with the the pizzerias that have been around for generations, but with many of the new stores with chefs who adopt old ways such as wood burning stone ovens for the perfect crust.

Just a fun and fascinating book and indispensable for any pizza lover.
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I'm Swiss-Italian and lived in Milan for 12 years; Now I live in New York. Ed Levine is completely correct about Chicago Deep-dish "pizza". I admit that it can be tasty, but it's not pizza. His cleverly worded comment ("[deep dish pizza is like] a good casserole at best") captures all of that. When it's good, it's like a good casserole (or chicken pot pie, or soup in a bread bowl), but it's certainly not pizza.

In response to Kyle Garrett, adding too much cheese is a sure-fire way to ruin a pizza - the crust gets soggy, especially if you compensate by adding more sauce. The crust is the star player is pizza, which is something that he must not have had the pleasure of finding out. It's this kind of "more is better" mentality that results is excellent foreign recipes being butchered in this country.
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