To be the best pizza in Columbia, or not to be

Putting the legendary pizza joint to the test.


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We set out to eat, to explore and to investigate whether Shakespeare’s Pizza could be knocked off its throne, if it really is Columbia’s “Taste of the Town,” the crème de la crème, the Italian masterpiece that stands so far above all meager wannabes that it leaves competing grease puddles trembling in its caloric wake.

We ate, we tested, we spent and we can now profess: Shakespeare’s status as Columbia’s top pizza has been MYTH BUSTED.

Amid our Pizza Quest, we used all-meat samples and critiqued individual ingredients, product cohesion, price value and originality.

Shakespeare’s — 4.5 Slices Yes, Shakespeare’s is still the city’s, and perhaps the nation’s, top college hangout, and our rejection of it as Columbia’s best pizza isn’t a refute to the campus hangout award ABC’s “Good Morning, America” recently bestowed upon it.

Nestled north of the J-School on the corner of Ninth and Elm Street, Shakespeare’s offers the convenient location and quirky campus feel that has you coming back for more. The fresh, conveyer-made and freshly-rolled product is also far from something to scoff at. But it’s just not the product that makes your mouth water and leaves a lifetime impression. Not quite like our winner, anyway.

Arris Pizza — 2 Slices For a menu named after Greek gods, this product isn’t so mighty. At this date-like spot near Kohl’s on Grindstone Parkway, we ordered the Hercules (the meat-lover equivalent). It offered a pleasant sauce and decent ingredients but a crust beneath it all that was like toasted cardboard. With small ponds of grease drowning the dish and ingredients that needed super glue to stay attached to the paper-thin crust, Arris didn’t earn our approval. We doubt Olympus would be proud either.

Wise Guys — 4.5 Slices You can order “The Untouchable,” the behemoth with a 20-inch diameter that comes in a box the size of your kitchen table. We did. And you should.

Wise Guys is nestled near campus on North Sixth Street. You can’t get enough of this pie, well-assembled with fresh toppings in the middle and a crispy, delightful barrier of crust on the outside. The pizza does feature an unequal balance of cheese to sauce, with the former dominating. The value is impeccable and the meat is glorious, but Wise Guys doesn’t precisely scream revolution.

G & D Pizzaria – 5 Slices — Winner Yes, G & D. As in “Go there now,” and “Dammit, this is really, really good.” This parlor located at a plaza on the corner of Broadway and Stadium Boulevard is our choice as Columbia’s finest, the heir to Shakespeare’s staple status, the town’s true pizza prince.

G & D is another Greek spot, but the similarities to Arris’ stop there. G & D (Good and Delicious, as one manager told us) is more modest, with its meat-lover titled “Country Music.” This circle of steaming cheese-and-meat delight crafts its own type of Columbian pizza, something distinguished from the grease dominating Shakespeare’s or the standard style characterizing Wise Guys.

It’ll enchant you and demand your eyes — even from the waitresses in jean shorts the size of your index finger.

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