What’s Up With Pizza-FInding Apps?

You’re lost. You’re hungry. You need pizza. You have a wi-fi equipped mobile device. You are saved! Everybody knows about general food-locating apps like Yelp, Foursquare and Foodspotting but there are several apps dedicated solely to helping you find nearby pizzerias. Here’s a quick rundown of four of them.

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NAME: Pizza Finder
PRICE: FREE (you just have to deal with the ad at the bottom)
TERRITORY: Entire USA
DEVICES: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad

Pizza Finder opens with a list of pizzerias in close proximity. You get exact distance, address and phone number right there on the main page. Clicking through to any pizzeria gives you its Yelp page for more details and reviews. You can even enter any location in the US and get a list of pizzerias if you want to plan ahead rather than wait until you’re standing sliceless at an unfamiliar intersection. It’s pretty much just a “pizza” search in the Yellow Pages.

Not a bad app if you’re in a new apartment and want to order a couple pies for all the friends you roped into helping you move, but keep in mind you’re depending on Yelp reviews to light the way to the right spot. Choose the wrong pizzeria and you’ll have to find new friends for the next move.

Get Pizza Finder at the App Store

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NAME: Cheazza
PRICE: $0.99
TERRITORY: NYC
DEVICES: Compatible with iPad, iTouch and iPhone

As its name (sort of) indicates, Cheazza is all about helping you find cheap pizza. It lists chains, dollar slice shops and pizza deals by neighborhood or via a geo-location feature. In the screenshot above, you’ll see Papa John’s (#3 chain in the US), 2 Bros. Pizza (dollar slice chain around NYC), Crocodile Lounge (one of several NYC bars that offer a free personal pizza with every drink) and a couple other dollar slice joints. Come to think of it, Cheazza is technically an app that lists pizzerias you’ll want to avoid! It amazes me that anyone New York would go out of their way to find a bad slice, but I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures. Use at your own risk!

Get Cheazza at the App Store

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NAME: Jeff Orlick’s Real Pizza of New York
PRICE: $2.99
TERRITORY: New York Metro Area
DEVICES: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad

Who is Jeff Orlick? He’s a guy who lives in Queens and really likes good food. He’s constantly searching for authenticity, honesty and general realness in eateries of all sorts but this app concentrates specifically on Jeff’s personal pizza recommendations. Instead of searching based on proximity, Real Pizza suggests pizzerias based on user-selected filters (right screenshot above) such as borough, oven type and pizza style. There are also options to sort by price and neighborhood if you don’t want to go with straight alphabetical order.

This is easily my favorite pizza-finding app because it features something none of the other ones have: curation. Orlick has clearly spent countless hours, days, months, years culling his list and it is constantly being revised and expanded. His app shows you photos he took and reviews he wrote with extra info you can’t get from a simple phone book listing.

Real Pizza’s only real downfall is that there’s so much information that the app tends to run a bit slow and the navigation is a bit clunky. I also wish it had a geo-location function but my fingers are crossed that’s coming with the next update. That being said, this is the only app for serious pizza enthusiasts and it’s well worth the price of admission. (Full disclosure: My tour is listed on the app, but I’d dig it even if it wasn’t.)

Get Real Pizza of New York at the App Store

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NAME: Pizza Compass
PRICE: $0.99
TERRITORY: Earth
DEVICES: Compatible with iPhone 3GS and later, iPod touch 3rd generation and later, iPad running iOS 6.0 or later

This one just came out and its release gave me an excuse to finally review the pizza apps that have been sitting on my phone for the past few years. It is without a doubt the most attractive and user-friendly of all selections in this post but at the same time one of the most basic.

The Pizza Compass website is brilliant in its simplicity. It has links to just a few of the massive number of press pieces written when the app dropped as well as a simple video of the app’s “creator” (he’s not listed as a copyright holder) giving a spiel about the app. I was really taken in by the video because it lays out that the app is simply for finding the closest pizzeria and not interested in cultivating an elite list of authentic options. In that sense, it’s a lot like Pizza Finder (and the many other location apps I chose not to include since they’re all the same) but Pizza Compass actually looks like a compass as it points you toward slice salvation. It has smart features like a smoke indicator to let you know when you’re getting close and a red-green bar that tells you whether or not the place is currently open. It’s a really clean design, perfect for helping you find those late-night (READ AS: drunk) desperation slices.

But is it the greatest app ever? Will it change your life? Is it a “tool…to help us celebrate life…love…adventure,” as the video claims? No. No. Maybe. Because sometimes pizza isn’t about historic coal ovens or 48 hour fermentation or mozzarella di bufala; it’s about the comfort of a warm slice without having walked very far.

Get Pizza Compass at the App Store

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Pizza Self Sufficiency in App Form

DIY Pizza Pie is the greatest home pizza making tool since the advent of the pizza stone. No less should be expected of Mark Bello, the big cheese at Pizza A Casa in NYC’s Lower East Side. PAC’s pizza making workshops have become legendary for their ability to transform the dough-phobic into master pizzaioli in a matter of hours using a treasure trove of tricks and hacks developed over Bello’s years of tortured existence in the land of the deep dish. His methods are extremely simple and yield incredible results. The DIY Pizza Pie app distills the juiciest moments of a Pizza A Casa pizza making workshop into an easy-to-use app that’s perfect for beginners or pizza pros.

The app opens with a menu of selections ranging from necessary pizza gear (Tools of the Trade) to common mistakes (7 Deadly Pizza Pitfalls) to necessary dissertations on sauce, cheese and dough. Each of these categories gets you to a far more detailed list of options, such as this step-by-step process for making a Pizza Margherita.

Bello keeps it simple, but there are special features on nearly every page that will take you even deeper into pizza madness with incredibly detailed videos. These aren’t your ordinary cooking show variety where you see five seconds of work and the thing is magically done. One video demonstrates how to repair a punctured dough skin by using a light box to illustrate thin sections. Another shows two simultaneous angles of a dough stretching technique that would be difficult to describe in text alone or with a single video shot. It’s brilliant in its deep understanding of what processes concern most home pizza chefs, a skill the crew at Pizza A Casa developed by instructing thousands of people in the ways of the DIY pie.

For those who have taken the class, DIY Pizza Pie is a perfect way to take Bello and his bag of tricks with you. For those who aren’t planning a trip to New York anytime soon, it’s a valuable tool for attaining independence from low-quality take-out pizza wherever you live.

DIY Pizza Pie is currently available for iPad at the App Store. Live-action public workshops run weekends from noon to 4PM at Pizza A Casa in NYC’s Lower East Side.