"Pizza Price Parity": Where Is Pizza Most And Least Expensive In America?

Tyler Durden's picture

Via Priceonomics.com,

Between 2007 - 2010, a USDA study estimated that 1 in 8 Americans ate some form of pizza on any given day. That number climbs to about 1 in 4 for males and 1 in 5 for females when looking specifically at Americans age 12 to 19. There’s no escaping it; pizza is engrained in our diets.

Pizza is not only a pillar of the American diet, but also of our culture.

Through saturation of TV, movies, and now the internet, it has entered the zeitgeist. How do you make characters as strange as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles more relatable? Make them love pizza. Right now, you can search on Amazon to find pizza sweatshirts, pizza pool toys, and pizza cologne. Even new disruptive and trendy technological innovations need their connection to pizza. That’s why there’s a pizza cryptocurrency and drone pizza delivery.

We noticed that pizza prices and availability can vary dramatically across the United States. We analyzed data from Priceonomics customer, Datafiniti, a data company that has digitized menus across America. Which states and cities have the most pizzerias? How much can you expect to pay for pizza across the country?

Starting with this business data, we searched for restaurants serving pizza. This data set gave us thousands of different listings to comb through for more detailed location and menu information. To control for differences in price because of toppings and sizes, we needed a standardized item for evaluation, so we found the price of a large plain pizza in each restaurant record. This baseline allowed us to compare prices across cities and states more accurately.

So, where can you find the most places serving pizza? Accounting for population, you can find the most pizza places concentrated in the Northeast, particularly Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. At the city level, the trend is not as clear, with Orlando, FL, Buffalo, NY, and Minneapolis, MN taking the top three spots. 

How much will you pay for a large cheese pie? Median prices range from $7.25 to as much as $15. Despite only looking at plain cheese pizza, there are subtle stylistic differences that likely lead to price variation. The neighborhood family-friendly pizza place and the typical franchise have much lower prices than artisanal wood-fire pizzerias. Other regional differences, like Chicago deep dish, lead to higher prices as well.

And the cities with the most expensive cheese pizzas in America? Buffalo, NY, Nashville, TN, and San Francisco, CA take the top three spots.

Despite those geographical differences, there is one universal truth: no matter where you are, you’ll be able to find pizza.

*  *  *

To start our investigation, we will want to see how pizza places are distributed across the country. To account for differences in population, our metric of interest will not be absolute number of restaurants, but instead number of restaurants per 100K residents. Controlling for populations makes sure some states, like California, do not dominate the top of our charts.

Data source: Datafiniti

The state with the most restaurants serving pizza is Connecticut, with 13.2 restaurants per capita. Smaller northeastern states with large Italian populations dominate the list, including Massachusetts (11.7), Rhode Island (11.6), and New Jersey (9.6).

New York and Illinois, two states that are known for their distinct styles of pizza, are in the second tier of states, along with areas of West, the upper Midwest, and Florida. 

States in the Deep South have the fewest number of pizza places per capita. We expect this result as these states don’t have distinctive pizza styles. Hawaii, despite having an eponymous pizza (the Hawaiian, which features pineapple and ham), is also in this group.

So looking at these states, what is the cost of the average large plain cheese pie?

Data source: Datafiniti

North Dakota and Wyoming have the most highest median prices. While there is no distinct regional trend, there are some possible explanations for what we see. These states have fewer pizzerias, which tend to be more upscale, artisanal sit-down restaurants. So in cases where you can find pizza, it’s just a more expensive variety. Maine and Alaska have the cheapest pizza options. While that’s not exactly the attribute you want your pizza to be known for, it is a great thing for pizza lovers in these states.

Now we will go one level deeper and take a look at America’s cities. Where can we find the most pizza restaurants per capita? When working with this data, we limited our comparison to the 50 cities with the greatest absolute number of pizza places.

Data source: Datafiniti

Orlando, FL sits at the top of our list with 21.6 restaurants per 100K residents. While Orlando is not known for any pizza tradition, a few things could be causing the abundance of pizza. Florida, in general, is known for tourism, Orlando especially. Pizza is guaranteed to interest tourists no matter where they’re from and it’s a great option for families when traveling. Ft. Lauderdale likely has a similar story.

Number two is a city from New York that is not NYC; it’s Buffalo (20.2). This mid-sized city has a sizable Italian community and its own style of pizza. It’s a medium-thick crust round pie that is somewhere between New York and Chicago pizza styles. 

Our third place city, Minneapolis (21.1), may seem like the odd-man-out at first, but the Midwest also has its own distinct pie. Its square shape and medium-thick crust is similar to the traditional Neapolitan pie that families would bake at home. You’re likely to see this shape of pizza across the Rust Belt, as far east as Detroit.

Now that we know where to find pizza, we should learn more about prices. Again we will look at the median price of a large plain pizza to compare our cities. 

Data source: Datafiniti

The city with the highest median price is Buffalo, NY at $14.79 for a large plain pie. In general, large metropolitan areas or mid-sized eastern cities compose the most expensive cities for pizza. Most likely their prices are just a product of the higher cost of living. 

At $5.99, Lexington, KY has the least expensive median price. Overall these cities are smaller and more often in the center of the country. Two of the cities with the most pizzerias, Orlando and Minneapolis, are also on our list for least expensive plain pies. That’s great news if you are a pizza lover in either of these cities. While we would need much more data to verify this idea, it could be possible that the high number of restaurants leads to greater competition and therefore better prices for customers.

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nati's picture

Wait, are you talking about child sex slaves? Or actual pizza?

Rhal's picture

In areas where the price of a ten inch pepperoni is more than $5000, it's safe to assume a "youthful presonal servant" is in the price.

Of course the pictures that show up on your phone with ideas your had better do are free.

Dame Ednas Possum's picture

Ask Bubba... he knows where to get the best extra cheesy pizza in town. 



Cognitive Dissonance's picture

The best, and cheapest, pizza in America is served in my kitchen. Sorry, only room for two. ;-)

Stuck on Zero's picture

The best pizza around, if you like meaty deep-dish, was Chicago or St. Louis. Mostly it has degraded into that "California Pizza Kitchen" crap.

wee-weed up's picture



Excluding places that do "craft" pizzas...

For chain pizza places...

If you have a coupon...

Papa Murphy's is the best deal out there...

Good pizzas - reasonable prices - and they pile on the toppings.

Disclaimer:  No, I don't work there. But I enjoy their delicious affordable pizzas.

Pernicious Gold Phallusy's picture

I went to a Lou's newly opened in a place far, far from the breezy southwestern shores of Lake Michigan. The greasy thick crust tasted all baking soda bitter. The sauce looked like it was spritzed on with a perfume atomizer. The net effect tasted like a Poppin Fresh Crescent Roll smeared with a tiny amount of Chef BoyArDee spaghetti sauce. I won't go back.

By the way, if you say the name fast, it sounds like Illuminati Pizza.

mkkby's picture

California Pizza Kitchen... Anything CA is ruined by their *culture*. Pizza with kale and brussel sprouts on gluten free rice flour crust.

Cheese on crackers would be better.

Sanity Bear's picture

The best pizza period is Di Fara's Pizza in Brooklyn.

Anyone who thinks otherwise has never been there.

Anyway, all pizza is not alike. You get a pizza in New York, chances are it's much better than a pizza you get in the Carolinas. Except in Clemson which oddly enough has genuine NY pizza from actual New York pizzerias that moved there.

My post would not be complete without this warning: whatever you do, NEVER EVER order pizza in Minneapolis.

Jessica6's picture

Buffalo has pretty good pizza.

Lots of places sell them with a variety of small, spicy pepperoni you don't really see elsewhere.

Nolde Huruska's picture

The best pizza I ever had was in a dive called Carmela's on Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square, New York. But if you're stuck in Northern California your best bet is Costco's snack bar pizza. It's quite good for the price.

Stuck on Zero's picture

By the way ... Frankie Johnnies and Luigi's II (in Mountain View) was one of the best pizza places anywhere.

factorypreset's picture

"most highest"

Now that's some great article writing!

Mtnrunnr's picture

Where in the fuck are they finding $5.99 pizza's in kentucky. Also get over yourself. there are plenty of reasons to hate hillary and the Dems but they're not selling sex slaves at pizza restaurants. 

_triplesix_'s picture

Among your meny mental problems, your lack of a sense of humor may be your worst.

Heavy McNuggets's picture

They just sell pizza related handkerchief maps. Whatever the fuck those are.

Sam Clemons's picture

Map is ejaculate. Pizza is little boy. Make sense why it would be on a handkerchief and why a pervert would care?

Midas's picture

Doesn't everybody put walnut sauce on their food?  What makes you think that is code for something else?

Rhal's picture

Forget children and sex for a moment.

This is about brown-stoning. It proven and it's been happening for a long long time. It's democracies Achilles heel and as long as we accept elected leaders who say one thing and do another it will keep the shadow government dominant.

This episode of brown-stoning started in the 1800s by blackmailing homosexual officials. More recently homosexuality has become publicly acceptable, therefore other acts have been introduced - anything the public finds reprehensible can be used to blackmail an official.

It has reached the point where some mid level Washington types have offered themselves into the brownstone circles just to have others raise them into higher power circles.

This isn't new.

Cynicles II's picture

you're about 1500 years too recent on your date

what happened's picture


Perhaps not pizza restaurants, but Hillary and Bill's 1997 Adoption and "Safe Families" Act opened the door for local government to earn money from the Feds for adopting children.  They earn extra money for adopting out special needs children, where often, the special needs are not revealed to the adoptive parents.  All trafficking of children causing human misery, but a tidy profit for those in the "helping" professions and work for institutions like these.

Cynicles II's picture

Most and least expensive in America, not DC. 

Oliver Klozoff's picture

How quickly words become perjoratives these days.

Brazen Heist's picture

Tylers...what kind of pizza is this precisely?

HRClinton's picture

Tasty pizza.

With sauce, cheese and sausage. 

Hold the fungi. 

Oliver Klozoff's picture

Damn, and I thought that hot chick called me a "fun guy".

DeadFred's picture

Plain large cheese. No walnut sauce and definitely no hot dogs.

alpha-protagonist's picture

What is considered a "large" pizza? 16" ...?

yogibear's picture

I see pizzzas around me at over $20.00 for a 16 inch with a couple of toppings. Outrageous.

Then again HS teachers around me over $150,000/year and drive Mercedes.

Implied Violins's picture

I'd say anything over about 48". Over that amount and you're approaching teen status.

I love your wife's picture

...AT JON PODESTA's HOUSE.  $1600 an hour.

ali-ali-al-qomfri's picture

because the Big Mac Index is manipulated?

Eeesh's picture

Makes you wonder. 

Schmuck Raker's picture

Let's give the USDA a raise. Great job boys! Take THAT Iran.

blue51's picture

Looooots of pizza delivered to Morgan Freemans house , evidently .

Hyjinx's picture

Hard to build a "pizza index" when all the pizza outside of the NYC/LI/northern NJ area is shit I wouldn't call "pizza."

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Hard to find authentic hot Italian sausage outside that area as well.

Mr Pink's picture

Keep that soggy burnt garbage 


Everyone in Chicago area

Hyjinx's picture

Sounds like you ended up at a bad place!  "Deep Dish" just hides the lack of ingredients.  You apparently have never been to Sicily or Naples, can't find "Deep Dish" there.

Mr Pink's picture

I owned a pizza restaurant that was voted 5th best in a 100 mile radius of Milwaukee.

There is a pizza place on every block in this area so I know a little about pizza

brown_hornet's picture

That's because oizza was invented in the USA

waspwench's picture

Most of what passes for pizza in this country wouldn't pass muster in Italy.

Eddielaidler's picture

West of Pittsburgh all good Pizza ceases to exist. Chicago is an exception.  I'm not counting shitty chain pizza.

Mr. Schmilkies's picture

Let's see, CT, MA, RI, NJ, hmm maybe lots of Italians?  

chunga's picture

Best pizza I ever had was from Fall River, MA. Chourico, black olives and peppers, it was square. I've never had good pizza outside the northeast.

blue51's picture

Bianchi's and Regina's were tops , years ago .