Following my article on the best burgers in the County, I had a number of requests to follow up with an article on where to find the the best pizza joints in the area. Well, who am I to disappoint? So with a hunger in my belly, and a hope that they had a ‘by the slice’ option to save my expanding stomach line; I set about sampling the best that Hernando County has to offer.
Let me preface this article by saying that, like most red blooded males, I LOVE pizza. I love thin pizza, I love regular crust, and on occasion I have been known to delve into the world of deep dish. Following this sampling, I also now know that I like ‘stuffed’ slice pizza, which I had previously been ignorant to its charms.
My mood decidedly determines what I think of a slice. I know pizza preference is a very personal, subjective thing, and there is no wrong as long as it tickles your taste buds. So please don’t be offended if your favorite place isn’t ranked among my top picks. Just realize that there are a lot of good places out there and they all deserve our support. Feel free to let me know if I missed any great ones and again, I had to stop somewhere.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to the goods! (click on the smaller pictures to see the larger ones).
BESTA ONE ITALIAN
13103 Cortez Blvd Brooksville, FL 34613
Besta One has been around for a while in Hernando County and is situated on SR50 in the Sears Plaza. I have been a few times in the past but this was the first time since it changed ownership and I was eager to see what had changed.
The place has a nice atmosphere and my wife, and I were hoping the food would match the ambience. We ordered the “Special” pizza, which had mushrooms, peppers, onion, pepperoni and sausage. The kitchen is an open kitchen so you can see the dough being made in front of you; a sure fire sign it’s fresh.
The pizza was very good. The crust was a little thicker than some of the offerings but it held up and had a good crisp to it. It didn’t roll over and submit when you picked it up like some do.
The sauce was tasty, ingredients were fresh, and over all I was satisfied with the pizza. However, there was nothing that made it stand out in my opinion and elevate it to the top of my list. That being said, it will be in my rotation to try again. I will also be keen to try some of their other dishes as well. Well worth checking out.
CHEFS OF NAPOLI
14277 Powell Rd Spring Hill, FL 34609
Chefs of Napoli is situated in Silverthorn Square off Powell Road and is known locally as one of the better Italian eateries. I used to get the pizza from there a lot, but started to share the love when the quality got a little inconsistent.
Let me just say, on it’s day this is one of the best pizzas out there. The ingredients (sausage in particular) are first-rate, and there is huge flavor in the pizza. Even the smallest size is enough to feed a small army. This attribute is a major plus for me, as I love having a slice or two the next day as well.
But here’s the issue (and really the only qualm I have) with the pizza. It is a little inconsistent. I have had a few people say they have had really good pizza one week and not so good the next. This particular day was one of those times when it wasn’t quite cooked long enough, and the crust didn’t hold up very well when you picked it up. I had no complaints with the flavor, but I do wish that I could be sure each time I go in that I will get the same quality dining experience.
I will definitely be having their pizza again and recommend that you give it a go as the good times far outweigh the indifferent ones. But on the other hand, I can’t put this pizza at the top because of the oversight in cooking time.
7219 Forest Oaks Blvd Spring Hill, FL 34606
Ask people where their favorite place is for pizza and you are quite likely to hear Guido’s down at the corner of Forest Oaks and US19. They are renowned for their thin crust pizza, (in the truest sense this is thin crust) and since this is my favorite style pizza, I was keen to get in and try it.
I ordered the ‘Guido Special’ and waited in anticipation. Out it came. It’s definitely a thin pizza (which I love) and I was very impressed with the crust and the sauce. It’s so crisp and light that I feel like I could eat the whole thing and it would fill me up perfectly.
Unfortunately, the pizza itself did not do it for me. I found the anchovies to be very overpowering (yes, I know they are a strong fish). I think it was just a case of ordering the wrong thing, as I have had pizza there before and enjoyed it much more than I did on this occasion.
If you are a fan of thin crust pizza then you are sure to love the pizza from Guidos. The vegetarian pizza I had on a previous occasion was fantastic, as was the meat one. It was fresh and light and can be eaten at lunch without making you go back to work and need a nap. It’s really a local favorite and I can see why.
14319 Spring Hill Dr Spring Hill, FL 34609
The franchise offering the steepest competition was Marco’s Pizza. There are two things to I need to disclose up front.
1) I eat Marcos a lot.
They deliver, and I like their pizza so it’s a good combination.
2) I like the owner there.
Bruce does a LOT for the community, so I like to support him where I can. He’s given away a lot of pizzas to a variety of other community events. He also does events with the schools and is just an all around great guy.
The pizza itself I find very good. I order a concoction that someone put me onto a few years back known as the ‘Bob Special’ in our circle of friends. There is speculation on the true combination of ingredients, and there are some bastardized variations of it, but as best I can tell it’s the meat special with mushrooms and jalapenos. Feel free to play around with it as you please and let me know your favorite combo.
The crust is medium in thickness; not as thick as Besta One but thicker than Guido’s. But where the pizza excels is the sauce. It was one of the tastier offerings as far as this foray went. It is rich and extremely tasty and makes the pizza. The ingredients are good as well but they really play second fiddle here. I could eat that sauce on anything probably.
As far as chain pizza places go this is way out at the top for me and it really does compete with some of the top pizzas in the category. This is one of the only places that I allow myself to break my ‘no chain’ rule for, along with Carrabba’s, so hopefully that speaks for what I think of it. Best in Hernando? Not yet Bruce. But it is very tasty and great for delivery on a weekend or game day.
4369 Commercial Way Spring Hill, FL 34606
Mario’s always ranks high on the list when it comes to best pizza, consistently finding a place in the top three of the “Best in Hernando” awards in the local paper. Needless to say I was excited to try it out for the first time.
They do a really good lunch special consisting of a couple of slices and a soda for $5. If you are near there[A1] I suggest that you try it out.
Anyway, I digress; Mario’s uses an open concept kitchen similar to Besta One, so freshness is guaranteed. I ordered the pizza with mushrooms, peppers, onion, pepperoni and sausage (a common combination) and sat with eager anticipation for the offering to come to the table.
How was it? Good, everything I expected. Crust was great, sauce was plentiful and tasty, the ingredients were noticeably fresh and overall the combination was one of the better flavor combinations throughout the whole taste test. The pizza entered my top 5 without question.
I will definitely stop in when I’m passing by for the lunch special (I believe you can add toppings for extra if you wish but I stand corrected if not). Unfortunately, it is on the complete other end of town from me, which will keep me from becoming a regular. I wish it were closer. It’s a really good pizza and I highly recommend it.
1427 Kass Cir Spring Hill, FL 34606
Nina’s Cucina on Kass Circle has been a favorite of mine ever since I stumbled in one day for lunch and tried their burger. Their aim is to provide reasonably priced, fresh made food in a family friendly setting, and it’s a goal that I dig. I have a lot of respect for the owner for putting his heart and soul into his cuisine and offering a perspective that isn’t really prevalent in Spring Hill. Nina’s only started offering pizza about five months ago and I waited with bated breath for the first list of pizza combinations. Despite the restaurant not being a ‘pizzeria’ as such, I was impressed by their pizza and would be doing a disservice to my readers if I didn’t include it in this competition.
First off, there are two different varieties of pizzas offered at Nina’s. They have gourmet pizzas featuring specialty ingredients, such as roasted tomatoes, peppers, feta, spinach and prosciutto, as well as simpler offerings such as sausage, a margherita pizza, chicken and more of the ‘favorites’.
I tried the Pizza Sophia for the purposes of this competition, which consists of plum tomatoes, spinach and feta cheese. The crust is a thinner style and crisps up very nicely. The Chef and owner, Tony, did let me in on the secret of how he is able to create this perfectly crisp yet supple crust but…. Well, I can’t tell you.
OH MY GOD. Words cannot do this pizza justice. I go to Nina’s at least twice a month and originally my goal was to try everything on the menu. Since my taste buds first met this pizza, I don’t think I have even tried anything else. I even order it as an appetizer for the table sometimes if nobody else is having it, just so my friends and family can try it for themselves.
Nina’s offers individual sized pizzas (nothing over $8) that are perfect for a dinner. I don’t know anyone that has been less than impressed. I knew for sure it was a winner when my mother-in-law (who is a fantastic Italian cook) commented “this is the way pizza is supposed to taste” when she tried the pizzas at Nina’s. Truer words were never spoken. Try it; you will not be disappointed.
14355 Spring Hill Dr Spring Hill, FL 34609
Padulas was the first pizza that I had in Spring Hill. When I first flew across the pond about 12 years ago, this was the place where we would get takeout or delivery given its proximity to my parents’ house in Pristine Place. Everything was good until one day we had a bad pizza from there. After that we never went back.
Fast forward about six years and I find myself back with an open mind and, empty stomach, ready to sample three slices of various pizzas again. At this point, I was eight places into the competition, and I was curious to see how it would stack up. Unfortunately, when the slices initially came out they were not hot, more like luke warm, but the staff promptly took them back and they came out right the second time.
I didn’t especially care for their regular cheese or pepperoni pizzas. Again, I think other people do a slightly better one. What I did dig however was their thicker pizza with the 6 meats. Got your attention right? This pizza was very good. Lots of cheese, lot of toppings and not a small portion either. I will definitely be popping back in to have some more of this bad boy when I can finally face pizza again.
13122 Spring Hill Dr Spring Hill, FL 34609
Pizza Villa was ranked Number one in the “Best of Hernando” for pizza, so needless to say this sampling had to be tried.
I like that they again do individual sized pizzas for lunch, as I can’t (well I can but would rather not) get a whole pie for myself. I know other places do pizza by the slice but there is something about an individual pizza that is just very pleasing to me. I’m British, I’m strange, and I’m ok with it.
I tried two different pizzas to get a good overview of their selection. The first was the chef’s sauce, which is a plain cheese pizza with a delicious garlic tomato sauce. Then, the second pizza was topped with (you guessed it) sausage, pepperoni, mushroom, peppers and onions.
Even the cheese pizza (I never have ‘plain’ pizza, but I bowed to pressure when I went) was wonderful, but I was eager to try the main event.
The pizza definitely lives up to the hype. The crust is thin but still thick enough to withstand the sauces and toppings. Speaking of the sauce; wonderful is the word that springs to mind. Very flavorful and you actually get a good portion of it on the pizza. The toppings were fantastic. This catapulted Pizza Villa right into my top three. It’s a REALLY, REALLY, good pizza. Try it if you haven’t. They have a couple of locations and are accessible to both ends of town.
PJ’S BRICK OVEN PIZZA
2144 Mariner Blvd Spring Hill, FL 34609
My good friend John “Mr. Pizza” Morris told me that this place is the best in town for pizza and that I had to go there (and invite him) and put it in the mix for the review.
They do pizza by the slice (I love sampling a variety of pies) and thus I got a pepperoni pizza and then three additional slices to try. Well….. I say slices, but that would be understating what I experienced.
I got the special, (same combo as before) which was very good, and against my better judgment the white pizza (I don’t like white pizza but thought I would try this one). Surprise, surprise, I didn’t care for it and am officially retiring myself from the white pizza league. It’s been real, but I am over it.
Following the white pizza catastrophe, I sought to raise my spirits with the “Stuffed Slice”.
Imagine a pie, but it’s pizza. Bottom crust (like any pizza) then an inch or two of mozzarella, ricotta and other goodness and a TOP CRUST and that’s what you have. You know what? Just check the picture, I can’t explain it and do it any sort of justice.
The pizza is very good; it’s in the top five on it’s own. The “Stuffed Slice”; it’s over the top. It’s fantastic. I am a convert. I will never go here again without getting it. It is a must. My only criticism, (God, I’m really splitting hairs here) is that they only do one type of “stuffed slice”, as best I can tell. I have to defer to my man Fred Zand who said it would be great to have some other types, a cheesesteak or something and some other samplings. This pizza is really something that you have to try. I love it, and you won’t convince me that it doesn’t have magical properties. If you’re on a diet, break it. You have to have this pizza; you too will be a convert.
SLICE OF LIFE PIZZA
188 Mariner Blvd Sprng Hill, FL 34609
I was looking forward to trying this place as it offers (as suggested) pizza by the slice. And not just one or two, but several different types.
I tried three different pizza slices and set about trying to work them against the others that I had tried previously.
I had the meat pizza (very, very good), and also the pizza with olives, banana peppers, ham (also good, nothing to make it stand out) . The last pizza slice was, called the ‘Florentine’. It had Roma Tomatoes, Spinach, Fresh Garlic, Feta and Mozzarella (no sauce). No sauce… I love sauce.
However, this pizza is delicious. Just one slice and I wanted more.. The flavor was strong, but in a great way. Imagine you have really good sautéed spinach, and then put it on a pizza with feta. It’s REALLY good. I’m going back there to have a few slices of this bad boy SOON.
TWO GUYS FROM BROOKLYN
1413 Kass Circle – Spring Hill, FL 34606
This was the last stop on my pizza tour of Hernando County and I almost missed it altogether as I was keen to get the article out. I’m glad that I made the effort to go down and try it though as I have discovered a really good pizza for a really good price.
$3.99 lunch special for 2 slices and a soda. $3.99!!
The two owners were in the kitchen talking whilst I was waiting for the pizza blissfully unaware I was eavesdropping on their conversation. They were just like an old married couple, I could have sat there all day listening to them going back and forth.
Anyway, the pizza has a sesame seed crust, which adds something different and exciting to this variation. The pizza is a thinner New York style and it is GOOOOOOD. Lots of sauce, lots of nice gooey cheese. I really enjoyed this pizza and had I had more time I would have gone back and tried one with more toppings. For $3.99 you simply can’t find a fault in it. I suggest that if you are passing that way you stop in for some entertainment and some really good tasting pizza.
4070 Deltona Blvd Spring Hill, FL 34606
Village Pizza on Deltona has been around for a long time in Spring Hill and was recommended by a lot of people (including Mr. Pizza again) so it had to be tried. I liked that they let us order a half cheese/half pepperoni. Very accommodating. We had a meat pizza as well (pictured) as a take out.
It’s a thinner crust pizza; very much like a New York style. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into this pizza. I know that a lot of you love it, and it wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it. It’s just didn’t do anything to excite me. It was ever so slightly overcooked and the ingredients just didn’t seem as fresh as some of the other pizzas I had.
It’s possible that I may have caught them on an off night, but they didn’t quite break into the top 5 and probably wouldn’t be on my rotation as I feel there are better pizzas out there for the style that they do.
So, what did I learn from all of this? Well, I learned that as much as I like pizza, I couldn’t eat it every day. Seriously though, I learned that we have some good pizza places in this county. If you are from New York or Chicago (or Italy) you may disagree but the fact is that for a small town we have some really great choices.
The top 5 pizzas in my opinion are as follows:
- Nina’s Cucina
- Pizza Villa
- The stuffed slice at PJ’s
- Marios and
- With the Florentine at Slice of Life and 2 Guys from Brooklyn knocking on the door as well.
I have to say that Nina’s Cucina just edges it for me as the ‘best of the best’. I only wish they were open for lunches again as I could quite conceivably eat this every week
What this experience has shown me is that the great thing about pizza is that you can try so many different types and love them all. You may be in the mood for a good thick crust, meat pizza one day or a thin crust vegetarian the next. The real beauty is that there is somewhere out there to cater to your taste as well.
I encourage you all, as always, to get out there and support your local restaurants and eat local. They take the time and pay the personal attention to detail that I respect as a small business owner myself.
As always, follow all the latest places that I try on the Hernando County Food Lovers Page www.Facebook.com/HernandoFood and Happy Eating!