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Best Pizza in Iowa City: Pagliai’s

The locals know it.

We learned it quickly when we moved here 7 years ago.

Pagliai’s is the best pizza in town!


As written on their website: “For 49 years A & A Pagliai’s Pizza has been serving award-winning pizza that has become an Iowa City tradition.”

49 years!  I don’t think I need to expand on the deliciousness of this pizza with that successful stretch but beings I took my camera and captured the yumminess on “film”… I will continue!

On our first trip to Pagliai’s we were told to take cash, credit cards weren’t accepted {that has changed!}.  We were also told to eat the Palace Special with a sprinkle of garlic seasoning on top.  Huh?  Garlic Seasoning?  Yes-sir-e-Bob, it sits on the table next to the cheese and red pepper flakes, trust us, you have to try it!

The decor was simple and rustic back then {maybe old-fashioned to some or just old to the unappreciative eye} and it hasn’t changed! My favorite art piece is the horse mirror and wouldn’t ya know… today I have no photo of the horses because the place was already packed at 5:30 and I didn’t want to bother the customers sitting under the mirror. Regardless, the interior makes you feel welcomed with it’s small town charm.  AND, the place is super clean, you just can’t brag enough about cleanliness at a restaurant!

The menu consists of: pizza and drinks: beer, wine, pop, iced tea, milk and water.  What else do you need?  Nothing.  It is perfect that way, why change it?  I opt for the tasty wine coolers almost every time!

Watching your pizza being made is a novelty.  The assembly line is in constant motion starting with the dough balls being manipulated into  small disks that are flattened with their dough smooshing machine {no technical terms here *grin*}. Once thin enough, the dough is tossed onto a cutting board and trimmed to size.  The owner works that end of the line… he cuts and sauces then passes it on, trusting the line to do it’s job.  At the other end of the line making sure all is well is Jacki.  The owner’s daughter.  Tonight she was the cheese lady, put-the-pizza-in-the-oven lady, Welcome to Pagliai’s lady and Thanks for coming, how was your pizza? lady.  She’s a multi-tasker to say the least!  This place runs like a well oiled machine!!!

We were a two pizza family but now that the boys are getting bigger… we are a THREE pizza brood!


It’s hard to wait for your pizza but it doesn’t take long…..about 15 minutes from the time you order to the time you burn the roof of your mouth taking that first hasty bite.  Unless you’re 3 and you want bite-sized pieces… then you just wait patiently and watch daddy cut the pizza into bites then beg him to blow on it so it isn’t hot.

Next time, I may take my camera again.  I want to show you the horse mirror and I want a full on assembly line picture…. The line is encased in glass so I will for sure stop and take a picture of the creations in progress!

Jacki’s dad is always on quality control duty 🙂  I wonder if the twins can make him smile? We’ll try for that photo next time too.

Totally “cheesing” it up for this photo!



I hope you get a chance to try this pizza.  We love coming to Pagliais, it’s a memory making experience!





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