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10 pizzas you must try

A South Sound pizza guide for newcomers

The Clover Leaf’s signature crust is topped by taco fixings. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

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Pizza is largely popular because of both its accessibility and the many combinations one can create. The South Sound is no exception to the availability of these quick and easy pies. As for the number of options, that can be quite daunting, so I've narrowed the list down to 10 must-try pizzas.

Paesan Kitchen and Bar on Tacoma's Thea Foss Waterway focuses on eclectic flavor combinations that offer pizza combinations not found in many places. One such combination is the Pancetta and Pear, which combines salty and sweet but then adds garlic, thyme and caramelized onion for hint of savory. As if that's not enough, the whole thing is topped off with crumbled gorgonzola and fresh arugula for just the right final touch. It may sound a bit off the beaten path, but you know what they say . . . the road less traveled . . .  7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday-Tuesday; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday-Friday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, 1701 Dock St., Tacoma, 253.301.2396,

The Clover Leaf in Tacoma has been a community foundation since 1950 and have maintained their customer base because they take great care in preparing each pizza. And that crust! There is no other like it. The Taco pizza is truly representative of everything great about this place; the signature crust is topped with salsa, seasoned taco meat, jalapenos, a combination of mozzarella and jack cheeses, olives and onions. It is then baked to perfection and topped again with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream. This is spicy, creamy and crunchy in every bite. Basically a taco that doesn't crumble in your hands. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m. to midnight, Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, 6430 6th Ave., Tacoma, 253.565.1111,

Okay, this is a bit of a cheat, as the lure of Old School Pizzeria is the NY-style fold-and-eat slices rather than a unique collection of ingredients. Truly foldable pizza isn't easy to find in the South Sound, and when prepared properly, it is an enjoyable treat. My favorite here is the Jorf, however, as this combines pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, and andoulle all minced together into one big flavor combination. It's a bit greasy ... but that's part of its allure. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday-Saturday; noon to 10 p.m., Sunday, 108 Franklin St., Olympia, 360.786.9640,

Old School Pizzeria’s The Jorf. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

The Green Goddess at Elemental Wood Fired Pizza in Downtown Tacoma offers vegetarians a flavorful option amidst several pizzas that are a carnivore's dream. This non-meat option utilizes pesto cream sauce for a base that is topped with a generous amount of mozzarella cheese, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, pickled artichoke hearts, with both feta cheese and Italian seasonings as a final touch. The Goddess offers plenty of flavor and texture combinations that are often lost on most veggie offerings. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 1702 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.4000,

The Maui Waui at Sammy's Pizza is good news for the pro-pineapple people out there. Pineapple is combined with Canadian bacon, just like most other Hawaiian selections around town, but Sammy's version has a BBQ sauce base and bacon, almonds and drizzled honey added to the toppings. Here you get the sweet and light expected as well as some smoky and oaky hints from the bacon and honey. The even better news is that Sammy's has two locations, one in the North Slope neighborhood of Tacoma and one in Fircrest. Tacoma location: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 1308 N. I St., Tacoma, 253.627.4300; Fircrest location: 3:30-10 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 1039 Regents Blvd., Fircrest, 253.625.7776,

Sammy’s Pizza’s Maui Waui. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

Far too often for my taste, salad and pizza go hand-in-hand, however, Brewery City Pizza takes that to a new level with their Cool Ranch Chicken pizza. Available on thin or hand-tossed crust and covered in ranch dressing, diced chicken, bacon, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses are baked until golden brown and then topped with fresh lettuce and tomatoes. Never short on the quantity of ingredients, it's much like salad and pizza have been combined into one handheld feast. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday-Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2705 Limited Lane NW, West Olympia, 360.754.7800; 5150 Capitol Blvd. SE, Tumwater, 360.754.6767; 4353 Martin Way E, Lacey, 360.491.6630,

Any meat-loving pizza eater worth their weight absolutely must try the Flying Pig at Wicked Pie Pizza in Puyallup. Seriously, five kinds of meat, and every single one of them pork. Bacon, Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami and prosciutto are all generously piled atop house-made dough that is baked until golden and crispy. Each bite will leave you wanting more. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Friday-Saturday, 112 S. Meridian Ave., Puyallup, 253.256.4698,

Millville Pizza Company in Gig Harbor offers an intimate setting that allows the wood-fired aroma to fill the dining area. The Westland Pizza with red sauce, mozzarella, large slices of prosciutto and then topped with fresh arugula is in a class by itself. The thin, hand-made crust serves as a fresh foundation for a pizza that screams fresh. The salty of the prosciutto balances well with the bitter arugula which is then combined with house-made sauce and grated parmigiano, which adds yet another strong flavor to the selection. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9:30 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday, 3409 Harborview Dr., Gig Harbor, 253.514.8626,

The Westland, from the cozy Millville Pizza Company in Gig Harbor. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

Looks like a strip mall on the outside, but feels like Italy on the inside, Cerello's Pizza and Wine Café is proof that what matters is on the inside. And inside are fresh and plentiful ingredients on every pizza. The Garlic Chicken pizza includes all the expected ingredients like chicken and garlic, but at Cerello's, this pie includes pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and finally, a creamy ranch sauce. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 4916 Center St., Tacoma, 253.566.9000,

If you absolutely must have a pepperoni pizza, then you also must absolutely visit Casa Mia at one of the five South Sound locations. The Torino is their version of a basic pepperoni, which is hardly basic. The pepperoni is spicy and smoky as well as produced locally in Seattle and has been used for decades as the go-to for this pizza. And the best news of all is that with five local locations, you are never far from getting your fix. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday; noon to 9 p.m., Sunday, 7304 Lakewood Dr., Lakewood, 253.473.0400; 4426 Martin Way, Lacey, 360.459.0440; 716 Plum St., Olympia, 360.352.0440; 134 Prairie Park, Yelm, 360.400.2277; 505 N. Meridian, Puyallup, 253.770.0400,

The Torino is pepperoni perfection from Casa Mia. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

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