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Jun 13, 2014

Exploring data on the best pizza in the US

I am of Italian descent from the greater New York City area, so it should be no surprise that I love pizza. My interest was piqued when my niece Samantha recently posted a ranking of the “101 Best Pizzas in America," according to the Daily Meal® website, which conducted the voting on 700 pizza shops by 78 food experts. The list contains the name of the restaurant, its signature pizza, and its city/state.

I decided that this data was worthy of bringing into JMP and exploring further (don’t judge me). So I imported the list, looked up every address, and ran the JMP Geocoder Add-In to ascertain the longitude and latitude of each restaurant. (You can download the add-in with a free JMP User Community account.) I then used Recode to create a new column for US regions, and started to investigate the data.

I first decided that Tabulate would be a good place to start to see which region has most of the winners (you know where this is going, don’t you?). I clicked on the box for Order by count of grouping columns to sort the data in descending order.

Let’s take a look:


And, as I expected, the Northeast had the most.  But I didn’t expect that it would contain more than half of the total. My next surprise was that the Southwest narrowly beat out the Midwest for second place. (Oh, I can see all the nasty emails from my Chicago in-laws and friends pouring in.)

Then I drilled down by state:


Again, no surprise that New York is numero uno, but it was nice to see that Connecticut (CT) trounced New Jersey (NJ) for the number two spot. (More emails, sigh, but I concede that Jersey is cooler because they have The Boss.)

California was the big winner in the Southwest – more on that later. And of course Chicago dominates the Midwest.

Still, there was more to learn by looking at the data plotted on a map. So here it is using Open Street maps:


First I looked at California (CA) to see where its winners were located:


Six of the 10 California places are in San Francisco, with two more in Oakland and Berkeley. So, good for you, folks in the Bay Area!

But ultimately, I was most interested in the Northeast:


And what did I learn? The biggest concentration of the best pizza in the US is Brooklyn, New York. From my hometown of Bridgeport, Connecticut, all 53 of the places in this area are within a 150-mile radius. But most importantly to me, the No. 1 spot goes not to a pizzeria in New York City, but to Frank Pepe of New Haven, Connecticut, just 20 miles from where I grew up.


I’ll definitely need to have a slice when I’m visiting family.  But hey, since they are all within driving distance from Bridgeport, maybe I should hit them all.

Community Member

Emil Friedman wrote:

Before making any inferences from this one should compare the maps above to a map showing where the 78 pizza experts food experts live.


The views expressed on this Web site/blog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of my employer.

Community Member

Mike Clayton wrote:

You make that look easy. Will have to try it.

But what ever happened to Mystic Pizza? Or was that just a movie?

This is great EDA visualization for location, so what do you learn about "signature pizza" types?

Did they share the names of the 78 experts? Might do a little lab to lab analysis there....

Charles Pirrello wrote:

Hi Emil,

Point taken. My intent was not to question the methodology, but just plot the results. But, I may have to learn more about the experts.

Charles Pirrello wrote:

Hi Mike,

Ah, Mystic Pizza. It's a real pizza parlor. But I was there last year, and it is more of a tourist attraction than a serious pizza restaurant.