Great Pizza on the Great Lake: Pizza in Duluth

Family eating pizza at Sammy's Pizza
Photo Credit: Sammy’s Pizza

While experiencing all that Duluth has to offer, grabbing a slice or two of pizza is the perfect way to fuel up in the afternoon, cap off the day, or begin the night! Duluth offers many options throughout the city, for traditionalists to those looking to try something outside of the (pizza) box. 

When you think of Duluth pizza, the locals think of Sammy’s Pizza – a regional chain with northern Minnesota origins. There are four locations in Duluth, each with its own personality and offerings. As Sammy’s ads tout, the pizzas are treated like works of art, made by hand with fresh, from-scratch dough and a bright red sauce. To eat-in, you’ll want to hit the West Duluth, Downtown, or Woodland locations, as the Lakeside location has very limited seating (but a great option to get it to-go!). Ask about the daily specials and note that you can grab a gluten-friendly crust (regular or cauliflower) on some pizzas. If you bring a cooler, fill it up with frozen pies and bring a taste of Duluth back home with you.

If you’re looking for a downtown vibe, grab yourself a pizza from Pizza Lucé. They have a prime location right on the corner of Superior and Lake Streets. This is another Minnesota chain with a huge local following. You’ll find a thick and chewy crust, unique toppings (try the Baked Potato Pizza), and they offer some vegan, vegetarian and gluten-friendly options as well. If you’re lucky, you might just happen upon some live music – hometown favorite band Trampled by Turtles has taken the stage here several times.

What can we tell you about LuLu’s Pizza, the latest entry into the Duluth pizza scene? You’ve got to try it!  Sure, you can have pepperoni, but why stop there? Try the Lamb Shop, with hummus, garlic, onion and feta, or the Tandoori Tikka with mango chutney, garlic, almonds and golden raisins. The crust is a homemade sourdough, not too thick, not too thin, just right. (Check ahead for hours.)

If you’re in Canal Park, your visit won’t be complete without grabbing some Vitta Pizza. These pizzas are wood fired with a unique salty, chewy, and just plain yummy crust. The pizzas are 9-inches of individual goodness, small enough to eat the whole thing in one sitting, or to share with a friend as an afternoon snack. The Tomasso, with prosciutto, goat cheese, and garlic, is a favorite, but you can’t go wrong with any of them. You’ll find daily specials and even special 5” kid-sized pizzas. There’s room to eat inside, and there are a few tables out back, as well.

Pizza from Ursa Minor Brewing Company
Pizza from Ursa Minor Brewing. Photo Credit: Explore Minnesota Tourism

A brew pub for good pizza? Yes, please! Ursa Minor Brewing is a dog-friendly Lincoln Park brew pub that’s always hopping. Indoors, you’ll find a cozy bar with friendly servers to help you place your order. The Margherita and Voyageur pizzas are just two meat-free faves sliding out of the brand new (recently upgraded) wood-burning pizza oven. Locally sourced Y-ker Acres meats top their other pies – try the Nomad, with wild rice sausage, or the Wise Yker with hot sausage and smoked pork loin. Take your pizzas outside if you’d like to enjoy Duluth’s natural air conditioning. There’s plenty of seating, and the wood fires are burning to keep any chill at bay.

You’ll find two Vintage Italian Pizza (VIP) restaurants in Duluth, one on the East side and one on the West. The local’s love VIP, not only for the variety of toppings, but for their 20” family size pie. The most talked about is the Howdy Pizon! with bacon, onions, mushrooms, green peppers and Italian sausage. But if that’s not your thing, the menu is extensive and intriguing, including (but definitely not limited to) a Cheesy Mediterranean Artichoke pizza, a Polynesian pizza, the Canadian Shores with Canadian bacon, shrimp and black olives, and the Chicken Reuben. Breakfast for dinner? They’ve got a pizza for that, too!

Bulldog Pizza & Grill is a family-friendly neighborhood restaurant on Woodland Avenue right near the University of Minnesota – Duluth (UMD) campus. The pizza has been around since the mid 1980’s and is something UMD alums come back for. The crust is thin, the cheese is thick, and the topping options abound. Try one of the family favorites (named after the owners’ family members), a specialty pizza like the Black Bean Taco, or the Wild Ricer, or create your own with toppings of your choosing. If you bring the kids along, make sure they check out the window where they can watch the pizzas being made in the kitchen.

Hugos Pizza II in Gary-New Duluth has a stacked menu – not only of classic and specialty pizzas like the Philly Steak and BLT, but also famous subs like the Club and Italian Meatball. Also try out their wide array of appetizers, from deep fried green beans to mac and cheese bites.

And while it may not be the primary offering, there are many other restaurants in Duluth with pizza on the menu, still serving up some tasty pies. Tavern on the Hill is right near UMD and offers a superb selection of 9” hand-tossed pizzas, with special deals during happy hour and after 9 p.m. Black Woods Grill & Bar at 26th Ave. E. and London Road offers several different pizzas and flatbreads on their menu. And in the Lincoln Park area, try Clyde Iron Works for some wood-fired Neapolitan style pizzas.