When you think world-class pizza, Sacramento may not be the first city that comes to mind. If you consider yourself a conoscitore di pizza (or connoisseur), you'll probably think first of Naples, where pizza was invented. You might also think of New York City. But Sacramento?

And yet, according to at least one expert on the topic (who has the bona fides to back it up), Masullo Pizza is one of the best pizzerias in the entire country.

And why not Sacramento? It has a great Italian community, nobly represented by the world-famous Corti Brothers grocery store and its resident food and wine expert, Darrell Corti. The area surrounding Corti Bros. is a wonderful old Italian neighborhood, with humble but well-maintained bungalow homes and beautifully manicured lawns – one of my favorite neighborhoods in Sacramento.

Robert Masullo, owner of Masullo Pizza

Robert Masullo was raised in Sacramento but his travels have taken him far and wide. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he's made numerous trips to Naples to research pizza, according to Slow Food Sacramento. He opened Masullo Pizza in 2008, importing a wood-burning brick oven from Italy to make true Neapolitan-style pizza.

I stopped by the restaurant on July 23, 2012 and had a pizza with prosciutto and arugula (see below). It was fantastic. The place was busy. The wood-burning oven smelled great. The staff was friendly. Overall, it's  a nicely crafted, unpretentious little restaurant, which recently received a glowing review from Sac Bee food critic, Blair Anthony Robertson. (In a separate article, BAR writes about the naturally leavened starter in Masullo's pizza dough, which contributes flavor and helps create a chewy texture and rustic crust.)

If you haven't been there yet, and you love great pizza, make the trip to Masullo Pizza at 2711 Riverside Blvd. You'll be glad you did.

Masullo Pizza with prosciutto and arugula

Two final points...

1. All of the other places that Chris Bianco lists as his favorite pizzerias are on the east coast or the west coast. Interestingly, although he himself is from New York, his own restaurant, Pizzeria Bianco, is in Phoenix. If you love great pizza and you live in the midwest, I guess you're out of luck.

2. It was at Masullo that I discovered Frate Sole olive oil, high-quality extra virgin olive oil made in the Tuscan style by Jim and Andrea Mayers on their 20-acre farm near Woodland, Calif.

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