June 29, 2014 Update: I wrote this review over a year ago, and a few months after it was published, I noticed that Peppino's pizza's quality had deteriorated. I held out hoping that I was catching them on a bad day, but it has now been more than a year of nothing but disappointing pizzas. They have traded out their creamy, thick cheese for a much cheaper, stringier and drier version. The toppings are incredibly sparse. Everything I loved about Peppino's pizza is pretty much gone. So it is with a heavy heart that I have to renounce my positive review. If you are looking for a good slice of pizza, I now recommend Little Italy's pizza in downtown Athens (ironically owned by the same folks as Peppinos--hopefully their ingredients don't begin to suffer too).
Hand's down, the best pizza in Athens is Peppino's. Located on the corner of Whitehall Road and Milledge, it is a hidden gem on the Eastside. I am pretty picky about my pizza, and until I stumbled upon Peppino's, I had found Athen's pizza scene a little wanting.
Peppino's pizzas are huge and cheap, just like they ought to be. The cooks are almost always generous with the cheese and toppings, unlike many other Athen's pizza parlors. The sauce tastes fresh and slightly sweet (but not too much so), the crust is chewy, the cheese is wonderfully gooey, and there is a wide choice of toppings. They have 10 Specialty pizzas to choose from, such as the Buffalo Pizza or the Meat Lovers. I recommend the Pizza Alla Romania, which comes with chicken, sundried tomatoes, feta, cheddar, capers, and mozzarella I'm also very partial to the Fresca de Bari, which has ranch sauce instead of tomato, mozzarella Parmesan, chicken, ham, bacon, and tomato. You can build your own pizza too; they have all the standard toppings, plus unique toppings like artichokes, meatballs, and anchovies.
Peppino's pizzas come in Sicilian (thick) or Napolitan (thin) crust. There is a variety of different sizes to choose from, from 12" to 18". A 14" pizza could easily feed a family of 6, and the 12" feeds our family of 3 hungry people. If you are dining solo, you can order pizza by the slice for just $1.85 for a thin crust ($1.95 for thick crust). Be warned though; their single slices are ginormous! Not in the mood for pizza? Peppino's also has hot and cold subs, the size of your arm. Seriously, I don't think a teenage boy could eat a whole one by himself. I personally find the hot subs to be too heavy and greasy for me, but my husband loves them. Their cold subs are made with good meats and cheeses, and are deliciously simple.
The ambiance is great, though it can be a little dark if you go during the day. We solve that problem by eating outdoors when the day is pretty, as there is a small outdoor eating section. The indoor dining area is huge, with plenty of tables. The environment is always pretty chill, never loud. I've never had trouble finding a seat, which is always nice. Service has always been quick and efficient. While they don't deliver, they do offer take-out, which is the main way our family gets Peppino's. We've never had to wait more than 15 minutes for our pizza.
The only problem I've ever had with Peppino's is that sometimes I feel like they skimp on the sauce. It doesn't happen a lot, and in the 5 years I've been eating it, it's happened probably about 5 times. But if you like a lot of sauce on your pizza, I'd recommend asking for extra, just to be sure. The sauce is just so good!
Overall, Peppino's is the perfect place to get consistently great pizza for a great price. I like to go on Saturday evenings in the summer and sit outside with friends on the patio, drink some cold beer, and eat some hot pizza. There really is no better place to do that in Athens than Peppino's.