pizza

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College students love pizza. We’ve all survived off Domino’s pizza leftovers more times than we’d like to admit. Instead of resorting to eating pizza in its less perfect form, i.e. the soggy freezer-burnt variety or a cold lunchable, check out these local, fresh options next time you get a carb craving.

1. Leonardo’s By the Slice

Leonardo’s By the Slice is a culinary experience. For just under $5, you can enjoy a large and gooey piece of thin or thick pie.

Leonardo’s is a Gainesville favorite, and with other favorites closing (R.I.P. Burrito Bros.), you should savor your “by the slice” experience while you still can. When you walk through the front door, located right on West University Avenue, you’re greeted by more than 10 appetizing pies staring at you from behind the front counter. Pick your slice, order a quarter dozen rolls and take a seat.

The atmosphere inside the restaurant is an added bonus to the cheap, yet filling, food.

2. Dough Religion Pizza Bar

Not many people know that Dough Religion Pizza Bar isn’t a chain, it’s just a cool place that chalks out assembly-line style pizza in under five minutes. They roll out the personal pies by hand, and their tomato sauce tastes like tomatoes, not tomato-inspired.

For less than $10, you can customize your very own pie. The best part of Dough Religion is the endless assortment of fresh ingredients.

Instead of choosing one of their pre-made options, let your wild side out and pile the toppings on. You’ll be able to say you made it yourself, because picking the toppings counts, right?

3. Humble Wood Fire

This food truck is a force to be reckoned with. If you’re ever out and about at various local events like the farmers market and run into Humble Wood Fire, make sure to stop and grab a pie.

The pizza is cooked in, you guessed it, a wood fire oven. This means it will be on the thinner, crunchier side of the crust spectrum, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It tastes kind of like campfire food but way, way better. The pizza masters spin the dough right in front of your face, using local and organic ingredients.

Have a dietary restriction or preference that usually puts a damper on your pizza dreams? Vegan and gluten friends, don’t worry. Humble Wood Fire is happy to accommodate all restrictions and preferences.

4. Italian Gator Pizza by the Slice

Credit has to be given where it’s due. Italian Gator Pizza by the Slice, reincarnated from the dead, still manages to never disappoint.

If you’re like the vast majority of college students, you’ve ended up here in the wee hours of the night.Italian Gator is paper plate heaven. Not only is it dirt cheap, but the slices are the size of your head. Grab as many parm packets as you can at the front counter and find a curb to sit down on, because air-conditioning and inside dining is for wimps.

Fold the pizza like a hot dog and dig in. You need the calories after a long night at Midtown.

5. Blue Highway, a pizzeria

Although Blue Highway, a pizzeria that isn’t in Gainesville, it’s more than worth the trek to the original Micanopy, Ocala or trendy Tioga locations.

Blue Highway is a local favorite, and I mean a real local’s favorite. Ask anyone who lives in Alachua County, and he or she will sing praises about this place.

The small town ambiance is best enjoyed with a brew or two, because the wait for a pie can be 30 to 45 minutes.

Once you receive your pie, the pilgrimage out of town and wait will seem like little effort for this perfect pizza. It manages to encompass everything one can love about pizza: crunchiness, doughiness, flakiness, cheesiness, flavor and that extra oomph, all into one pie.