The Highest Rated Independent Pizza Place in the United States is in Maryland, and Pizza isn’t Even on the Menu!

The top-ranked independent pizza spot in America, as per recent findings from OnDeck, is right here in Montgomery County, Maryland—yet pizza isn’t the main attraction. Z&Z Manoushe Bakery, nestled at 1111 Nelson St. in Rockville, specializes in manoushe, a flatbread featuring a simple yeasted dough adorned with an array of toppings. While it may resemble pizza, the flavor profile and dining experience are distinctively unique.

On Deck conducted its assessment utilizing data from Yelp.com, scrutinizing ratings and reviews for 149,099 independent eateries nationwide, spanning various cuisine categories including pizza, vegan, burgers, breakfast, and international fare like Chinese cuisine. Z&Z claimed the top spot in the pizza category across the entire country.

Z&Z Manoushe Bakery, owned and operated by the Dubbaneh family, proudly occupies the exact location where their grandfather launched a deli back in 1982—the same spot that housed Slice of Rockville for 11 years. Since September 2021, the establishment has been dedicated to serving manoushe. The Dubbaneh family aims to share the abundant generosity and hospitality inherent in Arab food culture with the local community. Beyond stellar Yelp ratings, Z&Z has garnered attention from national culinary platforms such as Bon Appétit, earning a spot on the “50 Best New Restaurants 2022” list.

A bit of backstory: Fuzzy, the grandfather of the Dubbaneh family, immigrated to the United States in 1979 and worked various odd jobs, including overnight shifts at Dunkin’ Donuts. By 1982, he had saved up enough to acquire the future Z&Z location. Initially operating as a deli, it later transformed into Chicken Delight and, subsequently, Chicken Tonight. Fuzzy helmed the restaurant until 1992, after which his son Dave assumed ownership until 2006. Dave eventually sold it to new proprietors, and despite changes in ownership, the business persisted until 2009. Johnny Dubbaneh, one of the current owners, reminisces how his uncle Dave always harbored aspirations of reclaiming that location—now a dream realized.

Z&Z has been a fixture for several years, initially hesitant to establish a permanent brick-and-mortar presence. However, the opportunity arose when they reached out to the owner of Slice of Rockville, inquiring about a potential sale. Serendipitously, the owner had recently listed the property, having previously engaged in a failed transaction. Z&Z’s expansion from farmers’ markets to a full-scale establishment signifies a broader culinary venture, offering fare deeply rooted in their grandparents’ heritage and upbringing.

Featured image shows Hot Halaby Honey manoushe, courtesy of @TasteMoCo

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