Latvia is not Italy but pizza is always nice, just where to find it while hungry in Riga?
While Pica Lulu might not be THE first pizzeria in Riga, it sure is the most well known chain and definitely the longest running - in their own words they "brought American-style pizzas from... Canada", well, it was the 1990s after all. In the 27 years they've been in business "Lulu" have opened 16 locations, all in Riga region and are amongst the pioneers of selling our favourite gluten-loaded treat by the slice. A little bit thick crust (still far from the Chicago-style) and loaded with toppings - their approach has surely shaped the local tastes and as a result still sets the tone. As you'll see in the video below they are also producing scary movies - a mayo spiderweb all over your food order sure is something for the Halloween.
A similar approach has been embraced by Picas Meistars - another hometown favourite you'll find in different locations in Riga and Ogre (yes, it's a town in Latvia and has nothing to do with Shrek or eating people). Just like at Lulu their pizzas reach or even go over the 40cm mark and you're sure to find many options for all palates: from vegan cheese alternatives to pineapple; if that's not enough you can just go ahead and "build your own" browsing through ingredients. Looks like the "Pizza Masters" are in the film-making business too.
However if you religiously avoid chains, head straight to PiraniJa - this seasoned pizzeria experiments with flavours like "Chanterelle and Dill", you can't possibly go more Latvian than that and probably won't have a chance to try it anywhere else. Located just a stone's throw away from the overly-elaborate Art Nouveau facades of Albert Street and countless embassies it's the diplomat's choice.
Neapolitan and Hipster Pizzas
If you're a "true" pizza aficionado you probably only recognize one way of making the dish - the Neapolitan style. Think thin in the middle and thick around the edges, a little charred around the perimeter. Once first pizzas of this variety appeared in Riga the chefs had to explain that "it's not burned, this is THE WAY to serve it''. While some places still might struggle with "educating" their clientele from time to time, placing the quality of the dough over the quantity of toppings is definitely the method of most new pizzerias that want to be taken seriously by the Italians and New Yorkers.
If you're heading across the Daugava river to Agenskalns district look no further than Street Pizza on Meza street, this joint imports all the ingredients exlusively from Italy (they also sell them) and have earned reputation as THE pizza place in Riga. It's small and cosy which means you better book a table to avoid disappointment as it is very popular and for a good reason - Italians living in Riga apparently were raving about the place once it opened it's doors as the first Neapolitan pizzeria in town. The hype is real!
Similar approach will be taken by TuttoPazzo that also doubles up as a fried chicken shop (bizarre, but their food is the real deal and their pizzas easily amongst the best in Riga) and Zefirs - a hip, new place with a wide range of Latvian craft beer on tap in Sporta 2 Kvartāls creative quartet.
A little bit more towards the "hipster approach" you'll find Innocent Cafe - they might be more known for their cool baristas, Illy coffee and brunches, but their pizzas are seriously good; some of the vegan pizzas are topped with locally hand-made artisanal LifeTree Cheese - all great alternatives to the dairy originals if you're not affraid to try something new while trying to reduce your cholestorol levels and be more eco-friendly. However if pizza crust cannot be thin enough head straight to the AOK Pizza on Tērbatas street; nothing old-school about the design of the restaurant though - it's sleek, artsy and will blow up your Instagram.
If you'd like more options than just pizza (actually a lot of the afore mentioned places will do other dishes too) and taste some Italy while in ... Latvia, head to Casa Nostra or Da Sergio. Both restaurants are frequented by local gourmands after not only pizzas, but also "authentic" Mediterranean interiors.
But if nothing of the above enticed you maybe all that's missing is a slice of a French(!) pizza at one of Riga's most legendary cafes: Cadets de Gascogne - they sell slices with camembert that are as good as their true French pastries that they are famous for and can be found all over Central Riga.