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Brooklyn Style Pizza: The Complete Guide

There is a rich line of pizzas that have been made after the city where they were created. Some examples include the Chicago pizza, the Neapolitan pizzas, and the Detroit Pizza. One that stands out and maybe one of the most famous throughout the world is the New York pizza.

One thing is for certain, some of the pizzas that have developed here over the years have been pretty eclectic and disparate versions of the original New York theme. One popular style of pie here is the Brooklyn style pizza.

Slices of Brooklyn style pizza in a box.

New Yorkers can be quite protective over their home slice but they are also just as open to accepting different styles of pizzas and points of view. This is why you will find a wide selection of pizza styles in New York, all offering something that will satisfy the appetite of everyone.

In today’s blog, we will be delving into the Brooklyn-style pizza and discover the history behind this iconic pie. Just like the city itself, Brooklyn pizzas reflect the vibrant culture and uniqueness that is synonymous with this particular suburb of New York. 

What is a Brooklyn-style pizza?

To understand what a Brooklyn-style pizza is, we have to talk about New York pizza. Many believe New York is the home of pizza in the United States and it’s hard to argue with such a statement.

We can’t mention pizzas without thinking about Italy, the country from which pizza was brought before it reached the shores of America.

Although accounts differ, the most widely believed version is that it all began in 1897 in the city of, you guessed it, New York.

An immigrant pizzaiolo from Naples, Italy arrived in New York with the wonders of pizzas in tow. Another account states that pizzas were not introduced to the U.S. until 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi.

Pepperoni pizza from Grimaldi's Pizzeria near Brooklyn Bridge.
Pepperoni pizza from Grimaldi’s Pizzeria near Brooklyn Bridge.

Whether it was in 1897 or 1905, the original pizzerias used a coal-fired oven that had cheese placed on the bottom of the dough and sauce on top.

Sounds familiar, right? Over 100 years later, that original pizza has helped build an empire with over 200 pizzerias now found in the city of New York.

The Brooklyn-style pizza is thought to have evolved from the New York-style pizza. The New York features a basic form of dough that is hand-tossed before being lightly covered with tomato sauce. It is then garnished with dry, grated mozzarella.

The crust of a New York-style pizza is made from high gluten bread with some believing that the taste comes from the water used in the bread. 

With all of this being said, the term “Brooklyn-style pizza” was actually coined by Domino’s back in 2006.

The company introduced the pizza promising a thinner crust than all other pizzas with cornmeal cooked into the crust to make it even crispier (a trademark of the Brooklyn-style pie).

Domino’s also stated that they would be offering “extra-large Brooklyn-style sausage or pepperoni” as toppings on the now iconic pizza. And, when cut, you get 6 large slices, enough for a family to enjoy.

With that being said, Totonno’s, which opened in Coney Island in 1924, claims to have been the first to develop a genuine Brooklyn-style pizza. Other renowned pizzerias in Brooklyn that make this style include Di Fara’s, Grimaldi’s, and Franny’s. 

The Brooklyn pizza tends to have the same size ranges as the New York pizza (around 18 to 45 inches). The two pizzas also have similar toppings, are eaten in the same manner, and are both hand-tossed to help produce a perfect dough.

The main difference between the two is the amount of mozzarella that is used and the crispiness of the crust and dough.

A Typical Brooklyn Pizza 

So, what makes up a Brooklyn pizza? Well, many consider this pizza to be one of the more modern types but closely related to the parent Italia type of pizza. 

As with many pizzas, the Brooklyn-style pizza is not the healthiest of all food options. This is due to the high-fat content contained in the dough and certain ingredients such as cheese.

This is why people with health-related issues are told to be very careful when eating such high-fat content meals. 

The toppings of a Brooklyn-style pizza can be as diverse as New York city itself. However, the main difference between this pie and other pizzas in many pizzerias, such as Domino’s, is the crust. The crust of a Brooklyn-style pizza is what makes it unique.

If you prefer a little less dough than what a usual hand-tossed pizza offers but still want a little more than the thinner crusts provide, then Brooklyn pizzas are a great choice. The dough is usually hand-stretched to a particular size, as with many pizzas.

Most restaurants offer an array of toppings such as mushrooms, pepperoni, and black olives. These help to give your slice an extra crunch as you bite into it. These toppings are usually very large and are a very welcome sight for any hungry bellies out there.

As with most pies, the cheese and tomato sauce are the most important aspects of the pizza. But, with a Brooklyn-style pizza, the remaining ingredients are usually up to you!

While there are toppings on offer at most pizzerias, you should be able to pick and choose what you want for a delicious personalized pizza. 

How Brooklyn-Style Pizzas Are Made 

There are several components, as well as methods, that go into a Brooklyn-style pizza. Here are some of the main steps involved:

The Dough

As with any pizza, the dough is vital! Brooklyn-style pizza dough is produced by stretching out pieces of dough from the smallest size balls to the largest. These are stretched out until they reach the average Brooklyn-style pizza size which is around 18 to 45 inches. 

Small dough balls make up a large Brooklyn-style pizza while a large dough ball creates an extra-large pizza size. 

Once the dough is baked, it becomes thin and crispy. Then, a liberal dusting of cornmeal is spread on the bottom of the crust for the most mouth-watering effect.

Although the crust is thinner than many other pizzas, it is partially baked in more fat to achieve that extra crispiness. 

Toppings 

As we mentioned above, the toppings for a Brooklyn-style pizza can vary from one person to the next. But, one thing most of these pizzas have in common is cheese. Brooklyn pizzas tend to use a half mozzarella blend with half Provolone.

In most cases, the Provolone is slightly more prevalent than the mozzarella giving the pizza a stronger taste (around a 55% to 45% ratio). 

These pizzas are not as cheesy as hand-tossed types that tend to use around 90% or more mozzarella cheese as the main topping. Talk about cheesy! 

Once the cheese is on, the rest is usually up to your preferences. For a classic flavor, the most recommended toppings are olives, garlic, pepperoni, sausages, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, meatballs, and basil leaves. Some even ask for more cheese but this is generally regarded as an extra topping. 

If you’re in the mood for a more traditional pizza style, there are certain toppings that Brooklyn-style pizza lovers do not go near. These include pineapple, duck sausage, kale, goat cheese, hotdogs, plain meat, and pop candies. 

Of course, the majority of these ingredients can be tweaked to suit your taste. Just remember, there is no mandatory ingredient or topping for a Brooklyn-style pizza.

Just be careful where you ask for pineapple toppings as you may receive a confused look from the pizzeria staff!

How should you eat a Brooklyn-style pizza? 

With your mouth! Okay, seriously, there is a traditional method of eating Brooklyn pizza. This is to fold the pie into a size that can fit into your mouth whole.

This ensures that the toppings are mixed properly and the nutrients from the ingredients are combined all at once for a burst of flavors. 

If you head to a standard Brooklyn pizzeria, you may get some funny looks if you eat your pizza with a knife and fork as this is not considered the “proper” way.

But, on the whole, you can eat these pizzas in any way that suits you. Maybe wait and watch some others eat their Brooklyn-style pizzas first before you get your knife and fork out. 

The Best Way To Serve Brooklyn-Style Pizzas

Brooklyn-style pizzas tend to be cut into 6 slices. This is in contrast to other thick-dough pizzas, such as the New York which are cut into 8 or 16 triangular pieces.

Moreover, Brooklyn-style pizzas are cut into squares, not triangles. This is because of the thin crust which can break more easily. 

The last thing you want with a Brooklyn pizza is for it to go floppy. Due to its thin dough and crust, this can become a problem if the whole pie is covered by a pizza box.

The box’s cover helps to steam the pizza resulting in a reduced crustiness. This decreased crustiness can cause Brooklyn Style pizzas to go soggy and floppy, making them pretty hard to eat. 

Once you have your pizza in hand, it is almost impossible to eat a largely cut, thin, floppy slice. It will simply disintegrate and you will be left covered in cheese and the toppings of your choice!

This is why Brooklyn-style pizzas come with square slices. This reduces the chance of breaking which is more common with triangular pieces of pizza. 

However, if you can’t stand the idea of a square slice of pizza, you can ask your delivery service or restaurant to cut your Brooklyn pizza into triangular slices. 

Best Places To Get Pizza In Brooklyn

You can enjoy a Brooklyn-style pizza at home or in a restaurant. Whether you make it at home, order takeout from Pizza Hut or Domino’s, or head to a pizzeria, you will get to experience the delights of this delicious pie. 

Of course, traditional pizzerias are more likely to provide the best quality Brooklyn-style pizzas. However, most of these do not usually offer takeouts (although this has changed in the past year due to lockdowns and restrictions).

Therefore, dining in is generally the best and sometimes the only option for enjoying a pizza. 

Luckily, there are an array of pizza shops in Brooklyn where you can get the real taste of Brooklyn-style pizzas and the culture of the area. Below are some of the best places to get a pizza in Brooklyn:

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria

Founded by Patsy Grimaldi, this pizzeria is over 100 years old and remains one of the top pizza joints in the whole of Brooklyn.

It is also one of the only remaining pizza shops to use coal stoves for the preparation of its pizzas. A favorite of locals as well as tourists, this is definitely a place to check out if you’re in or around Brooklyn. 

Julian’s Pizzeria

Also founded by Patsy Grimaldi, Julian’s Pizzeria is located at 5064, 4th Avenue at Rosemount Shopping Center. It’s one of the best pizza shops in Brooklyn and was actually rated as the best pizzeria in the United States on Tripadvisor in 2015.

This pizzeria does not offer takeouts or take reservations and there is only a small selection on the menu for vegetarians. But, if you want the classic Brooklyn experience, this is the place to go. 

Roberta’s Pizzeria

New York is obviously a huge tourist trap and Roberta’s Pizzeria is one of its many tourist sites. Thanks to this small pizzeria, Bushwick has been pushed to the front of tourism.

This pizza shop is one of only a few old pizzerias that still use a wood-oven method to cook the pizzas. 

With mostly positive and rave reviews online, Roberta’s Pizzeria is a special place to enjoy a special Brooklyn-style pizza. 

Lucali Brooklyn

Lucali Brooklyn is one of the most top-rated pizzerias in the whole of New York. This is mainly down to its large and diverse menu that caters to everyone.

From large pizzas to small calzones, you get the real Brooklyn experience at Lucali Brooklyn and some of the tastiest pizzas around.

Several celebrities have been known to frequent this pizza joint and it’s arguably the best known and best-loved pizzeria in the entire Brooklyn neighborhood. 

Brooklyn-style pizzas can be enjoyed anywhere, not just Brooklyn. But, if you get the chance, head to these New York streets to immerse yourself in everything Brooklyn has to offer, including the delicious pizzas on most street corners.

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Written by Ryan F.

Ryan is a Philadelphia local who enjoys checking out Philly's restaurant scene every chance he can. He grew up in South Jersey and now lives in Philadelphia's Point Breeze neighborhood. Ryan also enjoys traveling and checking out local eateries in every city he visits.