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What Is California-Style Pizza?

The United States is home to numerous pizza styles and variations. Any pizza lover knows that each pizza tastes different from the next based on the style of preparation and ingredients used. 

A closeup shot of California-style pizza

So what is California-style pizza? What is it about this innovation that draws inspiration from the Cali cuisine cooking style?

Read on to find out! 

The Truth About California-Style Pizza 

The California-style pizza is a pizza style created by chefs Ed LaDou, and Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California.

While this pizza was invented by these men in 1980, the California-style pizza was made famous all over the country by Wolfgang Puck, an Austrian-American chef and restaurateur. 

Certain features make the California pizza stand out as unique. It combines New York and thin Italian crusts with toppings peculiar to the California cuisine cooking style.

What Toppings Do You Use for a California-Style Pizza?

Before the invention of the California pizza style, Chef LaDou was encouraged to experiment with ingredients such as goat cheese, truffles, and prosciutto. 

california pizza with arugula and salmon

Rather than the standard pepperoni and mozzarella, the California pizza is renowned for its unique toppings.

So, what kinds of toppings are specific to California-style pizza? Some of these include the following:

  • Goat cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Avocado
  • Red onions
  • Peanut sauce
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Arugula
  • Smoked salmon

However, California pizza is also known for its unusual toppings, such as shrimp and duck sausage.

What Makes a California-Style Pizza Different?

For me, nothing can beat a good California-style pizza with its rich sauce, thin crust, and delightful toppings! 

The California-style pizza is a mix of two main pizza styles. It has thin crusts just like in the New York-style Pizza, but it’s also similar to Neapolitan style pizza.

In terms of similarities to the Neapolitan pizza style, Cali style pizza baking also takes place in wood-fired oven. 

Compared to the large sized New York pizza, the California-style pizza is also more in tune to its Neapolitan roots with its small size.

small california style pizza

The California-style pizza is a single-serving pizza that is unique in its use of fresh and seasonal produce.

It features the use of fresh ingredients such as avocado, artichoke hearts and broccoli. It is a west coast style pizza that draws inspiration from culinary peculiarities in California

Food critics describe California-style pizza as a single-serving pizza style that combines elements from Neapolitan and New York-style pizza.  

Till date, this invention continues to feature numerous experiments with fresh, local and flavorful ingredients.

It also incorporates toppings such as goat cheese, arugula, and feta cheese, as well as unusual toppings such as shrimp and duck sausage. 

The Cali style pizza is beloved because it manages to infuse the California cuisine style while staying true to its Neapolitan origins. 

Overall, it can be considered an adventurous pizza style because of the wide range of unique toppings.

Check out a variety of pizza recipes on our blog to make

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.