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New York Style Pizza: Everything You Need to Know

New York has it’s own types of pizza

Pizza will always have its roots in Italian cuisine, yet some of the most famous pizza that you now hear about is famous for coming from New York. Pizza will always be Italian, but there’s no denying that New York style pizza is truly delicious. 

It can be difficult to comprehend how something as simple in design as a pizza can be so different. But, if you compare the popular Westernized, New York Style pizza, you will realize that it is actually incredibly different to the traditional pizzas that you will find sold in Italy. 

New York Style Pizza

While New York Style pizza is spoken about a lot, there are actually quite a lot of different types of pizza within this one style. This can make finding your dream New York Style pizza very difficult. That’s why we’ve put together this ultimate guide, packed with everything you need to know about New York Style Pizza. So keep on reading to find out more. 

What is New York Style Pizza?

If you have ever visited New York, then you have probably tried the pizza there. If you haven’t tried the pizza, then you should seriously ask yourself ‘why not?’, because New York Style pizza is great. 

While pizza will always be classed as a part of Italian cuisine, it has evolved a lot from its early beginnings back in Italy. If you were to compare New York style pizza with traditional Italian pizza, you will see that there are actually very few similarities between the two. These pizzas are more like distant cousins than brother and sister. 

As we have said, there are lots of different styles of New York Style pizza. But despite their differences, these styles of pizza have a few common similarities. For example, they all tend to be designed to be large and wide, with a thin hand-thrown crust. The crust of the pizza is generally very crisp, and easy to snap. But, the base of the pizza is flexible and easy to fold over to eat. 

You will get different toppings on your New York style pizza, but most stores will primarily sell plain or cheese pizza. Some stores will sell pizzas by the pie, but in New York, it is a lot more common for places to sell pizza by the slice. But what are the different styles of New York pizza? Let’s take a look. 

NY Style Pizza

First, let’s take a look at ‘NY Style Pizza’. This style of New York pizza is very similar to one that we will look at shortly, but it has one major difference, and that is the way in which it is cooked. Traditionally, pizzas will be cooked in a hearth or pizza oven, with coal as the fuel source. This is part of what gives pizza its crisp texture and smoky flavor. But, NY Style pizza does not use coal to cook this pizza. Instead, it uses gas ovens. 

A lot of traditional Italian restaurants swear by using coal to cook pizza, simply because it adds so much extra flavor to the pizza. Due to this, a lot of New York style pizzas will also use a coal oven where they can. But depending on where the restaurant is based, this isn’t always possible. That is why the NY Style pizza was created, as restaurants and stores began to use gas ovens to cook their pizzas instead. 

In recent years, this style of New York Pizza has quickly become the most popular as more and more restaurants have begun to steer clear of coal ovens. This has purely been a matter of convenience, and because of this, NY Style pizza doesn’t taste as good as the original styles of pizza. 

But, the creation of NY style pizza has brought one benefit, and that is accessibility. Cooking pizza in a gas oven is a lot easier than cooking pizza in a coal oven, and because of this, restaurants are able to produce more pizza more quickly. The creation of this style of pizza was also a major turning point for New York Style pizza, as pizza now became cheaper, portable, and available almost immediately. 

You will find some NY Style Pizza joints that sell pizzas whole, but it is a lot more common for pizza to be sold by the slice in these venues. After all, this is the reason this style of pizza was born. With lots of cheese, a soft bottom, and a crunchy crust, there is nothing not to love about NY style pizza. But, this isn’t the only type of pizza that exists. 

Sicilian Pizza

NY Style Pizza will always be sold in the classic round shape, but Sicilian pizza will not. In fact, Sicilian pizza is famous because it is always produced in a rectangular shape, and because of this you will end up with a square piece of pizza when you buy it by the slice. When you first see square pizza, it can be a little weird, and you might find yourself wondering why anyone would change the classic round shape of pizza. Let’s take a look at this. 

Sicilian Pizza is always produced in a rectangular shape because of the way that it is cooked. Most pizzas are shaped to be round because they are cooked in an oven. But, Sicilian pizza is actually pan cooked, and because of this it can only be made rectangular. However, the shape of Sicilian pizza isn’t the only thing that makes it different from classic New York style pizza. It is also a lot thicker, with a crust that usually measures up to an inch in thickness. 

As its name suggests, the Sicilian pizza that is now enjoyed in the heart of New York City, can be traced all the way back to Sicily. In Sicily, this pizza was first produced in the bakeries, rather than the pizzerias, and this can explain why there is such a difference in shape between the two. 

That being said, the Sicilian pizza that you can enjoy in New York is very different to the Sicilian pizza that you would eat in Sicily. In Sicily, you will find toppings such as onions, breadcrumbs, and anchovies on this pizza. But, in New York, you will primarily find Sicilian pizza sold with just tomato sauce and cheese as its toppings. Some people frown upon a plain pizza, but it is a classic, and something that simply cannot be beaten. 

While Sicilian pizza is one of the classic New York pizza styles that you will find in NYC, it is a lot less common for pizzerias to sell this than NY style pizza. So, if you are heading to New York, and wanting to eat Sicilian pizza, make sure you do your research before you visit. 

The OG New York Pizza: Neapolitan-American Pizza

Earlier we mentioned that NY Style pizza is similar to another type of New York style pizza, we were speaking about Neapolitan-American Pizza. When it comes to New York Style pizza, this type really is the OG, and it is because of this style that pizza is popular in New York in the first place. 

New York has a rich history when it comes to pizza, and this all begins back in the early 1900s, when Italian Gennaro Lombardi began to sell pizza in his grocery store. The pizza that he sold was made using a family recipe that had been passed down through the generations, and it is this recipe that went on to form the base for Neapolitan-American pizza. 

Neapolitan-American pizza has a striking similarity to the traditional Neapolitan pizza that can be found in Italy. Both pizzas are designed to have a very thin crust, a good amount of tomato sauce as a base, and a generous helping of mozzarella cheese on top. However, despite these clear similarities, these pizzas are more different from similar to one another. These differences include size, texture, and cooking style. 

In Italy, Neapolitan pizzas are designed to be eaten by a single person, and they are not cut into slices. Instead, you will have to use a knife and fork to cut up your pizza. But Neapolitan-American pizzas are a great deal larger, measuring around 16-inches in diameter, so that they can be eaten by multiple people. 

Traditional Neapolitan pizzas will be cooked using wood, but Neapolitan-American pizzas were cooked using a coal-fired oven to ensure crispness for the crust. It is the style of cooking that has made Neapolitan-American pizzas so popular, and it is because of this that New York style pizza really exists. 

As we said earlier, the number of restaurants that actually serve traditional Neapolitan-American pizzas has reduced significantly. This is mainly because coal-fired ovens aren’t the easiest style of oven to find, and they are often hard to manage. Due to this, the NY Style Pizza has now become a lot more common than the original Neapolitan-American pizza that New Yorkers used to enjoy. You can still get Neapolitan-American pizza in NYC, but you will need to do your research to find a pizzeria that still has a cold fired oven to serve you this delicacy. 

Other Great NY Pizzas

We have just taken a deep look at the 3 main types of New York style pizza that you can buy in New York. But, these aren’t the only styles of pizza that you will find in the city. So here are some other types of pizza to keep a look-out for. 

The Dollar Slice

First up we have the dollar slice. We have mentioned a couple of times that a lot of pizzerias in NYC sell pizza by the slice, and this is something that has only grown in popularity over the past couple of years. Pizza restaurants saw the convenience that made hot dog stalls so popular, and set out to challenge this, and they did this by selling pizzas by the slice. For just $1, you can get a slice of decent quality pizza in most NYC pizza joints. The perfect snack for people on the go, and a great way to tide you over until your evening meal.

Local Chains

In NYC, you will also find a number of local pizza chains that you will not find outside this city. While you might find yourself drawn to the larger pizza chains through their aggressive marketing campaigns, and how good their food looks in adverts, you can’t beat a smaller, local chain. You may find yourself paying a little extra for your pizza in these smaller stores, but this is totally worth it for the quality that you get in return. It is these smaller chains that made pizza in New York popular, so they are definitely worth checking out. 

Deep Dish

Another style of pizza that you might encounter in New York is deep dish pizza. This isn’t a traditional New York style pizza, but it was only a matter of time before this style became popular in the Big Apple. Deep dish pizza originates in Chicago, and as you probably know, there is a big competition between New York and Chicago Style pizzas. Despite this, you will still be able to get your hands on deep dish pizza in New York. But be warned, it might not be as good as the deep dish pizza that you can buy in Chicago. 

Food Trucks 

On your travels around New York, you will likely also notice one other type of pizza, and that is the pizza that is sold out of food trucks. There are a number of food trucks all over New York City which specialize in a variety of different cuisines, and pizza is definitely one of the most popular. Some trucks will simply sell dollar slices of pizza, while others will sell the less-accessible Neapolitan-American pizza. Some of the earliest food trucks in NYC were actually pizza trucks, and these are still as popular today as they were in the late 1990s when they were first seen on the streets of New York. 

Grilled Pizza

Another style of pizza that you will find in NYC which doesn’t actually come from there is grilled pizza. Grilled pizza was first produced in Rhode Island in the 1980s, and it is still primarily found in this area. But, there have been some New York based stores which have begun to explore the potential of this pizza. So, if you want to try grilled pizza, there are a few stores in New York which actually sell this style of pizza. 

Roman Pizza

Roman pizza is pretty different to what we would consider to be traditional New York style pizza, and this is because it is primarily cooked in wood fired ovens. The style in which this pizza is cooked makes a massive difference to its preparation process, and has actually caused this pizza to almost solely be sold in sit down restaurants. This pizza is yummy, but again it is sold less often in New York than other styles of pizza. 

Neapolitan Pizza

We spoke about Neapolitan-American pizza earlier, and we also mentioned traditional Neapolitan pizza. While Neapolitan-American pizza is much more popular across New York, there has been a sudden increase in the popularity of traditional Neapolitan pizza too. If you want to try an authentic Neapolitan pizza, then it is important that you visit a traditional Italian diner because this is the only way that you will be able to get the true taste of Italy. 

Midwestern Pizza

Similar to the deep dish pizza that we spoke about earlier, you can also get your hands on Midwestern pizza without leaving New York. This is another popular style of pizza that is sold in Chicago and the Midwest, despite how different it is to the deep dish pizza that they are also famous for. This pizza is incredibly thin, with lots of cheese on top, and is generally cut into squares before it is sold. To find yummy Midwestern pizza in NYC, you should visit the East Village. 

Cajun Pizza

For a traditional New York pizza creation, you should check out the Cajun pizza that you will find in multiple stores across the city. This style of pizza was first created in the late 1980s in New York’s East Village, and it has been popular ever since. The best place to visit for Cajun pizza is New York’s Two Boots chain, where cuisines from New York and Louisiana are combined to create unique pizza toppings. But, the best thing about Cajun pizza is the spicy tomato sauce that is used for the base, it is truly delicious. 

New Brooklyn Pizza

The New Brooklyn Pizza which you will find in New York City isn’t so much of a style of pizza. Instead, it is more so a term that refers to the quality of ingredients used to produce some of the best pizzas across the city. You can get New Brooklyn pizza in lots of places across New York, but the best places will be stores that use locally-sourced ingredients to produce their dishes. 

St Louis Pizza

In some pizza stores across New York, you will also find ones that sell St Louis style pizza. This is another Midwestern creation, but a lot of New York stores sell this pizza without giving it credit, by simply changing the name instead. St Louis pizza is a pizza that uses processed cheese, known as Provel, rather than mozzarella to top the pizza. This completely transforms the flavor of the pizza, making it extra special to enjoy when you are visiting NYC. 

Flatbread

The final style of pizza that you may also find in New York actually comes from California, and this is flatbread pizza. This style of pizza uses fresh produce to create light and healthy pizzas that taste very different to regular New York style pizza. In New York City, there are actually 2 stores that specialize in this style of pizza. So, if you want to try a flatbread pizza, you should visit the California Pizza Kitchen chain, who have 2 stores in the Big Apple. 

The Pizzas You Won’t Find in NYC

As you can see, the pizza scene in New York City is pretty diverse. As well as selling classic New York style pizza, there are lots of stores all across the city that specialize in different styles of pizza. Many of which are from different areas of the USA. But despite the vast amount of pizza options that NYC has to offer, there are still some styles of pizza that are notably missing. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the pizza styles that you won’t find in NYC. 

New England

New England pizza, like all pizzas, has its roots in Italian cuisine. But, to create this style of pizza, Italian and Greek cuisine have been combined, and it is very popular across New England. This pizza is very different from traditional pizza because it is cooked in oiled pans, and should be eaten using a knife and fork. Despite deep searching, there are no pizzerias in NYC that sell traditional New England pizza, so sadly you will have to visit New England to try this one. 

New Haven

If you are from Connecticut, then you have probably heard of New Haven pizza. This is the most popular pizza in this State, but sadly you will not be able to find this style of pizza anywhere in NYC. This style of pizza is very similar to Neapolitan-American pizza, with one key difference, and that is shape. New Haven pizza prides itself on not being perfect, with an irregular base to complement this. You can get Neapolitan-American pizza in NYC, but you won’t be able to find New Haven pizza in the city. 

Tomato Pie

Finally, you also will not find tomato pie pizza in NYC. When we say tomato pie, we are speaking about both the Philadelphia and Trenton variations of this pizza. Philadelphia tomato pie contains absolutely no cheese, so theoretically you could get this pizza in NYC, simply by ordering your pizza without cheese. However, it won’t taste the same. Likewise, you won’t be able to get your hands on Trenton-Style tomato pie, either. If you want to eat these styles of pizza, you will need to make a trip to Philadelphia or Trenton. 

Summary

In short, this has been an ultimate guide to the different styles of New York pizzas. From traditional New York style pizzas to other styles of pizza that you can buy in NYC, we have told you everything that you need to know. 

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Written by Brian N

Brian has been an influencer in the food and beverage industry for over 20 years. He not only loves to eat and drink at restaurants on a regular basis, he also knows the business inside and out.