The Different Styles of Pizza From Across the Country
From deep dish to Neapolitan, the United States is home to many different styles of pizza. Get the delicious facts in this guide.
Every day in the U.S., Americans eat about 100 acres of pizza. Each year, every American eats an average of twenty-three pounds of pizza, or about forty-six slices. Pizza is practically our national food, and it may come as no surprise that each region of the country has its own signature style.
There are dozens of different styles of pizza all across the United States, each with its own unique flair. Read on to learn about some of the different kinds of pizza you can find in each area of the country.
Like most types of pizza, Neapolitan pizza originated in Italy, specifically in the city of Naples. This pizza uses a yeast-heavy dough that rises into an airy crust filled with lots of bubbles. Sauce is spread in a thin layer over the top of the crust, and toppings tend to be minimal and light, usually including fresh mozzarella, basil, and olive oil.
Neo-Neapolitan pizza is an attempt to return to a more historic version of the Neapolitan pizza. This pizza uses unbleached bread flour in place of traditional Italian flour in the crust. Many pizzerias also add a sweetener to the pizza dough that produces a chewier, sweeter pie closer to what you would find at Totonno’s or Lombardi’s.
New York pizza has become an American classic rivaled only by Chicago pizza in fame. New York pizza is a branch of the original Neapolitan family, although these slices have gotten bigger and cheesier. Traditional New York pizza keeps the light, airy crust and thin layer of sauce, but adds a heavier layer of cheese before baking the whole thing in a coal oven.
When we think about deep dish pizza, we think about Chicago, the home of this mile-high pie. Deep dish pizzas are an inch or two thick, piled high with cheese, toppings, and tomato sauce spread on top. Some varieties include a second layer of crust on top, but these are stuffed pizzas, not true deep dish pies.
Pan pizza is a specialty of the Southeast and is the shorter cousin of deep dish pizza. Pan pizzas are, as the name suggests, cooked in a pan with high sides and a (un)healthy layer of butter or oil. This creates a rich, fatty crust that serves as an indulgent base for a thicker pizza loaded with cheese and toppings.
Although Sicilian pizzas may sound like they don’t come from America, the style has been perfected here (no one tell the Italians). The crust is fluffy, almost like focaccia, and a thin layer of cheese sits directly on top of it. Sauce and toppings go on top of that, and the pie gets sliced into rectangles before it’s served.
If you like thin crust pizza, then get thee to St. Louis, the home of the country’s thinnest pizza styles. In fact, these pizzas are almost closer to eating crackers and cheese, with a crispy, unleavened crust and Provel cheese. These pizzas are cut into rectangles to create the perfect pizza for late-night snacking.
At their core, California pizzas are basically a Neapolitan pie — a light, soft crust with a thin layer of sauce and cheese. Where these pizzas make a name for themselves is with their toppings. California pizzas can be topped with everything from barbeque chicken and lobster to artichoke, pate, or Thai food.
Ohio Valley pizzas are unique in the way their toppings get cooked — they don’t. Instead, these pizzerias bake the crust alone or with only the sauce and cheese on top. Once they put the pizza in the box, they add whatever toppings you’ve ordered, where those toppings absorb heat from the crust and rise to the perfect temperature.
New Haven pizza is actually known as apizza, pronounced “ah-beets” and uses the same fermented crust as the Neapolitan pizza families. These pizzas are asymmetrical and baked in an oven that’s at least 600 degrees to get a crunchy, charred crust. Most notably, these pizzas use white sauce that’s topped with clams, rather than the traditional tomato sauce and cheese.
Detroit pizzas can tie their history to the automotive industry, much like most of the city. These pizzas use a thick crust with a layer of brick cheese that’s pushed out to the very edges of the pan. The pizza gets baked in blue steel pans that were originally used in car manufacturing, and that layer of cheese on the edge gets cooked crispy for a fantastic bite.
Rhode Island pizza is a unique style that barely toes the line of being considered a pizza. Specifically, these pizzas are long and rectangular, rather than square or round, and they don’t include any cheese. It’s also served at room temperature and uses a thick layer of spicy sauce on a crust that’s close to focaccia.
Ironically, New England pizzas are often called Greek pizzas thanks to the addition of lots of spices. In particular, Greek pizza sauce tends to be heavy on the oregano, and these pies tend to use a lot of cheese. The dough tends to be denser, since it’s baked in oil in the pan, and the pizza packs a punch in terms of flavor.
Learn More About the Different Styles of Pizza
In spite of its Italian origins, pizza has become a thoroughly American food, and each region has its own classic style. From the lighter Neapolitan crust to the dense deep dish to the crispy St. Louis, there’s a pizza style for everyone. Next time you’re traveling around the country, look for different styles of pizza by visiting the local restaurants and trying something new.
If you’d like to learn more about the different styles of pizza, check out the rest of our site at Fondi Pizzeria. We proudly serve traditional Neapolitan pizza and authentic Italian classics. We embrace the Italian art of sprezzatura at our restaurant, so don’t be surprised when your wine shows up in tumblers 😉 Order online today and get Gig Harbor’s best pizza delivered to your door.