7 Styles of Pizza You Need to Try
Since its creation, which is in its current form widely attributed to the area of Naples in the late 18th century, pizza has evolved, changed and been adapted many times over and the many different regional styles have become very popular around the world. Each of these regional pizzas differ in fundamental ways, and each make for a unique pizza. As is true for almost all foods with a strong national or local pride, many locals feel that their regional pizza style is emotionally important to them, and they’ll argue with anyone who challenges that it is the best and only way to enjoy pizza.
Let’s take a trip around the world and through history and explore some of these styles of pizza, how they came about and why you simply have to try them all in your lifetime.
It has to be first on the list, because the Neapolitan style pizza is just about as traditional as it gets when it’s made properly. It’s the original way that it was created in the late 18th century in that same area of Naples where a cheap and quick way of producing food for the growing population of the area at the time was needed. Queen Margherita’s visit to Naples in 1889 that led to the creation of a special pizza to her tastes even gives that classic tomato and mozzarella pizza its name today. It’s a very thin base pizza with thicker crusts and is known for its high sauce and low cheese ratio.
This pizza style is at its best when made in a wood fired pizza oven like the Ooni Karu 16, eaten and prepared outdoors. If you want the authentic Neapolitan style pizza experience, you want the traditional margherita, of course – tomato, basil and mozzarella, supposedly a representation of the three colors of the Italian flag. Look out for a crispy, chewy crust and a fantastic flavor.
New York Style Pizza
The New York slice is an institution in the Big Apple, and a stroll around the city will see you pass dozens of pizza restaurants and takeouts offering this unique pizza style. It’s based heavily on the Neapolitan style pizza and was brought to America with the Italian immigrants in the early 1900s. It’s traditionally cooked in a gas oven and has a thinner crust than the Neapolitan style which means the mozzarella that’s used has to be quite low in moisture. This cheese goes almost right to the edge of the pizza, resulting in a less prominent crust – only about an inch left for you to hold on to while you’re eating it with your hands, which is mandatory for the New York style pizza.
The New York style pizza is made big, usually at least 18 inches, if not bigger, and sold either as a whole pizza or in slices and is available all over the world thanks to its accessibility and pure tastiness. The New York style pizza is one you have to experience, in the unlikely event you haven’t yet.
Sicilian Style Pizza
Another pizza style that is commonly found in the pizza restaurants in New York is the Sicilian style pizza. This is the first real departure from the thin based pizza we’re looking at, because this one is a deep-dish pizza that is more chewy dough than toppings. It’s usually cut square, and while it is an invention of Sicily, it came out of bakeries rather than pizza restaurants.
At its most traditional, the Sicilian style pizza is topped with a thin spread layer of tomato and anchovy, topped with breadcrumbs or deep-fried onions. The more traditional style is harder to find these days and you’ll almost always find them closer to a hybrid between the New York and Sicilian style.
California Style Pizza
Perhaps the newest pizza style on the list, but no less popular than any of the others, the California style pizza has been around only since about the 1980s. It’s a thin base which is covered more completely than the Neapolitan style pizza.
The portions of toppings and cheese are generous, and the base isn’t quite as thin as other styles. The California style pizza is known more for its assortment of toppings than any specific qualities about the base or style, thanks to input from restaurateurs Ed la Dou and Alice Waters who are credited with inventing the style. It’s not uncommon to see California style pizzas with ingredients like artichokes and potatoes. For the best California style pizza, you’ll need to pay a visit to California Pizza Kitchen, the home of this pizza style.
Chicago Deep Dish
The Chicago deep dish style pizza takes a traditional pizza and literally flips tradition on its head. Its tell-tale deep walled base is filled first with layers of mozzarella cheese and other toppings and finished with the tomato sauce, which makes for a very unique pizza style, but it’s more of a tourist attraction than something Chicago locals eat very often. In fact, many say they’ll only order the traditional deep dish when they’re entertaining friends or family from out of town because it’s simply too unhealthy to eat very often.
Instead, the Chicago thin crust is actually far more popular in the area. This one is a thin crust pizza that’s rolled with a rolling pin instead of tossed like other thin based pizzas. It’s baked a bit longer and has a more crispy, almost cracker-like base and is found in taverns and bars across the city, which is why it’s often called the tavern-style pizza. Its signature round base is cut into rectangular pieces because, it’s claimed, it’s easier to eat that way.
Detroit Style Pizza
The Detroit style pizza is a truly unique offering and comes from the hands of a local tavern owner called Gus Guerra who made pizza in trays with walls instead of on flat dishes. The pan is coated in oil and a crust that is most similar to the Sicilian style is out into the pan before the sauce, toppings and a large amount of Wisconsin cheese is layered. It’s often topped off with a bit more sauce and then cooked until the cheese caramelizes against the steel pan, giving the pizza its tell-tale crispy cheese walls that hold back the rest of the delicious, melted cheese.
When is a pizza pie actually a pie? When it’s a calzone, of course! The calzone has all the earmarks of a regular Neapolitan style pizza, but instead of cooking it as a flat open pizza, it’s folded over before it hits the oven. Traditional calzone will include some ricotta cheese, along with meats like salami and ham but the calzone has been applied to many other styles and includes many other toppings (or fillings!).
Pizza is one of the most loved and versatile dishes in the world, and it’s no wonder that we consume an enormous amount of it, in whatever style we prefer most. It’s a meal that is quick and easy to make, but it is truly difficult to master. Try out these different styles of pizza and see which one you prefer – from the classic Neapolitan to the calorie-heavy deep dish cheese experience that is the Detroit style pizza.