Top 8 Pizza Styles in America
February 5, 2021
Did you know that there are more than one pizza style in America? I don’t mean different pizza joints. Different parts of the country have different preferences in terms of crust style, amount of cheese, and the shape of their slices, but pepperoni is universally the favorite topping, followed by mushrooms and onions.
We Americans love our pizza. In fact, according to PMQ Pizza Magazine (yes, there is a magazine dedicated just to the pizza industry) we consume almost $46 billion of it each year. There is even one man who has eaten nothing but pizza for the last twenty-five years.
While we may not recommend that (your kids might like that idea), it’s no surprise that pizza is so popular. It is kid friendly, easily customized, made to be shared, can be made to be healthy or decadent, and depending on the style, is easy to grab and go.
In honor of National Pizza Day, we run down the top eight regional styles of pizza so that you can go get some fantastic pizza while on your next exploration of the United States!
Brief history of pizza
Pizza has been around almost as long as humans have been making basic flatbreads, going back all the way to the first time someone added toppings like cheese and dates to their regular flatbread in the 6th century BC. The modern pizza with tomatoes dates back to Naples, Italy in the 1500s, and the first pizzas sold in the United States happened in Chicago and New York, cities with very different opinions on pizza to this day.
New York, New York: Sal and Carmine’s
New York style pizza is known for its large, foldable slices. Fans of New York style pizza enjoy the thin somewhat chewy crust with light sauce with plenty of cheese. New York style pizza lovers tend toward plain/cheese slices or pepperoni, but usually do not like too many toppings to weigh down their perfect slice.
Sal and Carmine’s sells perfect New York style pizzas and nothing else. It’s worked for them since 1959, and makes them a must-try if you are visiting New York.
Chicago, Illinois: Lou Malnati’s
Chicago style pizza is as different from New York pizza as you can get. Rather than a thin crust, the crust is very deep, creating a very thick pizza that resembles a pie more than a flatbread.
Deep-dish pizza is baked in an iron skillet or a round, steel pan that is more similar to a cake or pie pan than a typical pizza pan. The pan is oiled to allow for easy removal as well as to create a fried effect on the outside of the crust. The dough is pressed up onto the sides of the pan, forming a bowl for a very thick layer of toppings.
While there is an argument about which pizzeria began the deep-dish tradition, our favorite is Lou Malnatis, a much loved pizzeria to both tourists and locals. Known for their thick buttery crust and chunky tomatoes that sit on top of the cheese, Lou Malnatis has been satisfying Chicago style pizza cravings since 1971. If you only have time for one pizza in Chicago, this should be it!
Orlando, Florida: Via Napoli at Epcot’s World Showcase, Italian Pavillion
If you are craving pizza while at Disney World, make a reservation at Via Napoli for lunch or dinner. Enjoy traditional Neapolitan pizza delivered right to your table, from cheesy quattro formaggi to sausage-topped piccante.
The thin-crust pizzas are made with fresh mozzarella cheese, San Marzano tomatoes and real Caputo flour imported from Southern Italy. Water for the dough is even sourced from a spring similar to Italy’s Campania region. Pizzas are then cooked in wood-burning ovens named after the 3 active volcanoes in Italy—Mount Etna, Mount Vesuvius and Stromboli.
To ensure every detail is perfect, famed restaurateur Nick Valenti spent time in Naples studying the art of dough, crust, sauce and oven temperatures at the famous pizzerias Da Michele and Trianon before creating the menu. If you want truly authentic Italian pizza, you must eat here!
Detroit, Michigan: Buddy’s Pizza
Detroit-style pizza, a descendent of Sicilian-style pizza, traces its roots to one man who borrowed his wife’s Sicilian crust recipe to start making their restaurant’s pizza.
The key ingredient in a proper Detroit-style pizza isn’t something you eat – it’s the pan. The pans are a thick steel that are more similar to a cast iron skillet than a cake pan. Legend has it that the initial batch of pans were acquired from a factory that used the pans for spare parts. Detroiters have been fighting for corner slices ever since.
Locals swear by Buddy’s Pizza — get the classic Detroiter to taste the original recipe!
Buffalo, New York: Bocce Club Pizza
Buffalo, New York, known for their famous wings, also has a distinctive style of pizza. The crust is somewhere between New York city’s thin crust and Chicago’s really deep dish. In Buffalo, the go-to topping is pepperoni, and not just any pepperoni. It is a special pepperoni that does a “cup and char” so that it pops into a cup that pools with the fat from the pepperoni while the edges of each little cup get browned from the oven.
If you are in Buffalo, stop by Bocce Club Pizza and enjoy pizza and wings at this beloved restaurant that has been around since 1946.
St. Louis, Missouri: Imo’s Pizza
St. Louis style pizza is a tavern style pizza, with the cheese and toppings extending all the way to the edge of the thin cracker crust.
St. Louis pizza is known for it’s special cheese called Provel, which is made in St. Louis, and is a blend of Swiss, provolone, and cheddar. St. Louis pizza is cut into squares, which is also called a party cut.
If you are in St. Louis, check out Imo’s Pizza, which has been open since 1964, and claims to be the originator of St. Louis-style pizza!
Los Angeles, California
California-style pizza is a style of single-serving pizza that combines New York and Italian thin crust with toppings from the California cuisine cooking style. Its invention is generally attributed to Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, California.
If you are in Los Angeles, check out the Caioti Pizza Café, where you can enjoy specialty pizzas like the Augustin’s Antigua, topped with Sea Salt, Sweet Roast Garlic, Balsamic Vinegar, White Truffle Oil, with Arugula, Gorgonzola, and Lemon Zest.
Miami, Florida: Rey Pizza
Miami may be known for Cuban coffee and sandwiches, but Cuban pizza is another food you must try when visiting Miami. Cuban pizza is known for it’s chewy and doughy crust, slightly sweeter sauce, a mixture of Mozzarella and Gouda cheese, and some restaurants offer toppings like shrimp, banana, chorizo, and picadillo.
Rey Pizza has been open since 1985 after founder Ramon Rodriguez came to the United States from Cuba. He declares himself the “King” of Cuban pizza and his fans don’t doubt it!
What are your favorite pizza styles? Leave us a note in the comments!