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New York and Chicago Aren’t the Only Regional Pizza Styles

pizza from Pennsylvania

Long has America’s pizza battle raged on. Indeed, the cheesy pie is so dear to American hearts that it’s entrenched itself in politics and popular culture. In one corner stands New York, presenting a pie with a thin crust, ideal folding potential, and extreme portability. In the other corner, Chicago presents its sauce-on-top deep-dish style, ultra filling and knife-and-fork hearty. But what about other regional variations that haven’t yet made it to the national stage?

But first, let’s break down the heavy weights: what makes up New York and Chicago pizzas? New York has a thin, crispy crust, and is usually topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and assorted toppings. They are served in wide slices, which many people like to fold in half for easier eating on the go. They are also renown for pools of oil (which may be the best part). 

Chicago, on the other hand, is served deep-dish style. It has a doughier crust, assorted cheeses and toppings, and is topped with sauce last. It’s served in slices or squares, and eaten with a knife and fork. While it’s a heavier pie, it usually offers up less oil than its famous counterpart.

But what about the rest of the country? First We Feast did a nice run-down of Old Forge-style pizza out of Pennsylvania. Served in trays, it’s neither thick or thin; it’s instead somewhere in between. And the flavor?

The defining flavor of individual cafes is mostly a product of distinctive cheese mixtures: mozzarella, provolone, and more are used. In overall effect, Old Forge’s red pizza represents the platonic ideal of toaster-oven favorite, Ellio’s (which has no historic connection to northeastern Pennsylvania, instead hailing from Great Neck, Long Island).

Still hungry? Try a St. Louis-style square. An unleavened crust makes for a super thin pie, which is always topped with Provel cheese (a mix of cheddar, provolone, and swiss). It’s baked in the traditional round shape, but served in small squares. Or maybe Detroit-style with tickle your fancy. It’s got a thicker—but still light and airy—crust, topped with cheese and traditional toppings like pepperoni or sausage. It’s cooked in a square pan with high edges, which allow for toppings to be distributed all the way to the edges.

Ready to make your own? Try some culture originals: we like shaved asparagus, Roquefort, and egg pizza, or a deep-dish pizza puttanesca. Or better yet, make our easy overnight pizza dough and create a pizza style all your own.

Photo by Liz Barclay

Alicia Hahn

Alicia Hahn is an online editorial intern for culture who excels at eating and enjoys writing, crosswords, and cooking (preferably with cheese). Originally from San Francisco, she moved to Boston for school and fell in love with the city (despite an annual campaign against winter). Her favorite place to be is the farmers’ market, where she finds weird and exciting ingredients to make or break her next meal.