The Ultimate Guide to Regional Pizza Styles in the US

Pizza has its roots in Italy but has found numerous expressions in the United States. American pizza has evolved into a variety of regional styles, each with its distinct flavors, ingredients, and baking methods.

From the thin, foldable slices of New York to the deep, hearty pans of Chicago, the landscape of American pizza is as varied as the country itself. Each will provide you with a chance to host an exceptional pizza night for your guests.

Among many things, I will discuss:

  • The rich variety of pizza styles in the United States
  • How each was influenced by different cultural and regional factors
  • How this diversity reflects the adaptability and creativity in American culinary practices

Today, I would like to provide you with some of the most prominent ones out there.

1. New York-Style Pizza

How to make the best New York Style Pizza

Originating from the Italian immigrants in New York, the New York-style pizza is known for its large, wide slices that are thin and crispy at the edges but soft enough to fold. This style is a derivative of the Neapolitan pizza, adapted to suit the American taste and cooking methods.

The crust is hand-tossed, creating a perfect balance of chewiness and crispiness. Typically, it’s topped with a simple yet flavorful layer of tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese.

The slices are so large and flat that the traditional way to eat them is by folding them lengthwise. New York-style pizza was originally baked in coal-fired ovens, giving it a distinct taste, although many pizzerias now use gas-powered ovens.

Ingredients Quantity
High-gluten bread flour 4 cups
Warm water 1 1/2 cups
Dry yeast 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Tomato sauce As needed
Shredded mozzarella cheese As needed

 

2. Chicago-Style Pizza

Chicago is renowned for its deep-dish pizza, a hearty and robust style that turns the traditional pizza on its head. Characterized by its high, thick crust, Chicago deep-dish pizza is baked in a deep pan, layering cheese, meat or vegetable toppings, and then a generous layer of sauce and more cheese.

The crust, often 1 to 2 inches thick, is more akin to a pie than a flatbread. A popular variation is the stuffed pizza, which includes an additional thin layer of dough over the toppings, followed by more sauce. This style of pizza is a meal in itself, reflecting the hearty culinary traditions of the Midwest.

Ingredients Quantity
All-purpose flour 4 cups
Cornmeal 1/3 cup
Warm water 1 1/2 cups
Dry yeast 1 tsp
Olive oil 1/4 cup
Salt 1 tsp
Shredded mozzarella cheese 4 cups
Tomato sauce 3 cups
Toppings (sausage, pepperoni, vegetables) As needed

 

3. New Haven-Style Pizza

New Haven Style Pizza Recipe

New Haven-style pizza, also known as “apizza,” is a close cousin to the New York slice but with its unique twist. The crust is even thinner and crispier, often charred to perfection in coal-fired ovens.

This style of pizza is typically oblong and features a crust that is chewy yet crispy, with toppings that sometimes extend all the way to the edge. A regional specialty is the white clam pie, which forgoes traditional tomato sauce in favor of fresh clams, garlic, and olive oil, offering a unique and savory flavor profile.

Ingredients Quantity
All-purpose flour 3 cups
Warm water 1 cup
Dry yeast 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Fresh clams 1 cup
Garlic, minced 2 cloves
Mozzarella cheese 2 cups
Grated Romano cheese 1/2 cup

 

4. Detroit-Style Pizza

What is Detroit Style Pizza

Detroit-style pizza stands out with its square shape and thick, deep crust that is crispy on the bottom and soft inside. This style is baked in a rectangular pan, often twice, to achieve its signature texture. The crust is airy and chewy, with caramelized cheese edges that are highly sought after.

Unlike other styles, Detroit pizza is known for having its sauce spread on top of the cheese, creating a unique and flavorful experience. The most popular topping is pepperoni, which can be layered under the cheese or placed on top. Pairing it with wine is a solid option.

Ingredients Quantity
Bread flour 3 cups
Warm water 1 cup
Dry yeast 1 tsp
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Shredded mozzarella cheese 3 cups
Tomato sauce 2 cups
Pepperoni slices As needed

 

5. Quad Cities-Style Pizza

How to Make Quad Cities Style Pizza

Quad Cities-style pizza, originating from the region encompassing parts of Iowa and Illinois, offers a distinct twist with its nutty-tasting crust. The secret lies in the addition of malt and molasses to the dough, giving it a unique flavor profile.

The sauce is notably spicier, often containing chili flakes and ground cayenne. This style of pizza is traditionally cut into strips rather than the typical wedge or rectangular slices, making it a unique experience both in taste and presentation. It is needed to master the technique of a quality dough before you are ready to do the justice to the recipe.

Ingredients Quantity
All-purpose flour 3 cups
Warm water 1 cup
Dry yeast 1 tsp
Molasses 1 tbsp
Malt powder 1 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Spicy tomato sauce 2 cups
Shredded mozzarella cheese 3 cups
Sausage, fennel As needed

 

6. Sicilian-Style Pizza

What is Sicilian Style Pizza in USA

Sicilian-style pizza in the United States refers to a variety of pies that share a common feature: a thick, rectangular crust that is crispy on the bottom. This style is reminiscent of the traditional Sicilian sfincione.

The crust is sponge-like, providing a robust base for a variety of toppings. In the U.S., Sicilian pizza often has the sauce layer on top of the cheese, creating a rich and flavorful topping that complements the thick crust.

Ingredients Quantity
Bread flour 4 cups
Warm water 1 1/2 cups
Dry yeast 1 tsp
Olive oil 3 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Tomato sauce 3 cups
Shredded mozzarella cheese 4 cups
Onions, anchovies, herbs As needed

 

7. Neapolitan-Style Pizza

Is Neapolitan Style Pizza Spicy

Neapolitan-style pizza is the classic Italian style that has influenced many American variations. It is characterized by a thin, soft crust with a puffy, charred outer edge (cornicione).

The toppings are minimal and high-quality, typically including San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, and olive oil. This style of pizza is usually smaller, intended as a single-serving meal, and often eaten with a knife and fork. The dough is hand-kneaded and stretched, and the pizza is cooked quickly in a very hot oven.

Ingredients Quantity
“00” flour 3 cups
Warm water 1 cup
Dry yeast 1/2 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
San Marzano tomatoes 2 cups
Fresh mozzarella cheese 8 oz
Fresh basil leaves As needed
Olive oil Drizzle

 

8. Grandma-Style Pizza

Best Ingridients for Grandma Style Pizza

Grandma-style pizza, originating from Long Island, New York, is known for its rectangular shape and a crust that is thinner than Sicilian but thicker than New York-style. The dough is stretched into a rectangular pan but isn’t allowed to proof as long as Sicilian dough, resulting in a distinct texture and flavor.

The crust is crispy and chewy, providing a hearty base for a variety of toppings. This style has grown in popularity across the Northeast and is cherished for its homemade, rustic appeal.

Ingredients Quantity
All-purpose flour 3 cups
Warm water 1 cup
Dry yeast 1 tsp
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Tomato sauce 2 cups
Shredded mozzarella cheese 3 cups
Optional toppings (peppers, onions, sausage) As needed

 

9. St. Louis-Style Pizza

St. Louis-style pizza is distinguished by its ultra-thin, unleavened, and super-crispy crust. This style of pizza is unique for its use of Provel cheese, a blend of provolone, Swiss, and white cheddar, instead of the traditional mozzarella. The sauce is slightly sweet, and the pizza is typically cut into squares, known as a “party cut.”

The toppings are sliced rather than diced, adding to the distinctiveness of this style. St. Louis-style pizza offers a crunchy, cheesy experience that’s different from the more common chewy and stretchy pizza varieties. It is a healthier variant than most out there.

Ingredients Quantity
All-purpose flour 2 cups
Baking powder 1 tsp
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Water 3/4 cup
Provel cheese blend 2 cups
Tomato sauce 1 1/2 cups
Toppings (bacon strips, vegetables) As needed

 

10. California-Style Pizza

Best Toppings for California Style Pizza

California-style pizza is known for its creative and non-traditional toppings. This style emerged from the culinary innovation of chefs who experimented with unusual ingredients, reflecting California’s diverse food culture.

The crust is typically hand-tossed and chewy, serving as a canvas for a variety of unique toppings such as smoked salmon, Peking duck, goat cheese, and arugula. California-style pizza is a testament to the state’s emphasis on fresh, local ingredients and culinary experimentation, making each pizza a new and exciting experience.

Ingredients Quantity
Bread flour 3 cups
Warm water 1 cup
Dry yeast 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Unique toppings (smoked salmon, goat cheese) As needed

 

What pizza style has sauce on top?
Detroit-style pizza is known for having sauce on top. This style typically features cheese and toppings underneath a distinctive stripe or layer of tomato sauce spread across the top. With that in mind, reheating doesn’t come as a problem since the sauce is what will be affected first.
Do you put cheese on pizza first or last?
In most pizza styles, cheese is put on first, directly over the sauce. However, in Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, cheese is layered at the bottom, with sauce on top to prevent the cheese from burning during the longer baking time.
Do Italians put onion on pizza?
Yes, Italians do use onions as a topping on pizza. However, traditional Italian pizzas often focus on simplicity and freshness of ingredients, so the use of onion would be more restrained compared to some American styles.
Do Italians eat pizza with a knife and a fork?
Yes, in Italy, it is common to eat pizza with a knife and a fork, especially in sit-down restaurants. This is particularly true for Neapolitan-style pizza, which often has a softer, thinner crust that can be more challenging to eat by hand.

The Bottom Line

From the thin, foldable slices of New York to the deep, hearty pans of Chicago, and the creative toppings of California, each style reflects the cultural and historical influences of its region.

These regional varieties not only offer a glimpse into America’s pizza landscape but also invite pizza enthusiasts to explore and savor the unique flavors and textures that make each style special.