Travel this great big country, and you’ll discover that just about every popular food has its own variations that are specific to particular regions and cities. And that’s particularly true for pizza. Great and unique pizza can be found from coast to coast, and we’ve encountered 11 distinct styles that you definitely need to know about if you want to call yourself a pizza connoisseur.
First things first: Let’s get some pizza styles that we won’t be discussing out of the way. Fast food pizza may be a style unto itself, but it’s not one worth celebrating. Neither are frozen pizzas — or any pizza that you can find in a supermarket, for that matter. Most of the pizza styles we’re celebrating today are ones that are specific to just one place in the country, but others can be discovered in all cities where great pizza is found, which is, thankfully, just about every major American metropolitan area these days.
While you can take some bread, add some sauce, melt some cheese on it, and call it pizza, you probably know by now that homespun creations like these really aren’t pizza. Great pizza is an art form: What goes into the dough? How long is it proofed and fermented? What toppings go on it? What’s the crust to cheese to sauce ratio? In what type of oven is it cooked, at what temperature, and for how long? Turning out a truly delicious pizza — one that’s the Platonic ideal of a specific variation, no less — is truly a majestic feat.
In order to make sure we hit all the most popular styles, we consulted our recent annual ranking of the 101 Best Pizzas in America. So we won’t just give you a rundown of these styles, we’ll also tell you where you can find them. Read on to learn about 11 indispensable pizza styles from across the country. The next time someone asks you what the difference between a St. Louis-style pizza and a Detroit-style pizza is, you’ll know the answer.
This Northeastern specialty is just what its name implies: a pie that’s typically served at a bar. True bar pies are thin-crusted but not crackery, covered with a layer of moon crater-speckled cheese from edge to edge, and small enough to be eaten by one person over the course of, say, two beers. You’ll find wonderful examples at Eddie’s in New Hyde Park, New York; Denino’s in Staten Island; Star Tavern in Orange, New Jersey; and Colony in Stamford, Connecticut.
Chicago Deep Dish
Some may argue that a deep-dish Chicago pizza is actually more of a casserole, but for all intents and purposes it is a real pizza — and a great one, at that. Unlike any other pizza you’ll ever see, deep-dish Chicago pizzas start with a buttery dough that’s pressed into the bottom and around the sides of a deep (usually cast iron) dish, covered in cheese, then topped with lots of sauce and toppings. You’ll find this style all across the country thanks to Chicago-based Uno Chicago Grill, but for the true deep-dish experience we suggest you visit the original location of Lou Malnati’s, in Chicago.