If you recall the past few days or weeks, you will likely recall a day (or two) when you ate pizza. Although the cuisine originated in Italy, its popularity has exploded in the United States. In truth, the United States now has countless regional variations of the dish, which Italians may not recognize but which are delicious nonetheless.
Popular pizza varieties include thin-crust slices from New York, deep-dish pizza from Chicago, and traditional Neapolitan pizza. These pizzas can be garnished with traditional ingredients such as tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni, or they can serve as a jumping-off point for an entirely novel combination.
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The Origins of Pizza
No one will likely be surprised to learn that pizza originated in Italy, specifically the Campania region, where Naples is situated. While many cultures ingested flatbreads with toppings long before the invention of pizza, the Italians invented topping a flatbread with tomatoes, soft white cheese, and basil.
Prior to the 1900s, pizza was a delicacy that was primarily limited to Italy. Italian immigrants arrived in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, bringing their cuisine with them. Between 1905 and 1925, the first pizza shops opened in the United States and rapidly spread across the country. As pizza became more popular, various regional variations began to emerge.
From the well-known Chicago deep dish style to the obscure Ohio River Valley pizza, which involves placing cold toppings on a hot-from-the-oven pizza, these styles varied significantly. Some varieties, such as a New York-style thin slice, are popular across the nation.
On any given day, 13% of the American population will consume pizza. If you own a pizza restaurant, this is excellent news for your bottom line. Learn more about the most popular pizza varieties, as well as some topping suggestions you may not have considered for your menu.
The Most Popular Types of Pizza
Pizza is popular throughout the United States. Initially considered an “ethnic” food, it soon became a popular meal and late-night snack for millions of Americans of all backgrounds. Despite the fact that the pizza style you choose to serve may be influenced by regional preferences, it may be a good idea to offer something unique, such as one of the following.
1. New York Style Pizza
It is possible that New York-style pizza is the most popular pizza in the United States. It originated from the Neapolitan-American style introduced by Italian immigrants at the turn of the 20th century. However, instead of coal-fired furnaces, gas ovens are used to prepare New York-style pizza.
These pizzas typically have a thin, circular crust and a large diameter. A New York-style pizza is garnished with tomato sauce and mozzarella that is low in moisture. This variety of pizza is typically available by the slice or as a whole pie.
2. Chicago Style Pizza
Perhaps the most famous thing about Chicago is its deep-dish pizza. This pizza has a crust made of butter that is filled with cheese and your preferred garnishes, then topped with tomato sauce. The result is a calorie-dense pizza that may not be for everyone but is undeniably deserving of a try.
While deep-dish pizza may be more well-known, thin-crust or tavern-style pizza is frequently preferred by Chicagoans. Before baking, the thin crust of this pizza is formed into a circle. Due to the thinness of the exterior, it is frequently as crisp as a cracker. After being topped with sauce and cheese, it is cut into rectangles.
3. Roman Style Pizza
Rome, like the majority of Italian communities, has its own unique pizza style. While Roman pizza is more difficult to find in the United States, it is worth a try.
Traditionally, Roman pizza is prepared in a long, rectangular pan. It has a thin crust, abundant sauce, and a small amount of mozzarella. It is also served in a distinct manner. Instead of ordering by the slice or pie, you specify how much pizza you want the employee to carve for you. This is why it is commonly referred to as pizza al metro or pizza by the Meter in Italy.
4. Sicilian Style Pizza
Even though it is less prevalent in the United States than New York pizza, Sicilian pizza is equally delicious. This pizza, which originates in Sicily, has a denser, chewier crust baked in a deep, square dish. The pizza has tomato sauce and Parmesan on top.
The American variation of Sicilian pizza differs from the original Italian version. The Italian version featured a more intricate sauce with shallots, herbs, and anchovies. It was garnished with breadcrumbs and a hard cheese such as Parmesan, which was optional. The difference in cheese is due to the fact that the majority of milk produced in Sicily originates from goats and sheep, rather than cows; therefore, mozzarella was generally unavailable. When Italian immigrants arrived in New York, they utilized the available resources, which included mozzarella cheese.
5. Neapolitan Style Pizza
Neapolitan pizza is the original version. It was the first form of pizza to be introduced to Italy and the United States. While many varieties of pizza originated in Neapolitan, there are a few characteristics that distinguish this pizza from the rest.
This pizza’s dough is prepared with special double-zero flour and then kneaded from the center out, resulting in a light, airy crust. The pastry is then covered with cheese, followed by peeled and hand-crushed tomatoes. These pies are momentarily baked in an extremely hot wood-burning oven, which gives the crust a nice char.
6. Detroit Style Pizza
When a bar owner in the city repurposed steel utility trays from a car factory to create a version of Sicilian pizza, Detroit-style pizza was born. These vessels were nearly as thick as a cast-iron skillet, producing a fantastically crisp crust.
The pizza dough is deposited in one of these oiled pans, followed by the addition of sauce, toppings, and cheese. On top, additional toppings and tomato sauce are applied. The cheese tends to soften and caramelize, giving the pie a delightfully crisp texture.
8. nSt. Louis Style Pizza
If you’re not from Missouri, you might not be familiar with St. Louis-style pizza. St. Louis pizza has a cracker-thin crust crowned with a sweet sauce and provel cheese, similar to Chicago’s thin crust. After that, the pizza is cut into rectangles.
Because St. Louis-style pizza is so divisive, it is unlikely to be found outside of the region. However, if you grew up eating this pizza, you undoubtedly have a special place in your heart for it.
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