New York has long been known for its exceptionally delicious pizza. The pizza produced by the pizzerias of Manhattan has come to be known as “New York Style Pizza”. What is it that makes a pizza New York Style?
The most defining feature of a New York style pizza is its crust. While Chicago style and others have thicker crusts, the crust of an authentic New York style pizza is thin, crispy, and hand-tossed. The crust’s dough is high in gluten. It has been thought that the distinct flavor comes from the minerals in New York City’s water. Don’t worry that it’s tap water, New York has, reportedly, the best water in the country.
The crust is made into a pizza with a diameter or roughly 18 inches. There are generally 8 slices to a pizza, although other numbers are ok. These slices are wide, thin, and foldable. The individual pizzas traditionally have mozzarella and tomato sauce as their only toppings. This is not to say that pizzas are not available with more toppings, just that these are the traditional ones. The pizza is also supposed to be light on sauce.
This style of pizza is not exclusive to New York. It has spread across the northeast over the years although it originated in New York City’s Little Italy. In addition to being known as “New York Style” pizza, this thin crust pizza is frequently called Italian Pizza. It gets its name for being the style of pizza that is most frequently sold by pizza shops that are owned by Italian Americans. Greek Pizza is another option and so calling it Italian Pizza makes a difference.
Many pizzerias and chains that are not in the Northeast still call their pizzas New York Style. Despite their claims, there is some dispute about the authenticity of the claims. Pizza Hut and Sbarro, both nation-wide chains, both call their pizzas “New York Style;” however, most would agree this is a stretch.
The term “New York Pizza” is frequently mis-applied to generic American pizza. The problems with these pizzas can be that the crust is too thick or too thin. Another egregious error made when claiming a pizza is New York style is using mixed-cheese blends. These frequently include cheddar cheese in the mix which is, clearly, not part of the New York Style blend.
The first pizzeria in the United States was opened in 1905 by Gennaro Lomardi. His pizzeria was called Lombardi’s and it was located in Little Italy in Manhattan. As New Yorkers have moved, so has their pizza.