United States – Pizza in the

New York-style pizza.

New York-style pizza.

Many regional variations of pizza in the United States have been developed, many bearing only a casual resemblance to the Italian original. The first pizza establishment in the United States was opened in New York’s Little Italy in 1905. Pizza became most popular in America after soldiers stationed in Italy returned from World War II. During the latter half of the 20th century, pizza in the United States became an iconic dish of considerable popularity. The American slang terms za and slice can also refer to pizza. The thickness of the crust depends on what the consumer prefers; both thick and thin crust are popular. Often, “Americanised” foods such as barbecued chicken and bacon cheeseburgers are used to create new types of pizza.


American pizza often has vegetable oil or shortening (often, but not always, olive oil) mixed into the dough; this is not as common in Italian recipes (for example, the pizza dough recipe in the influential Italian cookbook il cucchiaio d’argento does not use oil). This can range from a small amount in relatively lean doughs, such as New York style, to a very large amount in some recipes for Chicago-style deep-dish dough. In addition, American pizza (at least thin-crust) is often made with a very high-gluten flour (often 13–14% protein content) of the type also used to make bagels; this type of flour allows the dough to be stretched rather thinly without tearing, similar to strudel or phyllo.

In some pizza recipes, the tomato sauce is omitted (termed “white pizza”), or replaced with another sauce (usually garlic butter, but sauces can also be made with spinach or onions).


Popular cheeses commonly used by U.S. pizzerias
Low-moisture Mozzarella Used by 9 out of 10 pizzerias, and less often mixed with other cheeses. It may be labeled either “whole milk” or “part skim.”
Provolone Second most popular cheese after low-moisture mozzarella. Some U.S. pizzerias mix it with low-moisture mozzarella, while a few are said to use only provolone. It is asserted as popular in the West and East.
Cheddar Third in pizza-cheese popularity, and usually mixed with low-moisture mozzarella to preserve chewiness. It is asserted as popular in the South and East.
Parmesan Parmesan is a hard, well-aged cheese, available in a variety of moistures. While it may be obtained pre-processed and in dehydrated, granular form, these varieties do not commingle well. Some pizzerias machine process block-form Parmigiano-Reggiano. It generally has a sharp flavour.
Romano Romano, like Parmesan, is another hard, well-aged cheese commonly used on pizza. The Italian cheese is based on ewes’ milk. U.S.-made varieties include cows’ milk, and have an enzyme added to simulate the sharper flavours of the Italian-produced product.
Ricotta Ricotta is used on white pizzas and inside calzones. On pizza, it may be used instead of tomato sauce. It is often covered with another cheese that melts better during baking and which holds the ricotta in place during consumption.

Pizza is normally eaten hot (typically at lunch or dinner), but is sometimes eaten as cold leftovers.

Unconventional pizza toppings

Unconventional pizza toppings

Pizza Variations in the United States

  • California-style pizza refers to pizza with non-traditional ingredients, especially those that use a considerable amount of fresh produce. A Thai-inspired chicken pizza with peanut sauce, bean sprouts, and shaved carrots is a popular variant in California-style pizza restaurants, as are taco pizzas, and pizzas that use chicken and barbecue sauce as toppings.
  • Chicago-style pizza, or Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, contains a crust which is formed up the sides of a deep-dish pan. It reverses the order of some ingredients, using crust, cheese, filling, then sauce on top. Some versions (usually referred to as stuffed) have two layers of crust with the sauce on top.
  • Chicago-style thin-crust pizza known in the greater Chicago area as a “Tavern Pizza”, has a thinner crust than Chicago-style deep dish, and is baked flat rather than in a deep dish pan.
    Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.

    Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.

    The crust is thin and firm enough to have a noticeable crunch, unlike a New York-style pizza, yet thick on the top. Chicago-style thin crust pizzas are cut into 8 – 10 cm squares, also known as “party cut”, as opposed to a “pie cut” into wedges. Chicago-style thin crust pizza is prevalent throughout the Midwestern US.

  • Detroit-style pizza is also known as Sicilian Square Pizza. It is a square pizza, with a thick deep-dish crust with toppings placed under the sauce.
  • Greek pizza is a variation popular in New England; its name comes from it being typical of the style of pizzerias owned by Greek immigrants. It has a thicker, chewier crust and is baked in a pan in the pizza oven, instead of directly on the bricks. Plain olive oil is a common part of the topping, as well as being liberally used to grease the pans and crisp the crust. A significantly different variation in other parts of the country includes using feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and herbs such as oregano.
  • Hawaiian pizza has Canadian bacon (or sliced ham) and/or bacon with pineapple toppings with Mozzarella cheese. This type of pizza is especially popular in the western United States, and is also a popular topping combination in Australia, Canada, and Sweden, but notably not in Hawaii. This type is also common within the EU, where it is known as pizza Hawaii.
  • New Haven-style pizza, also known as apizza (pronounced as “ah-beetz” in the local dialect), is popular in Connecticut. It has a thin crust that varies between chewy and tender, depending on the particular establishment. The default version is a “white” pizza topped with only garlic and hard cheeses; customers who want tomato sauce or mozzarella cheese have to ask for them explicitly. Apizza has a very dark, “scorched” crisp crust that offers a distinctive bitter flavour, which can be offset by the sweetness of tomatoes or other toppings. New Haven-style pizza is traditionally cooked in brick ovens.
  • New York-style pizza is a style originally developed in New York City by immigrants from Naples, where pizza was created. It is often sold in generously sized, thin, and flexible slices. It is traditionally hand-tossed, moderately topped with southern Italian-style marinara tomato sauce, and liberally covered with cheese essentially amounting to a much larger version of the Neapolitan style. The slices are sometimes eaten folded in half, as its size and flexibility may otherwise make it unwieldy to eat by hand. This style of pizza tends to dominate the Northeastern states and is particularly popular in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
    This contrasts to the basic style common throughout the United States, known simply as pizza, which was popularized by large chain restaurants and features a crust thick enough to hold up under heavy layers of toppings. Many pizza establishments in the New York metropolitan area offer two varieties of pizza: “Neapolitan,” or “regular,” made with a relatively thin, circular crust and served in wedge-shaped slices, and “Sicilian”, or “square,” made with a thicker, rectangular crust and served in large, rectangular slices.
  • Old Forge-style pizza is a thick crust, non-leavened rectangular pizza popular in Northeast Pennsylvania. Although similar to Sicilian, Old Forge style pizza is made with a distinctive creamy cheese resembling fontina or White American. While Old Forge style pizza is most prominent in the town Old Forge, the pizza style is increasingly available throughout eastern Pennsylvania and southern upstate New York.

    An example of Quad City style pizza.

    An example of Quad City style pizza

  • Quad City-style pizza originates from the Quad Cities and is a thin crusted dough that has a “spice mix” that is heavy on malt which lends a toasted, nutty flavour. The sauce contains both red chile flakes and ground cayenne. This smooth, thin tomato spread is more spicy than sweet. The sausage is a thick blanket of lean, fennel-flecked Italian sausage that is ground twice and spread from edge to edge..
  • St. Louis-style pizza is a variant of Chicago-style thin crust that is popular around St. Louis, Missouri and southern Illinois. The most notable characteristic of St. Louis-style pizza is the distinctive Provel cheese used instead of (or rarely in addition to) the mozzarella common to Chicago-style thin crust. The toppings are usually sliced instead of diced. If ordered with sausage or hamburger, the meat is squeezed off by hand into marble-sized chunks. The crust is thin enough that it becomes very crunchy in the oven and is sometimes compared to a cracker. Even though the crust is round, it is always cut into small squares.
  • Tomato pies In the Philadelphia area, this refers to a square-cut thick-crust pizza topped with chunky tomato sauce, but doesn’t have any any cheese on it, and is served at room temperature.

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