NY Style vs. Chicago Style Pizza: Is there a difference?
Pizza is a universal dish that has captured the heart and taste buds of people all over the globe. There are so many ways to make a pizza, but two iconic ways top the list. Ny style vs Chicago style pizza. They have become legendary in their own cities. In fact, they give pizza lovers a fire under their bottom when defending their vote for which is better.
In this blog post, we’re not going to pick sides. Listen, I don’t have a favorite kid, okay? We’re just going to do a factual comparison between the two. We’ll talk about everything from origins to flavors and other characteristics. Let’s get into the NY vs Chicago-style pizza battle, but again we’re all winners here because we get to enjoy pizza.
1. Origins of NY vs Chicago Style Pizza
Let’s start by backing up this train to talk about the origins of pizza. It can be traced back to ancient times in the Mediterranean region which is now modern-day Italy.
The actual start of it all is a little unclear, but it did have a similar beginning. Greeks, Romans and Egyptians all had a type of flatbread with different ingredients on top, that we now would consider air quotes “pizza”.
The actual pizza combination we all know and love today meaning, dough, tomato sauce and cheese has some deep roots in Naples, Italy. It started as flatbread topped with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and sometimes cheese (lol, sometimes?) and made for the working class. Naples is known as the birthplace of pizza. They made Neapolitan pizza known and loved!
As more people immigrated, they brought their pizza making skills with them wherever they went. 2 different versions have now climbed the charts of popularity and they are New York style and Chicago style pizza. Let’s talk about the differences between the two.
New York Style Pizza Origins
There is no single individual given credit for new York style pizza. It pretty much evolved over time as more and more Italian immigrants brought their mad pizza making skillzs to the United States (specifically New York City) in early 20th century. A lot of them came from Naples/southern Italy and adapted to their new home by using ingredients available and preferences of those around.
Some of the oldest pizzerias in NYC (like Lombardi’s which opened in 1905 and Totonno’s which opened in 1924) are the most well known for serving new york-style pizza. Again, tough to give a single person credit since it was such a gradual development in New York City among Italian-Americans.
Here are the essential characteristics of New York Style Pizza:
- Thin, wide slices
- Foldable crust
- Traditional simple toppings like mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce
Chicago Style Pizza Beginnings
Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo opened up the first Pizzeria Uno in Chicago in 1943. They were businessmen who loved Italian cuisine so they did some experimenting. They came up with deep dish pizza as we know it today.
Here are a few attributes of Chicago style pizza
- Baked in a pan
- Layered differently: cheese, toppings like meat and vegetables and sauce … in that order
- Thick crust (2-3 inches tall)
2. Crust and Texture
New York Style Pizza Crust
New York is a thin-crust pizza with a little crisp on the outside. In addition, it’s also slightly chewy on the inside. When you use high gluten flour for your pizza, you can achieve that chewy taste. This thin crust pizza style resembles the Neapolitan style because of its thin basic style.
It’s rumored that the flavor and texture of the New York style pizza crust is because of the minerals only found in New York City’s tap water. What do you think?
Chicago Style Pizza Crust
Chicago pizza crust is deep. I’m talking about 2-3 inches tall. This extra tall pizza allows for more cheese and sauce to be part of the pizza. Due to this reasoning alone, it’s not a grab n go kind of pizza. You usually need a fork and knife.
Chicago crust is so buttery because it uses cornmeal and semolina flour. It truly resembles a pie or even a casserole.
The dough is pushed and pressed to the sides of the pan, how you would push the crust of an apple pie. The pressing creates a bowl-like shape for the pizza. Now let’s talk the differences between toppings.
3. Toppings and Layering
New York Style Pizza
Your New York slice is truly quite simple. NY style is hand-tossed dough, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. There is a big emphasis on simplicity and balance. There is a thin layer of sauce. The cheese you find on NY style pizza is low-moisture mozzarella, not fresh slices.
If you do have toppings, it would go on top of the cheese. In fact, other toppings that can be included on NY style pizza includes vegetables, meats (like pepperoni or sausage) as well as different types of cheese in addition to the mozzarella.
Chicago Style Pizza
Chicago deep dish is a little different. It’s considered reverse laying. It starts with the cheese on the bottom, followed by different toppings. Once the toppings are on, a chunky tomato sauce is poured over the top.
The variations of toppings for a Chicago style deep dish pizza includes pepperoni, crumbled Italian sausage (a personal favorite), ham, bacon, mushrooms, green peppers, black olives, artichokes, mushrooms, pineapples, spinach, and red onions to name a few. This goes without saying, but Chicago does not skimp on toppings.
4. Baking Method and Serving
New York Style Pizza
New York style pizza is baked in an oven set to 500-600 degrees F range. This high temperature and thinner crust allows for quicker cooking time. It can be done in about 10 minutes. High temperature deck oven, check!
New York style pizza has a tradition of serving large, triangular slices. Remember, this stuff was invented for the work force. It was designed to be eaten on the go! Nowadays, even when folks sit down to eat NY style pizza, the still fold it.
Chicago Style Pizza
Since Chicago style pizzas are thicker, they require a longer cook time. It takes about 30 minutes to cook a deep-dish pizza. This pizza is also cooked at a slightly lower temperature around 425 degrees F.
Since this is a thick, deep pizza, you will usually need a knife and fork to eat it. It’s cooked in a pan (or deep-dish pizza stone) to help keep it hotter longer.
5. Flavor Profile and Eating Experience
New York Style Pizza
New York style pizza sauce is a beautiful harmony! The tangy sauce is made up of the tomato’s natural sweetness with a little bit of sugar in addition to freshly chopped garlic and well as herbs and spices. It’s pureed thin as well as spread thin giving that perfect balance with the crust and melted cheese.
Folding your pizza has several benefits. First, it’s portable. You can take a slice on the go. In addition, you can do a good job at controlling the oil or toppings that might otherwise fall off your slice as you eat it. Your foldable slices also allow you to double up on toppings with each bite.
Chicago Style Pizza
With the tall crust of the Chicago deep-dish pizza, it’s more indulgent and heartier at baseline. With the higher edges and thicker crust, there is more room for extra cheese and sauce as well as abundant toppings.
Since the pizza is so rich and filling, this type of dining experience is usually done with a fork and knife. It’s more of a sit-down meal rather than on the go. That’s not a challenge though, grab the bull by the horns- er, deep dish by the crust with the high edges and dig in!
It is very thick so you may take a slower pace to eat it vs NY style.
Which is better? NY Style vs. Chicago Style Pizza debate continue!
Well, what are you in the mood for? Is it 1am and you are looking for a little late night snack, NY style it is! If you need to fuel up for a long day of exploring a city, then the best pizza style is going to be a deep dish. New Yorkers will always swear by the thin stuff, and Chicagoans will find themselves defending deep dish.
Both pizza styles have their place and there is never a wrong answer. If you haven’t tried one style or the other, I encourage you to seek it out.
Both Chicago style and NY style pizza have their traditions and remain wildy popular in their respective cities. New York pizza will always be rooted in the Italian-American community in the city while Chicago style will have traditions from the city pizzerias.
My biggest piece of advice is to be where your feet are. If you find yourself visiting New York, get the wide thin slices. If you are in the Windy City, you have to try deep dish at least once. Are you looking for an epic cheese pull? Easy, Chicago.
But now you’re done with a savory pizza in Chicago, where do you go for dessert?
Here’s a list of 65 staples for ice cream including Margie’s Candies, Black Dog Gelato, The Freeze and the Original Rainbow Cone. Click here to get the full list and see what is closest to you!
If ever in Chicago, here’s a list of deep dish pizza places you should definitely consider.