Pizza might apparently be a flat, thick, and crusty dough topped with pepperoni and melted mozzarella cheese, but the Italian staple of our fast-food diet has several identities to it. It’s more than just food – it’s a passion born out of the brightest minds. From Neapolitan to California and Chicago, the endless memes, cross-over in couture, and Slice Harvester reviewing every pizzeria in New York City, it’s quite clear that the United States is truly obsessed with pizza.
What makes every pizzeria different from the one next door? Seemingly, it’s the same key ingredients tossed in a hot oven and baked into an aromatic slice of bread. Let’s explore the various pizza styles bestowing our lives with a range of flavors and cheesiness and what exactly sets one pizza apart from its counterpart.
Popular Pizza Styles in Town
1. Neapolitan Pizza
This pizza style deserves all due respect and reverence because it’s the father of all pizzas we’ve been enjoying ever since. Neapolitan pizza dates back to the 18th century, when pizzas came to being.
Founded in the city of Naples, Italy, Neapolitan pizza is perhaps the most affordable pizza to-date. The story goes that the poorer citizens of the city were looking for food that was cheap, could be eaten quickly, and fulfilling. The Neapolitan pizza was everything and more, available at every street vendor.
Neapolitan-pizza improvised styles have become famous country-wide. It features an extremely soft dough – so soft and pillowy that it’s eaten with a knife and fork. The dough is allowed to ferment for several days and baked fast (90 seconds!) in a super-hot wooden oven that leaves dark char spots with a crunchiness.
Other findings of originality in a Neapolitan pizza are their fresh toppings. The tomato sauce must be cooked from tomatoes, cheese from the milk of a buffalo, and the dough from high-protein Italian flour
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2. New York Pizza
The quintessential New York-style pizza is the classic pizza cut of thin, wide bread encouraging folding and resulting in grease-stained clothing. Most of the pizzas baked nowadays follow the New York style with its characteristic hand-tossed devouring. It’s the closest that comes to Neapolitan pizzas but has made a separate category of its own.
First made in Lombardi’s in 1897, the US’s first pizzeria, New York pizza, is light on the sauce, thin and crusty on the dough, and heavy on the cheese. It enjoys an enormous variety of toppings, from mushrooms, sausages, to anchovies, and bakes the perfect, chewy food that’s characteristic of the city’s on-the-go life.
People have interesting insights into the key to its originality. They believe the exclusive minerals in New York’s tap water supply are what sets the dough apart from other pizzas. New York pizzas are actively devoured in New York City and beyond, including New Jersey, Connecticut, and across the borders.
3. Sicilian Pizza
It’s unlike the standard triangular-cut pie slices, which is what makes it singular. The Sicilian pizza style is characterized by a rectangle- or square-shaped thick, pillowy interior crust. Sicilian pizza is one of the oldest kinds of pizza, earlier referred to as pan-pizza and sfincione – meaning “sponge.” The pizza originates from Sicily city in the 19th century, brought to us by the Sicilian immigrants.
Apart from its ancient roots, this pizza has a one-to-two-inch, thick crust that is the thickest for any standard pizza. It’s extremely soft, like a sponge, and chewy served with or without the cheese. The toppings are often minimal, with the cheese underneath the tomato sauce to keep it all together and provide a delicious bite of fluffy flavor.
Since it’s cooked in a pan instead of in an oven, the crust is soaked in olive oil that is used to grease the pan and is doughy instead of crusty. As a delightful addition to pizza-style loaded on a bread-alike dough, Sicilian pizza is popularly loved by all.
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4. California Pizza
The delightsome version of American toppings and Italian crust, California pizza dates back to the 1970s. Born out of an experiment by an Italian pizzaiolo at the restaurant Prego, California pizza has since long won hearts with its unusual, “gourmet” toppings.
The Italian chef who tossed together mustard, ricotta, pate, and red pepper to bake a thin-crusted topped pizza was made the head pizza chef at California Pizza Kitchen. He came up with 250 more unique pizza recipes and made the restaurant one-of-its-kind.
California pizza is a luscious descendent from the Naples’ Neapolitan style pizza with the colorful Californian landscape. The more unusual the toppings are, the more Californian pizza it is. It is famous for its variety of toppings, including buffalo chicken, smoked salmon, crème fraiche, Thai, and lobster, to name a few. California-style pizzas are the next-most structured pizzas in restaurants, defined as a complete meal with flavors more than one that is readily loved by pizza-lovers.
5. Chicago Pizza
Chicago pizza often competes with the New York-style pizzas as the best pizza of the United States and most often win the race. Chicago pizza stems from the city of Chicago and the recipe of an Italian immigrant.
During the early 1900s, Neapolitan-pizza lovers came to the city of Chicago and were searching for a slice of bread with the same deliciousness. Ike Sewell, the joint founder of the Pizzeria Uno at Chicago, invented a version that was entirely different from the thin-crust Neapolitan.
There came the beloved Chicago-style pizza with its raised edges imitating a pie slice and toppings piled on super thick like a dish. Needless to say, Chicago pizza is notoriously hefty and full for a slice. It enjoys a plethora of sauces, cheese, and ingredients. Sausages, pepperoni, meat, beef, vegetables, and anything else imaginable loaded on mounds of cheese and topped with crushed tomato makes it more of a bowl of a dish than a pizza slice.
The thin, crusty dough at the end of the bite is delicious to chew with the heaps of heavy toppings. It’s baked in a pan as well as in an oven but takes slightly more time than its contemporaries, given the enormous ingredients.
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Do pizza ovens impact pizza-crust performance and flavor?
This question has risen multiple times from pizzaiolos and pizza-lovers. The ambiguity about whether or not the oven affects the crust of the baked pizza, including its flavor, is now resolved. Interestingly, different types of ovens do bring an impact on how good (or bad) the pizza tastes.
Considering a standard pizza style, the New York pizza, for instance, we can extract key findings concerning the change in the flavor of a pizza when baked in different ovens.
Wood-Fired & Brick Ovens
These types of ovens are super-hot and typically operating between 600 to 800 F, which means the baking time for a pizza is under 2 minutes. As a result, the topping has little to no time to dry off, and therefore, deliberate care should be taken when doing the coating.
The high, fiery shot of the heat raises the bread soft and full, which is characteristic of some of the pizzas we’ve discussed earlier, particularly the Neapolitan-style pizzas.
Brick ovens, also similar in functionality to wood-fired ovens, bake the perfect Italian-style pizzas. Both the ovens use wood as a fuel that embeds the smoky flavor, but brick ovens can also be gas-fueled.
The baking time in a conveyor oven ranges from 4 minutes or more. It brings on the char but doesn’t make the dough as boney as the wood-fired ovens. The airflow allows the topping to dry off so you can go a bit hard on the sauces and wet ingredients of the pizza. Subsequently, loaded pizzas that are just the right amount of dry and wet with sauce and cheese are baked into these kinds of ovens.
Similar to brick ovens, the characteristics of a pizza baked in deck ovens are close to the brick/wood-fired ovens. The key difference between the two is the use of radiant heat instead of forced air to dry off the topping. This makes deck ovens one of the top choices for a commercial pizzeria providing the traditional pizza experience.
Many of the pizzas we consume today are products of the deck ovens, with their rich and lighter edges and crispy, chewy pull. The cheese remains molten hot and gold, while the sauce dries enough not to drip from the slice. Deck ovens bake our favorite pizza pies; New York style and Californian pizzas.
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Pizzas should be baked excellent – or not at all.
This Italian gift to us is too precious to play with. The perfectly structured, baked, crisp, and crusty pizza should be handled with care. The artisan pizza is not everyone’s cup of tea, so if you can’t do it justice, you should better steer clear.
Pizza ovens are more than just equipment to bake the dough. It is critical to pizza-making more than anything else. A less-spicy or slightly dull-salted pizza, if baked with just the right amount of chewiness, still tastes delicious compared to an overcooked one. So, make sure you get the best pizza ovens to try the different pizza styles in the springs out.
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