Pizza chefs from all over the globe are constantly evolving and experimenting to create their own unique take on Pizza. Just like a fingerprint, each pizza created by each chef can bring something new, interesting, and different to the dining room table.
As the literal foundation of the actual pizza as well as the recipe used to make it, the crust has continually been a primary target for innovation. The crust dictates taste, thickness, and texture of the pizza but also affects the appearance and presentation! The crust you choose can change the entire dynamic of your pizza!
Arguably the 4 most popular incarnations of pizza crust are Neapolitan, Chicago Deep Dish, Sicilian, and New York Style. So when you are deciding on your next type of pizza to make (or eat), here’s a quick breakdown of the Big 4!
Neapolitan Pizza — Neapolitan pizza is credited as being the original Italian pizza and the style that launched the American Pizza Craze! You can recognize Neapolitan pizzas by its thin, slightly crispy texture, but true authentic Neapolitan-style must meet a very specific set of requirements. An authentic Neapolitan must be baked in a wood-fired, domed oven with dough that must be hand-kneaded: that means no mechanical preparation whatsoever!
There are 2 styles of Neapolitan: The Margherita and Marinara. The latter is also called the Tomato Pie due to its lack of cheese. Both styles have a main focus – minimal toppings to avoid weighing down the thin crust!
Chicago Deep Dish Pizza — In the 1940s, Pizzeria Uno in Chicago developed the deep-dish pizza, which has a crust that lines a deep dish – similar to a large metal pie or cake pan. This pizza’s steep “ledge” allows for a generous portion of toppings, cheese, and sauce. It isn’t all that uncommon for some pizza slices to be up to 2 inches thick!
The pizzas are baked in an oiled pan to create a crispy, sometimes buttery, fried effect on the exterior of the crust. The crust commonly contains corn meal, semolina, or food coloring to give it its distinctly yellow tone and add to its unique taste and texture. Although the entire pizza itself is substantially thick, the actual crust is typically thin.
Due to the thick design and longer cook time, the pizza is assembled “upside down”: cheese, veggies, and meats are placed on the crust first and then tomato sauce is added as a top layer. This allows the veggies and meats to cook all the way through, but also to ensure the cheese doesn’t burn (as it would if it were cooked on top).
You will see many people eating this pizza with a knife and fork almost out of necessity!
The Sicilian is all about large quantities: there’s lots of dough, lots of sauce, and especially a lot of cheese!
When preparing this crust, it’s always important to be gentle with the dough. You want to keep any air bubbles, because they help to create the fluffy yet spongy texture!
New York-Style Pizza — You will often see New York Style Pizza sold by the slice in big, wide wedges. The crust is slightly crispy on the outside, yet soft and pliable so you can fold the slices in half. Originally developed in New York City in the early 1900s, the crust obtained is unique flavor and texture from high-gluten bread flour, but also the minerals present in New York City water. Did you know some pizza chefs actually transport New York City water across the country to ensure authentic New York Style taste and texture!
The general rule of thumb for ALL thin crust pizzas is to keep things to minimal: crust thickness, tomato sauce layer, and sometimes even toppings. Including cheese, most New York Style Pizza only has 1 or 2 toppings. This however does not deter chefs from taking this popular style of pizza and creating their own unique concoction of flavor and toppings.
If you didn’t already guess, Uncle Maddio’s Pizza style is distinctly New York Style! Unfortunately we do not import our water from New York City though.
Which style of pizza crust is your favorite? The Deep Dish Chicago Style or do you prefer the foldable New York Style? Or one that we didn’t mention here?
If you have never had New York Style, stop by Uncle Maddio’s and give it a try!