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What is New York Pizza?

Grated Parmesan cheese is often used to top pizza.
A New York pepperoni pizza.
Mozzarella is the traditional cheese of choice when making New York pizza.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 August 2014
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New York pizza is often referred to as the original American pizza, since the first pizza place to open was in Manhattan. This is the famous Lombardi’s founded by Gennaro Lombardi in 1905, which still has an excellent and devoted fan base today. The New York Pizza though is credited to Lombardi’s employee, Antonio Totonno Pero, who opened his own restaurant in 1924 on Coney Island.

The thing that makes New York pizza unique is its ultra thin-crust style. In fact people may fold slices of the pizza when they eat it because slices are rather large. Another feature of this type of pizza is simplicity; a good slice or pie may come topped only with cheese and pizza sauce, though you can certainly get other toppings on it if you choose.

Devotees of New York pizza point to several other differences and features of the original American pizza. The crust, though thin, should not be cracker thin or crunchy, and the only cheese you should use is mozzarella. High gluten bread flour tends to be the best choice of most pizza makers that create this style, and crust recipes are notably simple: a mix of yeast, salt, flour and water.

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Lovers of the true New York style also may contend that pizza isn’t true “New York” unless it makes use of the New York public water supply. Some believe that the water used is just as important as any other ingredient. Unless you ship your water in from New York City, you couldn’t make New York pizza anywhere else on earth, according to purists. Another feature of importance is using ancient brick or stone ovens to bake the pizzas, which many contend adds its own special flavor to these pizzas.

One difference you may notice between true New York pizza and the standard chain delivery pizza is size. Whole pies tend to be about 18 inches (45.72 cm) in diameter. This might seem impossibly large if the crust was not so thin, although some pizzerias certainly make this size regularly as a “family size.” Many restaurants also are happy to sell you a slice of the pizza if you don’t want to buy a whole pie.

Though toppings beyond cheese and mozzarella are optional, eating condiments with this type of pizza is fairly standard. Typical additions, which are usually available tableside to spice up your pizza, include red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. Spice mixes containing oregano and garlic power may also be had at many restaurants.

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anon220737
Post 10

NY pizza is my favorite by far. I don't think it's a crust difference that makes it so good; it's the cheese and sauce. I attend college in California and have yet to find anything nearly as good as basically any pizzeria I can go to at home in New York.

ceilingcat
Post 9

@KaBoom - Well, at least you still like some kind of pizza. It's practically un-American to dislike pizza, I think.

I like New York style pizza okay. I do have to agree with the purists though: it never tastes quite the same outside of New York City. I actually think that restaurants outside of New York should just give up the idea of serving New York pizza. Just leave that for the restaurants inside the city lines!

KaBoom
Post 8

No one get mad at me, but New York pizza is my least favorite kind of pizza! I just can't deal with the thin crust. I feel like there just isn't enough pizza, you know? Even when you fold it in half an eat it double it still feels like something is missing.

I like my pizza to have a nice thick crust and a lot of sauce. New York pizza has a thin crust, and usually very little sauce. This to me is barely even pizza. If I wanted to just eat a cracker with some cheese on it, I could do that at home!

honeybees
Post 7

I eat pizza at least once a week and never get tired of it. I never want all the extra calories that come from a thick or pan crust pizza, so always prefer a thin crust.

My son and I were visiting New York a few months ago, and I knew I had to try a traditional New York Pizza. We ordered a whole pie and I was surprised at how large it was when they delivered it to our table.

We didn't have any trouble finishing it off though. Because the crust was thin, it was easy to eat several pieces. I must say, it was one of the best pizzas I have ever had, and I consider myself a bit of a pizza expert.

John57
Post 6

I think that the crust is what really makes the pizza, and since I love a thin crust, I think the best pizza is a New York Pizza.

Since I am from New York and have had many of these in my lifetime, my opinion might be a little biased.

I have just never been able to enjoy a thick crust pizza nearly as much. It seems like there is so much breading in the crust that it takes away from the taste of the pizza sauce and melted cheese.

You fill up more on the crust than you do the delicious toppings. If I am given a choice, I will always go with a thin crust pizza.

discographer
Post 5

I think New York pizza is the second best pizza in the world, the first being in Italy, probably Sicily. This is because many of the New York pizza makers are Italian in origin or grew up around or lived with Italians for many years. They have stayed true to the original Italian pizzas.

Italian pizza is also made just like New York pizza. When I went to southern Italy, I had amazing pizza and it was also made very simple just like New York style. There were only two options for toppings- cheese and extra cheese! When I have pizza in New York, I also prefer only cheese as the topping.

I think we New Yorkers are so lucky because we get to have great pizza, as close to the original as possible, if not better. We don't need to go to Italy for it.

letshearit
Post 4

There are a few places in my city that offer New York pizza delivery. The New York style pizza is quite popular in a lot of places, and I think it is the thin crust that really does it for me, as well as the simplicity of the pizza.

Too many places now are trying to make pizzas as wild as possible, even putting potatoes and broccoli on their pies. I can understand catering to different tastes, but sometimes you just want a simple pizza. While I am not a complete traditionalist, I just love pizza with just sauce, cheese and pepperoni. What do you think is the best way to have New York pizza?

fify
Post 3

@icecream17-- My best friend is from New Jersey, as well and I've heard the same thing from her. I guess New Jersey and New York pizza are practically the same as they are very close to each other.

The funny part is that my friend also thinks that it's the New Jersey public water that makes New Jersey pizza so good. She even jokes that it must be the effect of the nuclear power plants in New Jersey that make the pizzas taste better. I sure hope that's not true, but I've heard so much about the pizzas there that I can't wait to try it out when I go to visit.

manykitties2
Post 2

When I went on vacation to New York one of the first things my friends and I did was check out the first New York pizza menu we saw. There were so many restaurants there claiming that they had authentic New York pizza that we ended up going into a tourist center and asking for a recommendation.

We found a great little pizza place just off of Times Square and ended up ordering an absolutely huge pizza. It tasted terrific and I can say that it was one of the more memorable things that we did during our vacation as we are all pizza lovers.

icecream17
Post 1

I grew up in New Jersey about ten minutes from Manhattan, and I grew up with this type of pizza. I have to tell you that this is still be favorite type of pizza. I don’t know what it is but the taste is hard to replicate in other pizzas. There is a New York style pizzeria by my house here in Miami, and the pizza really tastes like New York style.

In fact, the owners of the pizzeria are from Brooklyn which is why the pizza tastes so good. I love eating at this pizzeria because it takes me back to my childhood. I have tried other types of pizza like the deep dish Chicago style pizza, but it is too heavy for me.

I rather have New York style pizza because along with the flavor I like that it is thinner than the average pizza.

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