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.
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.