The Pizza Bible: A Globe-Spanning Tour of Pizza Styles




As one of the world’s most beloved foods, pizza takes countless delicious forms across cultures. From classic Neapolitan to deep-dish Chicago style, part of the fun of pizza is experiencing the diversity of flavors and textures different regional pies provide. This edible guide takes you on a mouthwatering tour of iconic pizza styles from Italy to the US and beyond.

Neapolitan – The Original Pizza

Hailing from Naples, Italy, Neapolitan-style pizza set the standard for traditional pizza. These pies are characterized by:

  • Thin, tender crust baked at ultra-high heat
  • Topped with San Marzano tomatoes and fresh mozzarella
  • Typically just basil, olive oil and a pinch of sea salt for toppings
  • Baked quickly in wood-fired ovens with charred edges

This simpler, more minimalist pizza allows the high-quality ingredients to shine. When made well, the crust strikes the perfect balance of chewy yet crispy with a puffed “cornicione” edge.

New York Style – Big, Thin Slices

No pizza tour would be complete without the iconic New York slice. New York-style pizza features:

  • Large hand-tossed thin crusts
  • Crisp on the bottom with some chewiness
  • Moderate amount of cheese melted on top
  • Folded to eat by the slice, often on the go
  • Toppings like pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, peppers and onions

The thin flexible crust makes this style easy to eat quickly with one hand. And nothing beats biting into a hot New York slice!

Sicilian – The Thick Square Pie

For those craving a heartier, more robust pizza experience, Sicilian-style hits the spot. Known for:

  • Rectangular, focaccia-like shape
  • Thick crust averaging over 1 inch tall
  • Crisp bottom with airy interior crumb
  • Robust tomato sauce and extra cheese
  • Oregano-heavy seasoning compared to other styles

This doughy, saucy pizza is knife-and-fork fare. The thick crust stands up to hefty toppings like meatballs, ricotta or eggplant.

Chicago Deep Dish – Built Like a Casserole

When it comes to pizza loaded with toppings, Chicago deep dish takes the cake. Stuffed pies have:

  • Tall, buttery crusts like a pie dish
  • Two layers of cheese – mozzarella on top and crust edge
  • Chunky tomato sauce atop cheese and toppings
  • Hearty toppings – sausage and peppers are popular
  • Eaten with a knife and fork to cut through

This pizza feels more like a meaty, molten lasagna or casserole in crust form! The over-the-top decadence makes it a fun indulgence.

Detroit – Baked in a Pan

Detroit offers its own spin on deep-dish pizza with a focaccia-style crust baked in traditional blue steel auto parts pans. Detroit pizza has:

  • Well-browned, tender fried bottom from the pan
  • Airy, chewy interior crumb
  • Brick cheese from Wisconsin used instead of mozzarella
  • Sauce spooned over the toppings
  • Pepperoni as a customary topping

The caramelized crust provides crunch in contrast to the fluffy dough. This style wins over even deep dish critics.

California – Fresh Ingredients Shine

California pizza prioritizes fresh, seasonal, high-quality ingredients. Common traits include:

  • Thin or medium crust to showcase toppings
  • Creative, health-focused toppings like veggies, chicken and seafood
  • Local produce like avocado, arugula, goat cheese
  • Artisan doughs – multigrain, whole wheat, gluten-free
  • Drizzle of olive oil instead of sauce

This style focuses on artisan ingredients over heavy sauce and cheese. Fresh flavors make it feel lighter.

St. Louis – Crackery and Cut in Squares

With its thin, unleavened cracker-like crust, St. Louis pizza is truly unique. It’s defined by:

  • Super thin, crispy crust made without yeast
  • Square slices instead of wedges
  • Provel processed cheese popular locally
  • Minimal toppings – sausage, bacon and mushrooms are favorites
  • Often topped with picante sauce vs. traditional pizza sauce

The crispy crust and signature square slices make this a quirky Midwestern favorite.

Pizza Takes Countless Crave-Worthy Forms

Half the fun of loving pizza is experiencing the vast diversity of styles. This round-the-world pizza adventure highlights just some of the ways different regions put their unique spin on pizza. There are endless varieties still to discover! Whether you prefer thin or thick, traditional or quirky, there’s a perfect pizza out there for every preference. We say the more pizza styles, the better – that’s amore!

Mastering the Methods of Iconic Pizza Styles

Now that you’re inspired to make pizza like the pros, let’s break down tips to mastering the techniques of different regional pizza styles right at home.

Neapolitan Pizza Perfection

  • Use 00 flour for soft, pillowy crust with charred blisters
  • Hand stretch dough on a floured surface to maintain air pockets
  • Top with crushed San Marzano tomatoes and fresh mozzarella
  • Bake at 500°F+ on a pizza stone for just 2-3 minutes

New York Style Know-How

  • Proof dough slowly in the fridge for flavor development
  • Toss stretched dough aggressively to form large thin rounds
  • Use a well-oiled baking sheet for a crisp crust
  • Slice and serve immediately while hot and flexible

Sicilian Soul

  • Let dough proof in a well-oiled pan to absorb flavors
  • Dimple dough by pressing fingers into surface before baking
  • Layer sauce, cheese and toppings generously
  • Opt for a longer bake at moderate heat for even crisping

Deep Dish Divinity

  • Grease and line pans well so dough releases after baking
  • Par-bake dough 5 minutes before layering fillings
  • Fill deep with meats, veggies and extra cheese
  • Tent foil over pie during lengthy bake to prevent burning

Detroit Deliciousness

  • Grease blue steel pans and heat before adding dough
  • Top cheese right to edges of pan before adding sauce
  • Opt for Wisconsin brick cheese over mozzarella
  • Finish with stripes of sauce atop cheese and toppings

Regional Inspired Recipes

Once you’ve nailed down the right techniques, try your hand at recipes inspired by famous pizza meccas:

  • Tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella – Neapolitan simplicity
  • Clam pizza with bacon – NYC white pie twist
  • Spinach, ricotta, sausage – Savory Sicilian
  • Loaded Midwest beef and onion – Chicago-style
  • BBQ chicken, pickled jalapeños, corn – California flair
  • Prosciutto, fig, arugula – Gourmet flair

The possibilities are infinite when you know the signature methods. Time to put your new pizza prowess to the test! Bring the techniques of the world’s pizza capitals home to your kitchen.


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