Should you assume that there is simply one type of pizza and that is the one on your takeout menu then you may be surprised.
There are many types of pizza to try with some originating in Italy and others in America so it is worth knowing which ones you are yet to sample.
The variations tend to be from regions that have put their own swing on how a pizza should be served or simply used the ingredients and utensils made available to them.
That means a range of crusts, cooking techniques, and even shapes so shop around.
In this guide, we will look at 10 different pizza styles (see also ‘17 Best Frozen Pizzas (Quick And Delicious)‘) you need to try. From Sicilian to St Louis via Detroit, Chicago, and California and several other locations.
10 Different Pizza Styles
- Neapolitan Pizza
- New York-Style Pizza
- Californian Pizza
- Detroit Pizza
- Chicago Pizza
- Greek Pizza
- St. Louis Pizza
- Roman-Style Pizza
- Sicilian Pizza
1. Neapolitan Pizza
As the very first iteration of what we know and love as pizza, the Neapolitan should be featured first.
While most are accustomed to the American styles of pizza, a lot of pizzerias are reverting to that authentic style from Italy.
If you want to find an exact date to find out how far back the Neapolitan Pizza goes then try 1889.
This is when the Margherita pizza was born, to commemorate the visit of Queen Margherita to Naples and she had a pizza created for the visit with basil leaves, mozzarella, and tomatoes.
Those three colors represent the Italian flag and the margherita remains a simple pizza choice that is still popular.
The Neapolitan pizza itself is typically thin with only a small amount of cheese compared with how much sauce is poured on.
To try a truly authentic Neapolitan pizza you should have a slice in Naples which should be simple, light, soft, and quickly prepared yet many wood fired Margherita slices will come close.
In Naples, the pizza is seen as street food yet the food item came to America with Neapolitan-Italian migrants who recreated the pizza in the Northeast.
2. New York-Style Pizza
With that migration in mind, you can perhaps explain why the pizza is so much different in New York.
Neopolitan-Italian migrants still wanted to create their Neapolitan pizza yet American flour contains more protein resulting in a chewier, stretchier, and larger pizza base.
The cheese is also different with American cows having a different milk to that of the buffalo from Naples.
The form of a New York-style pizza also helps define it as those large slices are foldable and the taste is occasionally attributed to New York’s own tap water.
Be careful how you refer to a New York-style pizza too as there is the whole pie, known as the pizza, and the New York slice.
The slice can be a snack taken from a whole 20-inch round New York-style pizza, usually a full pizza creates eight slices with just cheese and tomato as toppings.
The pie is baked in a deck oven then presented in slices on a pizza plate or folded in half to be eaten on the move.
A New York-style pizza is a whole deal of a pie created in a wood or gas-fired brick oven with a comparatively drier texture than a Neapolitan pizza with char on the base.
New York-style pizza is effectively the best export of a pizza being a large, thin crust archetype. However, instead of the Neapolitan pizza, the larger size and formidable base can host a range of toppings.
That includes meat like pepperoni, salami, and sausage but also moister toppings such as anchovies and mushroom.
You can also sprinkle on some condiments to create a taste sensation including garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese.
3. Californian Pizza
Of course, California had to create their own version of pizza and this began in the late 1970s.
This type of pizza is also known as gourmet pizza and can be attributed to Chef Ed LaDou who started experimenting with pizzas in his Italian restaurant.
He became known for one pizza which included ricotta, pate, mustard, and red pepper which was served to Wolfgang Puck.
So impressed was Puck, that LaDou was appointed head pizza chef for his restaurant where he came up with even more unique pizza recipes.
If you want to create your own Californian pizza then it can be thick or thin crust as it is the toppings that truly matter.
Anything in your fridge can be thrown on a pizza including an egg, goat cheese, artichokes, smoked salmon, or BBQ chicken.
A lot of people stick to tradition with their pizzas so it can be difficult to find this pizza style anywhere other than California, unless you decide to go extravagant in the kitchen at home.
4. Detroit Pizza
Pizzas do not even need to be round, as seen with the Detroit pizza which is regimental rectangular and comes with a thick and chewy crust.
The main reason for the shape was using cooking utensils that were available in the city at the time, mainly excess industrial trays from the city’s factories.
It was first baked in the 1940s in a pan for automotive parts and has been recreated since then. To create that delectably crispy crust, you will need to brush it with butter prior to baking.
You will need more patience if you want to create a Detroit-style pizza as the dough needs to be created the day before.
When ready, the dough is topped with pepperoni slices then brick cheese to the direct edge of the pan for a caramelized cheese border.
Only then is marinara sauce spooned over the top and you should have a decadent, thick pizza with a crispy crust and an airy inside.
5. Chicago Pizza
For a smaller, round pizza that is still American and still considered deep pan, try a Chicago pizza.
This version of a deep dish pizza originated in the city of Chicago around the 1900s but, if anything, it looks more like a pie than a pizza with such a high crust.
Yes, it still incorporates pizza sauce and cheese though the cheese is put on the dough first then followed by the sauce and then the toppings.
As a pie, this version of pizza is still thick but was created to help the locals through the brutal winters in the city.
This is more of a sit down meal to enjoy with a knife and fork than something you can pick up and take away to eat on the go.
Most of that comes down to the dough which is low in protein but countered by more oil to create a consistency closer to putty that denses up when baked.
The thick dough is ideal for many toppings which tend to be excessive amounts of tomato sauce with pepperoni, ground beef, sausage, mushrooms, onion, and green peppers.
6. Greek Pizza
Greek migrants to the Northeast of America also wanted to create their own version of pizza.
That’s why Greek pizza and its airy, spongy crust tends to be more common around parts of New York State and in New England where there are concentrations of those migrants.
Greek pizza may even be easier to create than many other pizzas such as thicker ones in a Detroit or Chicago-style.
The dough is left as it is and one distinctive feature is that it is not stretched but proofed then baked in shallow pans.
Effectively, the dough is covered in oil so it should have a fried base with a large, thick, puffy, and chewy crust, more so than thin crusts certainly but not so deep as those in Detroit or Chicago.
Toppings also tend to include popular Greek ingredients like olives and tomatoes with feta cheese or even provolone replacing traditional mozzarella.
7. St. Louis Pizza
If a thin crust is what you want then opt for the St. Louis pizza which is exceptionally thin and crunchy.
While the New York-style pizza can be folded to be enjoyed on the move, the St. Louis needs to be cut exactly.
There is barely a crust to speak of as the pizza’s consistency is closer to that of a cracker and should be cut into small rectangular pieces first.
The crunch largely comes from the recipe which fails to include the leavening agent, yeast.
You can classify the St. Louis pizza as a variant of finger food like a tavern in the Midwest. This may be due to the lack of low protein flour available in the area hence why the crust is so different from the others.
The cheese is also markedly different from classic pizzas as a particular daily product known as Provel is used which is a combination of cheddar, provolone, and Swiss cheese which was commonly available around St. Louis in the 1970s.
St. Louis pizza is effectively another result of Italian immigration as those from Sicily and Milan created the pizza and used a sweet Sicilian sauce.
8. Roman-Style Pizza
While Naples may have turned their pizza into street food, Roman style pizza is a little more decadent.
The crust is thicker and is closer to focaccia while each slice is squarely cut and sold based on its weight rather than size.
If you were to visit Rome, you should look out for Pizza Al Taglio, roughly translated to ‘pizza by the slice’ or ‘pizza by the cut’.
The pizza is typically rectangular and is a more modern style having originated in the city around the 1980s or even the following decade.
If it had to be compared to another style, it likely has more in common with a Sicilian yet the crust is even fluffier and lighter.
This is largely due to the amount of water in the crust which creates a bubbly cross-section that has become popular.
9. Sicilian Pizza
Sicilian pizza should be similar to a Neapolitan or Roman pizza as they are all from Italy yet when you try to find one you may be surprised.
A Sicilian pizza is likely to be found in a bakery for one, and has a rectangular shape. This is still a thick pizza with a comparatively thicker crust than a Neapolitan crust and it should be crisper too.
If anything, a Sicilian pizza is likely closer to bread than pizza.
That’s largely because it is a relative of the sfincione (roughly translated to thick sponge) from the island which is a focaccia topped with onion, tomato, anchovy, garlic, breadcrumbs, and caciocavallo cheese.
However, it is created just like a typical pizza with a stretchy dough though it allowed to proof in a rectangular pan to then be topped and baked.
You may also see calzone on the menu alongside various other pizza types. This can come with a range of toppings, that actually come in the middle as this is a folded pizza.
The dough is stretched out just like a pizza with the cheese, sauce, and toppings going on one half. The other half of the dough is then folded and closed over for the calzone to be baked or fried.
Thankfully, the pizza is not overly thick and can provide a welcome alternative that will require a knife and fork.
You should be careful with a calzone as the cooking method means that the interior is typically piping hot.
This type of pizza was created in Naples in the 18th century and is another traditional Italian dish. Original toppings include ham, salami, and a mix of mozzarella, ricotta, or Parmesan cheese.
Frequently Asked Questions
If You Don’t Count Region, What Are Three Different Classifications Of Pizza?
While there are many different styles of pizza originating in Italy and America, there are three distinct classifications.
You can expect a St. Louis pizza to fall into the tavern style of being thin and squarely cut. Then there is the stuffed style, rather like the Chicago-style pizza which is more like a pie.
Most pizzas likely fall into the pan style which includes a thicker crust and is cooked in a pan so the dough rises and has a straight edge.
What Are The Most Popular Toppings To Have On A Pizza?
Napolitanos look away now as pepperoni has been named as the most ordered pizza, certainly in the United States.
A traditional Neapolitan pizza remains popular on the streets of Napes and, for many, you simply cannot beat the Italian tricolor represented on a pizza.
With white mozzarella, green basil leaves, and red tomato sauce, the Neapolitan pizza is an Italian tradition known as the Margarita and is still popular to this day.
If you step into a pizzeria, depending on where you are in the world you could get a wholly different pizza from the one you were expecting.
What most people think of when they imagine pizza is a New York slice which can be folded and eaten while walking down the sidewalk.
However, in Chicago you would sit down and eat a deep dish pizza with a knife and fork and in Detroit it comes as a rectangle.
There are some similarities throughout all those styles and that includes the use of tomato sauce combined with cheese.
These variations and different styles are what make pizza still a versatile choice from the creation that originated in Italy.
In Naples, it is classed as street food and should represent the Italian tricolor with its toppings. However, in Rome it is closer to focaccia while in Sicily the crust is more like focaccia bread which you can expect to find in a bakery.
Then there is the Californian pizza which can typically mean using any sort of topping you desire, no matter how strange it may be to someone from New York or Naples.