9 Different Kinds of Pizza You Have to Try At Least Once
I don’t trust people who say they don’t like pizza. Generally, I hate to be critical of others for their tastes. But have you ever met anyone who didn’t like pizza? I’ve met two. One of them gave no reason for disliking pizza and is thus a sociopath. The other was a friend of mine who worked at a pizza place for years. It wasn’t that he didn’t like pizza, but that he had eaten so much of it he couldn’t eat it anymore. That is to say, pizza is maybe too good sometimes. While I can’t speak for others, I can confirm that I’m one of those people who could eat pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Maybe I’m being a little judgmental, but who doesn’t like pizza, for real?
Even the worst pizza is still good. It’s bread and cheese, how could it be bad? Heck, I’ll take my siblings to Chuck E. Cheeses any day just to have an excuse to eat mediocre pizza, that’s how much I love it.
The great thing about pizza is that, like the taco, perhaps, it can be arranged in so many different ways and made with a variety of bases and toppings. The sauce can go on top of or below the cheese. The crust could be stuffed with cheese. The whole pizza can be folded over into a calzone. This last one is possibly blasphemy to some but that doesn’t make it any less delicious. With all that said, grab a Coke (pizza’s perfect companion) and grab a slice of some of these essential types of everyone’s favorite delivery item as we explore pizzas of all shapes, sizes, and flavors.
If you love pizza like I do, here are the kinds you have to try at least once.
The pizza that started it all! A brief summary of the history of pizza in Naples:
Pizza, as we know it, originated in Naples as a peasant food. Explorers returning to Europe from Peru brought the delicious and nutritious tomato to the continent, and fun fact: many Europeans actually thought they were poisonous until “poor peasants” in Naples began putting them on their flatbreads. Another fun fact: flatbreads totally existed before then, but more on that later.
Thus, the pizza marinara was born — flatbread and tomatoes. The dish was dubbed marinara after the wives of mariners who would prepare the food for their seafaring husbands after fishing trips. So where did the cheese come from? Cheese pizza, AKA the pizza margherita, was invented when King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889. In the Queen’s honor, baker Raffaele Esposito added toppings that mimicked the Italian flag: red (tomatoes), white (mozzarella cheese), and green (basil). And the world was never the same. Today, there are very strict requirements as to what can and cannot be considered a “Neapolitan” pizza. Here’s an abridged, non-specific summary: a thin and bubbly crust, a saucy and soggy center, a smattering of olive oil, and only the freshest ingredients. The original pie has endured for a reason.
Well, it only made sense to follow Neapolitan pizza with what the VPN, or the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, might consider a pizza crime. Deep-dish isn’t the only Chicago-style pizza, but it’s certainly the most famous one. This style of pizza is noted for its high edges and loads of cheese topped with chunky tomato sauce.
Another popular Chicago-style pizza, the stuffed pizza, is a spin on the deep dish. Basically, stuffed pizza is even deeper than deep-dish. Furthermore, it’s topped with the usual toppings and then finished with an additional layer of dough on top that’s pressed into the sides of the crust, creating a domed top. Sometimes, this dough top is then topped with even more sauce. Talk about overload!
I’m a fan. My stomach, not so much, but that’s never mattered much anyway.
Perhaps the most famous pizza on this list, at least in the US, hails from New York. Even if you’ve never been to the Big Apple, if you’re from a rural area (like me) you have probably at least tried a slice at the local mall’s Sbarro. People still eat there, right? Anyway, New York pizza is characterized by a large, hand-tossed thin crust that is traditionally sold by the slice. If you’re not eating it folded in half, with the grease dripping down your wrist, then you’re not doing it right.
4. Sicilian (Italy)
My grandfather is Sicilian and he makes the best pizza in the world, no doubt about that. Then again, I’m pretty sure everyone related to an Italian who loves to cook would tell you that their favorite cuisine is that of their mother/father/grandmother/etc. I was once on a subway in Naples, riding back from Pompeii, when an Italian family started chatting with me and, when I asked the son where his favorite place to eat pizza in Naples was (since I was on a quest to eat as much pizza as possible during my week in Naples — for the record, I gained eight pounds), this man said that his mother’s house was his favorite pizza place. Honestly so adorable. His mom was there but I think he was being serious.
Okay but back to Sicilian pizza. This ‘za is different (is anyone elses’ pet peeve when people say ‘za?’) because it’s closer to a focaccia bread than Neapolitan-style pizza. It’s typically thick-crusted and rectangular. Carb fans, rejoice.
Did you know that New Haven-style pizza is locally referred to as “apizza?” Someone explain that one to me, please. These tasty pies sport a coal-fired thin crust. They originated at the Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, CT, a place most famous for its “white clam” pizza, which sports littleneck clams with olive oil, oregano, grated cheese, and chopped garlic.
In a New Haven-style pizzeria, a “plain” pizza includes an oblong crust, oregano, and tomato sauce with a little bit of grated pecorino romano cheese (my grandfather’s father, for inquiring minds) as this style of pizza usually foregoes melting cheeses like mozzarella. Fun fact: a “plain” New Haven-style pizza is also known as a “tomato pie.”
This style originated in — you guessed it — Rome. Unlike its counterpart in Naples, there’s no universal definition of Roman pizza. Two styles, however, are usually what people in Italy have in mind when they ask for a “Roman style” pizza: pizza al taglio (by the slice) and whole round pizzas that have a thin base. The main difference between Roman pizza (sometimes known as pizza bassa or low pizza) from pizza alta (high pizza — the Neapolitan style). The main distinction between the two is the addition of oil to the dough in Roman-style pizza.
Detroit pizzas are thick, crispy, and chewy, topped with Wisconsin brick cheese that extends all the way to the sides of the pan. It was developed in a speakeasy in mid-twentieth century Detroit, using a recipe based on a Sicilian-style pie. Supposedly the place used steel pans from nearby automotive suppliers, who once used the trays as drip trays or for holding scrap metal. If that’s not the most Detroit thing I’ve ever read, I don’t know what is. I’ve never been there, so I’m sorry to anyone reading this from Detroit who would like the world to see a more multi-faceted view of their city out there in the world. But alas, I think of Detroit, I think of the automotive industry. I’m not a big car person, but I’m stoked the industry somehow gave us these coveted, crispy and cheesy edges. Thanks, capitalism.
8. Flatbreads AKA Inferior Bar Pizza (Everywhere?)
Just kidding, but if you want to know the difference between a flatbread and a pizza, maybe check out our post on flatbreads?
9. Hawaiian (Canada)
Did you know that Hawaiian pizza was invented by a Greek-born Canadian named Sam Panopoulos? Pineapple = Panopoulos?? Conspiracy confirmed???
Anyway, seriously blame the Canadians for pineapple on pizza, not the USA. I couldn’t imagine ending this list with none other than the most hotly debated style of pizza in the world. If anything, you should try this Ontario-born pizza loaded with pineapple and Canadian bacon or ham. I still don’t know why this pizza is so controversial, as frankly, I find it delicious, but people love to hate on it. You’ve got to try it just to take a side because it feels like everyone else sure has.
What are you waiting for? Go out and try these pizzas ASAP if you love pizza as much as we do! If you don’t like pizza, then I hope this was at least a decent read and you find some solace in being a contrarian. As for me, I’ll be calling Domino’s now. Thanks for reading!
Originally published at https://www.roadgoat.com on June 15, 2021.