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Deep Dive Into The World Of Pizza

Which one's your favourite style of pizza from the Neapolitan, Sicilian, New York and Detroit?

Nivedita Jayaram Pawar

There’s nothing better than a warm slice of pizza with stretchy melted mozzarella, piquant sauce and generous toppings. Pepperoni or pineapple (we aren’t judging), it’s the toppings that convert a pizza from gourmet to comfort food.

Pizza is probably one of the only foods that hold a special place in pretty much everyone's hungry hearts. If you are a fan of these divinely delicious triangles, keep reading to create your own travel bucket list of ‘pizzas’ to try around the globe.

Here are eight pizza styles you must taste once in your life.

1. Neapolitan pizza 

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When most people think of pizza, they probably think of Neapolitan-style pizzas with their thin crusts topped with tomatoes (typically San Marzano) and mozzarella cheese. Add a few basil leaves to this Italian pizza from Naples, and you have a Margherita pizza. What differentiates this pizza style is the use of the freshest ingredients used sparingly to create the ultimate balance of flavours.

2. New York-Style pizza

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The New York-style pizza slice finds its roots in the Neapolitan style pizza when Italian immigrants brought pizza to America in the early 1900s. The base is a thin-crust pie, but slightly thicker than its Italian cousin. The crust is sturdy yet is pliable and chewy thanks to the addition of oil to the dough. The toppings remain simple with a light tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. New York pizza is usually sold by the slice. Customers often purchase a slice to eat on the go by folding it in half vertically. The default regular slice is a ‘plain’ slice, i.e., no toppings, only cheese.

3. Chicago-style pizza

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This pizza pie is also known as the deep-dish pizza because it is made in a deeper pan. The crust is usually two to three inches tall and gets slightly fried due to the oil in the pan. Chicago-style pizzas also involve several layers of toppings, like a stuffed pie. Unlike the traditional Italian or New York pizza varieties, the Chicago deep-dish pizza layers the sauce on top of the cheese instead of the other way around. An upside-down pizza of sorts. This is to prevent the cheese from burning, due to the longer cooking time required for deep-dish pizzas. And the sauce? Slightly sweet, incredibly thick and wonderfully flavourful. The proper way to eat Chicago-style pizza is with a fork. It is the only way to avoid making a mess from the thick layers of cheese and sauce.

4. California-style pizza

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When you say California pizza, it has nothing to do with the dough itself. This pizza is all about the toppings. In 1980, Bay Area chefs Alice Waters of famed Chez Panisse and Ed LaDou of Prego began turning traditional wood-fired pizzas into acts of delicious culinary heresy. A little goat cheese, duck sausages and truffles galore. It’s all about innovative toppings for California pizzas—barbecue chicken, shrimp, steak, cauliflower, figs, kale and more—if it’s delicious, it will be on the pizza.

5. Roman Pizza Bianca

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This ‘white pizza’, famous on the streets and in the pizzerias of Rome, is known for lacking both traditional toppings - cheese and tomato sauce. Instead, Pizza Bianca is a long thin dough drizzled with olive oil and coarse salt, which is then baked and sliced before serving. Romans are known to queue round piazzas for these chewy-crisp flatbreads stuffed with prosciutto or rocket and slivers of parmesan. Fun fact: It's sold by weight, not by slice.

6. Sicilian or sfincione pizza 

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A Christmas special, a Sicilian pizza, has a thick crust and is chewy like the interior of a good baguette. It's baked inside an oiled baking dish so that it ends up with a crisp, golden-brown, almost fried texture on its underside. The toppings are simple: melted aged mozzarella cheese (that's layered under the sauce to keep the dough from getting soggy), a sweet-and-spicy tomato sauce, ground Pecorino Romano cheese and, most importantly, a ton of pepperoni. Yummy.

7. Pizza al taglio

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This is a street-style pizza that is extremely popular in Rome and most parts of Italy. Al taglio simply means ‘by the cut’. This pizza is baked in rectangular trays and sold in square or rectangular slices. A marvellous honeycombed, blistery crust is what makes it so special. The top generally holds tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and basil. If you are in Rome simply head to a pizzeria and point to a pizza you want. You’ll be asked how big you want your slices by showing them with their hands. Once your slices have been cut, they will be weighed for the final price.

8. Detroit-style pizza

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As the name suggests this style of pizza originated in the Motown city of Detroit (popular for cars, music and pizza). This pizza is built in a thick rectangular pan and legend has it that the original heavy steel pans came from an auto factory that used them to store spare nuts and bolts. That may or may not be true, but the fact remains that this square-shaped, light and airy pizza with browned cheesy perimeter is an absolute delight. The crust is the real deal here, thick and fluffy, very similar to focaccia. And the topping? Well, it holds the perfect amount of sauce, melted cheese and a blanket of pepperoni. Pepperoni slices on Detroit pizzas are smaller, thicker and curl up into miniature cups as they cook. Buddy’s Pizza, a chain dating back to 1946 is widely regarded as the inventor of Detroit-style pizza.

Photo: Canva; Unsplash
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