To put it plainly, Americans love pizza.
They love it so much that US pizza restaurant sales were about 45.59 billion U.S. dollars in sales in 2021, according to data from Statista.
That’s a lot of pizza sales, satisfied taste buds, and full tummies.
Pizza lovers also have specific preferences. Most will agree that all pizza is NOT created equal.
The Great Pizza Debate
There are a lot of variables to consider when determining what makes the perfect pizza. Some people have specific preferences about a favorite local restaurant or what topping combinations are the most delicious.
However, in the opinion of many pizza purists, there is something that matters more than anything regarding pizza deliciousness. The most important thing to consider is which style of pizza is the best.
Unsurprisingly, these opinions have led to one of the biggest debates among pizza lovers. What is better? Chicago-style or New York-style pizza?
Naturally, the debates can get heated because many pizza lovers have passionate feelings the best type of pizza.
Before we dig deeper into this debate, let’s learn more about these two types of pizzas and what makes them unique.
New York-Style Pizza
New York-style pizza typically has a thinner crust, which is round and cut into triangle-shaped slices. The crust is usually thick and crisp along the edge of the pie, yet soft and thin beneath the toppings. Many people fold slices in half when eating this type of pizza.
Today, New York-style pizza is the dominant style eaten in the New York Metropolitan Area and is prevalent throughout the United States.
Chicago-style pizza has high edges that provide space for large amounts of cheese, tomato sauce, and toppings. Chicago-style pizza is typically prepared in a deep-dish pan and is served as a stuffed pizza. As the name suggests, this type of pizza originated in Chicago.
Key Difference Between New York and Chicago-Style Pizza
These two pizzas are quite different, and they have unique and often nostalgic characteristics that hold a special place in the hearts of many pizza lovers.
1. The crust.
New York pizza is known for its thin, crispy crust topped with a thin layer of tomato sauce, cheese, and assorted toppings, while Chicago deep dish style pizza features a thick crust that is about an inch deep that allows room for tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings.
2. The cheese.
Typically, New York-style pizza uses grated low-moisture mozzarella, not the fresh mozzarella slices commonly found on Neapolitan-style pizza. New York pizzas can have additional toppings like vegetables, meats such as pepperoni and sausage, or other kinds of toppings on top of the mozzarella.
Chicago-style pizzas, especially deep dish style, often apply different types of cheese and multiple layers of cheese.
3. The sauce.
New York-style pizza sauce is often more heavily seasoned with a balance of sweetness and heat. The sauce’s texture is light enough to spread but thick enough to keep the pizza from turning soggy.
Chicago-style pizzas tend to include more sauce compared to other pizza styles. The sauce used is often chunkier than the sauce used in pan pizzas but nowhere near as chunky as what is used in traditional deep dish pizzas.
4. How it is served and how you eat it.
New York-style pizza is served by the slice. Large NY Style pizzas are usually 18″ in diameter, and slices are cut in a triangle shape.
Eating Chicago pizza usually requires a full, sit-down meal with a fork, knife, and napkins. Chicago pizza is generally thicker and can be messy, and Chicago-style pizza is different from the type of pizza that you can eat with your bare hands.
The Debate Will Likely Never End
People from different areas have different preferences, and this is not unusual. We must accept that we are not all the same and that people often see things differently.
But that does not mean we cannot enjoy the passion associated with the opinions of others.
For example, the late travel writer and culinary expert Anthony Bourdain, had entertaining opinions. He once derided Chicago deep dish as “an abomination”
Another example of an interesting pizza-style opinion is from comedian Jon Stewart. Stewart devoted an entire segment of The Daily Show mocking deep dish pizza (which can be viewed here). He even goes as far as to label it a “marinara swimming pool for rats.”
The New York-style vs. Chicago-style pizza debate will likely never end, and that’s fine.
At the end of the day, pizza is delicious regardless of style, and there’s room for multiple types of pizza to enjoy when indulging.