Food & Recipe  | September 26, 2015

California vs NYC vs Chicago Pizza

All pizzas are not created equal. Or even similar. California-style pizza imitates the state's gourmet chefs, often topping a thin crust with ingredients that can't be found at your neighborhood pizza joint. In New York, tomato pie has a super thin crust sliced so big it must be folded in half to fit into your mouth. Over in Chicago, the deeper the crust; the better the pizza. Check out some of the most hallowed pizza places in the country, each known for serving up the quintessential slice for their city.

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Drawing its thin crust inspiration from New York, classic California-style is all about the toppings; like barbequed chicken and locally grown produce.


Celebrity chef, Wolfgang Puck, is recognized as one of the creators of California-style pizza. Back in the 80’s, Puck topped thin crispy crusts with gourmet ingredients like smoked salmon and crème fraiche. These days, Los Angeles baker Nancy Silverton has teamed up with Mario Batali to create Pizzeria Mozza. With elegant California ingredients topping their perfectly chewy, yet crispy crusts they have impressed even New York food critics.

New York

New York follows classic Italian pizza making tradition. Some claim the secret is the city's famous water, while others say it’s the recipe itself, but slices of supersized New York-style pizza are revered all over the East Coast—and beyond.


Lombardi's Pizza in NYC, celebrating its 110th year, claims to be the country's oldest pizzeria, when they brought Neapolitan food to America where it is now a staple. Ray's pizza, and its offshoots and copycats are probably the most iconic New York pizza. ‘Ray's’ and ‘pizza’ can be found on nearly every corner, and in the occasional pop culture reference as well.


In Chicago, the hallmark is the depth, which resembles a piecrust more than the super thin rolled-out doughs of New York and California pizza. Inches deep, a Chicago pizza is made in a pan as opposed to flat on a peel.


Chicago-style pizzerias are plentiful, but Lou Malnati's Pizza and Giordano's Pizza are the two iconic names in deep-dish. Lou Malnati's opened first in 1971, now in 40 locations. They bring in tomatoes from California for their sauces, and were featured on the Food Network. Giordano's opened in the Windy City in 1974, and has since expanded throughout the state and beyond. Nowhere near a Giordano's? No problem, they’ll ship to wherever you are.


Each city offers its own spin, and each claims to be better than the rest. The real best tends to be a matter of personal preference: thick versus thin, and traditional flavors versus creative toppings.

Credits // Author: Wendi Wendt

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