Where is the best pizza in USA? Cities and 10 different styles

by Marzia Parmigiani
16 minutes read
Best Pizza USA Cities Different Styles LNC App

Best Pizza USA Cities Different Styles LNC App

Pizza originated in Naples, Italy, but after World War II, it began to spread around the world, evolving to suit different tastes and preferences. In the United States, pizza was introduced by Italian immigrants in the late 19th century and became popular in cities with large Italian populations, such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Trenton, and St. Louis.

“If there is a universal dish, it is not the hamburger but pizza. Because it is limited to a common base-the dough-on which each person can arrange, organize and express his or her difference”.

Jacques Attali

a pizza margherita in front of a wood oven

The first pizza in U.S.

The first reference to pizza in the US press was in a 1904 article in the Boston Journal, which recounted the story of Giovanni and Gennaro Bruno, who introduced Neapolitan pizza to Boston after arriving from Naples in 1903. Later, Giovanni’s son, Bruno Bruno, opened the first pizzeria in Chicago.

In 1905, Gennaro Lombardi, the owner of Lombardi’s grocery store which opened in 1897, applied for a license to produce and sell pizza. The store later became a pizza restaurant, with famous customers such as tenor Enrico Caruso.

In this article, we’ll explore the different variations of pizza that have emerged in the United States, without any criticism or judgment, but rather in a spirit of curiosity.

We’ll take a look at the preferred toppings, the new formats, and the differences between American and Italian pizza.

Where is the best pizza in USA? The origins

Prior to the 1940s, pizza was primarily consumed by Italian immigrants and their descendants. And pizzerias were mainly found in Italian neighborhoods in major cities.

However, after World War II, American soldiers who had fought in Italy returned home and introduced their fellow Americans to the cuisine of Italy. As a result, there was a growing public interest in visiting pizzerias with family and friends. Pizza’s popularity surged, and it even made an appearance on the television show Popeye. Eventually, the introduction of pizza chains such as Domino’s, Pizza Hut, and Papa John’s made it easier and more convenient for Americans to enjoy pizza, leading to a further increase in consumption.

American pizza typically includes some unique ingredients that differ from the traditional Italian recipe.

One significant difference is the use of vegetable oil or edible fat in the dough. This is not typically found in Italian pizza recipes. The amount of fat used can vary depending on the recipe: with thin New York-style doughs typically containing a small amount. And thicker Chicago-style doughs containing a significant amount.

Another difference is the use of a high-gluten flour, often with a protein content of 13-14%, similar to the flour used for bagels. This flour allows the dough to stretch easily without tearing and is also similar to strudel or phyllo dough.

In some cases, American pizzas may omit tomato sauce altogether or use alternative sauces such as garlic butter, spinach, or onions.

These pizzas, known as “white pizzas,” are a departure from the traditional tomato sauce-based pizza.

Cheese is a crucial component of pizza in the United States. And the most frequently used variety is mozzarella. However, provolone, cheddar, parmesan (different from Parmesan cheese), pecorino Romano, and ricotta are also commonly used. Especially in white pizzas and calzones.

In addition to cheese, popular toppings for pizza include salami (often referred to as pepperoni in the US). Also, sausage, mushrooms, and peppers. Some less conventional toppings that may be used include chicken meat. And sauces such as mayonnaise or barbecue sauce, which may be unfamiliar to some palates.

hands sharing slices of pizza

Where is the best pizza in USA?  Popular American pizza types

Although pizza has its roots in Italy, the United States has developed unique variations of the dish.

Here are some popular American pizza types:

  • Chicago is famous for its Deep-dish pizza, which is cooked in a deep pan that gives it a high rim. This allows for generous portions of cheese and tomato sauce to be added to the pizza.
  • In Detroit, they serve a rectangular pizza with a thick and crispy crust. The cheese is placed on top of the dough, followed by the toppings and sauce, resulting in a unique and tasty dish.
  • Greek immigrants to the US created their own version of pizza, which is baked in a shallow pan. They use olive oil in both the topping and the crust. And it is often topped with feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and Greek herbs like oregano.
  • New York City has its own distinctive pizza style. The dough is thick and crispy on the edges, but soft and pliable inside. Slices are large and triangular. And toppings include dried oregano, garlic powder, chili powder, dried basil, and grated Parmesan cheese.

Now let’s see in detail some of the most popular types of pizza in the USA!

2 girls eating pizza lcn blog firm

1) Where is the best pizza in USA? Pepperoni Style

Pepperoni pizza is a type of pizza that is beloved in the United States and features one of its most popular toppings. The word “pepperoni” comes from the Italian word “peperoni” with one “p”. It refers to a large pepper, but it now refers to a spicy salami made from a mixture of pork, beef, and spices.

In the 1950s, the popularity of pepperoni pizza began to grow. And it has since become a staple across the country. Although beef pepperoni pizza is the most popular variety, there are also versions that use fish pepperoni. The preparation of the pizza may vary from state to state. But typically, it consists of mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and pepperoni.

2) New York Style

New York-style pizza is a type that originated from the classic Neapolitan-style pizza, which Italian immigrants brought to New York City during the early 1900s. The dish became popular with the opening of Lombardi’s, America’s first pizzeria. The owner, Gennaro Lombardi, served large and wide pizza pies, which became the hallmark of New York-style pizza.

The pizza is known for its large and wide slices, as well as its crispy yet foldable crust. Some attribute the unique texture of the crust with minerals available in New York City’s tap water. In the conventional method, pizza is typically garnished with mozzarella cheese and a richly-flavored tomato sauce. This sauce is made with olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, oregano, crushed red pepper, and basil. In addition, on the top of the cheese they put toppings such as vegetables or sausage.

3) Where is the best pizza in USA? Sicilian Style

Sicilian pizza in the United States is a thick, square-shaped pizza with a dough base, topped with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. The sauce is often placed on top of the cheese to ensure that the crust is well-cooked. This kind was introduced to the United States, particularly in New York, by Sicilian immigrants. And it was derived from a traditional dish called sfincione.

Although sfincione did not originally contain mozzarella, Italian bakeries in New York had access to inexpensive mozzarella cheese. So, they began to top their sfincione with it. Nowadays, Sicilian-style pizza is popular in many Italian-American communities across New York. But also in New Jersey, Michigan, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

afro american girl eating pizza lcn blog firm

4) Chicago Style Deep Dish pizza

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, many Neapolitan immigrants arrived in the United States with the hope of improving their lives. In 1943, Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo, descendants of these immigrants, founded Pizzeria Uno in Chicago.

They introduced a unique style of pizza with a deep dish, inverted layers of cheese, meat, and tomatoes, and a crispy crust.

Over time, Chicago-style deep dish pizza has become a cultural and culinary symbol of the city. Although it is no longer solely associated with immigrant traditions, its popularity has spread worldwide. This is evident in the existence of “National Deep Dish Pizza Day”, which is celebrated annually on April 5th.

5) Where is the best pizza in USA? Chicago Thin Crust Pizza

This Chicago-style pizza is distinguished by its crispy, nearly cracker-thin crust and heavily herbed, zesty tomato sauce. As well as generous amounts of shredded mozzarella cheese. While pepperoni is a common topping, it often takes a back seat to crumbled Italian sausage, bacon, prosciutto, and a variety of vegetables.

The preferred style of pizza for locals is the Chicago thin crust, which is typically cut into squares using the “box cut”, “tavern-style” or “party cut” method.

Unlike New York-style pizza, it is not meant to be folded up. In fact, Chicagoans often quip that one should “fold your laundry, not your pizza”.

6) Stuffed Pizza

Still in Chicago, stuffed pizza is a type of American pizza that gained popularity in this city after the deep-dish pizza. It shares many similarities with deep-dish version. But it has a more solid and smooth crust, with a slightly drier and sweeter dough.

The dish is typically covered with a generous amount of cheese and various toppings such as vegetables and crumbled sausage. Another thin layer of dough is placed on top of the toppings, earning it the name “stuffed pizza.” This top layer often has slits cut into it to allow moisture to escape during cooking.

7) Where is the best pizza in USA? Stromboli

The American Stromboli is a type of savory turnover that bears some resemblance to a calzone. It is typically filled with classic pizza ingredients such as mozzarella or other types of cheese. Italian cold cuts such as salami, pepperoni, bresaola, and capocollo, and occasionally even vegetables, are added as toppings to the pizza.

Unlike a calzone, the marinara sauce is typically served on the side rather than baked inside with the filling.

The dough for a Stromboli can be either Italian bread dough or standard pizza dough. Before baking, the finished product is typically rolled into a loaf, much like a jellyroll.

It is worth noting that Stromboli is not of Italian origin. But rather supposedly originated in suburban Philadelphia in the 1950s. It is said to have been named after one of Roberto Rossellini’s films.

8) Greek Style Pizza

In the late 1960s, Greek immigrants in Boston created what is known as Greek pizza. This style of pizza is characterized by its thick and wet dough, greasy cheese, and tomato sauce with a strong oregano flavor. To achieve the unique texture and flavor, the pizza is typically baked in a heavily greased pan, resulting in a lacy, crispy edge and a fried bottom crust.

Greek pizza toppings often include ingredients such as artichokes, feta cheese, and Kalamata olives. Pepperoni is also a common topping, though not essential.

Due to the nature of the crust, they recommend to consume pizza within the first fifteen minutes after baking.

group of people sharing a pizza

9) Where is the best pizza in USA? California Style Pizza

In 1980, Ed LaDou and the chefs at the renowned restaurant Chez Panisse simultaneously invented what is now known as California-style pizza.

This style of pizza combines the thin crust of New York and Italy with unique and unusual topping combinations. The crust is light, airy, and tender, while the toppings range from shrimp and asparagus to smoked salmon and other seafood.

Other toppings that can be found on California-style pizza include chicken, peanut sauce, barbecue sauce, goat cheese, and pineapples. It is recommended to pair this type of pizza with beer or white wine, including sparkling varieties.

10) Grilled Pizza

This type of pizza is cooked by placing stretched dough on grates over hot coals, cooking one side, and then adding toppings in reverse order: cheese first, sauce second. The pizza is then returned to the grates to cook the other side and melt the cheese.

Grilled pizza has a crispy, airy texture with a distinct smoky flavor from being cooked over the coals. Toppings can vary depending on personal preference. The origin of grilled pizza is often attributed to Al Forno restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Bottom Line

Pizza has become a beloved staple in American cuisine, and its versatility has led to an incredible variety of flavors and styles. From thin crust to deep dish, classic toppings to unique combinations, the pizza landscape in the US is rich and diverse. Regional variations also add to the unique flavors and textures of pizza in different parts of the country. Whether you prefer a classic Margherita or a loaded meat lovers pie, there is a pizza out there for everyone. The endless possibilities and the ability to customize toppings have made pizza a crowd-pleaser and a go-to option for many occasions. Overall, the variety and richness of pizza in the US reflect the country’s diverse culinary traditions and love for delicious food and the Italian traditional food.

Remember that to find the best pizza for you, you can try LCN App and discover new tasty dishes from cuisines around the world!

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