Who Needs NYC? These Regional Pizza Styles Are Way More Enticing

Regional Pizza Styles

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Regional Pizza Styles
Cheapism / Yelp

Pizza Pleasures

Americans have a big appetite for pizza, and America is a big place. That equals a whole lot of regional pizza styles that have developed across the country since pizza was first made here in the early 1900s in New York City. 

Because of the long history of pizza in NYC — and perhaps the egos of its inhabitants — many New Yorkers get pretty prickly about their pizza being the best. But just because a pizza isn't thin, foldable, and eaten while standing on a sidewalk doesn't mean it's not also delicious. 

There's a whole world of American pizza styles out there, and everyone (NYers included) would be wise to explore it a little. 

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Pizza Joints Across America

Pizza, Lombardi's in New York City, New York
Kristine K./yelp.com

1. New York

Let's get New York-style pizza out of the way first. This is probably what pops in your head if someone says, "think of a pizza." It's round and probably large, and cut into wedges. The crust is thin and not too crispy, leading to the usual New Yorker way of folding the slice to eat it. The ring of outer crust is chewy, and the sauce and toppings are applied evenly with restraint. This one is all about balance between crust, sauce, and toppings. 

Many of the first pizzas in New York (and therefore, the U.S.) were made in coal-fired ovens, which gave the crust a nice char and extra crispiness. Nowadays, you're more likely to find gas-fired or deck ovens that result in a more foldable slice. 

Related: 21 Tasty Places to Eat for Cheap in NYC

Frank Pepe's new haven pizza yelp
Sydney W. / Yelp

2. New Haven

Pizza in New Haven, Connecticut is called apizza, pronounced "ah-beets". It's similar to New York-style thanks to its proximity to the city, but it's always cooked in a coal-fired oven with a heavily charred crust that's crisp and bubbly. You're more likely to get a pizza that's kind of an amorphous oval shape instead of a perfect circle, as well. As for toppings, white clam pizza is king, something you'll rarely find outside of this region. 

Related: 9 Pizzas From Around the World You May Not Know Exist

Buddy's pizza detroit yelp
Kathy K. / Yelp

3. Detroit

Detroit-style pizza has seen a surge in popularity in the last decade, so you're probably already familiar with it. It's got a thick, fluffy crust that's baked in a square or rectangular pan with plenty of oil to crisp it up. Cheese (usually brick cheese or mozzarella) is spread to the edges of the pan so it's got a crunch caramelized cheese rim, and the tomato sauce is put on in rows on top of the cheese. This is the kind of pizza where the edges of the crust are the best part.

Related: 20 Beloved Local Pizza Chains the Rest of the Country Needs

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Burt's
Lacey Muszynski / Cheapism

4. Chicago Deep Dish

There's a lot of variation in Chicago-style deep dish pizzas, but all are baked in deep, round pans with the sauce on top of all that cheese. Some popular styles (as seen at Burt's and Pequod's) have a thick, crunchy crust with cheese and toppings all the way to the edge, similar to Detroit but with a more substantial crust. Another style has a thinner, cornmeal-laden crispy crust (Lou Malnati's), and yet another is actually stuffed pizza, with a thick, bready outer rim and two thin layers of dough around a massive amount of mozzarella (Giordano's). 

No, locals don't eat deep dish all the time, and not even most of the time. But there's no denying that it's a local icon and a great way to get through those long winters. 

Tavern-style thin crust pizza
Lacey Muszynski / Cheapism

5. Tavern Style

This is the other pizza of Chicago, the one that Chicagoans eat most. It's got a thin, cracker crust that's crunchy and cut into squares. Cheese and toppings are loaded up more than New York-style, but not nearly as heavily as deep dish. Sausage is tops here, and it's Italian style, locally made, and redolent with fennel.

Tavern style pizza isn't just a Chicago thing, though — it's the preferred style throughout the Midwest. In Minnesota, they put sauerkraut on it. In Milwaukee, sausage, mushroom, and onions is the standard way to top it. 

Imo's pizza with provel cheese
Chip B. / Yelp

6. St. Louis

One specific form of tavern-style exists in St. Louis. Here, the cracker-thin crust is topped with Provel cheese, a specific brand of processed cheese made with provolone, cheddar, and Swiss that you've probably never heard of unless you're from St. Louis. The gooey texture (think American cheese) gives St. Louis-style pizza a very unique quality that people either love or hate. 

Spago salmon pizza yelp
Vika N. / Yelp

7. California

If you've ever enjoyed a barbecue chicken or smoked salmon and caviar pizza, you've got California — and more specifically, Wolfgang Puck at Spago in the 1980s — to thank for that. Anything can go on a pizza there, as long as it's fresh and preferably local as well. Think ingredients like goat cheese, fig jam, vegetables from the farmer's market, and edible flowers. The crust is thin and pliable, and usually, the pizzas are individually sized. 

Related: Discovering California's Best Cheap Eats: A Guide to Affordable Dining

Gaeta's Italian bakery philly tomato pie pizza yelp
Nick D. / Yelp

8. Philly Tomato Pie

In Philadelphia, there's a type of pizza that doesn't have mozzarella cheese, or in many cases, any cheese at all. It's called tomato pie, and it's sold at bakeries around the city. It's got a focaccia-like crust that's topped with lots of thick tomato sauce and sometimes a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. It's also served at room temperature or even cold, which throws a lot of people off. It may have descended from sfincione, a traditional type of Sicilian pizza.

Beau Jo's colorado pizze yelp
Vivian A. / Yelp

9. Colorado

Go big or go home is a motto for Colorado-style pizza. It's often sold by the pound instead of per pie because it's so monstrous. The crust is made with honey to sweeten it slightly, and has a massive braided rim around the outside. When you're finished with the topping-laden center, you eat the crust last along with the squeeze bottle of honey on each table — that's your dessert.

Related: This Is the Worst Pizza Topping, According to Americans

Harris Pizza quad cities yelp
Kenneth M. / Yelp

10. Quad Cities

On the border of Iowa and Illinois, people eat pizza called Quad Cities-style. It's characterized by malt in the crust, which gives it a slight sweetness and deeper flavor (think about the difference between a malt and a milkshake). Though the pizzas are round, they're cut into long strips, usually with scissors. There's lots of cheese, the sauce is a little spicy, and if your order sausage, it'll be crumbled in very fine bits.

Lynwood Cafe south shore pizza yelp
Nicole R. / Yelp

11. South Shore

Also known simply as bar pizza, South Shore (of Massachusetts) pizza is served in taverns, bars, and dives. It's got a very thin crust that's baked in a round, rimmed pan that also gives the edge of the crust a slight upturn. When it's almost baked, it's often taken out of the pan and finishes on the deck of the oven to ensure a crisp crust. It's thin, crunchy, a little greasy, and great for a bar snack.

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Dicarlo's pizza ohio valley yelp
Mike P. / Yelp

12. Ohio Valley

Arguably the most unusual pizza on this list, Ohio Valley pizza it baked with sauce, then topped with cold cheese and toppings. The residual heat from the pizza might melt the cheese a bit, but neither it nor the toppings are cooked. It's baked in big rectangular steel pans with a crisp, medium-thickness crust, and sold by the piece or box. Cold pickled banana peppers are a common sidekick, as is a baggie of extra cold shredded cheese you can put on yourself in case the cheese on your pizza melts too much.