What exactly is New York Style Pizza?
New York-style pizza is a favorite style of pizza known all across the U.S. You know it’s a New York-style pizza by the thin crust and the way local New Yorkers eat it, folded like a taco. Even outside of New York, you can find New York-style pizza.
New York-style pizza is the American version of the Neapolitan, which makes sense because Italian immigrants from Naples brought Neapolitan pizza to New York. However, there are some differences between the two pizza styles.
The Neopolitan is a thin crust pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven. It is charred on the outside and wet in the middle. And, the Neopolitan is always a single serving and never cut. In contrast, New York-style pizzas are larger than a Neapolitan pizza at around 18 inches cut neatly into eight slices. They are cooked in a gas oven giving the crust a softer texture. The crust is thin and easily folds over, so you can eat it with one hand.
The dough for New York-style pizza is different from other simple three-ingredient pizza doughs. New York-style pizza uses sugar, olive oil, and high gluten flour, making this flexible but firm crust. The high gluten makes the dough easy to stretch thin without tearing it. And legend has it that the minerals in the water in New York are responsible for the New York crust. Some pizzaiolos take this as truth and not rumor and have had New York water shipped to them when making pizza in other parts of the U.S.
The tomato sauce is different from a traditional Neapolitan style pizza sauce, a simple crushed tomato and salt sauce. In contrast, New York-style pizza has a sauce with lots of extras, including garlic, salt, sugar, dried herbs like oregano and basil, and crushed red pepper. As many New Yorkers say, the sauce makes the pizza, and toppings aren’t the star of the show. The quintessential slice of New York pie is a simple cheese slice because it’s so good it doesn’t need to share the spotlight with other flavors.
Instead of fresh mozzarella slices like a Neapolitan pizza, a New York-style pizza uses grated low moisture mozzarella. This dried grated mozzarella cooks better and spreads to cover the whole pizza all the way to the crust. New York-style pizza does not go easy on the cheese. A true New York slice will be dripping with oily cheese, which is one of the reasons it’s eaten folded to keep the cheese oil in place. If there are additional toppings, they are placed on top of the mozzarella.
History of New York-Style Pizza
The first pizzeria in New York opened in 1905. Except it wasn’t exactly a pizzeria. An Italian American, Gennaro Lombardi, had a little grocery store and started making pizza to sell in addition to his other goods. He used an old family recipe from Naples but had to modify it and work with the available ingredients in New York. Although Lombardi didn’t invent pizza, he was the first to share the cheesy treat with his non-Italian neighbors and the community at large.
Wood, Coal, and Gas Ovens
To understand New York pizza and how it morphed from traditional Neopolitan pizza, we need to talk about ovens. Neapolitan pizzas were traditionally made in wood-fired ovens, giving them that charred crust. But early pizzaiolos made New York-style pizzas in coal ovens, changing the crust’s texture.
In the early 20th century, coal ovens were used for baking bread and later pizza. Coal had some benefits. It was cheaper than wood and easy to store. But of course, it was messy and needed constant supervision. Later, when gas ovens became popular, and New York banned coal ovens, the New York slice changed with the new cooking method.
There are still a few coal ovens in Brooklyn and other places around the city, but they have been grandfathered in and modified to use gas-assisted clean coal-burning ovens. Right now, there is a new trend that “authentic” New York pizzerias want to go back to the tradition of cooking their pizzas in a coal oven. But ultimately, the customer and pizza aficionados will decide whether this new trend sticks.
How to Make New York Style Pizza at Home
Are you interested in trying a New York-style pizza, but are a long way from the Big Apple? Well, you can make it at home. Unlike St. Louis-style pizza, there is not a special cheese required. You can find all of the ingredients at any supermarket.
New York Style Pizza Dough
Add the ingredients but save the olive oil and add it last. Mix everything together and then knead into a ball. Divide the ball into four equal parts. It’s fine to eyeball it. You don’t need to weigh them. Place each ball in a greased container with a cover. Let it sit in the fridge and use it the next day. Or if you want to freeze it put it in a greased quart-sized freezer bag. If in the fridge, it is fine for no more than three days and in the freezer for one month.
- 6 c. flour
- 2 ¼ c. water
- 1 tsp. Dry active yeast
- 2 ½ tsps. Salt
- 2 tsps. Sugar
- 1 Tbs. Olive oil
When you are ready to make the pizza take it out and let it come to room temperature before you roll it out, since New York-style Pizza is very thin, a good rolling pin is helpful as you learn how to stretch it.
New York Style Pizza Sauce
Bring all ingredients together in a bowl, mix, and cover. Let sit in the fridge for one day so the flavors can blend. You can freeze this too, but it will be a bit watery, so you may need to add more puree when defrosting. It keeps for three days in the fridge.
Pro Tip: Never store tomato products in the refrigerator in an aluminum container.
- 28 oz. can of tomato puree
- ½ c. water
- ¼ Olive oil
- Handful fresh basil
- 2tsps. Sugar
- 2tsps. Salt
- 1tsp. Oregano
- 2tsps. Garlic powder
- 1tsp. Onion flakes
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1tsp. Black pepper
New York Style Pizza Cheese
You should use low moisture mozzarella cheese. Stay away from using low-fat cheese, as it won’t melt as well. And, don’t use pre-shredded cheese because it has additives that keep the cheese from sticking together and won’t melt well.
Assemble your New York-style pizza pie while doing your best New York accent or Robert De Niro impression. Then, bake on 450F for 8-10 minutes.
Best served and enjoyed with a favorite movie about New York like this one.
Now you have made an authentic New York-style pizza. Enjoy!