The next time you’re in New York City, be sure to visit Lombardi’s at 32 Spring Street in Little Italy for a bite of coal-fired history. Founded in 1905, Lombardi’s claims to be America’s first pizzeria. I have no reason to doubt that and every reason to be a repeat customer.
How much has pizza in America evolved since Lombardi’s sold its first pie in 1905? You can still find plenty of the traditional Neapolitan/New York variety. But over time, pizza took on the distinct regional characteristics of those who made it their own. At this point, pizza is as American as it is Italian.
Here are the predominant pizza styles that you’ll find across the country or around the corner:
California Pizza – Thin crust and gourmet or non-traditional toppings.
Chicago Deep Dish – Very thick crust and chunky tomato sauce.
Detroit-style Pizza – Rectangular with a thick crust.
Hawaiian Pizza – Pineapple and ham or Canadian bacon.
New England Greek-style Pizza – Oily pan-baked crust, tangy tomato sauce, oregano, blend of mozzarella and cheddar.
New Haven-style Pizza – Coal-fired with tomato sauce and pecorino romano. White clam pie is another New Haven specialty.
New York-style Pizza – Large hand-tossed thin crust, tomato sauce, and mozzarella.
Ohio Valley-style Pizza – Cold cheese is added to square pies after the hot crust comes out of the oven.
Quad City-style Pizza – Crust has nutty taste, tomato sauce can be spicy, toppings are under the cheese, cut into strips.
St. Louis-style Pizza – Cracker-like crust and Provel cheese, cut into squares or rectangles.
Tomato Pie – Thick dough, like focaccia, covered with tomato sauce. Maybe a sprinkling of romano and oregano. Trenton or New Jersey version features cheese and other topping under the sauce.