Pizza Debate: New York vs. Chicago

The Great Pizza Debate: New York vs. Chicago

Pizza is one of America’s most beloved foods, two cities stand out in the Pizza Debate: New York vs. Chicago. Both cities have stellar pizza reputations, but their pizza styles are very different. The debate over whose pizza reigns supreme has been raging for decades. In this blog, we’ll break down the distinguishing qualities of New York and Chicago pizza and examine the case for each city’s pizza prowess.

New York Pizza

When most people think of New York pizza, one style usually comes to mind: huge floppy slices of thin-crust pizza topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. This style of pizza originated when Italian immigrants brought pizza over to New York City in the early 1900s. New York excels at the classic thin crust thanks to its fine-tuned dough, hand-tossed stretching technique, and blistering hot coal ovens.

Characteristics of New York pizza include:

  • Large hand-tossed thin crust – The crust is thin and flexible enough to fold in half when eating. This comes from expert hand-stretching and high-heat ovens.
  • Minimalist toppings – New York pizza usually sticks to basic tomato sauce and mozzarella, allowing the crust and high-quality ingredients to shine.
  • Large slices – New York pizza shops slice their pies into 8 ginormous slices. This makes for an iconic triangular slice perfect for folding and eating on the go.
  • Coal oven baking – Many NY pizza purveyors use anthracite coal ovens that burn hotter than wood or gas, giving the crust a nicely charred exterior.

New Yorkers argue that their classic thin-crust pizza requires an artistry and finesse that produces a flaky, slightly charred crust that can’t be replicated elsewhere. The ingredients taste fresh, the slices are huge and foldable, and the burnt crisp edges all add up to the perfect bite.

Chicago Pizza

Chicago comes correct to the pizza game with its signature deep-dish pizza. Rather than a flat crust, Chicago deep dish pizza consists of a thick, buttery crust that rises an inch or more along the edges to hold in layers of cheese, chunky tomato sauce, and toppings. This pizza pot pie of sorts originated in Chicago back in 1943 at Pizzeria Uno and has flourished from there.

Characteristics of Chicago deep dish include:

  • Super thick and buttery crust – The crust is made extra thick and flaky using copious amounts of butter and cornmeal in the dough.
  • Chunky tomato sauce layered on top of the cheese – Deep dish reverses the classic pizza layering to put the sauce on top so it doesn’t make the crust soggy.
  • Generous portions of cheese and toppings – From pepperoni and sausage to bell peppers and spinach, deep dish pies never skimp on toppings.
  • Pan baking – Chicago pizza gets its signature height from being baked in a high-sided pan rather than directly on the bricks of an oven.

Fans of Chicago deep dish praise its over-the-top proportions of crust, cheese, and sauce. Each bite is a mouthwatering combination of flavors with a thick, crunchy, buttery crust. This pizza may require a knife and fork, but it’s a hearty meal that shows Chicago isn’t messing around.

Regional Pride

Another factor fueling the great pizza debate is pure regional pride. New Yorkers and Chicagoans alike are proud citizens that think their city does everything better. Chicagoans believe their deep dish is pizza perfected, especially with hometown pizza chains like Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s dedicated to the craft.

The New York pizza identity is just as strong with dozens of iconic pizzerias including John’s of Bleeker Street, Patsy’s Pizzeria and Lombardi’s cementing themselves in NYC pizza lore. Local pride and loyalty will ensure neither city backs down from the debate anytime soon.

Room for Both?

With such different offerings, New York and Chicago pizzas each shine in their own way. The deep dish is uniquely indulgent and engineered for maximum flavor and abundance of ingredients. New York style delivers on that classic thin pizza crunch with melty cheese and that burnt crisp crust.

Many aficionados argue that while both have undeniably delicious qualities, they should be considered different dishes or categories altogether. This could allow for peaceful coexistence where both varieties get the appreciation they deserve. There may never be a consensus on a single “best pizza”, but perhaps there doesn’t need to be. Pizza lovers can satisfy their specific cravings whether that’s for a mountain of cheesy deep dishes or a huge floppy slice of New York’s finest.

The Verdict (Pizza Debate: New York vs. Chicago)

So when it comes down to thin crust versus deep dish, which city deserves the pizza crown? Unsurprisingly, the verdict seems to depend on whom you ask. People from New York extol their classic huge floppy slices made expertly in piping-hot coal ovens to perfection. Meanwhile, Chicago locals rave about their hulking, cheesy creations with chunky tomato sauce and endless toppings.

There may not be a clear-cut winner in this debate as both pizza styles have become iconic representations of each city. Not to mention they’re both undeniably delicious in their own way. The best solution then is to head to New York and Chicago and sample both styles in person to conduct your own taste test comparison!

Whether you prefer thin or thick, extra cheese or classic simplicity, at the end of the day pizza lovers can unite over one thing: pizza always tastes better in Chicago and New York.

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