Pizza in the United States

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Pepperoni is one of the most popular toppings for pizza in the United States.[1]

Many regional variations of pizza in the United States have been developed, many bearing only a casual resemblance to the Italian original. Pizza became most popular in America after soldiers stationed in Italy returned from World War II.[2] During the latter half of the 20th century, pizza became an iconic dish of considerable popularity in the United States. The American slang terms za and slice can also refer to pizza.[3] The thickness of the crust depends on what the consumer prefers; both thick and thin crust are popular. Often, foods such as barbecued chicken and bacon cheeseburgers are used to create new types of pizza.

Pizza is a popular fast food item. The United States pizza restaurant industry is worth $37 billion,[4] and has an organized industry association.[5] Pizza is normally eaten hot (typically at lunch or dinner), but is sometimes eaten as cold leftovers, even for breakfast.


American pizza often has vegetable oil or shortening mixed into the dough; this is not as common in Italian recipes (for example, the pizza dough recipe in the influential Italian cookbook Il cucchiaio d'argento does not use oil). This can range from a small amount in relatively lean doughs, such as New York style, to a very large amount in some recipes for Chicago-style deep-dish dough. In addition, American pizza (at least thin-crust) is often made with a very high-gluten flour (often 13–14% protein content) of the type also used to make bagels; this type of flour allows the dough to be stretched rather thinly without tearing, similar to strudel or phyllo.

In some pizza recipes, the tomato sauce is omitted (termed "white pizza"), or replaced with another sauce (usually garlic butter, but sauces can also be made with spinach or onions).

Popular cheeses commonly used by U.S. pizzerias[6]
Mozzarella Used by 9 out of 10 pizzerias, usually a low-moisture variety. Less often it is mixed with other cheeses.
Provolone Second most popular cheese after mozzarella. Some U.S. pizzerias mix it with low-moisture mozzarella, while a few are said to use only provolone.
Cheddar Third in pizza-cheese popularity, and usually mixed with low-moisture mozzarella to preserve chewiness.
Parmesan (generic) Parmesan, is a hard, aged cheese, available in a variety of moistures. U.S. pizzerias generally use generic imitation parmesan, not PDO Parmigiano-Reggiano. Parmesan is often pre-processed and sold in dehydrated, granular form. It generally has a sharp flavor.
Romano (generic) Romano is another hard, aged cheese commonly used on pizza. The Italian Pecorino Romano is made from sheep milk; the commonly used U.S.-made imitations are made from cows' milk, with an enzyme added to simulate the sharper flavors of the original.
Ricotta Ricotta is used on white pizzas and inside calzones. On white pizza, it may be used instead of tomato sauce. It is often covered with another cheese that melts better during baking and which holds the ricotta in place during consumption.


  • Bar pizza, also known as tavern pizza, is distinguished by a thin crust, almost cracker-like, and is cooked, or at least partly cooked, in a shallow pan for an oily crust. Cheese covers the entire pizza, including the crust, leaving a crispy edge where the cheese meets the pan or oven surface. Bar pizzas are usually served in a bar or pub and are usually small in size (around 10" in diameter). This style of pizza is popular in the Boston area, particularly the south shore, other parts of the northeast, and the Chicago area.[7]
  • California-style pizza is distinguished by the use of non-traditional ingredients, especially varieties of fresh produce. Some typical California-style toppings include Thai-inspired chicken pizza with peanut sauce, bean sprouts, and shaved carrots, taco pizzas, and pizzas with chicken and barbecue sauce as toppings.
Chicago-style deep-dish pizza
  • Chicago-style pizza is distinguished by a thick moist crust formed up the sides of a deep-dish pan and sauce as the last ingredient, added atop the cheese and toppings. Stuffed versions have two layers of crust with the sauce on top.[8][9][10]
Detroit-style pizza
  • Detroit-style pizza is a square pizza similar to Sicilian-style pizza that has a thick deep-dish crisp crust and toppings such as pepperoni and olives, and is served with the marinara sauce on top. The square shape is the result of an early tradition of using metal trays originally meant to hold small parts in factories.
  • Grandma pizza is a thin, square pizza, typically with cheese and tomatoes. It is reminiscent of pizzas cooked at home by Italian housewives without a pizza oven, and was popularized on Long Island.[11]
  • Greek pizza is a variation popular in New England; its name comes from it being typical of the style of pizzerias owned by Greek immigrants. It has a thicker, chewier crust and is baked in a pan in the pizza oven, instead of directly on the bricks. Plain olive oil is a common part of the topping, as well as being liberally used to grease the pans and crisp the crust. A significantly different variation in other parts of the country includes using feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and Greek herbs such as oregano.
  • New Haven-style pizza, also known as apizza (pronounced as "ah-beetz" in the local dialect), is popular in Connecticut. It has a thin crust that varies between chewy and tender, depending on the particular establishment. Apizza has a very dark, "scorched" crisp crust that offers a distinctive bitter flavor, which can be offset by the sweetness of tomatoes or other toppings. A "plain" pizza has tomato sauce and no cheese besides grated Romano cheese; mozzarella cheese is considered a topping.[12] New Haven-style pizza is traditionally cooked in coal-fired brick ovens.[13]
  • New York-style pizza is a style originally developed in New York City by immigrants from Naples, Italy where pizza was created. It is often sold in generously sized, thin, and flexible slices. It is traditionally hand-tossed, moderately topped with southern Italian-style Marinara sauce, and liberally covered with cheese essentially amounting to a much larger version of the Neapolitan style. The slices are sometimes eaten folded in half, as its size and flexibility may otherwise make it unwieldy to eat by hand. This style of pizza tends to dominate the Northeastern states and is particularly popular in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Jumbo slices are particularly popular in Washington, D.C..
  • Old Forge-style pizza is a variety of pizza from Old Forge, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. It is square-shaped and typically has a thick crust. The sauce often has onions in it and is sometimes a bit sweetened. It also often has unorthodox cheese mixes including cheeses such as American and Cheddar.[14]
An example of Quad City style pizza
  • Quad City-style pizza originates from the Quad Cities and is a thin crusted dough that incorporates a “spice mix” that is heavy on malt, which lends a toasted, nutty flavor. The smooth, thin sauce contains both red chili flakes and ground cayenne, and is more spicy than sweet. The sausage is a thick blanket of lean, fennel-flecked Italian sausage that is ground twice and spread from edge to edge.
  • Sicilian pizza in the United States is typically a square pie with a thick crust.[15][16] It is derived from Sfinciuni, a thick crust variety from Sicily, and was introduced in the US by early Sicilian immigrants. Sicilian-style pizza is popular in Italian-American enclaves in the Northeast, Metro Detroit, and Portland, Oregon.[16]
  • St. Louis-style pizza is a variant of thin-crust pizza popular around St. Louis and southern Illinois notable for its use of distinctive Provel cheese instead of (or, rarely, in addition to) mozzarella. Its crust is thin enough to become very crunchy in the oven, sometimes being compared to a cracker, and toppings are usually sliced instead of diced. Even though round, St. Louis-style pies are always cut into small squares.
  • Tomato pie, in several areas around the Northeast, especially Philadelphia and Utica, New York, refers to a square-cut thick-crust pizza topped with chunky tomato sauce and sprinkled with pecorino romano cheese, very similar to Sicilian sfinciuni.
  • Trenton tomato pie[17][18] or New Jersey tomato pie[19] is a type of circular thin-crust pizza named after Trenton, New Jersey.[20][21][22] In this style of pizza, the mozzarella and toppings are placed on the crust first, with tomato sauce on top.[18] Joe's Tomato Pie (now defunct), which opened in 1910, was the first restaurant to serve Trenton-style tomato pie. Papa's Tomato Pies, whose proprietor learned the trade at Joe's, was opened two years later in 1912.[23] The Trenton region is home to the two oldest New Jersey tomato pie restaurants in the United States, Papa's and De Lorenzo's.[20]
  • Upside-down pizza, made with tomato sauce on top of the cheese.[24][25] Putting the cheese on the bottom prevents the tomato sauce from making the crust soggy.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Food Flash:Most popular pizza toppings". Nation's Restaurant News. October 5, 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  2. ^ Stradley, Linda. "Pizza - History & Legends of Pizza." What's Cooking America. N.p., n.d. Web. January 28, 2014.
  3. ^ Webster's Editors (2005). Webster's 2 New College Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 9780618396016
  4. ^ "U.S. Pizza Industry Facts". American Pizza Community. Archived from the original on March 9, 2015. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  5. ^ Martin, Andrew. "Inside the Powerful Lobby Fighting for Your Right to Eat Pizza". Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg News. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  6. ^ John Correll. "Chapter 9 - Pizza Cheese". Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved October 13, 2012.
  7. ^ "Chicago Thin Crust Pizza – Yes, it's a thing. | Real Deep Dish - Chicago Style Pizza Done Right". Real Deep Dish. July 13, 2014. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  8. ^ "Deep Dish Or Thin Crust? Even Chicagoans Can't Agree : The Salt". NPR. December 20, 2013. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  9. ^ Liz Barrett (August 17, 2016). "A Taxonomy of Pizza Styles in America - Bar/Tavern". First We Feast. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  10. ^ Adam Kuban. "Do You Know These Regional Pizza Styles?". Serious Eats. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  11. ^ Grandma Pizza: The full story - Feed Me (Newsday food blog)
  12. ^ "Apizza, tomato pie - New Haven, Connecticut | Local Food Guide". Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  13. ^ "The Definitive Guide to New Haven Pizza". Eater. March 18, 2014. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  14. ^ "Pizza Capital of the World: Tasting Our Way Through Old Forge, PA". Retrieved November 2, 2016.
  15. ^ "What is Sicilian Pizza?". WiseGeek. Retrieved April 14, 2013.[unreliable source?]
  16. ^ a b Hulin, Brenda. "Classic Pizza Types". Netplaces. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  17. ^ Karen L. Schnitzspahn (16 October 2012). Jersey Shore Food History: Victorian Feasts to Boardwalk Treats. Arcadia Publishing Incorporated. pp. 131–. ISBN 978-1-61423-727-3.
  18. ^ a b Capuzzo, Jill (2010-01-12). "Trenton Tomato Pies Are Still A Staple of the New Jersey Pizza Scene". New Jersey Monthly. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  19. ^ "The Dish: Chef Tony Gemignani". Retrieved 2017-11-28.
  20. ^ a b Joshua Lurie (2008-06-23). "De Lorenzo's Tomato Pies: Trenton vs. Robbinsville". Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  21. ^ DK (2 February 2015). DK Eyewitness Travel Guide USA. DK Publishing. pp. 127–. ISBN 978-1-4654-3834-8.
  22. ^ Scott Wiener (2017-04-01). "The Trenton Tomato Pie". Pizza Today. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  23. ^ A Slice of Heaven: American Pizza Timeline
  24. ^ "It's Hip to Be Square: 12 Great NYC Square Slices".
  25. ^ "How to make Utica style upside down pizza in 5 easy steps".
  26. ^ "New York Pizza Suprema - Menu".

Further reading[edit]

  • Barrett, Liz. Pizza: A Slice of American History. Minneapolis, MN: Voyageur Press, 2014