Pizza Fight: New York vs. Chicago

Today, we embark on a culinary adventure to explore the age-old rivalry between New York-style pizza and Chicago-style pizza. Each representing a unique slice of American pizza culture, these two iconic styles have captured the hearts (and stomachs) of pizza enthusiasts everywhere. Join me as we delve deep into the rich history, distinctive characteristics, and mouthwatering flavors of these two culinary heavyweights.

New York-Style Pizza – A Slice of the Big Apple

Originating in the bustling streets of New York City, New York-style pizza boasts a legacy that dates back to the early 20th century. Born out of the city’s rich immigrant history, this style of pizza pays homage to the traditional Neapolitan pizza brought by Italian immigrants to America. The first pizzeria in the United States, Lombardi’s, opened its doors in Manhattan in 1905, setting the stage for the rise of New York-style pizza.

Characterized by its thin, foldable crust and wide triangular slices, New York-style pizza is a testament to simplicity and convenience. The dough is hand-tossed to achieve a thin and crispy base, perfectly complemented by a robust tomato sauce and a generous helping of gooey mozzarella cheese. Toppings are aplenty, ranging from classic favorites like pepperoni, mushrooms, and onions to creative combinations that reflect the diversity of the city itself.

Chicago-Style Pizza – A Deep-Dish Delight

Now, let’s turn our attention to the Windy City, where Chicago-style pizza reigns supreme. Chicago’s love affair with pizza began in the early 1900s, but it was the invention of deep-dish pizza that truly set this style apart. Created by Ike Sewell in 1943 at Pizzeria Uno, deep-dish pizza was a revolutionary departure from the thin and foldable New York-style.

With a thick, buttery crust that envelops a towering mound of cheese, sauce, and toppings, Chicago deep-dish pizza is a force to be reckoned with. Baked in a round, deep pan, this pizza is more akin to a pie than its flat counterpart. It takes time for the dough to rise and the flavors to meld together, resulting in a mouthwatering symphony of textures and tastes.

But let us not forget about the lesser-known cousin of deep-dish pizza – the Chicago tavern pizza. Tavern-style pizza, originating in neighborhood taverns across Chicago, features a thin and crispy crust, similar to its New York counterpart. It may lack the height of deep-dish pizza, but it compensates with a delightful crunch and a harmonious balance of flavors. Chicago truly offers a variety of styles to cater to every pizza lover’s palate.

The Flavor Showdown

Now comes the moment we’ve all been waiting for – the ultimate flavor showdown between New York-style pizza and Chicago-style pizza. As I indulge in these delectable creations, I can’t help but notice the stark differences in their flavor profiles and the sensations they evoke.

New York-style pizza delivers an explosion of flavors in each bite. The thin crust allows the toppings to shine, and the balance between the tangy tomato sauce, savory cheese, and crisp crust is a symphony of taste. The quick baking time retains the freshness of the ingredients and ensures that each bite is a delight.

On the other hand, Chicago-style pizza captivates with its depth and complexity. The generous volume of ingredients creates a harmonious blend of flavors that lingers on the palate. The crust, while substantial, is light and flaky, providing a sturdy foundation for the symphony of cheese, sauce, and toppings. Every mouthful is a journey, a gastronomic adventure that keeps you craving more.

A Slice for Every Occasion

In this timeless debate between New York-style pizza and Chicago-style pizza, I must confess that my heart leans towards the Windy City. The sheer volume of ingredients, the rich flavors that develop over time, and the unique experience of indulging in a deep-dish masterpiece make Chicago-style pizza my personal favorite.

However, I remain forever grateful to New York-style pizza for introducing me to the wonders of this beloved dish. My first encounter with the Big Apple’s pizza through Pizza Hut’s “The Big New Yorker” pizza in the late 1990s left an indelible mark on my taste buds. Despite its deviation from the traditional deep-dish style, I fell in love with the simplicity, foldability, and unmistakable flavor of New York-style pizza.

Ultimately, whether you prefer the thin and crispy allure of New York or the deep-dish indulgence of Chicago, both styles offer a slice for every occasion. The beauty of pizza lies in its ability to adapt and cater to diverse tastes, allowing each of us to embark on our own culinary journey.


Smith, A. (2007). Pizza: A Slice of American History. University of Illinois Press.

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