What Makes New York Style Pizza So Special?

Discover what makes authentic New York style pizza so special - from its thin crust to its huge serving size - and why it has become so popular throughout the United States.

What Makes New York Style Pizza So Special?

New York-style pizza is a pizza made with a thin and characteristic large dough mixed by hand, which is often sold in wide slices to go. The crust is thick and crisp only on its edge, but soft, thin, and flexible enough under the topping to fold it in half for eating. The traditional ingredients are simply tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. This style of pizza was first created in New York in the early 20th century and is now popular throughout the United States.

Minerals in New York City's tap water supply are also credited with the characteristic texture and flavor of pie dough in the metropolitan area. The first pizza restaurant in the United States, Lombardi's, was founded by Gennaro Lombardi in Little Italy, New York, in 1905, although author Peter Regas has recently questioned this. But most interestingly, many New Yorkers attributed the popularity of authentic New York-style pizza to the minerals present in New York City's tap water supply. Di Fara Pizza, which opened in 1964 and has been run by Domenico DeMarco ever since, serves what many consider to be the best pizza in New York City, a combination of New York and Neapolitan styles.

While regular pizza has no rhyme or reason when it comes to serving size, New York-style pizza slices are known for being gigantic. Although there is no definitive proof, most pizza historians agree that Nunzio's on Staten Island was probably the first place to do so. Dozens of pizzerias in New York bear the name Ray's Pizza or its multiple versions (Famous Ray's Pizza, Ray's Original Pizza and the world-famous Original Ray's Pizza) and, in general, all are independently owned, although some have several locations. It's made with a soft, thick outer crust that allows you to fold the pizza in half when you eat it.

Huge serving size Another factor that plays a big part in determining what makes a pizza New York-style is the size of the slices (yes, in New York they are strictly referred to as “slices”, not “chunks”). It's in the way it's cooked. The New York pizza tradition says that the New York pizza tradition began at a legendary Italian restaurant called Lombardi's. From pizza that originated in New York City in the early 20th century, in turn derived from Neapolitan-style pizza made in Italy.

This wave of mediocrity and oversaturation has been corrected in recent decades, as chefs have become creative with their ingredients and approach this style of pizza with a more artisanal touch.