Uniquely American Takes on a Classic Italian Dish
Pizza is one of the most commonly enjoyed foods across the United States, with the wide availability of options from neighborhood joints, to fast food chains, and even pizza buffets! But one of the beauties of enjoying this seemingly standard dish is the variety of styles that have emerged since pizza first followed the mass migration of Italian immigrants to America starting in the late 19th century.
Since then, a number of distinct regional takes on pizza have emerged, creating unique new dishes that blend aspects of traditional Italian cooking and American culture.
If you're looking to enjoy a refreshing gastronomical experience, check out this list of five delicious regional varieties of a classic Italian-American favorite!
1. Chicago-Style Deep Dish
Without cutting into a Chicago-style deep dish pizza, you may be confused about where the cheese is. Well, in this recipe, the cheese and "toppings" are placed on the crust first, and then a hefty layer of chunky tomato sauce is ladled on top, with a dusting of Parmesan to finish.
Often referred to as "stuffed," this style of pizza is often compared to a pie, lasagna, or casserole due to its volume per slice relative to more classic styles of pizza! Oftentimes, one slice is all you need!
2. New Haven–Style Apizza
New Haven–style apizza (rhymes with "ah-beets") is a take on a classic style of pizza that arrived and became popular in the southern portion of Connecticut with the immigration of Italian people from the Naples region.
The apizza is best marked by its oblong shape and wood-fire charred crust with a distinct flavor of robust olive oil to create a fragrant and full-flavored char. Much of the time, New Haven–style pizza ovens are heated to over 600 degrees Fahrenheit!
3. Hazelton, PA, Pitza
This style of pizza may be among the rarest in the United States since it is served almost exclusively by a select few bakeries and restaurants in the small northeastern Pennsylvania town of Hazelton.
This style of pizza, colloquially pronounced "pitz," is cooked in commercial bread-baking ovens and is actually served cold. However, nearly 100 years of development has resulted in recipes that account for the manner in which this pizza is served and ensures that the toppings remain soft and flavorful even after cooling down.
You might ask why this pizza is served cold. Though I couldn't seem to find a straight answer, interviews with local "pitza" makers refer to the history of the dish and how it was popularized in bars where patrons didn't mind eating the pizza cold, which expedited how quickly slices could be served anyway, and the tradition stuck.
It's not the most visually appealing pizza, but it is certainly one of the most unique among American styles.
4. Detroit-Style Pizza
Detroit-style pizza emerged in the 1940s, having been influenced by the booming auto industry in urban Detroit. One of the most significant markers of a Detroit-style pizza is its square shape, which originated from pizza makers utilizing drip pans, typically used for collecting oil in automotive factories, instead of standard pans.
These pizzas also lack an even coating of pizza sauce, with the cheese and toppings baked directly to the crust, and only a small amount of sauce placed on top to finish the dish. Additionally, you may notice the lack of crust, with Detroit-style pizzas featuring cheese and toppings coverage that reaches all the way to the edge of the pie.
5. Ohio Valley–Style Pizza
Don't adjust your screens, you are not looking at a Lunchable. The Ohio Valley–style pizza is a distinct variety of pie that utilizes a number of unique elements.
Similar to other varieties of pizza, this is square cut. However, rather than using sauce, this style of pizza utilizes simple stewed tomatoes. Then, the pizza is baked without the cheese and toppings, with these elements only being added as the pizza is being packaged for the customer. Then, within the heat of the box, these elements are slightly steamed before being perfect to eat!