What is New York Pizza?
Now here is something we both love to talk about and are uniquely qualified to discuss. The almighty New York Pizza! Every region, half the states, and a dozen different cities claim that their pizza is the best with special differences that make them stand out. This time on the Streets of New York blog we're talking about New York Pizza, what makes it 'New York' style, and why we find it the best kind of pie you can get!
If you want the strict definition of New York pizza, here you go. New York-style pizza is large, hand-tossed thin crust. Sold in big slices. While the crust is thick and crispy at the edge, the center of the pie is thin and foldable so that the large slice can be folded up and eaten. Traditionally toppings are just sauce and cheese. Bing, bang, boom. It's just that simple.
Or is it?
New York Pizza is The History of Pizza
The legend goes that the first pizzeria was opened up by Gennaro Lombardi back in 1905 in New York City. More recent scholarship has debunked that exact claim, but it remains mostly true, the first pizzerias were being opened around the turn of the century in New York. These were opened by Italian immigrants who brought pizza to the New World. There they made pizza in whole pies but because most folks couldn't afford the whole pie, people bought what they could afford with restaurants slicing up the pie proportionally. And so the New York slice was born!
The Number One Feature- The Crust
In its most basic form, New York-style pizza is hand-tossed, with a light layer of sauce, topped with dry, grated full-fat mozzarella. Any other toppings are placed on top, over the cheese. A whole pizza has to be big, we're talkin' a foot and a half to two feet (18-24 inches) across, large enough that when you cut it into slices you have wide slices that can be folded over. This fold is made possible because of the high gluten content of the flour, making it more malleable than if it was lower gluten content – the crust would crisp over and crack when folded.
It's not 'the Water.' It's the high gluten flour!
If you want to claim that for 'authenticity's sake' you need New York water, sure you could claim that. There are minerals in the water that lend a certain something, but that mineral-rich water can be found elsewhere. If you stick to the whole water angle, then you're gonna start running into a whole bunch of other problems of 'authenticity.' No, when it comes to New York-style pizza, what makes it it, is the large foldable crust and that's accomplished with the high gluten flour, making huge pies, and cutting it into big slices to eat with one hand. It's simple.
Pizza is a part of New York
Fun Fact: The Pizza Principle
Pizza has been so closely tied to New York that, for a time, there was something known as the 'Pizza Principle.' In essence, it was the idea that the cost of a single slice of pizza was equivalent to the cost of a single subway ride. By some economic magic (we don't claim to be economists here, just pizza lovers!) the cost of a slice and a single subway ride were about equal for over 50 years. When a slice went up, it accurately predicted that the cost of a subway ride would follow shortly after!
This all broke down just a couple of years ago when the price of individual slices began to vary enough throughout the city and the price of a subway fare changed based on other factors the pizza principle may no longer be accurate.
Ok, listen, we're never one to besmirch another pizza. After all, pizza is still pizza. So if you're more of a Chicago guy, no problem! It's not our style, but we respect your taste. Now for the rest of you who now know and recognize what makes New York pizza the absolute best, most delicious slice you can get – well you give us a call or place your order online right now. We've got you covered.