Pizza, a beloved dish worldwide, has transcended its Italian roots to become a global phenomenon. Each country and culture has put its unique twist on the classic pizza, creating a diverse array of styles and flavours.
From the thin, crispy crusts of Italy to the deep-dish delights of Chicago, the world of pizza is as varied as it is delicious. This blog will take you on a culinary journey exploring the different pizza types from around the world, showcasing how this simple dish of bread, sauce, and cheese can be reinvented in so many mouth-watering ways.
Neapolitan and Roman Styles
Italian pizza, the original and often regarded as the best, primarily comes in two styles: Neapolitan and Roman. The Neapolitan pizza, hailing from Naples, is known for its soft, chewy crust, made from high-protein flour. It’s cooked at a high temperature for a short time, resulting in a slightly charred, yet tender crust. Toppings are minimalistic, typically fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil, emphasising quality over quantity.
The Roman pizza, on the other hand, is thinner and crispier, with a more diverse range of toppings compared to its Neapolitan counterpart. It’s often rectangular and sold by weight, making it a popular street food in Rome.
New York-Style Pizza
New York-style pizza, an American classic, is famous for its large, foldable slices and thin, crispy crust. It evolved from the Neapolitan style brought over by Italian immigrants, adapting to the tastes and ingredients available in New York. The slices are often quite large, with a characteristically chewy and slightly crispy base.
New York-style pizza is usually sold by the slice, often from hole-in-the-wall pizzerias that have become cultural icons in the city. This style of pizza has gained immense popularity across the United States and has become synonymous with American pizza culture.
Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza
Chicago deep-dish pizza, a distinctly American take on the classic Italian dish, is famous for its thick, buttery crust that lines a deep pan, creating a bowl-like shape. Originating in Chicago in the mid-20th century, this style turns the traditional pizza on its head, both literally and figuratively.
Unlike most pizzas where cheese and toppings sit atop the sauce, Chicago deep-dish pizza layers cheese directly on the crust, followed by meats, vegetables, and finally, a thick layer of tomato sauce. This reverse layering is necessary to protect the cheese and toppings from burning due to the longer baking time required for the thicker crust.
Detroit-style pizza, originating from Detroit, Michigan, is known for its distinctive square shape and thick, fluffy crust. This style evolved from Sicilian pizza and is baked in a square pan, which was originally used for automotive parts in Detroit’s manufacturing industry.
A unique feature of Detroit-style pizza is its edge-to-edge cheese, extending all the way to the sides of the pan, creating a caramelised and crispy cheese border. The crust is airy and similar to focaccia, with a chewy texture.
Japanese Pizza (Okonomiyaki)
Okonomiyaki, often referred to as Japanese pizza, is a unique dish that shares some similarities with Western-style pizza but is distinctly Japanese in its preparation and ingredients. The name “okonomiyaki” literally means “grilled as you like it,” reflecting the customisable nature of the dish.
Okonomiyaki is made with a batter of flour, grated nagaimo (a type of yam), water or dashi, eggs, and shredded cabbage. Various ingredients like seafood, meat (often pork), and vegetables are added. This mixture is then cooked on a griddle, similar to a pancake, and typically topped with okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, seaweed flakes, and bonito flakes.
There are two main styles of okonomiyaki in Japan: the Osaka style, where all ingredients are mixed together before cooking, and the Hiroshima style, where the ingredients are layered, often including noodles, and cooked in a more intricate fashion.
The world of pizza is incredibly diverse, from Italy’s traditional styles to America’s inventive New York and Chicago varieties, and even Japan’s unique Okonomiyaki. Each type reflects local tastes and traditions, offering a slice for every palate.
This global journey through pizza showcases its universal appeal and culinary adaptability, reminding us that this beloved dish is much more than just a tasty treat; it’s a part of a rich, global culinary heritage.