Pizza in the United States

Numerous regional variations of pizza in the United States have been developed, with many bearing only a casual resemblance to the Italian original. Pizza became most popular in America after soldiers stationed in Italy returned from World War II.[2]

Pepperoni is one of the most popular toppings for pizza in the United States.[1]

During the latter half of the 20th century, pizza became an iconic dish of considerable popularity in the United States. In some parts of North America, the slang term za is also used for pizza.[3] The thickness of the crust depends on what the consumer prefers; both thick and thin crust are popular. Often, foods such as barbecued chicken and bacon cheeseburgers are used to create new types of pizza.

Pizza is a popular fast-food item. The United States pizza restaurant industry is worth $37 billion,[4] and has an organized industry association.[5] Pizza is normally eaten hot (typically at lunch or dinner), but is sometimes eaten as cold leftovers, even for breakfast.


The first pizzeria in the U.S. was opened in New York City's Little Italy in 1905.[6] Common toppings for pizza in the United States include anchovies, ground beef, bacon, chicken, ham, mushrooms, olives, onions, peppers, pepperoni, pineapple, salami, sausage, spinach, steak, and tomatoes.

Distinct regional types developed in the 20th century, including Buffalo,[7] California, Chicago, Detroit, Greek, New Haven, New York, and St. Louis styles.[8] These regional variations include deep-dish, stuffed, pockets, turnovers, rolled, and pizza-on-a-stick, each with seemingly limitless combinations of sauce and toppings.

Thirteen percent of the United States population consumes pizza on any given day.[9] Pizza chains such as Domino's Pizza, Pizza Hut, and Papa John's, pizzas from take and bake pizzerias, and chilled or frozen pizzas from supermarkets make pizza readily available nationwide.


American pizza often has vegetable oil or shortening mixed into the dough; this is not as common in Italian recipes (for example, the pizza dough recipe in the influential Italian cookbook Il cucchiaio d'argento does not use oil). This can range from a small amount in relatively lean doughs, such as New York style, to a very large amount in some recipes for Chicago-style deep-dish dough. In addition, American pizza (at least thin-crust) is often made with a very high-gluten flour (often 13–14% protein content) of the type also used to make bagels; this type of flour allows the dough to be stretched rather thinly without tearing, similar to strudel or phyllo.

In some pizza recipes, the tomato sauce is omitted (termed white pizza), or replaced with another sauce (usually garlic butter, but sauces can also be made with spinach or onions).

Popular cheeses commonly used by U.S. pizzerias[10]
Mozzarella Used by the vast majority of pizzerias, usually a low-moisture variety. Less often it is mixed with other cheeses.
Provolone Second most popular cheese after mozzarella. Some U.S. pizzerias mix it with low-moisture mozzarella, while a few are said to use only provolone.
Cheddar Third in pizza-cheese popularity, and usually mixed with low-moisture mozzarella to preserve chewiness.
Parmesan (generic) Parmesan, is a hard, aged cheese, available in a variety of moistures. U.S. pizzerias generally use generic imitation parmesan, not PDO Parmigiano-Reggiano. Parmesan is often pre-processed and sold in dehydrated, granular form. It generally has a sharp flavor.
Romano (generic) Romano is another hard, aged cheese commonly used on pizza. The Italian Pecorino Romano is made from sheep milk; the commonly used U.S.-made imitations are made from cows' milk, with an enzyme added to simulate the sharper flavors of the original.
Ricotta Ricotta is used on white pizzas and inside calzones. On white pizza, it may be used instead of tomato sauce. It is often covered with another cheese that melts better during baking and which holds the ricotta in place during consumption.


  • Altoona-style pizza is a distinct type of pizza created in the city of Altoona, Pennsylvania by the Altoona Hotel. The definitive characteristics of Altoona-style pizza are a sicilian-style pizza dough, tomato sauce, sliced green bell pepper, salami, topped with american cheese and pizzas cut into squares instead of wedges.[11]
  • Bar pizza, also known as tavern pizza and sometimes Milwaukee-style pizza,[12] is distinguished by a thin crust, almost cracker-like, and is cooked, or at least partly cooked, in a shallow pan for an oily crust. Cheese covers the entire pizza, including the crust, leaving a crispy edge where the cheese meets the pan or oven surface. Bar pizzas are usually served in a bar or pub and are usually small in size (around 10" in diameter). This style of pizza is popular in the Boston area, particularly the South Shore, other parts of the northeast, the Chicago area, and the midwest.[13]
  • California-style pizza is distinguished by the use of non-traditional ingredients, especially varieties of fresh produce. Some typical California-style toppings include Thai-inspired chicken pizza with peanut sauce, bean sprouts, and shaved carrots, taco pizzas, and pizzas with chicken and barbecue sauce as toppings.
Chicago-style deep-dish pizza
  • Chicago-style pizza is distinguished by a thick moist crust formed up the sides of a deep-dish pan and sauce as the last ingredient, added atop the cheese and toppings. Stuffed versions have two layers of crust with the sauce on top.[14][15][16]
Detroit-style pizza
  • Detroit-style pizza is a square pizza similar to Sicilian-style pizza that has a thick deep-dish crisp crust and toppings such as pepperoni and olives, and is served with the marinara sauce on top. The square shape is the result of an early tradition of using metal trays originally meant to hold small parts in factories.[17]
  • Grandma pizza is a thin, square pizza, typically with cheese and tomatoes. It is reminiscent of pizzas cooked at home by Italian housewives without a pizza oven, and was popularized on Long Island.[18]
  • Greek pizza is a variation popular in New England; its name comes from it being typical of the style of pizzerias owned by Greek immigrants. It has a thick, chewy crust and is baked in a pan in the pizza oven, instead of directly on the bricks. Plain olive oil is a common part of the topping, as well as being liberally used to grease the pans and crisp the crust. A significantly different variation in other parts of the country includes using feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and Greek herbs such as oregano.[17]
  • Grilled pizza, created by taking a fairly thin sheet of pizza dough, placing it directly over the fire of a grill, and then turning it over once the bottom has baked and placing a thin layer of toppings on the baked side.[19] Toppings may be sliced thin to ensure that they heat through, and chunkier toppings such as sausage or peppers may be precooked before being placed on the pizza.[20] Garlic, herbs, or other ingredients are sometimes added to the pizza or the crust to maximize the flavor of the dish.[21] Grilled pizza was offered in the United States at the Al Forno restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island.[22] It has precedents in Italy and Argentina, where it is known as pizza a la parrilla.[23] It has become a popular cookout dish, and there are some pizza restaurants that specialize in the style. The final product can be likened to flatbread with pizza toppings.[22] Another Providence establishment, Bob & Timmy's Grilled Pizza, was featured in a Providence-themed episode of the Travel Channel's Man v. Food Nation in 2011.[24]
  • New Haven-style pizza, also known as apizza (pronounced as "ah-beetz" in the local dialect), is popular in Connecticut. It has a thin crust that varies between chewy and tender, depending on the particular establishment. Apizza has a very dark, "charred" crisp crust that offers a distinctive bitter flavor, which can be offset by the sweetness of tomatoes or other toppings. A "plain" pizza has tomato sauce and no cheese besides grated Romano cheese; mozzarella cheese is considered a topping.[25] New Haven-style pizza is traditionally cooked in coal-fired brick ovens.[26]
  • New York-style pizza is a style originally developed in New York City by immigrants from Naples, Italy, where pizza was created.[27] It is often sold in generously sized, thin, and flexible slices. It is traditionally hand-tossed, moderately topped with southern Italian-style marinara sauce, and liberally covered with cheese essentially amounting to a much larger version of the Neapolitan style. The slices are sometimes eaten folded in half, as its size and flexibility may otherwise make it unwieldy to eat by hand. This style of pizza tends to dominate the Northeastern states and is particularly popular in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Jumbo slices are particularly popular in Washington, D.C.
  • Ohio Valley-style pizza is pizza that was developed in Steubenville, Ohio and has made its way up the Ohio River to Pittsburgh, PA. It uses a square pizza dough that rises thick but maintains a light consistency. The crust and bottom are crunchy. The sauce on this style of pizza is typically sweet and the pizza is baked with no toppings, including cheese. Immediately after being removed from the oven, the cold toppings are put on the hot pizza, including the cheese, in prodigious amounts. Most of the cheese melts, but not all. The other toppings used remain cold on top of the cheese.[28][17]
  • Old Forge-style pizza is a variety of pizza from Old Forge, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. It is square-shaped and typically has a thick crust. The sauce often has onions in it and is sometimes a bit sweetened. It also often has unorthodox cheese mixes including cheeses such as American and Cheddar.[29]
  • Pan pizza is cooked in a dish with sides. A variation of moderate thickness was popularized by Pizza Hut; deep-dish styles like Chicago and Detroit are considered by some to be varieties of pan pizza.
An example of Quad City style pizza
  • Quad City-style pizza originates from the Quad Cities and is a thin crusted dough that incorporates a "spice mix" that is heavy on malt, which lends a toasted, nutty flavor. The smooth, thin sauce contains both red chili flakes and ground cayenne, and is more spicy than sweet. The sausage is a thick blanket of lean, fennel-flecked Italian sausage that is ground twice and spread from edge to edge.[17]
  • Sheet pizza is any thin-crust style baked on a baking sheet. It is typically rectangular (like the sheet) and served for events with a large number of people.
  • Sicilian pizza in the United States is typically a square pie with a thick crust.[30][31] It is derived from Sfinciuni, a thick-crust variety from Sicily, and was introduced in the US by early Sicilian immigrants. Sicilian-style pizza is popular in Italian-American enclaves in the Northeast, Metro Detroit, and Portland, Oregon.[31]
  • St. Louis-style pizza is a variant of thin-crust pizza popular around St. Louis and southern Illinois notable for its use of distinctive Provel cheese instead of (or, rarely, in addition to) mozzarella. Its crust is thin enough to become very crunchy in the oven, sometimes being compared to a cracker, and toppings are usually sliced instead of diced. Even though round, St. Louis-style pies are always cut into small squares.[17]
  • Tomato pie, in several areas around the Northeast, especially Philadelphia and Utica, New York, refers to a square-cut thick-crust pizza topped with chunky tomato sauce and sprinkled with pecorino romano cheese, very similar to Sicilian sfinciuni. Also known as party pizza, pizza strips, gravy pie, church pie, red bread, strip pizza, and bakery pizza.
  • Trenton tomato pie[32][33] or New Jersey tomato pie[34] is a type of circular thin-crust pizza named after Trenton, New Jersey.[35][36][37] In this style of pizza, the mozzarella and toppings are placed on the crust first, with tomato sauce on top.[33] Joe's Tomato Pie (now defunct), which opened in 1910, was the first restaurant to serve Trenton-style tomato pie. Papa's Tomato Pies, whose proprietor learned the trade at Joe's, was opened two years later in 1912.[38] The Trenton region is home to the two oldest New Jersey tomato pie restaurants in the United States, Papa's and De Lorenzo's.[35][17]
  • Upside-down pizza, made with tomato sauce on top of the cheese.[39][40] Putting the cheese on the bottom prevents the tomato sauce from making the crust soggy.[41]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Food Flash:Most popular pizza toppings". Nation's Restaurant News. October 5, 2011. Archived from the original on November 23, 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  2. ^ Stradley, Linda. "Pizza - History & Legends of Pizza." What's Cooking America. N.p., n.d. Web. January 28, 2014.
  3. ^ Webster's Editors (2005). Webster's 2 New College Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 9780618396016
  4. ^ "U.S. Pizza Industry Facts". American Pizza Community. Archived from the original on March 9, 2015. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  5. ^ Martin, Andrew. "Inside the Powerful Lobby Fighting for Your Right to Eat Pizza". Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg News. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  6. ^ Otis, Ginger Adams (2010). New York City 7. Lonely Planet. p. 256. ISBN 978-1741795912. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  7. ^ Bovino, Arthur (August 13, 2018). "Is America's Pizza Capital Buffalo, New York?". The Daily Beast. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  8. ^ "Pizza Garden: Italy, the Home of Pizza". CUIP Chicago Public Schools – University of Chicago Internet Project. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  9. ^ Rhodes, Donna G.; Adler, Meghan E.; Clemens, John C.; LaComb, Randy P.; Moshfegh, Alanna J. "Consumption of Pizza" (PDF). Food Surveys Research Group. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 5, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  10. ^ John Correll. "Chapter 9 - Pizza Cheese". Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved October 13, 2012.
  11. ^ Deto, Ryan. "Altoona Hotel Pizza: The slice with yellow cheese from Central Pa. you've never heard of". Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved May 25, 2021.
  12. ^ "Milwaukee Style Pizza". Retrieved April 20, 2021.
  13. ^ "Chicago Thin Crust Pizza – Yes, it's a thing. | Real Deep Dish - Chicago Style Pizza Done Right". Real Deep Dish. July 13, 2014. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  14. ^ "Deep Dish Or Thin Crust? Even Chicagoans Can't Agree : The Salt". NPR. December 20, 2013. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  15. ^ Liz Barrett (August 17, 2016). "A Taxonomy of Pizza Styles in America - Bar/Tavern". First We Feast. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  16. ^ Adam Kuban. "Do You Know These Regional Pizza Styles?". Serious Eats. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Landsel, David (April 28, 2021). "The Best Pizza in Every State". Food & Wine. Retrieved May 25, 2021.
  18. ^ Grandma Pizza: The full story - Feed Me (Newsday food blog)
  19. ^ Byrn, Anne (2007). What Can I Bring? Cookbook. Workman Publishing. pp. 63–64. ISBN 978-0761159520.
  20. ^ Chandler, J. (2012). Simply Grilling: 105 Recipes for Quick and Casual Grilling. Thomas Nelson. p. 29. ISBN 978-1-4016-0452-3. Archived from the original on July 18, 2018. Retrieved November 28, 2016.
  21. ^ Delpha, J.; Oringer, K. (2015). Grilled Pizza the Right Way: The Best Technique for Cooking Incredible Tasting Pizza & Flatbread on Your Barbecue Perfectly Chewy & Crispy Every Time. Page Street Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 978-1-62414-106-5.
  22. ^ a b "Great Grilled Pizza". Cook's Illustrated. July 1, 2016. Archived from the original on October 29, 2016. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  23. ^ Spinetto, H. (2007). Pizzerías de valor patrimonial de Buenos Aires (in Spanish). Patrimonio e Instituto Histórico. p. 159. ISBN 978-987-1037-67-4.
  24. ^ "Providence Featured on Travel Channel's Man V. Food Nation". City of Providence. August 4, 2011. Archived from the original on October 29, 2016. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  25. ^ "Apizza, tomato pie - New Haven, Connecticut | Local Food Guide". Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  26. ^ "The Definitive Guide to New Haven Pizza". Eater. March 18, 2014. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  27. ^ "New York Today: Our Past In Pizza". The New York Times.
  28. ^ "Why Pittsburghers should brag about Ohio Valley Pizza". Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  29. ^ "Pizza Capital of the World: Tasting Our Way Through Old Forge, PA". Retrieved November 2, 2016.
  30. ^ "What is Sicilian Pizza?". WiseGeek. Retrieved April 14, 2013.[unreliable source?]
  31. ^ a b Hulin, Brenda. "Classic Pizza Types". Netplaces. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  32. ^ Karen L. Schnitzspahn (October 16, 2012). Jersey Shore Food History: Victorian Feasts to Boardwalk Treats. Arcadia Publishing Incorporated. pp. 131–. ISBN 978-1-61423-727-3.
  33. ^ a b Capuzzo, Jill (January 12, 2010). "Trenton Tomato Pies Are Still A Staple of the New Jersey Pizza Scene". New Jersey Monthly. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  34. ^ "The Dish: Chef Tony Gemignani". Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  35. ^ a b Joshua Lurie (June 23, 2008). "De Lorenzo's Tomato Pies: Trenton vs. Robbinsville". Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  36. ^ DK (February 2, 2015). DK Eyewitness Travel Guide USA. DK Publishing. pp. 127–. ISBN 978-1-4654-3834-8.
  37. ^ Scott Wiener (April 1, 2017). "The Trenton Tomato Pie". Pizza Today. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  38. ^ "A Slice of Heaven: American Pizza Timeline". Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  39. ^ Solares, Nick (March 21, 2014). "It's Hip to Be Square: 12 Great NYC Square Slices". Eater NY. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  40. ^ "How to Make Utica Style Pizza in 5 Easy Steps". Lite 98.7. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  41. ^ "New York Pizza Suprema". Retrieved October 28, 2020.

Further readingEdit

  • Barrett, Liz. Pizza: A Slice of American History. Minneapolis, MN: Voyageur Press, 2014