60 Seconds: Pizza Styles Across the U.S.

By James Mulcahy  |  September 24, 2013

America's reputation as a melting pot applies to the world of pizza as well. When you look at the pies being served in the different areas of the country, there's a lot more to pizza in the U.S. than a simple cheese slice. From NY-style to Greek, check out our nation's wide array of pies in the video below, and learn more about each in the slide show. -James Mulcahy and Kirsten Stamn

  • Korean Pizza

    Korean pizza puts meaning into the phrase "everything but the kitchen sink." One slice can contain everything from a giant potato to a whole shrimp served with condiments ranging from pickles to blueberry sauce. Oh, and it's often served on a sweet crust, made with the likes of sweet potato or cookies. Mr. Pizza is a giant chain in Korea, but locations in California provide a chance to sample this style stateside. 

    3881 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles; 213-738-0077

  • Brazilian Pizza 

    Brazilians approach pizza the same way they do their meat: more is more. The thin-crust pies tend to skimp on the tomato sauce (sometimes subbing in tomato slices or even ketchup) but go nuts on the toppings. We just had to go to Bella Vista in Los Angeles because they have it all - tons of inventive toppings, a good and flaky crust, and dessert pizza to finish it off. And, yes, just like the rodizios, this joint is all-you-can-eat.

    10826 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles; 310-558-2374

  • Dessert Pizza

    Need we say more? Take your favorite pizza dough and slather it with sugary goodness. The toppings and combinations are infinite, but we love Dimo's in Chicago because their incredible, creative pies are best when you know there's a s'mores pizza waiting for you at the end of the meal. Think roasted mini-marshmallows, chocolate chips and honey Teddy Grahams on a light mozzarella base. You're welcome.

    3463 N. Clark St., Chicago; 773-525-4580

  • Chicago Thin Crust

    Most people may associate Chicago with its classic deep-dish, but the Windy City also has a specific type of thin crust that has just as many rabid followers. Almost crackerlike, the crispy crust is typically doused with a highly seasoned sauce, topped off with cheese and goodies, then cut into squares. Coalfire Pizza (which uses, yes, a coal oven for some seriously crispy crust) limits super-fresh ingredients to only three per pie, so you get the most of all the flavors.

    1321 W. Grand Ave., Chicago; 312-226-2625

  • Quad City-Style

    The crust that's the hallmark of pies from the Quad Cities (the five cities clustered at the Illinois-Iowa border, for the uninitiated) get its sweet, nutty flavor from malt, which makes a nice contrast with the spicy sauce. The pizza is traditionally generously topped with fennel sausage and a thick layer of cheese, then cut into long, narrow strips. Chicago's Roots Handmade Pizza makes an incredible pie that brings in droves of people, who also happen to stay for tasty apps and an extensive beer list.

    1924 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago; 773-645-4949

  • Fried Pizza

    What's the only conceivable way to make pizza even better than it already is? Deep-fry it, obviously. At Forcella in New York, pizza master Giulio Adriani makes the Montanara, whose crust is stretched, deep-fried almost completely, topped with delicacies (such as fresh homemade mozzarella) and tossed into a tricked-out wood-burning oven. Enough said.

    334 Bowery St., New York; 212-466-3300

  • New York-Style

    Pizza is a hotly contested subject in the Big Apple, but nothing gets more classic than a simple thin-yet-chewy, saucy, cheesy plain slice. For good measure, fold it in half. There are a million places to choose from, but you can always count on a seriously delicious option over at the iconic Joe's Pizza.

    7 Carmine St., New York; 212-366-1182

  • Tomato Pie

    In perhaps one of the more unique pizza variations, tomato pie lacks what most people think of when the term "pizza" comes to mind - loads of gooey, melted cheese. Cut in squares, focaccialike in texture and served at room temperature, it's topped with just a sprinkling of Parmesan or Romano. But once you get your hands on it - especially at Sarcone's, who's been making it forever down in Philly's Italian Market - you'll be hooked.

    734 S. Ninth St., Philadelphia; 215-922-1717

  • Grandma-Style

    Just like your nonna would make, this rustic square style is a magnificent thing. It's got a thinnish, crispy crust made from perfectly seasoned cast iron and a bright, complex sauce that's pooled both above and below the sauce. Toppings, obviously, are not needed. And nobody makes grandma pizza like Santucci's in Philadelphia, a family business for over 50 years.

    901 S. 10th St., Philadelphia; 215-825-5304

  • St. Louis-Style

    It's a unique formula: super-thin, almost tortillalike dough, no crust, is covered with sweet sauce and Prove, a processed blend of provolone, cheddar and Swiss that looks like Velveeta's pale cousin. And it's cut in squares. You either love it or you hate it, but you eat it at Imo's, the powerhouse chain that epitomizes the style.

    Mutliple locations in Missouri

  • California-Style

    How do you turn a pizza into something "California-style"? You load it with the amazing produce that the state has to offer. That's what chef Thomas McNaughton does at his popular Flour + Water in the Mission District of San Francisco. The toppings on his fluffy pies are simple and straightforward, but with ingredients this good, that's the point.

    2401 Harrison St., San Francisco; 415-826-7000

  • Chicago Deep Dish

    No trip to Chicago is complete without a dive into some deep-dish pizza.The butter crusts at iconic Lou Malnati's are a good place to start, as Zagat surveyors claim that the chain sets the standard for these pan-cooked pies. You can try to cut through the crust yourself, but we suggest letting the servers slice you a square - gooey strands of cheese are guaranteed to follow the spatula onto your plate. 

    Multiple locations in Illinois

  • Neapolitan Pizza

    Classic Neapolitan pizza is as simple as it is delicious. Tomato sauce, mozzarella and maybe a few sprigs of basil cooked on a light, fluffy dough that consists of yeast, flour, sea salt and water - done and done. The wood ovens (a must) have emitted a warm glow at San Francisco's A16 for almost a decade, and once you cut into the pies (guests are given scissors instead of knives), you'll see why.

    2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco; 415-771-2216

  • New Haven-Style

    A super-thin, crispy crust and "hold-the-mozzarella" policy are the hallmarks of these pies, which have grown popular throughout New England. If you're going to sample one, the place to go is small Connecticut-based chain Frank Pepe's, which uses a coal-fired oven to produce pies that sometimes draw lines down the block. The iconic option here is a white clam pizza, a mind-blower that's topped with the namesake shellfish, oregano, olive oil and grated cheese.

    Mutiple locations in Connecticut

  • Breakfast Pizza

    Pizza, it's what's for breakfast. NYC hot spot Pulino's produces a pie meant for AM consumption that's surely more interesting than your average omelet. The ovens start churning out offerings at the early hour of 8:30 AM, and toppings include breakfast standards like eggs, bacon and sausage.

    282 Bowery St., New York; 212-226-1966

  • Ice Cream Pizza

    For dessert, things get weird. Pizza Brain in Philadelphia bills itself as a museum of pizza culture, and you'll witness Noids and Ninja Turtles among the memorabilia. In addition to their standard (and quite good) offerings, you'll find some unusual, adventurous creations, including the Frankford Avenue Taco, a creation that started as a joke and bloomed into an off-the-menu item for the brave. You'll get a cheese slice and have to take it over to neighboring ice cream joint Little Baby's, where a few scoops of pizza-flavored ice cream will be ladled on top. 

    See a video about this Bizarre Bite here

    2313 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia; 215-291-2965

  • Detroit-Style

    If you know someone from Detroit, chances are you have heard them rave about Buddy's, a regional chain that's been dishing out square, deep-dish pies since the mid-1940s. The secret here is in the sauce, which is applied to the buttery dough over the cheese and toppings. There are not a lot of places in the country that do their pies like this (or have such a loyal band of followers), so if you're in the area, it's definitely worth a stop.

    Multiple locations in Michigan

  • Gluten-Free Pizza

    Located in New York City's hip Lower East Side, the chefs at Pala know that vegans and folks with gluten allergies don't want to be left out of the pizza action. All of their pies are made with either a multigrain crust or with a special gluten-free dough that's concocted using a secret recipe that you'll only find in-house ("Celiacs rejoice!" say Zagat surveyors). 

    198 Allen St., New York; 212-614-7252

  • Greek Style

    This is like New England's answer to Chicago's deep-dish. The pie is baked in a pan that's heavy on the olive oil and more shallow than those used in the Windy City, and the soft and chewy dough doesn't get charred like with some of the other varieties. It's popular in the Northeast, and we stopped by Pizza House in New Haven to stuff our faces. Note: if you're seeking this out, it's important not to get duped - feta and black olives do not a Greek pie make.

    89 Howe St., New Haven; 203-865-3345

  • Grilled Pizza

    If you like a flat, grilled pizza crust, you'll want to make a road trip to Providence, RI. The folks at Al Forno are accredited with being the first to drop the dough onto the grill, and others like Bob & Timmy's, where we grabbed our pie, help perfect the art. The grilling process results in a crispy, featherweight crust and helps the toppings melt seamlessly into each bite. The pies are usually cooked over a wood fire, and the real surprise isn't how light the pies are, it's that more regions haven't picked up this technique.

    Multiple locations in Rhode Island