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New York-style pizza facts for kids

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New York–style pizza
Type Pizza
Place of origin United States
Region or state New York City, New York
Main ingredients Pizza dough, tomato sauce, mozzarella

New York–style pizza is pizza made with a characteristically large hand-tossed thin crust, often sold in wide slices to go. The crust is thick and crisp only along its edge, yet soft, thin, and pliable enough beneath its toppings to be folded in half to eat. Traditional toppings are simply tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese.

This style evolved in the U.S. from the pizza that originated in New York City in the early 1900s, itself derived from the Neapolitan-style pizza made in Italy. Today it is the dominant style eaten in the New York Metropolitan Area states of New York, and New Jersey and variously popular throughout the United States. Regional variations exist throughout the Northeast and elsewhere in the U.S.


The first pizzeria in the United States of America was claimed to have been founded by Gennaro Lombardi in New York City's Little Italy in 1905, though this has recently been debunked by author Peter Regas. An immigrant pizzaiolo (pizza maker) from Naples, he opened a grocery store in 1897; eight years later, it was licensed to sell pizza by New York State. An employee, Antonio Totonno Pero, began making pizza, which sold for five cents a pie. Many people, however, could not afford a whole pie and instead would offer what they could in return for a corresponding sized slice, which was wrapped in paper tied with string. In 1924, Totonno left Lombardi's to open his own pizzeria on Coney Island, called Totonno's.

The original pizzerias in New York used coal-fired ovens and baked their pizza with the cheese on the bottom and sauce on top. By 2010, over 400 pizza restaurants existed in New York City, with hundreds more of varied cuisine also offering the dish.


New York–style pizza is traditionally hand-tossed, consisting in its basic form of a light layer of tomato sauce sprinkled with dry, grated, full-fat mozzarella cheese; additional toppings are placed over the cheese. Pies are typically around 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm) in diameter, and commonly cut into eight slices. These large wide slices are often eaten as fast food while folded in half (like one would fold a cardboard box) from the crust, as their size and flexibility can make them unwieldy to eat flat. Folding the slice also collects the abundant oil in the crease, and allows the slice to be eaten with one hand.

New York–style pizza gets its distinguishing crust from the high-gluten bread flour with which it is made. Minerals present in New York City's tap water supply are also credited with giving the dough in metro area pies its characteristic texture and flavor. Some out-of-state pizza bakers even transport the water cross-country for the sake of authenticity. However, many pizza makers dispute this fact, noting that high-quality and true-to-form New York–style pizza is being found in more and more places. The popularity of New York–style pizza is rapidly being exported from New York and globalization of food culture has made access to the right equipment and products easier for those in the industry seeking to produce a product authentic to its New York roots.

In contrast to a Chicago-style pizza, which is usually smaller in size, typically no more than one foot (12 inches, 30 cm) in diameter, the average size of a New York–style pizza is typically larger, ranging between one and a half to two feet (18 to 24 inches, 45 to 60 cm) in diameter, with some even larger, giant New York–style pizzas measuring as large as three feet (36 inches, 90 cm) in diameter.

Typical condiments include dried oregano, garlic powder, dried red chili pepper flakes, dried basil, and grated Parmesan cheese.

Regional variations

New York–style pizza is most prevalent in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, but can be found throughout the Northeastern region and beyond. Outside this area, many pizzas described as "New York-style", including those of major pizza chains such as Pizza Hut, generally do not fall within the variations commonly accepted as genuine in its native area.

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