Different Types of Pizza (HOW MANY!?!?)

When you first start learning about pizza, it can be surprising just how many different types or styles of pizza there are, which can soon turn into a food challenge that you’ll just never complete.

Since pizza was invented in Naples several hundred years ago, the rest of the world has naturally been inspired to create their own. Meaning, there’s loads of different styles of pizza (unless you ask a Neapolitan or New Yorker, in which case there’s only one).

In terms of a number, there’s around about a jillion different types of pizza in the world, mainly because pizza can be categorised in so many different ways, and there’s virtually an unlimited amount of topping combinations to be had.

For example, pizza can be categorised in the following ways:

🍕 By location, e.g. Neapolitan pizza (from Naples), New York pizza, Detroit pizza, etc.

🍕 By history / tradition, e.g. Margherita pizza, Grandma pizza, Tomato pie, etc.

🍕 By toppings, e.g. Pepperoni, ham & mushroom, four-cheese, etc.

🍕 By shape, e.g. round pizza, square pizza, rectangle pizza, etc.

🍕 By yeast type, i.e. traditional pizza (uses commercial yeast), or sourdough pizza (natural yeast).

🍕 By crust style, e.g. thick/deep crust, thin crust, stuffed crust.

🍕 By base size, e.g. S, M, L, XL or 7”, 9”, 16”, etc.

🍕 By cooking method, e.g. wood-fired pizza, pan pizza, fried pizza, etc.

🍕 By variations on pizza, e.g. calzone, pizzette, etc.

🍕 By dietary preference/requirements, e.g. meat pizza, veggie pizza, vegan pizza, gluten-free pizza, etc.

🍕 By brand, e.g. Domino’s, Joe’s pizza, Papa John’s, Pizza Pilgrims, etc.

🍕 By ownership, i.e. my pizza, not your pizza.

🍕 By quality, e.g. groovy pizza, not-so-groovy pizza.

And so on. You get the idea.

Aside from all the different ways you could categorise pizza if you had all year, for now let’s just run through the most famous and popular types of pizza that exist. And if you stick around long enough, you’ll also get a cheesy answer to the question “which type of pizza is the best?”

Popular Pizza Styles

Neapolitan Pizza

The Neapolitan is where pizza really started, in Naples, Italy, in the 18th century. Neapolitan pizza is the style of pizza that’s considered most traditional and where practically all other pizzas found inspiration from. It’s characterised in by it’s circular, puffy crust, a sauce made from canned San Marzano tomatoes, the use of Parmiggiano Regiano and fresh mozzarella (fior di latte) cheese.

On a slightly more technical note, proper traditional Neapolitan pizza (or ‘Pizza Napoletana’) typically has a dough hydration range of 55-60% (made from just flour, salt, yeast and water), is cooked at a high temperature of around 485C (905F) in a wood-burning oven, and is ready in 60-90 seconds. The most classic variations of the ‘Pizza Napoletana’ include the Margherita and Marinara.

The way Neapolitan pizza is made is so special that it’s officially recognised and protected by the organisation that is the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) and their regulations on what makes a pizza authentically Neapolitan. In 2009, Neapolitan pizzas gained Traditional Speciality Guaranteed status (TSG, or Specialita’ Tradizionale Garantita / STG in Italy) from the European Union.

Romana Pizza 

Being from the capital of Italy, pizza in Rome, or Romana pizza, is probably the second most notable pizza worth mentioning. While toppings can be the same or different as those on a Neapolitan, Romana pizza has a thin, crisp, almost cracker-like base and crust, as opposed to the softer, puffier Neapolitan.

Also known as Romana Pizza Tonda, or Romana Pizza Al Taglio (when served by rectangular slice as an on-the-go snack, rather than a whole circular pizza), Rome’s main style of pizza involves less water than the Neapolitan from Naples, which is what gives it more of a crunch than a chew (‘scrocchiarella’ is the term used to describe the ‘crack’ that happens when a slice of Romana pizza is folded).

Similar to pizza al taglio is pizza alla pala from Lazio in Rome (‘pala’ referring to the pizza peel or paddle used to place the pizza in the oven). Both are baked directly on the stone floor of an electric pizza oven, at a lower temperature and for longer than the Neapolitan among wood-fire. Alla pala typically has a higher hydration, making it softer than an al taglio, although both are typically placed into the oven, and served with, a large oblong paddle (often up to 6 feet in length).

Sicilian Pizza

Also known as “Sfincione,” pizza Siciliana is a deep, square-cut pizza with a light, airy crust (almost sponge-like), which became established through America and beyond following the Second World War, after being introduced by Sicilian immigrants. Sfincione is often topped with tomato, onion, anchovies and oregano, beneath which sits the cheese and tomato sauce.

With deep-dish pizzas like the Sicilian, the cheese is often added to the pizza base before tomato sauce, to avoid sogginess, and there’s usually a nice, crisp bottom to look forward to. Pizza Siciliana is also sometimes known to be covered in breadcrumbs, to absorb some of the olive oil that Sicilians traditionally can’t help themselves but add.

(‘Pizza Italiana’ refers to pizza from Italy in general, whether it be the classic Neapolitan,
a traditional Romana, spongy Sicilian slices, or any other regional style).

New York Pizza

Away from Italy, pizza first arrived in New York around 1900, which developed into the world-famous New York style pizza we know today. NY pizza involves a large, thin base and crunchy crust (rather than puffy), this also being thin thanks to the tomato sauce and cheese being placed almost all the way to the edge of the pizza.

The difference between NY and Neapolitan pizza? Aside from their obvious separate geographical origins, the main difference between New York pizza and Neapolitan pizza, is the fact that NY pizza has this thinner, crispy outer crust, whereas Neapolitan pizza has its prominent airy rim with a bit of both crunch and chew. Both are typically topped with tomato sauce and cheese though.

New York pizza is known for typically being cooked on the hearth of a coal-fired deck oven and it’s golden finish, not to mention its ability to hold plenty of toppings (although plain cheese is also an option). There’s also the theory that New York pizza partly gets it’s style because of the minerals present in the city’s tap water (as if it matters what type of water is used to make pizza).

Detroit Pizza

Detroit-style pizza is especially known for being served up square rather than round, traditionally being baked in pans that were actually trays for automotive parts in Detroit factories. Another key thing that tells you you’re eating Detroit-style is it’s thick and crispy crust, which is only improved by cheese being spread all the way to the edge of the pan it then melts in.

The dough itself with Detroit-style is thicker (a.k.a. a deep-dish pizza), lighter and fluffier than the New York pizza, and is most traditionally topped with pepperoni and Wisconsin brick cheese, plus tomato sauce. Other popular toppings include mushrooms and olives, although the base is so thick it’ll hold practically anything. Detroit pizza is usually cut into squares to serve.

Chicago Pizza

Chicago pizza is perhaps best known as the original deep-dish pizza, and like the others on this list, takes its name from the city it was born in. With a pie-like appearance thanks to a uniquely tall crust, Chicago pizza partly gets its depth from the amount of toppings added (sometimes referred to as a ‘pizza soup’).

The toppings on a Chicago pizza traditionally involve a mix of meat (e.g. minced beef, sausage, pepperoni), vegetables (e.g. onion, mushrooms, peppers), cheese, and simple crushed canned tomatoes. Unlike the deep-dish pizzas from Sicily and Detroit, Chicago pizza is round in shape, and almost resembles an actual pie (as opposed to a ‘pizza pie’).

California Pizza

California pizza is known as a kind of gourmet pizza, using innovative ingredients as toppings. This pizza got its start back in the late 1970s when chef Ed LaDou began experimenting with pizza recipes in the classic Italian restaurant, Prego. He created a pizza with mustard, ricotta, pate, and red pepper, and by chance, served it to another famous chef, Wolfgang Puck. LaDou then became head pizza chef at Prego and came up with over 250 unique pizza recipes!

Which Type of Pizza is the Best?

Original Neapolitan pizza is simply the best, with New York pizza being a close second, but Detroit pizza and all other types of pizza are pretty groovy too. Plenty of people, especially Neapolitans and New Yorkers, think that Pizza Napoletana and New York pizza are the best, but the truth is, pizza is obviously a matter of personal preference.

So, find your fave and tag the Groovy Pizza gang on Insta.

And whatever you do…

Stay Groovy. Eat Pizza.