Last updated: 02:00 PM ET, Fri July 17 2015

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  • Tom Bastek | July 17, 2015 2:00 PM ET

    Pizza Nation: Five Regional Styles Worth Hitting the Road For

    Pizza Nation: Five Regional Styles Worth Hitting the Road For

    All photos via Wikimedia commons.

    There are many regional styles of pizza around the country. Detroit has its twice baked pies normally baked in industrial trays as opposed to pizza pans or on a stone. The Quad Cities area has their style with a malty taste and spicy sauce with the toppings typically under the cheese. We could go on and on, but let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Here are the five styles of pizza you need to have before you die.

    New Haven Style

    They do everything a little different in New Haven, Connecticut, including the pizza. Actually, the way they say it there is a-pizza. Their style has a thin crust, often more oblong than round with charring on the bottom, a chewy texture and normally less cheese. 

    They are known for their “white clam pie” which was invented by Frank Pepe whose restaurants, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletanas, now number eight locations and still serve it all up from coal-fired ovens built exactly like the original. Oh, and because they only use fresh clams, you'll want to check the calendar before making a trip, as the white clam pie is only available if the clams are in season.

    New York Style

    New York and New Haven are constantly going back and forth as to who invented pizza here in the United States, and although New Haven style has a rather small regional influence, New York style is served across the country. This style of pie is what a lot of people know most commonly as pizza: a round, thin crust pie with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and toppings layered in that order. 

    Slices of this pie are typically big and thin enough that they are almost impossible to eat unless folded in half. The rumor here is that the water from New York is what makes the dough so good and there are actually pizzerias across the country that truck the water in from NYC just to provide a more authentic pie.

    There are more than 400 pizza places in New York City alone, but if you are looking for authentic, head over to what the Pizza Hall of Fame designates as the first pizzeria in the Unites States, Lombardi's Pizza. And make sure you bring cash, because they don’t take anything but.

    Chicago Style

    Most people know that when you order a deep dish pizza that the style originated in Chicago, and you will hear a lot of people say that it is more like a casserole than a pizza. Basically the dough, instead of being cooked on a stone, is layered into a “deep dish” and then filled from the bottom up with mozzarella cheese, meats and other toppings, sauce and then grated cheese over the top. 

    Unlike in New York, where one of the most mortal of social gaffes is eating your pizza with a fork and knife, with Chicago style it’s expected. Chicago is also known for its own version of thin crust as well, but deep dish is where it’s at. With multiple locations, Lou Malnati's Pizzeria is where you want to go when you are in Chi-town looking for a pan of pie.

    St. Louis Style

    St. Louis, Missouri, is off the beaten path with their contribution to the history of pizza in the country. There are two big differences that their style pie brings to the table. First, it calls for unleavened bread dough lending itself to a more cracker-like crust. Second, the cheese they use isn’t mozzarella, it is a blend called Provel that is made up of provolone, Swiss, and white cheddar. Also, you normally find more oregano in the sauce, and because of the sturdiness of the crust, they load up the toppings. Imo’s pizza is said to be the original, and with 90 stores, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find.

    California Style

    Think of California Style pie as a reflection of its people: laid back, incorporating a melting pot of flavors and typically on the healthier side. A few more distinct traits of the pizza are it is typically only served in individual size, it has a thin crust and is topped with more exotic gourmet toppings like duck breast, prosciutto and goat cheese.

    Chef Ed LaDou is attributed to creating the style of pie that can be found nationwide in places like California Pizza Kitchen and Sammy's Woodfired Pizza. If you want to taste the original, head over to Caioti Pizza Café, where Ed’s spirit lives on with his wife and his pies in Studio City, California.

    So there you go, the five types of pizza that you need to have before you depart this Earth. Is there a style you like better? Let me know in the comments below.


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Tom Bastek The Main Course

Tom Bastek Tom is a writer in the Atlanta Area. He has traveled to all 48 continental states and almost every stop in the Caribbean. In addition to Traveling, Tom geeks out on bowling, craft beer, trains, pinball, comic books, sci-fi and playing the tuba. You can get him at and @TravelWriterTom.
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