What Makes NY Pizza Exceptional?
For many years this question was wandering inside my head, and it wasn’t until I lived in NY for six years that I was able to understand how it all came together to create this culinary gem. To be fair, it isn’t just NY pizza that has that distinct flavor. It’s a great deal of the pizza from the Northeast. Some of the best NY style pizzerias in the world are found in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Philadelphia among other northeastern states.
It all starts with the water. Water in the northeast is sweeter than the water everywhere else in the country. Many believe (including myself) that sweetness in the water gives NY pizza that distinct taste. You can have the exact same recipe for a pizza and make it in NY and it will not taste the same as one made in Texas. When you start eliminating the variables, the only logical explanation is water. Some pizzerias try to replicate the sweetness in the water by adding a bit of sugar to their recipes, but it is not the same. The sweetness in the water comes from algae in the rivers.
Besides the water, NY pizza characterizes itself as being thin and crispy. This gets a bit confusing given that many chain pizzerias offer thin crust pizzas that are extremely thin. NY pizza is thinner than a regular chain pizza, but it is thicker than their thin pizza. It should also be crispy enough so that when you fold a slice the first layer of the crust breaks, but not the entire crust. The crispiness is really up for debate, as many pizzas in NY will let the customer decide how crispy their pizza will be. Just know this, if you are going to Lombardi’s or to Pepe’s your pizza will be crispy, but if you are going to Artichoke or 2 Bros Pizza then your crust will be softer.
We are privileged that most cities in America have at least one NY or NY-style pizzeria, and most of these are small businesses. Next time you are craving pizza make sure to try one of these places