Pizza Style Guide

Welcome to a delectable journey through the diverse world of pizza, where each slice tells a story of culinary creativity and regional flair. From the classic Neapolitan to the bold and innovative New York style, we'll explore the myriad ways pizza has captured hearts and taste buds around the globe. Join us as we delve into the origins, techniques, and mouthwatering variations of this universally beloved dish. Whether you're a seasoned pizza connoisseur or a curious foodie, this exploration will leave you craving a slice of the extraordinary. Get ready for a pizza tour that goes beyond the ordinary, celebrating the artistry of this beloved comfort food.


Neapolitan pizza hails from Naples, Italy. This pizza is thin, soft, and chewy that is best eaten immedaitely and typically sold in small pizzas meant for an individual. Some Italian pizzamakers say the pizza must be "al fazzoletto," which is like a handkerchief. If you've never had this style of pizza, prepare yourself fhat it might be what most would say is "soggy." The liquid from the sauce and cheese can create a hot, soupy, molten area at the center of the pizza, generally making it bad for takeout pizza, and often requiring knife and fork, a common way to eat it in Naples.


Pizza Bianca

Translation to "white pizza," pizza bianca in Rome is a thinner, crispier version of foccacia, often served with a light brushing of olive and sprinkle of sea salt, making it closer to bread than what most know as pizza. Outside of Rome, pizza bianca generally is a non-tomato based pizza.



Translating to "sponge," this thick, spongey (like foccacia) pizza originates from Palermo, Sicily and is what Sicilians know as "sicilian pizza" (see below). It's often baked in well-oiled square pans with and topped with a tomato sauce (put on last to avoid a soggy crust) with loads of onions, anchovies, and finished with Caciocavallo and (sometimes) breadcrumbs.


Pizza al Taglio

Translating to "pizza by the cut," this pizza was invented in Rome, Italy, and is generally sold in rectangular or square slices by weight. This style puts toppings at the forefront and is typically similar to a foccacia, which is thick, crispy, and soft.


Pizza alla Pala

Translation to "paddle pizza," this Roman pizza is oblong shaped and served in slices on a paddle. Because of its high hydration (lots of water), this pizza bakes up with a soft, fluffy interior and crisp exterior.


Pizza Fritta

Fried pizza. Think of it like a mother pizza that other variations live under.


Pizza Tonda Romana

Sometimes called bassa (thin) or scrocchiarella (crispy), this popular Roman style is served round (tonda) is a crispy, thin crust pizza.


Pizza al Padellino

Translating to "pan pizza," this small, round pizza is baked in well-oiled, round pans, creating a thick, soft crust that is also slightly crisp.



A type of pizza fritta, Montanara is pizza dough that is fried then topped once it's taken out of its oily bath. While not traditional, Don Antonio in Manhattan finishes their montanara in the wood-fire oven, making one of the best pizzas we have ever had.


Altoona Style

One of the ugliest pizzas around, Altoona-style pizza originated in 1996 at the Altoona Hotel. It's a thick Sicilian-style pizza dough topped with tomato sauce, sliced green bell peppers, salami, and finally topped with processed American cheese.


Bakery Style

See Tomato Pie. A circular or square pizza made utilizing bread dough, creating a doughier, breadier, and/or thicker pizza with various toppings.


Dayton Style

See "Midwest Thin." Just a bar pizza with heavier toppings and cut into smaller pieces. Arguably not its own style at all.


New York Style

New York-style pizza is characterized by its large, thin, and foldable slices. It typically has a hand-tossed, thin crust that's crisp along the edges and soft and pliable in the center. It's often topped with a simple tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and can be enjoyed with various toppings.


Detroit Style

Detroit-style pizza (a variation of Sicilian style) is known for its rectangular shape and thick, crispy, and airy crust. The crust is often crispy along the edges due to the use of a well-oiled (usually steel) pan and extra cheese along the edges to crisp up. It's typically topped with brick cheese and a tomato sauce that's ladled on top in stripes.The pizza is rectangular as the pizzeria Buddy's started making their pizzas with leftover trays from the various automotive plants nearby.


French Bread Pizza

Invented in the 1960s at Cornell University by New York food truck owner Bob Petrillose, French Bread Pizza is basically pizza garlic bread. Pizza sauce, mozzarella, and garlic butter are topped on an airy, chewy halved (North American style, not the authentic stuff) French bread loaf and baked until crisp.


Trenton Tomato Pie

Also known as the New Jersey tomato pie, it's a circular, thin-crust "pie" that's different from pizza based on the process of making the pie, which goes dough, cheese, tomato sauce.


Delaware Style

See "Boardwalk Pizza." Delaware does not really have its own style, though we are giving a shoutout due to Grotto, a regional pizza icon in Delaware that started out in 1960, and is known for its signature swirl.


Boardwalk Pizza

Not a commonly acknowledged pizza style, the Boardwalk Pizza is a variation on the Trenton Tomato Pie where the tomato sauce is swirled in a circular pattern instead of dolloped.


Philadelphia Tomato Pie

See Tomato Pie. Sometimes called "bakery pizza," "church pie," or "gravy pie," it is rumored to be invented as bakeries needed to use up leftover hoagie dough as early as 1910.



Also called "New York Neapolitan," it is a modified Neapolitan dough that does not adhere to the strict guidelines required to be classified as a "Neapolitan." It often utilizes non-Italian flours, sometimes olive oil and/or sweetener in the dough, is generally sturdier (due to a slightly higher cook time), and is more flexible with the sauce. Iconic coal-oven shops in New York like Totonno's and John's were early pioneers of this style. Some argue New York pizza is basically Neo-neapolitan, though some say it is the predecessor that evolved into New York style.


Sicilian Style

Also called a "square slice," it is a New York variation of the Sfincione. It's difference is largely in the ingredients used, often utilizing low-moisture mozzarella, an Italian-American style tomato sauce, and (sometimes) a variety of toppings.


Grandma Style

A variation of the Sicilain style originating in Long Island, it's just a thinner, crunchier crust Sicilian pizza owing to a lower proofing time. Some argue Grandma style needs to have the tomato sauce dolloped on top.


Buffalo Style

Invented in 1927 by Santora (America's sixth oldest pizzeria), this little-known pizza style, according to Buffalo Tourism, "features a slim, sometimes non-existent crust coast-line with ingredients out to, and often over the edges, a thick, airy undercarriage with little structural integrity that’s topped by a sweet sauce and enough cheese to guarantee a stringy pull." If that leaves you confused, it's like if Detroit-style pizza and NY style had a baby.


California Style

Just simply "pizza" to those in California, this style is known for pioneering the use of unique and exotic toppings, gourmet flavor combinations, and/or using local, seasonal ingredients such as Peking Duck pizza, caviar, smoked salmond, and more. It's invention is generally attributed to pizza chef Ed LaDou, and California cuisine pioneer, Chez Panisse and its chef Alice Waters. Some argue whether this style exists as it does not have a defining dough style, though many acknowledge it for how it has spearheaded gourmet pizza.


Colorado Mountain Pie

Invented by Chip Bair in 1973, Colorado-style pizza features a thick, braided, honey-sweetened crust and a mountain of toppings baked in a wood-fire oven, creating a crispy crust and a soft chew, and sold by the pound (ranging from 1 - 5lbs). Because of its honey-sweetened crust, it's often viewed as a "built-in dessert," with diners often dipping the crust in honey.


Old Forge Pizza

Invented in the 1920s in the self-proclaimed "Pizza Capital of the World," Old Forge pizza is a rectangular, medium-thick pizza that is first parbaked. The crumb is tight with a crisp bottom and a light, chewy crust. It comes in two styles: red, which has a sweet tomato sauce and blend of cheese (e.g., American, mozzarella, muenster, etc.), and white, which is stuffed, with a layer of dough on top and bottom. Old Forge pizzas are generally ordered by the "tray" and come in "cuts" (aka slices). This is often a very polarizing pizza due to the texture, sauce, cheese, and self-proclaimed "Pizza Capital of the World."


Omaha Style

Created in 1953 by La Casa, this divisive, rectangular pizza uses an unleavened, biscuit-like crust topped with tomato sauce and a thin layer of crumbled ground beef that someone once referred to as a "meat carpet."


Grilled Pizza

Invented by husband and wife duo, George Germon and Johanne Kileen, in 1982, grilled pizza is a very thin sheet of dough cooked directly over a grill, originally charcoal. This method results in a pizza with a grilled flavor and uneven charring, resulting in a pizza with parts that are crispy and other parts that are chewy.


Rhode Island Pizza Strip

See Tomato Pie. A pizza strip—also called a party pizza, red strip, or bakery pizza—is a tomato pie. A pizza strip is often ordered from Italian bakeries or grocery store instead of a pizzeria.


New Haven-Style Pizza

Locally called "apizza" (a nod to the Italian dialect spoken in Naples), New Haven-style pizza is an oblong, crispy, thin, and charred, traditionally made in a coal oven (though not always). This style is most famously known for its "white clam pizza," a New-Haven style speciality that is topped with fresh clams, garlic, oregano, olive oi, and grated cheese.


Tomato Pie

Baked in large sheet pans, tomato pies have been documented as early as 1903. It is essentially a room temperature focaccia (no crispiness or char) slathered with a thick tomato sauce and sometimes a dusting of romano or parmesan. It's often served in square slices, although it's served in rectangular slices called "strips" in Rhode Island. Depending on the location, it has many names, but is most popular in Utica (New York), Rhode Island, and Philadelphia.


Stuffed Pizza

Often mistaken for deep dish, this taller, deep-dish variation uses a top crust to seal in all the toppings and is topped with tomato sauce.


Deep Dish

Sometimes called a "casserole" by naysayers, this tall, iconic Chicago speciality uses a buttery, biscuity crust with loads of cheese, toppings, and tomato sauce, often acting like fillings.


Midwest Thin

Also known as "Chicago thin crust," "Tavern style," "Bar pizza," "Milkwaukee-style," or just plain ol' "thin crust," it is a very thin, crisp, almost cracker-like pizza that's tender and flaky cut into a grid to make sharing easier. Created in the 1940s, this style is thought to be invented to encourage customers to order another beer.


Oregon Style

Attributed to Pietro's Pizza in 1957, Oregon style was surfaced by reddit user Blarglephish, denoting that they "haven't really experienced anything like it in my travels." The style is known for its laminated, crispy, chewy crust and a thick, pasty, heavily spiced and herbed sauce, generally topped with copious amounts of toppings, and sometimes fresh, raw, sliced tomatoes.


Maryland Style

Invented in 1955 by Ledo Pizza, Maryland-style pizza is rectangular or square pie with a biscuit-y, pastry-style crust, sweet tomato sauce, and smoked provolone.


New England Greek Pizza

No, this isn't pizza with Greek toppings. This medium-thick pizza was invented in 1955 by Costas Kisatis at his restaurant Pizza House. The (sometimes high sugar) dough is proofed in oily, circular pans (never hand tossed or spread), creating a pizza that's inbetween a focaccia and Sicilian in texture, some describing it as "overly bready." Greek-style pizzas are topped with an oregano-heavy, thick tomato sauce and a blend of mozzarella, white cheddar, and/or provolone.


Beach Pizza

Also called "New England Beach Pizza," it was invented in 1944 at Tripoli Bakery. Deemed by Eater as "not very good, everyone should try it," Beach Pizza is known primarily for its borderline-dessert-like, super-sweet tomato sauce and scant amounts of cheese on top of a thin, crusty, flaky crust.


Louisville Style

Attributed to Benny Impellizzeri in 1978, Louisville-style pizza is known for its double-layer toppings and cheese. Pizzas are made as follows: dough, sauce (usually a spicy marinara), toppings, cheese, toppings, cheese.


D.C. Jumbo

Also known just as a "Jumbo Slice," this style (that is arguably not a style at all) is all about size, ranging from 18 - 32 inches. Iconic to Washington D.C., jumbo pizzas most likely originated in Morningside Heights neighborhood in New York City dating back to 1981 by Koronet Pizza. Despite this, jumbo slices are linked to D.C. due to it being a staple for the late-night crowd as well as the rivalry among pizza owners claiming ownership of the term and who has the biggest slice.


Quad City-Style

Thought to be invented by Italian immigrants Tony and Frank Maniscalco in 1943, Quad City-style pizza is one of the most unique regional pizzas. The defining features are a dough made with malt (and sometimes molasses) that is topped with, in order: a spicy tomato sauce, fennel-laced lean sausage, and finally a Midwestern mozzarella. Traditionally it's baked in a rotating deck oven, and it is always cut into strips instead of triangles. Note: Quad Ciities are a group of cities at the Iowa-Illinois border, on the Mississippi River that, despite its name, includes five main cities: Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline in Illinois, and Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa.


Ohio Valley Style

A thick, very light, and crisp crust (basically a light foccacia), this unique pizza is first parbaked in a square pan then topped with sauce to finish cook. Once finished, it is topped with cheese and uncooked toppings, creating a spectrum of cheese that ranges from melted to cold, and cut into square slices.


St. Louis Style

A variation of the Midwest thin, the main difference is that it uses an unleavened dough, creating a cracker-like crust, as well as using a regional cheese called Provel, a white processed cheese made up of swiss, cheddar, provolone, and liquid smoke.



Calzone is a pizza folded into a crescent shape, often does not contain tomato sauce inside, and are usually baked, though they are sometimes fried.



Stromboli is made with bread or pizza dough, typically stuffed with cheese and Italian cold cuts. It is either rolled or braided then baked and served in slices.



Panzerotti are essentially fried calzones, though they are normally sandwiched sized while calzones are often the size of a medium pizza. This is the style that inspired the much beloved Pizza Pockets.



Scaccia is like if a stromboli and cazlone had a baby. A piece of very thin, rectangular dough is stuffed, rolled into itself 3-4 times, and baked in an oven. Some have called it "lasagna bread" or "pizza babka."


Pizza Puff

A Chicago specialty invented in 1976 by Iltaco, the original Pizza Puffs actually have no pizza dough at all. It is a flour tortilla stuffed with pizza fillings, more closely resembling a pizza chimichanga. While rare, scratch-made, non-Italco Pizza Puffs in Chicago are essentially calzones.