There are plenty of guides out there that will try to tell you what makes a great pizza and point you in the direction of where to find it. But frankly, the best pizza is the pizza you grew up with.
In my own case, as a born and bred New Yorker, it’s hard for me to think of pizza as anything other than a long and foldable thin-crust slice, smoky from the oven and garnished with nothing more than marinara and cheese (pepperoni if you’re feeling devilish). Although I will eagerly break out my trowel for a Chicago deep dish pie and am keen to hoard the garlic sauce when ordering from fast food delivery chains, neither example really fits the platonic ideal of “pizza” in my head. All those pizzas are foreign, to my tastes: I’ll enjoy them, for sure, but I can sense a distance between myself and the slice before me as soon as I gauge the crispiness of its crust and the weight of its toppings.
Therefore, I say it’s time to acknowledge our own biases and give up on declaring any single style the best. Because even if there’s only one that truly feels like home, there’s also an adventure to be had in stamping one’s pizza passport and taking in pizza attractions from across the globe. And while a truly dedicated pizza traveller might venture to obscure corners of Italy (or St. Louis, or Detroit) just to sample them straight from the dough-stretching hands of the masters, there’s also a satisfaction in making the world’s pies right at home. It’s time to fire up the oven and get a batch of red sauce ready: these nine recipes will guide you well beyond your pizza comfort zone.
1. Sicilian Pizza
Sicilian-style pizzas are thick and bready, practically a focaccia with extra toppings. Easily made in a sheet pan, they’re the perfect pie for feeding a crowd. Get our Sicilian Pizza "La Regina" recipe.
Naples is credited with giving birth to the modern pizza. In fact, Neapolitans take their pies so seriously that there’s an association dedicated to certifying pizzas that are true to the city’s style. Made with ultra-fine 00 flour, Neapolitan crusts are distinguished by their thin, crispy centers, and puffy, spotted edges, which are produced by a quick firing at very high temperatures. Get the recipe here.
3. Roman-Style Pizza
As a style, Roman pizza can be a bit hard to define. Pizzas thick and thin, round and square can be found within the city. But it’s pizza al metro that stands out as the most unique of them all: long and thin, they’re cut to order and sold by the kilo, for a slice that’s served as you like it. Get the recipe here.
4. New York Thin Crust Pizza
No matter where you are, there’s probably a restaurant in your neck of the woods that claims to make New York style pizza. But unless you’re actually in the Big Apple, most of them don’t even come close to the real deal. Skip the impostors and make it at home—you’ll have a better chance of getting something that actually resembles the pie as it was intended to be. Get the recipe here.
5. Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza
With deep dish, there’s no room for subtlety between the lava-like oceans of sauce, gushing pools of cheese, and fortress of a crust that just manages to hold it all together. Go into this one with an empty stomach and a can-do attitude, come out on the other side with a full belly and the feeling of having conquered the Vesuvius of the food world. Get the recipe here.
6. St. Louis Style Pizza
St. Louis pizza is the nerdy weird kid of American pizzas: it’s thin and gawky (with a cracker-crisp crust), wears clothes that don’t fit quite properly (the toppings reach all the way to the rim), and has a taste for the obscure (it’s topped with Provel cheese, a processed blend that’s impossible to track down outside of the St. Louis area). Most other pies would beat it up and steal its lunch money, but it’s precisely those oddities that seem to have made it a hometown icon and favorite. Get the recipe here.
7. New Haven-Style Clam Pizza
New Haven pizza has the rusticity of a Neapolitan and the no-nonsense attitude of a New Yorker. But where it really sets itself apart is the toppings, particularly the clams that adorn the style’s most famous pie. Get the recipe here.
8. Detroit Red Top Pizza
Detroit pizza features crispy fried edges and affinity for thick and heavy toppings, which are supported by a pillowy crust that’s not too far off from a Sicilian. For extra authenticity, bake this one in an industrial auto parts tray, just like it is back in the Motor City (you have one lying around, right?). Get the recipe here.
9. California Pizza
California pizza is one of the few pizzas that’s less distinguished by its crust than it is by the toppings you put on it. Cheese and sauce are limited to a supporting role so that more eclectic ingredients can take center stage (especially vegetables, because it’s California, after all). Our summer squash pie carries on the tradition proudly. Get our Summer Squash Pizza recipe.
Header image: Sicilian Pizza from CHOW
Miki Kawasaki is a New York City–based food writer and graduate of Boston University's program in Gastronomy. Few things excite her more than a well-crafted sandwich or expertly spiced curry. If you ever run into her at a dinner party, make sure to hit her up for a few pieces of oddball culinary trivia.