URGENT POLL: Which pizza is better? NYC or Chicago style?

In my ongoing desire for clarity, I have posted about the burning issues of our day.

For example, I have sought clarity, and found it, about the true plural of the drink made from Gin and from Tonic.  The answer is clear.

For example, I have sought clarity, and found it, about how to identify what dresses pasta, Sauce or Gravy.

(BTW… I am determined, soon, to have my own Sunday Gravy post.)

To the point in question.

I saw on Twitter, from Ed Condon, this:

Frankly, I think that pretty much all pizza in these USA is seriously defective unless it is made in the style of either Naples (or, mainly, Rome).  Period.  That requires no proof.  It is simply true, like an axiom, and needs no defense, nor shall any disagreement with that dogma be permitted.

That does NOT, however, resolve the issue at hand.  Whatever it is, we want clarity.

New York?  Chicago?

Also, “pizza” or “tomato pie”?

Using some generalizations….

The New York style probably had its origin in the Neapolitan style.   However, now?  Neapolitan is, by definition, thinner, as a matter of fact, it is supposed (in Naples) not to be more than 3mm.

Chicago style, thicker, probably had its origin in the Sicilian style, which almost by definition is thick.

This burning question needs resolution.

Pick your best answer.  You MUST choose.  You are not allow not to have an opinion.  This is too important.

Anyone can vote in the poll, but you must be registered and approved to post a comment.

Ignoring Philly and Detroit, if NYC pizza is generally thinner, and if Chicago pizza is generally thicker ("deep dish"), which is SUPERIOR. No, we DO account for tastes.,

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Meanwhile, the legendary Pizza Rat has already decided.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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45 Responses to URGENT POLL: Which pizza is better? NYC or Chicago style?

  1. scoot says:

    I am blessed with a good friend who immigrated from Italy, and a good colleague who was stationed there for many years. Both are Pizza aficionado’s and would disdain American pizza if Italian Pizza were permitted to compete. That said, being a ham-fisted, Red Blooded, Free-Air-Breathing American, I prefer a NY Slice to a Chicago pizza, though I make no claims of objective superiority.

    My Italian compatriots, however, would argue the only acceptable vendor for authentic Italian pizza in the state of Virginia is a company called “Pupatella”, which makes it using a genuine brick oven and with authentic italian ingredients. If you are ever in or around Richmond or Northern Virginia, I highly recommend you investigate my claims personally, with the seriousness and gravitas. If you need a native guide it would be my honor to aid your investigation.

  2. NB says:

    This was really difficult. However, even though I have Sicilian blood in me, I do not like most thick crust pizza, because one spends a lot of time just chewing on often subpar bread and not eating the goodies which drew me to the pizza in the first place. If, as a rule, Chicago deep dish pizza did not have a thick crust, but rather just contained more of the goods, then I would’ve chosen the NYC slightly better answer. However, this rule does not exist and what you find of Chicago-style is a wide variety.

    And yes, I am an East Coast boy.

  3. iPadre says:

    Thin crust pizza is the best, but an occasional Chicago pizza is a good treat.

  4. Charles E Flynn says:

    I cannot participate in the poll, because I belong to the group (assuming someone agrees with me) that would choose:

    I am neither feckless, uninformed, wishywashy, nor a Polly Anna, and I affirm BOTH styles have both their outstanding examples and their wretched examples.

    Years ago, I worked for a few days at a Macintosh-related trade show at the Rosemont Convention Center (now the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center), outside Chicago. Several of us decided to go to the original Pizzeria Uno. The wait was just under an hour, and it was worth it. I asked the waitress what the difference was between the pizza at the original Pizzeria Uno, and that served at the franchises. I was told that the recipes are identical, but the original Pizzeria Uno has its own sources for better ingredients. I suspect that the question comes up frequently. I have fond memories of my trip to the original Pizzeria Uno, and have never sampled the franchise product.

  5. mysticalrose says:

    NYC all day!!!

    Some liberal late night show person, whom I would never agree with on anything else, said it perfectly: Chicago-style is not a pizza, it’s a casserole.

    He was more colorful when he said it.

  6. robtbrown says:

    I like all pizza, but I have to admit that nothing can compete with the Roman forno a legno. I still miss the Pizza Capricciosa.

  7. Semper Gumby says:

    “Pizza I leave with you; my pizza I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”

    “The Lord will give strength to his people: the Lord will bless his people with pizza.”

    “There is no pizza to the wicked, saith the Lord.”

    “Pizza be to thee. Our friends salute thee.”

    “Great pizza have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.”

    “Turn from evil and do good; seek pizza and pursue it.”

    “For a Child is Born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Pizza.”

    (h/t to “We, the Pizza” in Washington DC.)

  8. mamajen says:

    To me New York is pizza and Chicago is something other, but good.

    Ever been to Utica? Tomato pie is something very particular and wonderful, but not pizza. Best eaten cold. There is also a distinct style of pizza created at O’Scugnizzo’s (allegedly 2nd oldest pizzeria in the country) which has a thicker crust and the sauce on top of the cheese. Delicious.

    I enjoy the different styles, but New York is the definition of pizza for me, and even upstate we are spoiled with plenty of places to get a good one. It’s one thing I miss when I travel.

  9. roma247 says:

    Italian pizza. Period.

  10. TRW says:

    I was just talking to a co-worker today about N.Y pizza! First, let’s get this straight. Good and true N.Y pizza is not easily imitated. The ingredients have to be legit. It doesn’t need any toppings. Plain cheese. If you’ve had it and were underwhelmed, then you didn’t go to the right place and didn’t get the real thing. Just sayin…

  11. Anneliese says:

    Native Chicagoan (southwest side) right here speaking up. There’s more to “Chicago” style pizza than the deep dish. Most ordinary people don’t order the deep dish. It sits too heavy in the stomach and you can’t eat it with your hands. The average pizza crust, depending on the restaurant, can have a thickness of perhaps two to three pieces of pita slices put together. The real distinction of Chicago pizza is how the toppings are placed. Living in St Louis, I’ve noticed toppings tend to go on top of the cheese. In Chicago, the toppings go on top of the sauce but under the cheese. So when the the cheese melts, you can see the toppings peeking out. Sometimes you can just see the outline of the sausage, which aren’t rounded pieces. There are these chunks of meat that have been taken out of the casing. There’s also more cheese added in general and it’s baked to point where these golden patches start to form throughout. It’s really a work of art. The best places to go are the mom and pop places. The local chains are good too. I think Girodano’s is the best chain.

    St Louis has beautiful churches but horrible pizza. The crust has the consistency of a matzo cracker. The locals tend to like this fake cheese that was invented here–provel. I would avoid it like the plague.

  12. Hidden One says:

    Detroit. Or cross the border!

  13. beelady says:

    Chicago is one of my favorite cities to visit but we no longer order pizza when we are in town. I made an effort to like it years ago. My family and I tried all the go-to places. We couldn’t find one place that had a pizza (not pie) that we liked. They were all too sloppy/soggy/over-sauced. NYC pizza beats Chicago pizza EVERY TIME!!
    Perhaps Fr. Z could include St. Louis style pizza in his next poll. I think that the provel cheese puts it over the top and it’s actually the best pizza in the US!

  14. Ariseyedead says:

    Chicago = Extraordinary Form (of pizza)
    NYC = Ordinary Form

    Both are allowed, but one is clearly superior, and it’s not just aesthetics!

  15. iamlucky13 says:

    I believe Jim Gaffigan is the expert on this. He is Catholic, although I recall him posting a picture of attending an event of very dubious prudence.

    Regardless, he takes food very seriously and shared what he knows in a book very accessible even to laymen, Food: A Love Story.

    I’m afraid I don’t remember his conclusion about this question in particular, unfortunately.

  16. Suburbanbanshee says:

    What? No love for Detroit pizza? No love for conveyor belt ovens, like God intended?

  17. Charivari Rob says:

    I don’t go for either push-polling or the false binary *

    I find much to agree with in what iPadre and Charles E. Flynn say.

    In my case, I tend to prefer thin-crust over thick, so NY a little over Chicago. The catch is that while many have good crust**, the sauce fails.
    There’s something I can’t quite quantify in a good pizza sauce.
    Try some good NJ pizza before you vote.

    * though I will admit that in contrast to recent US Presidential election false binary scenarios, with the pizza false binary you can have something somewhat satisfactory with either while striving for actual best.

    ** it may be similar to the case with bagels and other breads – God bless NYC water!

  18. Arcgap says:

    I’m sorry to see such public evidence that Fr Z is not infallible. I have eaten pizza in many Italian cities and many US cities. Pizza in Rome is rarely the same from one restaurant to another, the style there varies from cheese sprinkles on an unleavened cracker to the thinest (cheapest) frozen pizza in the grocery store. I did really like the way Romans eat their pizza, a whole slice is picked up and folded in half so it can be eaten like a sandwich. Other parts of Italy have all the variations up to “thick” crust that is about like a standard US chain pizza. They also sell abominations like hot dogs and french fries on pizza (have seen it in three different Italian cities). The best pizza are of course the ones we make at our house.

  19. Rob83 says:

    Faced with a choice between the two I prefer the NYC over the Chicago, but neither compares to the local version in and around Buffalo, which falls between the two styles. It is probably best described as a thicker version of NYC style, it would never be confused with a casserole or a deep dish.

  20. teomatteo says:

    im not a fan of ‘cheese on a cracker ny style. i spitith that from thy mouth. Chicago for me, Giordano’s more specifically.

  21. JabbaPapa says:

    Italian style — though I wouldn’t particularly distinguish the Roman variation of it over other Italian styles of pizza. Different, sure, but better ? hmmm …

    Bologna or Naples style in particular for me — though I’ll mention Pisa as having the best tray pizza I’ve ever found. Pugliese style pizza is interesting too.

    The NYC style looks better than Chicago, and the only pizzas I’ve eaten in the USA were central Massachusetts ones, similar to but not the same as NYC as far as I can tell. They were definitely OK anyway.

  22. Ages says:

    Chicago vs. New York is a plebian debate. The patrician’s choice is Detroit style.

  23. albinus1 says:

    I can’t choose between NY or Chicago pizza because I can’t recall having had either. But to this day my favorite pizza, in memory at least, was from a little neighborhood shop in West Philadelphia that I used to patronize in graduate school. I can’t even remember the name. They offered sweet peppers as a topping, which I haven’t found in other places I’ve lived. And, most important—and one of my tests for great pizza—it tasted even better cold for breakfast the next morning.

    For all the time I’ve spent in Italy and eaten pizza in various places—including interesting oblong pizza served at Il Monastero in Viterbo—I’m afraid that pizza is the one dish I would rather eat in America than in Italy. I’ve tried to like Italian pizza; I just don’t. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m one of those people who likes heaps of toppings, which Italians tend not to do.

  24. W0BPH says:

    I agree with beelady and Arcgap… St. Louis style made at home is the best!

  25. Anneliese says:

    Father, for your next controversial poll I think you should ask whether it’s better to eat a hot dog with or without ketchup. Without is the Chicago way.

    [Hmmm… this is worthy of consideration. For my part, when in Chicago I “drag it through the garden” and the best spot is probably Superdawg.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  26. Eoin OBolguidhir says:

    Chicago meaning what? Deep Dish? Stuffed? They’re very different. Comparing them one to another is difficult, much less to any thin crust pizza.

    A controversy more amenable to debate is: Slicing Pizza, which is better, NY wedge shaped pieces, or Chicago square shaped pieces?

  27. Colm says:

    Chicago is obviouly superior. But real Chicago pizza isn’t Deep Dish, that’s for tourists. Chicagoans eat this: https://www.bonappetit.com/story/real-chicago-pizza-tavern-style

  28. mitdub says:

    So, once you fold the pizza over in NYC and Roma, haven’t you really, rather unsuccessfully TRIED to make a Chicago, nay, Detroit style pizza? Chicago can’t decide if their pizza is deep dish or stuffed. I prefer the stuffed. Really don’t care for the cornbready crust. Detroit is where it’s at.

  29. Fr. Kelly says:

    I am grateful to Colm for bringing the Chicago Tavern Pizza into the discussion.

    The article he refers us to is excellent, though it misses a family owned pizzeria Aurelio’s (mostly on the West Side) which has made the transition to small franchises without losing its local pizzeria ambience. And their pies are to die for. Thin, square cut pies with plenty of Oregano in the sauce.

    But I must cavil a bit. Ike Sewell’s and Rudy Malnati’s contribution is a true Chicago Style too.
    Chicago has two baseball teams who are as far opposed to each other as can be. Officially these teams are the White Sox and the Cubs, but truthfully, they are the White Sox and whoever is playing the Cubs.

    So also, she has two styles of pizza — The deep dish Uno style and the flat square cut tavern style that Colm is referring to. They are both better than New York Style.

    But here is where the analogy limps: as a 5th generation White Sox fan, I would never go to a Cubs game, but as a fan of Aurelios’ and Chicago Tavern Style pizza, I would still eat and enjoy a deep dish pizza from Uno’s.

  30. Anneliese says:

    Colm, you’re lovely. I love the fact they mentioned Home Run Inn in the article. I grew up in Little Village and it was about a mile away from my house. And Fr. Kelly is correct as well when it comes to both Chicago baseball and pizza.

  31. Semper Gumby says:

    Poll numbers indicate that many of our benighted New York bretheren and sisteren have not partaken of the manifest joy of Chicago pizza. Chicago pie is thick as a copy of War and Peace, sufficient to fortify body and soul against East Coast interlopers and Moloch.

    Colm strikes a discordant note with his comment, perhaps bent on provoking civil war- I pray thee step back from the abyss. As for the dyspeptic notions of Fr. Kelly and Anneliese, let me refer them to Pius X and Maximus Chicagous Stupendous which divided Chicago north-to-south along Lake Shore Drive: Cubs to the West, White Sox to the East.

    The barracking here from the St. Louis and Detroit delegations is perhaps a cry for help, a lamentation born from hinterland mediocrity. Fear not, the gates of Paradise remain open to thee. You are always welcome at Wrigley Field for God’s Game and Chicago Pizza.

    By the way, pizza- potato sauce topped with sheeparoni- was invented by an Irishman.

  32. teomatteo says:

    SG wrote: “The barracking here from the St. Louis and Detroit delegations is perhaps a cry for help,”
    At first I thought that that statement was false but then reread and noticed ‘perhaps’ and I knew that SemperGumby was not mistaken -for Detroiters do not cry for help, We offer it up. Detroit we love. Peace.

  33. omgriley says:

    Trick question: New Jersey pizza is unbeatable.

  34. FrCharles says:

    Trick question. It’s New Haven. ~ fr. Carolus a Novo Portu

  35. Semper Gumby says:

    “Peace” teomatteo calls for. Nay. There can be no peace, the very hills cry out for justice against the tyranny of New York and Big Apple Pizza. Alea iacta est- the die is cast.

    teomatteo, save thou thy labor.
    Come thou no more for ransom, gentle teomatteo.
    The New Yorkers shall have none, I swear, but these my joints,
    Which, if they have, as I will leave them,
    Shall yield them little.

    Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war! Let the beacons of Minas Tirith be lit! Release the Kraken! My chariot!

    Wait a minute.

    An idea, admittedly not a good one, presents itself. Chicago, Detroit, and other walled towns of the heartland should band together against Byzantium on the Hudson. We’ll have to keep an eye on Hidden One though, who wrote: “Detroit. Or cross the border!”

    No, not that. Not…Canadian pizza.

  36. R. Guadalupe says:

    Funny that. I was planning on making Chicago deep dish pizza for dinner tonight…

    An excellent and fascinating book on pizza is:

    American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza, by Peter Reinhart

  37. Alice says:

    As a backward hick from Flyover Country, I’ll have Casey’s pizza, please. :)

  38. deaconjohn1987 says:

    I remember the best pizza in Queens, NY was on the corner of Ditmars Blvd. and 31st Street in Astoria. It was square slices at 15 cents a slice. The line to buy some was sometimes a block long! Of course that was in 1960. Polito’s Pizza was second best. They were also in Astoria and downtown Manhattan. Delicious memories!!!

  39. G1j says:

    Foldable, plain cheese, fresh out of a stone deck oven, baked to a crispness only God Himself could have made possible. Ingredients that are 100% by His design, Whole milk mozzarella, sun kissed tomatoes, extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil, fresh basil washed with the mornings dew, hard neck, purple garlic and a sprinkle of sea salt. The dough being fresh made with the finest soft wheat flour, ground 00 fine, natural yeast collected from the skins of the grapes trellised on the landscape, again some olive oil and sea salt with a touch of honey. Now you’re talking pizza!

  40. KateD says:

    There were two brothers who had a pizza place at the top of our street. They made the best pizza (and sandwiches). I’ve never found anything like theirs. Everything else is cardboard and tomatoes paste. Unfortunately they got their boxes mixed up and delivered the one with the cocaine to the local PD….woopsies!

    They must be out by now….maybe they are making pizza again!

  41. JabbaPapa says:

    Colm :

    Chicago is obviouly superior. But real Chicago pizza isn’t Deep Dish, that’s for tourists. Chicagoans eat this: https://www.bonappetit.com/story/real-chicago-pizza-tavern-style

    Interesting. Looks nice — and some local version Italian-style pizzas are a lot like that.

    Italian deep dish usually isn’t even called pizza, but foccaccia (usually). The best types of it are either the simplest, just olive oil, sea salt, maybe a little rosemary, or the richest having a variety of toppings, and which are closer to some of the American deep dish variants. Though there is something called pizza quadrata which can get close if it’s a thick crust version.

    Here around Nice there is a tray pizza local variant called pissaladière, topped with onions, anchovies, olives, or its common variant topped with tomatoes, onions, olives, with or without anchovies (though some call this variant “pizza”). The local proper pizza variant is quite interesting — the local tomatoes are a little peppery, and the cheese used is Cantal rather than mozzarella ; and you typically eat it with some olive oil that has been flavoured by marination with spices, hot peppers, black pepper corns, and herbs, which make it a hot sauce (the French elsewhere in the country put this stuff onto their Italian-style pizzas which is of course a crazy act of brutal vandalism).

  42. Cafea Fruor says:

    NYC and thin crust are clearly superior to Chicago style because of the higher toppings-and-cheese-to-crust ratio. Why dilute the flavor of your delicious toppings with so much bread when you could instead showcase them? Moreover, with the thinner styles, you don’t fill up as fast and can enjoy more of those toppings before you’re full. Everyone knows these days that having more veggies and protein than is healthier, so NY style is clearly healthier. ?

  43. Cafea Fruor says:

    *than carbs

  44. James C says:

    “ They also sell abominations like hot dogs and french fries on pizza (have seen it in three different Italian cities).“

    That’s called ‘pizza americana’. I kid you not. It’s all over Italy and I’ve never seen anyone eat it except kids.

    Having lived in Italy and having had pizza both in Rome and all over Campania, I must decree that both NY and Chicago pizza should be banned.

    The best pizza in the world is a margherita with buffalo mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes and fresh basil, made of course in Naples. Punto!

  45. Lucas says:

    I’m Italian but I love me some Chicago pizzas. But I like NY also? If forced I’d probably lean Chicago but you can’t go wrong with either.

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