The Biggest Difference Between Neapolitan Pizza And New York Pizza

What is pizza, exactly? For Americans that might depend on where you live. It could be Chicago deep dish or a rectangular Detroit style. Italy too has regional pizza differences. However, many would claim that there are two styles that reign supreme in both countries; New York-style in the U.S. and Neapolitan in Italy.

Though these two styles sit together at the pinnacle of the pizza hierarchy there are some notable differences between them. The biggest of these is also the most important and involves the basic building block of all pizza — the crust. At first glance, it might seem that they're both just thin crust pizzas, but in fact the crusts serve two very different purposes. Neapolitan dough is soft and stretched as thin as can be so that it cooks quickly in the incredibly high temperatures of a wood-burning oven. This is why you'll often notice some parts of a Neapolitan crust char while others puff up with doughy air bubbles, and the crust is so thin in the middle you might want to eat it with a knife and fork. For New York-style, the crust needs to be much sturdier and isn't stretched as thin. It's usually made with American bread flour rather than lighter Italian Tipo OO flour. A sturdier dough means you can get that classic New York fold. Try that with Neapolitan pizza and your slice will almost certainly collapse. There are also those who insist that New York tap water is key to the city's pizza crust's distinctive texture and taste. 

New York and Neapolitan take a different approach to sauce and cheese

For pizza purists that difference in crust is crucial, but there are some other defining characteristics that set the two styles apart. New York-style pizza is cooked in a gas or electric oven, whereas Neapolitan pizza is cooked in a wood-burning oven. Neapolitan sauce is solely tomato (specifically San Marzano), salt, and olive oil, while New York-style can contain tomato paste, garlic, and other flavorings. The mozzarella on a Neapolitan pizza is fresh and usually added in chunks, while the cheese for a New York pizza is usually shredded low-moisture mozzarella.

While New York-style pizza offers the opportunity to play with flavors and composition a bit, true Neapolitan-style pizza must adhere to a very strict set of rules. In fact, there is an entire organization, the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN), that certifies whether a pizza is officially Neapolitan or not.

You may not be as much of a stickler for the rules as the folks from the VPN, which is totally fine. You also likely don't have a wood-burning pizza oven in your house, but you can still make a delicious version at home with this Neapolitan-style pizza recipe. Same goes for New York-style, and why not switch things up with this New York-style white pizza recipe? Whether you're Team Neapolitan or Team New York, can we all agree that both are delicious?