What Separates California-Style Pizza From The Rest Of The Pies?

The U.S.'s East Coast-West Coast rivalry exists on many planes. From hip-hop artists and comedians to sports teams and eateries, major cities on either side of the country claim to produce the best of the best. When the conversation turns to pizza, though, there never seems to be any doubt that New York is the place to get a perfect pie (second only, perhaps, to Italy, the dish's birthplace). In recent years, however, California-style pizza has taken the world by storm, developing a fanbase that spans across the globe.

Pizza is a love language that each region seems to understand a little differently. Chicago is known for its thick-crusted deep-dish pizza, packed with copious amounts of toppings that act more like fillings, while New York pizza is more like Neapolitan or Roman pizza, with its barely-there crust that toes the line between crispy and chewy. California-style pizza, on the other hand, is an amalgamation of both, elevated with some classic West Coast flair. Touting a thin crust that primarily acts as a vehicle for toppings, California-style pizza often features local produce and unexpected flavor combinations that speak to the Golden State's affinity for fresh, healthy ingredients.

California-style pizza is a reflection of everything the state holds dear

Where California-style pizza is concerned, toppings are the star of the show — and who knows how to put on a show better than Hollywood's home state? In order to embrace California's abundance of fresh produce, its pizza is typically loaded with locally and sustainably sourced veggies that are blended together to make balanced and innovative flavor combinations. Some of the most frequently used ingredients are avocado, goat cheese, artichokes, and grilled chicken. Dara Maleki, founder and CEO of The Pizza Press in Anaheim, told PMQ that California's rendition of this staple is a "guiltless pizza," making it perfectly suited for those who may be watching what they eat.

The Golden State's take on pizza is also a reflection of the cultural diversity that has long shaped the region. Often encompassing ingredients quintessential to Mexican cuisine (like jalapeños, avocados, and black beans), as well as elements of cuisines from across the Asian continent (like ginger, carrots, and sesame), California-style pizza is the ultimate food fusion. Without the hard-and-fast rules that often apply to New York or Neapolitan pizza, California-style pizza has become a practice in creativity and inclusivity, with many options for vegans, vegetarians, and those with food sensitivities.