The Real Difference Between Chicago-Style Pizza And New York-Style Pizza

Which city has better pizza: Chicago or New York? It's a debate that feels like it's been around as long as the cities themselves, and each side's merits and shortcomings have been hotly contested over the years. But the question didn't even begin to exist until the 1940s. Before Chicago's distinctive deep-dish pizza was invented at the Pizzeria Uno in 1943 (via the BBC), New York-style pizza ruled the day.

Italian immigrants opened America's very first pizzeria in New York City's Little Italy neighborhood in 1905. Gennaro Lombardi and Antonio Totonno Pero cooked the thin-crusted pies in a coal-fired oven and sold them for five cents a slice, according to The Spruce Easts. Their pies took off, and pizzerias began to open all across New York City. These Neapolitan-inspired slices were generally what people thought of when they envisioned pizza for almost 40 years, at least until the entrepreneur Ike Sewell decided he wanted to make his own unique American creation.

The Inventor of Chicago-style pizza is a contested title

Sewell and his business partner, Ric Riccardo, opened up Pizzeria Uno in Chicago's Near North Side, according to the BBC. The Pizzeria Uno soon became famous for serving a deep-dished slice that was more of a sit-down meal than a snack you could eat on the go. However, the true inventor of the Chicago slice has been debated in recent years, with some people arguing that the true credit should go not to Sewell but to his pizza chef, Rudy Malnati. 

Malnati's family claim he was the real genius behind the pie, developing and selling the slices on Chicago street corners before Sewell ever came along. While we may never know for certain who was the mastermind behind this pizza creation, there is no arguing that they changed the pizza world. So what exactly sets the Chicago invention apart from its New York counterpart? The most obvious difference is in the crust, which is a thick, deep-dish affair that contains room for several layers of sauce, cheese, and toppings, according to It is usually served like a casserole and eaten with a knife and fork, while New York pizza, with its thin crust and single layer of mozzarella cheese, can easily be folded and eaten while walking.