The Many Different Types of Pizza Crusts To Enjoy: Chicago, St. Louis, Neapolitan, New York, Sicilian Detroit Style

Gino's East Tavern Style Pizza with green olives after baking in the oven
Gino's East Tavern Style Pizza with green olives after baking in the oven.

Chicagoland residents have a distinctive attitude about pizza, and people who have moved away from Chicago often long for the taste of pizza from a Chicagoland pizzeria. But tastes have expanded to embrace more than Chicago’s deep dish. Learn about the different types of pizza crusts to enjoy.

The words “Chicago Style pizza” conjure up images (and cravings) for deep-dish and stuffed styles. Yet many other types of pizza have entered the pizza panoply. Learn about the different types of pizza crusts to enjoy.

Whatever you put on top of a pizza, the foundation of any pizza is the crust. Thin, thick, fluffy, chewy, or crispy, the crust defines the pizza experience.

Neapolitan

Pizza purportedly began in Naples, Italy in the 18th century. It features a thin crust made from hand-kneaded dough, cooked quickly in a very hot, domed, wood burning oven. Styles often seen on local menus include marinara (made with tomatoes, garlic, and oregano) or margherita (featuring tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella).




St. Louis Style

It’s not comfortable for those from Chicagoland to call a pizza by another city’s name, but other cities do define styles worth a try. St. Louis style pizza crust is made from unleavened dough, resulting in a cracker-like crunch. Usually cut in squares or rectangles, this super-thin crust style can’t hold a lot of toppings, but features a unique cheese blend called provel, made of white cheddar, provolone, and swiss cheeses.

New York Style

The floppy, foldable slices seen on the streets of New York come from a dough made with added sugar and oil, to encourage even browning while baking at lower temperatures for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Sicilian/Detroit Style

Crusts for these types are up to an inch thick, and baked with toppings in a rectangular pan. The Detroit variation adds toppings first, then cheese, then sauce, baked in an oiled pan that yields a chewy crust with edges and a bottom that have a fried texture.




Deep Dish Dough

Sweet home Chicago style deep dish pizza gets its name from the cast iron pans it bakes in, for up to 45 minutes. The dough is protected by oiling and buttering the pan, and adding toppings in reverse order, with meats first, followed by cheese, then a thick layer of chunky tomato sauce. The dough absorbs fats from the toppings, preventing it from burning and giving it a buttery color and a crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, golden finish.

The other Chicago style pizza that is thin crust pizza, in Chicago is Tavern Pizza, although most people in Chicago call it thin crust pizza or regular pizza, as opposed to deep dish pizza.




As pizzerias experiment with different types of crusts, now including flatbreads, the quality of the dough is key to their success. The type of equipment used to create the dough is critical. Two main types of dough mixers can make pizza dough: spiral mixers or planetary mixers.

In a spiral mixer, both the bowl and the agitators rotate, where in a planetary mixer, the agitators circle a stationary bowl. Pizza joints that concentrate on the quality of their crusts usually use spiral mixers rather than the planetary type for a consistent mix with the right structure for the dough. You can often see these big mixers standing on the floor of pizza kitchens.

Call in your order with the appreciation of the work that goes into making the type of pizza crust you like best, or live like a celebrity chef and get your own mixer. If you leave it up to making a frozen pizza at home, you can focus on the toppings. Add your own pepperoni or other meats, and vegetables.

Gino's East Tavern Style Pizza with green olives before baking in the oven
Gino’s East Tavern Style Pizza with green olives before baking in the oven.
Gino's East Tavern Style Pizza with green olives after baking in the oven
Gino’s East Tavern Style Pizza with green olives after baking in the oven.

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