What's So Special About New York Style Pizza? - New York City Article
New York City is where the first pizza was sold in the United States. Gennaro Lombardi, who was operating a bakery and grocery on Spring Street in Little Italy, began selling the first pizza in 1905. His pizzeria is still standing at 32 Spring St., just a few blocks from his original location at 52 ½ Spring St. and is the oldest pizzeria in the US.
This was the beginning of the pizza craze that would soon spread throughout the US. As it spread, variations of the New York Style pizza were created and now we have Chicago, California, Italian and other styles of pizza.
The New York Style pizza was developed to accommodate the personality and habits of city residents that are still valid today. The thin crust is crisp along the edge but soft and pliable under the toppings to facilitate eating the wide slice on the go by folding the slice in half. This you’ll commonly hear referred to as “roll and go.” This folding habit also allows for more efficient eating, as the flat slice can be difficult to manage.
Selling pizza by the slice was created through necessity. The cost of an entire pie in 1905 was a whopping 5 cents. However, many residents at that time could not afford an entire pie. Lombardi would sell customers a slice of the pie consistent with the amount they could afford to pay.
There are specific traits of a New York style pizza that make it unique. Typically, a New York style pizza is 18 inches in diameter and commonly cut into 8 slices. The original pizzerias in NYC used coal brick ovens to bake the pies, which created a distinct flavor and crust.
One of the most important ingredients in a New York Style pizza that makes it so hard to duplicate is thought to be minerals found in the water in New York City. Some pizzerias outside of New York City will have the water transported to their restaurants to ensure an authentic pie is created. These minerals combined with the high gluten dough used for the crust give the New York Style Pizza much of its personality and flavor.
The earliest pies were topped simply with only genuine mozzarella and tomato sauce. That basic recipe has since been expanded to include a long list of delicious toppings.
Gennaro Lombardi felt the future was in pizza and followed his dream. NYC is now home to over 400 pizzerias located throughout Manhattan and the other four boroughs and pizza has become an essential part of life in the city!
There are a tremendous number of great pizzarias to be found in Mahattan. A few of our favorites include:
Arturo’s at 106 W. Houston St. in the West Village, Ben’s at 123 Macdougal St. also in the West Village, Uncle Paul’s at 70 Vanderbilt Ave., near Grand Central Station, Lombardi’s, 32 Spring St., in Nolita and Marta at 29 E. 29th St. in the Flatiorn District.