When you think of pizza in Italy, you think Neapolitan, and when you think of pizza in America, you think New York pizza.
These two are the most famous pizza styles, mostly because they were the first in Italy and American. But also they are simple and delicious.
Some people may say or think that the New York pizza is just an American Neapolitan pizza. Well, they are different in some ways, just as they are similar.
I know you may say ‘but it has a thin crust’ of course it does, but that’s about it. Now I want you to know that even the crust, though thin is different in how they make it.
Neapolitan pizza- the pizza that the queen deserved to eat
In the late 1800s, Naples had the honor of hosting queen Margherita while they were out on a business trip. After she ate it the first time, she would continue sending her guards to get the pizza for her.
From that time then, the flatbread, considered peasant food, would become a national meal and today a global sensation meal.
Image: Slice Pizzeria
So the first one she loved so much was the chef Raffaele Esposito made to mimic the Italian flag. It was a simple pizza, yet very delicious. It had red tomatoes, white cheese, and green basil, all representing the Italian flag.
Even today, when you speak of the Neapolitan pizza, the one that comes to mind first is the Margherita.
Generally, Neapolitan pizza was the first pizza in the world. And Italians have sought to retain its authenticity by setting a law to guard it. Using the Associazione verace pizza Napolitana laws.
So you have to adhere to set rules when prepping the pizza.
The queen was the first dignitary to like this peasant-like food, but she also encouraged the pizza delivery.
New York pizza – Americans welcome pizza
When in America, the first pizza to be made was the New York pizza. When you look at it, they were trying to mimic the Neapolitan pizza with just a little variation.
Thanks to the massive Italian immigrants at the time, Americans started to enjoy pizza too.
One thing though, when it came here, it spread like wildfire. When you talk of pizza in this country, they show you the New York slice. By the 20th century, the New York pizza came to America.
They were making them too large for one person to finish. Therefore, Lombardi opted to sell them by the slice.
From this, you could see that already there was a massive difference. The Italians ate the pizza using a fork and knife, but they just ate with their bare hands.
Also, in Italy, they served you a pizza to be enough for a single person. In America, they serve or sell it by the slice. So you could take the number of slices you deemed enough for you.
How they make it
The Neapolitan dough
One of the significant differences with this pizza is also with the dough. Neapolitan pizza is said to use the leanest and simplest dough ever.
Notice that this pizza is the simplest in the market since it has fewer ingredients than any other pizza type. They often also cook it at the highest temperature of 900°F.
You will use a lean dough for the Neapolitan in that you only need flour, salt, water, and yeast. They don’t add on the oil, sugar, or anything like that. But they use a high protein flour in Italy.
They like it because of its fineness, as that means they develop the perfect texture.
Therefore, you need to do with it to allow it a long time to ferment. And at that point, the sugars will break down to glucose, while the yeast also creates the perfect flavors for your dough. This then means it will easily stretch while also rising perfectly.
Here you have the thinnest dough ever. Yet it should be crispy. Contrary to most other crusts, you won’t have the crust’s even browning; instead, you will find the leopard-like spots. It would help if you had darker spots and then paler spots that follow.
They also stand out for not being stiff in that you can even pick them up using the fork and knife. Now understand that they cook the pizza at a high temperature of almost 1000°F, and you should do so for only 60-90secs.
This is also why you will notice it has charred spots. Notice too that we use the delicate dough that’s also flavorful from a high protein wheat flour base.
New York dough
Here you have a make out of the Neapolitan dough, with the difference being that they cook it in slightly lower heat. It doesn’t matter if you will cook it in the brick stone or the gas-fired ovens we have in New York; you can cook it perfectly. You will further stretch thin this one but of course not as thin as you do the Neapolitan one.
Again, this is not the same as the Neapolitan one because you can also use flour, water, yeast, sugar, salt, and olive oil.
Remember, the Neapolitan one is fundamental and simple; it doesn’t use oil or even water. The Neapolitan dough takes over 24 hours to ferment right, but this one you can even make in two hours.
Here you will use the all-purpose flour or better referred to as bread flour.
One thing standing out for this crust is that it’s thin, yes but also sturdy. It shouldn’t be tough, just nicely crispy at the very bottom followed by soft, chewy, and tender cooked dough.
The ingredients they add to it are supposed to make it flavorful yet savory looking. Notice that you should have the part that comes to contact with the toppings being doughy but not also raw.
The New York crust will be slightly raised and mostly with the even browning, not with the Neapolitan spots. Now it’s sturdy to make it able to hold a lot more layers of cheese toppings.
Notice that the Neapolitan sauce they make is the same they used to make back in the day. You see, the association for real Neapolitan pizza governs this pizza. So they use only tomatoes but particularly the tomatoes that grow in Italy.
So it would help if you only had the tomatoes with salt, which then allows the tomatoes’ acidity to shine. If you want to taste all the ingredients, you have to know what to put where and when.
The sauce is full of flavor but from different ingredients.
We like a little more for the New York sauce. You will use tomatoes, salt a dash of sugar; they chop the garlic and add the herbs like oregano and red pepper flakes. Still, you will attain great flavors.
Now here’s where the debate comes; Italians believe theirs is the best after using specific ingredients like tomatoes. But the Americans also think theirs is the best.
Another one of the main things you have to consider when talking about the pizza is the cheese. Of course, there are different types of cheese options today, but you won’t use any cheese.
You are supposed to use the fresh mozzarella cheese for the New York pizza, just like the one they use with the Neapolitan one. Well, it’s not easy to find the cheese type here.
It’s also why the chef’s sort to use the low moisture shredded mozzarella cheese for the pizza. The difference then is that you can use a lot more of the shredded cheese than the fresh one.
If you use a lot of fresh cheese, then it will make your pizza soggy. So you have to use it lightly even though it’s the best. This is why New York pizza today uses the low moisture shredded mozzarella and a lot more cheese.
Now you do know that the Neapolitan one uses the dots of the fresh mozzarella cheese. They don’t want it to be soggy, which is why you need a little bit of cheese.
Regardless it’s still impressive, and the New York one will have a lot of cheese. This is another one of the main differences.
The way they eat it
Believe it or not, it looks weird, but it works; you should eat the Neapolitan pizza with a fork and knife. I mean, Italians eat their pizzas with a fork and knife while the Americans will take the slice of New York pizza and eat.
That is another main difference; regardless, you should also always eat it hot. That’s when you have the cheese stretching and the sauce sometimes oozing, and it’s all too delicious.
Notice that it’s an insult to the Italians if you let it cool. The pizza man won’t be happy with you for letting it cool down.
Generally, the Neapolitan pizza is 10 -12 inches by diameter. This is a small size pizza; no wonder they like to sell it to one person. You can finish it, especially since they have a very thin crust and just some sauce and cheese.
This is more of a personal pizza than the one you people can share.
The New York pizza, on the other hand, is larger, and you can’t finish one by yourself. They have a diameter of between 18-24-inch diameter. This is also the reason why they sell them in slices and not a whole piece per person.
They mostly divide it into eight parts for everyone to enjoy the different options.
Cooking time and temperature
If you like to cook this pizza, then you must know the time it takes to cook them. Of course, one takes longer in the oven than another.
You will set the Neapolitan in the oven at a temperature of anything 800-1000°F, but also you will take seconds to cook it. The pizza will take about 90 seconds to cook.
The New York pizza, on the other hand, takes a little longer to cook because you don’t set it at such a high temperature. Often it will cook at about 770°F, and it should be cooked in about 3 minutes. Again it cooks faster because it has a thinner crust than most American style pizzas.
You must get the temperature right if you want to cook it right. So this is yet another main difference—the Neapolitan cooks at a very high temperature.
So New York pizza is just a simple New York pizza. You will find other styles of pizza in New York but not of the same title. For the Neapolitan pizza, you have several options under the same name.
The most common one of them all is the pizza, Margherita. Also, you have other options like pizza marinara, pizza Bianca and pizza Margherita extra.
Do we have Neapolitan pizza in America?
Oh, yes, you do. Remember, New York is home to most Italian immigrants, and as such, they will prefer most of their pizzas. Now you will find not only the Neapolitan pizza but also other options like Sicilian and Romano.
Therefore, the secret is to visit the Italian restaurants that imports tomatoes from Italy to use for their pizza. This will mean that you attain the same taste you had.
Do we have New York pizza in Italy?
No, not as much as you do the Italian pizza in America. They like their pizza style, so they are used to their own tastes and flavors, not the American style ones.
Although you might get them in a chain restaurant, this is not a thriving business when in Italy. May I remind you, Italians are very specific people, so they refer to pizza as the Italian pizza and Other pizzas.
Which is good New York pizza or Neapolitan?
The debate is endless whose flavors are better? Who started the pizza, which has the best crust. But I think they are both great. I don’t like to be partisan because I know most of the meals we eat depend on several factors.
To Americans, New York pizza is the best to Italian, the Neapolitan pizza is best, and to you, which one is your favorite?