New York-style pizza

Pizza: New York vs. Chicago, part 1

Originally appeared in the October 28, 2010 edition of the Southside Times.

One of the oldest and most enduring food feuds is the dispute between New York and Chicago—thin versus thick.  I’m talking about pizza, of course.  Without doubt, pizza has a rich history that stretches back well before the Big Apple and the City of the Big Shoulders began sliding their respective pies into the oven.

Here’s where there’s no argument:  Naples is the source of what we know as pizza—the “hardcore” pizza center of Italy.  In nineteenth century Naples, pizza was originally peasant food.  Poor classes, while waiting for rustic breads to ferment, passed time by forming portions of dough, and cooking them in wood-fire ovens.  Toppings would be anything they could scrimp together.

New York-style pizza—characterized by crispy-thin crust and high-quality toppings—originated in little Italy during the early twentieth century, with immigrants recreating the comfort food of their homeland.  In that, New York perhaps has a proprietary advantage.  And when sold by the slice, the affordability of New York-style pizza reflects its humble roots.

To reproduce the New York-style pizza, be certain your cooking surface (whether unglazed quarry tile, baking stone, or perforated pizza pan) is properly preheated along with the oven.

Next week we’ll chat about Chicago, and examine the deep-dish-side of the pizza debate.

New York-style, thin-crust pizza

Serves 4 to 6 as an entrée


Tomato sauce:

  • 1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil or oregano
  • To taste, kosher salt
  • To taste, fresh ground pepper


  • 1 cup warm water (110° to 115°F)
  • 1 envelope (or ¼ ounce) active dry yeast
  • 3 ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon iodized salt

Additional ingredients:

  • Cornmeal (if using a pizza peel)
  • Small amount of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Choice of toppings:  Italian sausage, pepperoni, olives, sweet onions—the sky’s the limit
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  • An electric stand mixer with a dough hook
  • Unglazed quarry tiles, baking stone, or round perforated pizza pan
  • Wooden pizza peel

1.  For sauce, seed tomatoes and crush them with a fork or with your hands in a bowl.  Pour into a saucepan and bring to medium heat.  Stir in tomato paste, garlic, basil, or oregano, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, the reduce heat to a simmer.  Stir the sauce periodically and adjust seasonings.  Continue to cook until sauce is thick (about  30 to 60 minutes).  Remove sauce from heat and set aside.

2.  Now for the dough:  In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water, stirring gently with a whisk.  Set mixture in a warm spot, and wait for a few minutes, allowing a thin layer of spongy-looking foam to appear on the surface to ensure yeast is alive and active (this should take about 5 minutes).

3.  In the electric mixer bowl, add in 3 cups of flour, salt, the yeast-and-water mixture, and oil.  With a dough hook attachment, stir mixture on medium speed until dough begins to come together.  If too sticky, add in remaining ¼ cup of flour.  Remove from bowl and knead on a floured surface for several minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.

4.  Shape dough into a small ball and place in well-oiled bowl, turning to coat.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise in a warm area until dough has doubled in size (about 45 minutes).  Remove dough from bowl and turn out onto a floured surface.  Punch the dough down with your fist, and reshape into a ball.

5.  Place dough on a wooden pizza peel which has been lightly dusted with cornmeal.  Using a rolling pin—or using a stretching-and-rotating method with your fingers and the heel of your hand—roll out dough to 1/8- to ¼-inch thick (give the dough a shake to make sure it’s not sticking).  Brush the rim of the dough with olive oil; add mozzarella cheese, leaving a ½-inch border around edges.  Top with garlic and tomato sauce.  Add your chosen toppings, and then sprinkle with oregano and Parmesan cheese.

6.  Preheat oven to 500º F simultaneously with your chosen baking surface:  unglazed quarry tiles, the pizza stone or a perforated baking sheet.  Transfer pizza to the preheated surface by sliding dough off the pizza peel.  Bake until crust is golden brown and puffy (around 10 minutes).  Using the peel, remove pizza from baking surface.  Again, brush crust with a small amount of olive oil.  Slice and serve immediately.

Published in: on October 28, 2010 at 3:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

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