Even though some may confuse the two, Neapolitan pizza and New York-style pizza are not the same thing. Most often, we see or hear people confuse Neapolitan pizza for being NY-style pizza. Let’s go over some of the distinct differences between Neapolitan pizza, otherwise known as pizza Napoletana, and NY-style pizza.
Before we get to what makes these two styles of pizza very different, let’s first tell you that Neapolitan pizza and NY-style pizza are similar in the sense that they are two of the most popular styles of pizza that people eat and both utilize a thin crust.
Different Types of Crust
The origins of Neapolitan pizza go back a long time to the southern Italian city of Naples and it’s made in a very specific way. If you’ve read our ‘Styles of Pizza: Pizza Napoletana’ article, then you’ll know that pizza Napoletana must have a circular shape, a raised rim, and dough that is shaped by hand. Furthermore, the dough must use type 0 or 00 flour. At the base of the crust in the center area of the pizza, it’s very thin. The interior being so thin often leads to many people eating Neapolitan pizza with a fork and knife. Around the rim, or “cornicione,” the crust puffs up noticeably and often develops charred bubbles when cooked.
NY-style pizza is similarly a thin style of pizza, but not as much, which is why people can easily grab a slice and eat it by holding it in a much easier fashion than can be done with Neapolitan pizza. The crust on a New York pie isn’t as puffy and provides more crunch than a Neapolitan pizza, which has a more tender, chewy crust. This key difference is due to the type of flour that is used, as we pointed out above. The type 0 or 00 flour that is used to make an authentic Neapolitan pizza is flour that is extremely finely ground. With NY-style pizza, more common flour is used,often all-purpose flour.
The different types of flour used mean these pizzas are cooked different ways. With Neapolitan pizza, one should really only cook it in a wood-burning oven so the dough does not burn up. With the all-purpose flour that’s often used for a NY-style pizza, other ovens can be used.
Also, if you’ve ever been to a restaurant that serves Neapolitan pizza, such as Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana in Las Vegas, then you know how fast the pizza comes to your table after you’ve ordered it. That’s because the type of dough used for pizza Napoletana only needs to be baked for 60-90 seconds. NY-style pizza takes much longer in the oven.
You might look at the sauce on a Neapolitan pizza and the sauce on a NY-style pizza, see the color, know it’s tomato-based, and think it’s the same. It’s not, the sauce is another key difference between these two styles, and it’s one that you can taste.
Neapolitan pizza should have sauce that is only made of tomatoes, usually San Marzano ones, and salt. New York-style pizza can use a variety of tomatoes, sometimes tomato paste, and typically adds a few more ingredients to the mix, such as garlic, herbs, and spices.
At many NY-style pizza joints, you might see advertisements for the sauce and how the shop uses a special, homemade recipe. Each of these pizza places can do its own thing with the sauce, which is fine and provides a plethora of tastes, but Neapolitan pizza shops will generally all be using the same-tasting sauce.
Fresh Mozzarella vs. Shredded Cheese
With a Neapolitan pizza, it won’t be fully covered in cheese and you’ll often see a lot of sauce. For the cheese, there will be bigger blobs of it on top and melted down. The cheese used is fresh buffalo mozzarella.
For a New York-style pizza, it’s common to see the entire layer of sauce covered with cheese, and while it’s mozzarella cheese, it’s not fresh, juicy buffalo mozzarella. Rather, NY-style pizza commonly uses low-moisture shredded mozzarella that is sprinkled evenly throughout. When cooked, the cheese melts down and provides a smooth layer of gooiness on all parts of the pizza right up until the crust.
One Size Fits All
Another difference comes in the sizes of these two pizzas. Neapolitan pizza is meant to be a single-serving pie and you’ll find just about the same size (12-inch diameter) pie everywhere you go for this style.
When it comes to NY-style pizza, you’ll commonly find more than one size. Most of the time, a pizza shop will offer its New York pizza in small, medium, and large sizes, with a large pie being around 18 inches in diameter. Some NY-style pizza shops, such as Joe’s NY Pizza, has a 20-inch option for most of its pies and Angelina’s offers a 24-inch size.
With NY-style pizza, you’re going to get more variety in sizes to choose from than with a Neapolitan pizza. If you’re out with your family or friends at a pizza Napoletana place, you’ll likely want to order one pizza for each person, whereas a large New York pie can serve up to four people in a lot of cases.