In honor of National Pizza Month, take a look at how different countries and cities around the world—from New York City to Lebanon—prepare a perfect pizza.
By Lauren Kilberg
Naples, Italy: Neopolitan
When most people think of pizza, they probably think of Neopolitan-style pies, with their thin crusts topped with tomatoes (typically San Marzano) and mozzarella cheese. Add a few basil leaves and you have margherita pizza, with colors that echo those of the Italian flag.
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Rome, Italy: Pizza Bianca
This “white pizza”, famous on the streets and in the pizzerias of Rome, is a dressed-down version of the Neopolitan style that’s popular farther south. Pizza bianca contains neither of pizza’s two traditional toppings—cheese and tomato sauce—and instead features thin dough drizzled with olive oil and coarse salt, which is then baked and sliced before serving. Fun fact: It’s frequently sold by weight, not by slice.
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New York, NY: New York style
New York-style pizza apes the Neopolitan recipe, but has since become (justly) famous in its own right. The first pizzeria in the U.S., Lombardi’s, opened on Spring Street in New York’s Little Italy in 1905, and it didn’t take long for other pizzaiolos—Grimaldi’s, Patsy’s, Di Fara—to follow suit. The hallmark of New York–style pizza is its thin, crispy, hand-tossed crust (coal-fired is traditional, but wood and gas have been used too), topped with a light tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.
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Chicago, IL: Deep dish
The defining characteristic of Chicago’s particular brand of pizza is its crust: Baked in a pan, each pie has a thicker crust that can rise up to three inches high along the edges. Toppings (which often include meat) and cheese are then layered under a chunky tomato sauce. Chicago has a lot of contenders in the race for best slice, but a few of the city’s most famous establishments include Lou Malnati’s, Uno, and Gino’s East.
photo: © Brent Hofacker / Alamy
Sicily, Italy: Sfincione (Sicilian Pizza)
Sicilians tried to fit a square peg in an otherwise round hole in the world of pizza, and the end result is sfincione. In Sicily, the pie is topped simply—with some cheese, olive oil, and breadcrumbs—before being baked. The Americanized version of the dish is heavier, with layers of sauce and cheese atop a thick crust.
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There’s some debate over whether lahmacun originated in Turkey or Armenia; either way, the end result is a delicious, pizza-esque snack. The name translates loosely to “meat and dough”—and that’s exactly what it is, with minced beef or lamb topping a piece of dough. Other common ingredients include onion, herbs, and tomatoes.
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Khachapuri, a traditional Georgian dish, looks like a calzone crossed with an egg sandwich. The dough is stuffed with cheese (in Georgia, a variety called sulguni is often used), then topped with an egg and some butter. (Some restaurants that offer the dish in the U.S. even throw a whole stick in there.) And while there are many varieties of this country’s version of pizza, none of them contain tomato sauce.
photo: © Dmitriy Abramov / Alamy
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Okonomiyaki, Japan’s take on pizza, is hardly recognizable when compared to the Italian original. The recipe changes based on region, but it typically includes cabbage, pork, noodles, and squid. It’s layered or mixed and fried in batter, then topped with an egg and okonomiyaki sauce, which tastes like a sweeter version of Worcestershire sauce. The place to try it is Hiroshima—the city even has a theme park dedicated to the dish—but you can find okonomiyaki spots throughout the country.
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France: Tarte Flambee
Leave it to the French to create a pizza-like dish full of the most delicious (and fattening) ingredients: cheese and bacon. Originating from the Alsace region, tarte flambée has a thin crust that’s topped with fromage blanc or creme fraiche, lardons, and onions, before being baked in a wood-fire oven. There are several varieties in France, including a dessert version with apples, cinnamon, and sweet liqueur.
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This Spanish version of pizza is particularly popular in the Catalonia region of the country. This particular pizza can be served either sweet or savory, and you’ll find versions that are both open (a pastry base with toppings) or closed (a hand pie–like pastry with filling). Ingredients vary, and can include egg, fish, vegetables, fruit, meat, and cheese.
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If you’ve ever eaten a slice of cold pizza for breakfast, then this particular flatbread—which is frequently served as a morning meal—might be for you. The dough is typically topped with za’atar, a spice mixture containing thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac, before baking; it might also have cheese or meat on it.
photo: © Eddie Gerald / Alamy
Hungarian langos is an especially filling (and—let’s be honest—not totally healthy) pizza riff: A piece of deep-fried flat bread is topped with sour cream, meat, or garlic butter. Hungarians and those in neighboring countries like the Czech Republic and Slovakia eat langos as a street food.
photo: © Profimedia.CZ a.s. / Alamy
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