The Pizza Challenge: Chicago vs. New York

The debate over which is better: New York-style and Chicago-style pizza is probably as old as the pizza styles themselves. Many have tried to compare thin crust New York pizza to thick crust Chicago pizza and declare a winner. Many have failed. The discussion usually goes nowhere, as proponents of each city's signature style are equally passionate.

Both Chicago and New York have long traditions and histories of pizza making. And both cities offer many variations of their signature styles.

Therefore, attempting to make a lasting decision would be very difficult. The styles are vastly different, from crust to the types of toppings, and the number of variations could be endless.

To complicate the issue even more, you'll find pizza of the deep dish variety in New York, just like you'll find thin crispy crust versions in Chicago.

Although the crust is the foundation of any pizza, if the contest were based solely on crust, it would still be a difficult one. The crusts are so different on each type of pizza, that some wonder if they are even the same food. Many people think that comparing crust thickness and crispiness is not even relevant, since the two are so different, it is the same as comparing a chocolate cookie to a chocolate pie. Each are sweet desserts, but each is constructed in a unique way and delivers a different eating experience. (Okay, now I want chocolate with my pizza.) And, like the cookie/pie analogy, the two types of pizza usually don't taste at all alike, so it becomes even more difficult to get impartial or accurate judgements.

Here are a few of the differences:


New York - crispy, thin crust with a thin layer of tomato sauce, assorted toppings, and cheese.

Chicago - thicker, deep dish crust with an inch-deep smothering of cheese, toppings, and tomato sauce.


New York - a hand-held, on-the-go meal that's easy to eat on the run.

Chicago - a complete meal that requires utensils and a plate to eat.


New York - amount of toppings limited due to the thin crust and on-the-go nature of the slice.

Chicago - a plethora of toppings that can reach several inches in depth due to thicker crust and cake-like pan.


New York - the traditional slice is triangular, like a piece of birthday cake or pie.

Chicago - served in portions in the same manner of a casserole.


New York - a thin layer of mozzarella is the only acceptable choice.

Chicago - several layers of different cheeses is the norm.


New York - often followed by a trail of oil.

Chicago - drier with no trails of oil.

One thing that is clear, is that people usually prefer the style of pizza they grew up with or the one that is in the city in which they live. Some people don't eat pizza with a fork, and therefore prefer to fold a conveniently thin and crispy crust. Others prefer the multitude of ingredients available in a thick crust pie. And although thin crust is more well-known and more prevalent, when it comes down to which one tastes better, we'll probably never get a definitive answer in all of pizza history.