8 Ways Chicago Pizza Is Actually Different From New York Pizza
The culinary culture war of New York vs. Chicago pizza will rage forever, but its combatants so often devolve into low-hanging insults, they perpetually neglect to lay out the real differences between the two in a calm, rational manner that logically must lead one to the conclusion that Chicago pizza is vastly superior. To find out what truly separates Chicago pies from their East Coast cousins, we talked to some guys who should definitely know, the fellas at Chi’s own Gino’s East.
1. Chicago style is cooked in a pan
That thick, notable crust comes from being baked in a deep-dish, well seasoned, cast iron pan. The only thing a New York slice touches is the bottom of an industrial oven. Whither the humanity?
2. Chicago style is totally flipped
The whole internal structure of the pizza is inverted. After the dough is pressed out in the deep-dish pan, with the sides pressed up a bit, a layer of mozzarella is spread out on the bottom. And that’s not for aesthetic reasons: Gino’s cooks say that if you put the cheese on top, the cooking time would burn it because...
3.Chi and NY have radically different cooking times
A New York pie can go from raw ingredients on a rolled out piece of dough to oven to pizza box in 10 minutes or less. That’s thanks to oven temps that can go up to 700 degrees. Chicago pizzas take a comparable time to get the crust ready… but then get baked another 30 minutes once assembled. It’s this extra time that contributes to totally different textures in the cheese and dough.
4.Chicago sausage is so much bigger
What? Anyway, New Yorkers think of sausage as a topping that comes in a spicy little ball or thin-sliced chunk. In Chicago it’s an entire patty cradled between the sauce and cheese layers. That means every bite is equally meaty.
5.You’ll never need to do the “grease pat” on a Chicago slice
New Yorkers often use numerous napkins to catch the oil that leaks out of the fold or even (and this is terrible) pat their slices with napkins to get at the grease. Chicago style tends to be tidier. In that secondary bake, all the fat that separates from the cheese tends to get absorbed right back into the crust, where it can be safely consumed without ruining your pants.
6.Yes, you eat Chicago style with a knife and fork
But it’s not about being fancy; it’s about a fundamental difference in culture. Gotham tends to cut their pizzas in triangles so it’s easy to fold and eat on the go. It’s not just the thickness of the pie that requires a knife and fork for Chicago’s version, it’s that you’re eating the pie family style. That means cut like a casserole in big squares. But even thin pizzas made in Chicago are often cut into squares. It’s known as tavern or party style and is all about sitting down and eating together and talking about Jay Cutler’s face, not grabbing and going. In that spirit, we can safely say that…
7. New York slice is a snack while a Chicago style is a meal
Sure, you could order a Chicago pizza by the slice, if you were a barbarian. No, the civilized way to eat this kinda pie is just like that -- in a full pie, sitting down at a table. New Yorkers devour their slices on the subway, standing at counters, or straight up strolling down the street like some kinda Jon Travolta lookin’ buster.
8. Different celebrity pushers
Jon Stewart famously described Chicago pizza as “tomato soup in a bread bowl” and “an above ground marinara swimming pool for rats.” Nick Offerman was more generous in his description of New York pizza, yet still pulls for Chi. “I love a slice when I'm in NYC, but it's like eating a Slim Jim compared with a filet mignon. One slice of Gino's East stuffed sausage pizza is a bigger meal than an entire New York pie." Which really embodies the ethos of the entire battle: aggressive vs. gluttonous. Fast vs. slow. The individual vs. the group.
So while there are some real physical distinctions between the schools of pizza, maybe the real difference -- maybe, just maybe -- is in our hearts? Stop laughing.