The Best Pizza in the Country: Get Familiar With the National Directory of Pizza Styles

September 26, 2023

The Best Pizza in the Country: Get Familiar With the National Directory of Pizza Styles

America’s love affair with pizza is a story as old as time—or at least as old as the late 1800s. The tale of pizza in the United States is one of immigration, innovation, and adaptation. It's a journey that's shaped by the distinct flavors and preferences of different regions across this vast nation.

So, what's the secret behind America's diverse pizza culture? To answer that question, we turn to a recent study by The Washington Post. They analyzed a staggering 7.5 million Yelp reviews to uncover the best regional pizza styles in each state and created a helpful map to guide you to the finest slices and pies. With over 80,000 small-chain and independent pizza joints scattered across the country, we're on a quest to explore the nation's pizza landscape and discover the stories behind these beloved styles.


A Slice of Pizza History in the USA

Pizza's journey to the United States began with Italian immigrants who brought their beloved Naples-born creation across the Atlantic in the late 1800s. By the early 1900s, they started opening pizza shops, and this delicious dish began to evolve in the hands of these new pizzaiolos. The pizza they served was influenced by their hometowns and the tastes of the locals.

In some places, thin and crispy pies emerged as the perfect accompaniment to a pint of beer in taverns, while industrial pans became the vessel for cheese-and-sauce-topped dough. In other corners, the charred Neapolitan-style crust became the canvas for farm-to-table cuisine. Thus, America's favorite regional pizza styles were born, each with its unique character and charm.


Searching for the Best Pizzas in America

Our quest to find the best pizzas in the United States led us on a mouthwatering journey. We ventured from slice shops in the bustling heart of New York City to the sun-soaked California-inspired pizzerias. Along the way, we sought recommendations from experts, historians, and seasoned pizza professionals from coast to coast. For a more populist perspective, Washington Post data columnist Andrew Van Dam meticulously analyzed 7.5 million Yelp reviews of pizzerias, unearthing the regional-style restaurants that attract the highest ratings and the most discerning palates.

But here's the catch: Who has the absolute best pizza in the country? That's a debate that may never be settled definitively, and honestly, that's part of the charm of America's pizza culture. Whether you're craving the iconic New York slice, the deep-dish decadence of Chicago, or something completely unexpected, there's a pizza for every palate in this diverse culinary landscape.


Exploring the Top Pizza Styles in the USA

As we embark on this pizza journey, let's acquaint ourselves with the six pizza styles that have won over the taste buds of Americans from coast to coast:

  • Chicago-Style Pizza: This iconic comfort food is the epitome of indulgence. With its thick, buttery crust and layers of cheese, toppings, and sauce, Chicago-style pizza is a hearty masterpiece that satisfies every craving.
  • Detroit-Style Pizza: Hailing from the Motor City, Detroit-style pizza boasts a distinctive rectangular shape and tantalizingly crispy, caramelized cheese edges. It's a delightful fusion of crunchiness and tenderness.
  • Neapolitan(ish) Pizza: Inspired by the classic Neapolitan tradition, these pizzas showcase thin, blistered crusts, premium ingredients, and a commitment to simplicity. Often prepared in wood-fired ovens, they carry a unique flavor and texture.
  • New York-Style Pizza: The quintessential thin, foldable slice, New York-style pizza is a celebration of simplicity. It strikes the perfect balance between chewy dough, tangy tomato sauce, and gooey cheese. It's the ultimate fast-food pizza, ideal for on-the-go enjoyment.
  • Roman-Style Pizza: Drawing inspiration from the Italian capital, Roman-style pizza is renowned for its rectangular shape, crispy base, and imaginative toppings. It's a style that champions creativity while honoring tradition.
  • Sicilian-Style Pizza: Thick, pillowy, and often square in shape, Sicilian-style pizza offers a delightful textural experience. Its fluffy dough provides a canvas for rich tomato sauce, cheese, and an array of delectable toppings.

Get a Taste of Pizza Across America

Intrigued by these diverse pizza styles? Join us on a pizza pilgrimage across the United States, where you'll uncover the stories, flavors, and craftsmanship behind each regional specialty. From the bustling streets of New York City to the breezy shores of California, the pizza journey promises to be a slice of heaven for pizza enthusiasts and curious foodies alike. Just use WaPo’s interactive map to find the best pizza near you. And, if you’re a pizzeria looking to make your mark on WaPo’s map, make sure you’re delivering high-quality pies to your customers. Invest in insulated pizza delivery bags from Incredible Bags and help your customers embark on a flavorful adventure through the National Directory of Pizza Styles!