A brief history of pizza in American food culture
The story of pizza in America began in the early 20th century when waves of Italian immigrants brought this delightful dish to the shores of the United States.
These immigrants primarily settled in big cities like New York and brought with them their culinary traditions, including the art of pizza making.
Gennaro Lombardi, an Italian immigrant, opened the first official pizzeria, Lombardi’s, in New York City in 1905.
At first, pizza was a niche food enjoyed predominantly within Italian communities. But that soon changed. Between 1945 and 1960, pizzerias started sprouting up all across the country, owned by independent operators of various origins — some Italian, some Greek, but all of them contributing to the pizza revolution.
As pizza became more popular, it began to reflect the diversity of America. The size of pizzas grew from its original ten inches to larger diameters, perfectly suited for families and groups.
Pizza toppings expanded beyond the traditional mozzarella and tomato sauce to include a wide variety of ingredients, reflecting the melting pot of American culture.
By this point, American pizza became a full-blown recreational dish and made the jump into being considered an American fast food classic.
The nationwide surge in pizza popularity
After World War II, pizza went from being a hidden gem to a total sensation in American food culture. G.I.s returning from Italy couldn’t resist the mouthwatering charm of this delightfully uncomplicated dish.
And just like that, pizza fever took over the nation.
This newfound appetite set the stage for the birth of mega pizza chains in the 1950s and 1960s, with industry giants like Pizza Hut and Domino’s leading the charge.
These chains played a pivotal role in revolutionizing pizza production, leading to its widespread availability throughout the country.
The advent of technology and the rise of delivery services amplified this spread. The convenience of having a hot, tasty pizza delivered right to your doorstep was a game-changer, firmly embedding pizza in the fabric of American life.
The American spin on pizza — evolution and innovation
As pizza spread across America, it began to take on a variety of regional flavors and styles, each with its own unique spin.
- New York thin crust: A signature of the Big Apple, this style features a thin, foldable crust topped with a simple tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkle of toppings. Its simplicity is its strength, with each slice offering a perfect flavor balance.
- Chicago deep dish: Chicago’s deep dish is the Windy City’s take on New York-style pizza. Resembling a pie, it features high edges and generous fillings of cheese, meat, veggies, and a chunky tomato sauce. It’s a hearty meal on its own.
- Detroit-style: Born in the motor city, Detroit-style pizza is a rectangular, deep-dish pizza with a thick, crispy crust, often caramelized with melted cheese. It’s typically topped with Wisconsin brick cheese and finished with a tangy tomato sauce on top.
Beyond these regional variations, American Pizzaiolos also pushed the boundaries of tradition with their innovative toppings. From the ubiquitous pepperoni to the controversial pineapple, American pizzas became a canvas for culinary creativity, catering to a broad range of tastes nationwide.
How is American pizza different from Italian pizza?
One of the most significant differences lies in the quantity of cheese. American pizzas are known for their generous use of cheese, often resulting in a gooey, melted layer that covers the entire pie.
In contrast, traditional Italian pizza typically uses fresh, full-moisture mozzarella sparingly, allowing the other ingredients to shine.
The crust also varies between the two styles. While Italian pizza boasts a light, airy texture with a subtle flavor profile, American pizza leans towards a thicker, heartier crust that offers robust flavor.
The sauce used is another distinguishing factor. Authentic Italian pizzas often feature a light, less spicy sauce made from freshly picked tomatoes and garlic. American pizzas, on the other hand, tend to use a thicker, spicier sauce that adds an extra kick to each slice.
Finally, the approach to toppings sets these two styles apart. Italian pizzas are praised for their simplicity and balance, with the toppings distributed appropriately. American pizzas, however, adhere to the philosophy that “more is more,” piling on a variety of toppings generously.
Savoring traditional and American pizza at Brooklyn’s Best, Las Vegas
When it comes to tracking down the best pizza in Vegas, a stop at Brooklyn’s Best is a must. Our pizzeria offers an impressive array of pies, drawing on both traditional pizza and American pizza styles to create an unforgettable dining experience.
For those craving something classic, Grandma’s Pie is a standout choice. This thin, square-cut concoction is topped with mozzarella, tomatoes, garlic, and basil, providing a delightful blend of flavors that capture the essence of Italian cuisine.
On the other hand, those seeking a more Americanized twist might opt for the Buffalo chicken pizza, a spicy, tangy delight featuring buffalo chicken, cheese, and a drizzle of blue cheese or ranch dressing.
Brooklyn’s Best Pizza & Pasta has a rich history in Las Vegas, having built a reputation for delivering some of the city’s best pies. Our commitment to quality ingredients and artisanal techniques has made us a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
But our continual innovation and adaptation truly set Brooklyn’s Best apart. This pizzeria keeps up with the most popular pizza styles and incorporates popular pizza toppings to cater to a broad range of tastes. Whether you’re a purist or an adventurous eater, Brooklyn’s Best has something to satisfy every pizza craving.
Final thoughts on the history of pizza in America
Today, pizza is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States and can be found everywhere, from takeout restaurants to supermarket frozen food aisles. It has become an integral part of American culture, from movie nights and sports gatherings to birthdays.
So, next time you’re craving a slice, remember you’re taking a bite out of history.
Order from Brooklyn’s Best Pizza & Pasta, and experience the evolution of pizza in America for yourself.