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31 Regional Pizza Styles

Encompassing newer Italian imports as well as famous rivalries (New York vs. Chicago, anyone?) and lesser-known specialties like Omaha-style pizza and Colorado Mountain pies, here's a guide to the regional pizza styles of the U.S.

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New York Style: Joe's Pizza

Found on nearly every street corner in the city and most pizzerias throughout the United States, New York's thin, gas-cooked rounds are what many Americans think of when they think of pizza. These classic pies and individual slices are both crisp and chewy, ideal for folding in half and gobbling up on the go. Grab one at Joe's Pizza in Greenwich Village. The small shop moved a couple of blocks from its original location in 2005 and has debuted three additional outposts, but it still serves the same iconic slices with bright sauce and gooey cheese that it has since 1975, at just $3 a pop.

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Neapolitan: Ribalta

Neapolitan pizza is serious business. The style has its own certification, Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN), from an organization that specifies which ingredients, equipment and pizza-making methods can be used. Ribalta is one of the two VPN-designated pizzerias in New York City. It allows its dough (just flour, water, salt and natural yeast) to mature for at least 72 hours before it's coated with a sauce of imported tomatoes and Buffalo mozzarella and tossed in an 800- to 900-degree wood-burning oven for 60 to 90 seconds. It gets just a sprinkling of fresh basil when it comes out. That strict method of preparation results in a puffy exterior crust, called a cornicione, with a nice crunch, as well as a flavorful center that droops down with bright sauce and salty cheese.

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Photo: Michael Uzmann

New York Neapolitan: Totonno's

Since 1905, when Gennaro Lombardi started slinging America's first coal-fired pies in his namesake Little Italy pizzeria, New York City has been known as a coal-pizza town. Three of Lombardi's acolytes opened their own iconic coal-oven shops — John's, Patsy's and Totonno's — and all are still firing pies today. Each drew from the tenets of Neapolitan pizzerias, searing thin crusts in scorching ovens and topping them with a generous spread of fresh mozzarella and San Marzano tomato sauce. But these pies have a thinner crust and crisper bottom and, like most foods in the U.S., come in a bigger portion than their Italian predecessor. Try one at this Coney Island institution, where the pies created with daily-made, never-refrigerated dough are sold to adoring fans until the day's batch has sold out.

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Sicilian: L&B Spumoni Gardens

There are two things most people tend to know about Sicilian pizza: It's square, and it has a thick, crumbly crust. Before it hits the oven, the dough is proofed for a long time to give it a light and airy texture with a nice crumb. Though it's one of the least popular styles of pizza in New York City, it's one of the best when done well. L&B has been creating Sicilian converts since 1939. The three-in-one Bensonhurst pizzeria, restaurant and ice cream shop's rectangular pies retain their springy crust by using a layer of gooey mozzarella as a buffer between the dough and the sweet, garlicky tomato sauce. The whole crimson sheet gets sprinkled with salty flakes of Parmesan.

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