Rocco DiSpirito Names The Biggest Mistake Chains Are Making With New York-Style Pizza - Exclusive

Perhaps no pizza is more iconic than a $1 New York slice, though Food & Wine reports that the Big Apple's pizza is now over a dollar (thanks so much, inflation). For those of us outside the city, plenty of other food chains are trying to perfect the style on their menus — but is it really the same? For instance, New York-style pizza has been attempted by both Pizza Hut and Papa John's, although whether they successfully managed to create a true New York-style pizza is up for debate. Luckily, Rocco DiSpirito is here to explain the disparities.

In an exclusive interview at the Sun Wine and Food Fest, the celebrity chef sat down with Tasting Table to talk about all things pizza (and to give us a multitude of cooking tips, of course). According to The Spruce Eats, New York-style pizza was originally cooked in a coal-fired oven and consists of sugar, olive oil, high-gluten bread flour, yeast, and some water. The tomato sauce is well seasoned and topped with grated, low-moisture mozzarella. So how does that differ from what chain restaurants are doing? The answer, according to DiSpirito, is in the source of one important ingredient.

NYC tap water has minerals

Pizza is more than the sum of its ingredients, but when it comes to replicating a favorite recipe, those ingredients matter. "The biggest mistake people make with pizza in general is that they don't have the water or the flour that [is] required to make pizza amazing," Rocco DiSpirito said, adding that making a great New York or Naples pizza requires three elements: air, water, and flour. In particular, he claimed that New York water is key to a city-inspired slice.

What is so different about New York City water, you ask? It's said to carry minerals that enhance the flavor and texture of the traditional pizza crust. DiSpirito seems to agree. "If you're not using Italian flour, for example, and you don't have New York water, which has a lot of minerals in it, you're not going to get the same results," he said. 

The fast food chains emulating these pizzas also fail to account for the way in which New York-style pizza is served, offering an 18-inch pie rather than selling it by the slice, which is what makes the city's offering so unique. Of course, it's not practical for every restaurant to serve by the slice or potentially ship water from out of town, so DiSpirito advised restaurants against trying to copy a New York-style pie and suggested they work on their own niches instead. And if you're looking for an authentic New York-style pizza, grab a slice when you're in town, but otherwise — don't be surprised if a version from elsewhere doesn't seem quite the same.

Keep up with Rocco DiSpirito's latest projects on his Instagram page. For more information about the Sun Wine and Food Fest, visit Mohegan Sun's website.