What Makes Brooklyn-Style Pizza So Unique?

When you think about pizza, it doesn't take much time for New York to come to mind. There's a historical reason 'za and the Big Apple are inextricably linked. The city's pizza empire started in 1905 when Spring Street grocer Gennaro Lombardi began selling slices inspired by recipes from the kitchens of New York's Italian immigrants (per Eater). Lombardi's Neapolitan-American pizza (with thin crust, modest tomato sauce, and fresh mozzarella) evolved into the famed New York-style pizza many know and love today. Peter Parker even works delivering pizzas for the iconic New York City haunt Joe's Pizza in "Spider-Man 2".

Native New Yorker Anthony Bourdain famously theorized, "I think everybody's pizza box or plate ends up looking pretty similar, all the sauce and cheese eaten out of the center, and who gets left behind, the crust" (via First We Feast). But, many other New Yorkers might proffer a different view — in the city, it seems, pizza can be a very personal matter. Pizza is a major part of the city's zeitgeist. From Sicilian-style with its square slices and thick crust (per Food Network) to the dollar slice at your local 24-hour spot, the city is home to countless different types of pizza. But, one type that you might be unfamiliar with is Brooklyn-style pizza. What makes it unique? And why is its reputation so contentious amongst locals?

It's all about the crust and toppings

According to Restaurant Clicks, "Brooklyn-style" was first used to describe pizza in 2006 by — believe it or not — fast-food pizza giant Domino's. At the time, Domino's advertised the Brooklyn-style pizza as having the thinnest crust of all time, with baked-in cornmeal. The New York Times fact-checked the validity of Domino's geographical namesake product by taking a trip to Coney Island and comparing its pizza to a real-deal Brooklyn pie. (The resemblance? Not even close.) Eater even calls Brooklyn-style pizza more of a "particular aesthetic" than a recipe.

But, Brooklyn-style is enjoyed much the same way as other New York pizzas. "The Encyclopedia of New York City: Second Edition," edited by Kenneth T. Jackson, says the unique flavor of a New York-style pie might come from the city's tap water. A proper New York slice, it observes, is typically folded in half while devoured. According to Bacinos, the hallmark of a Brooklyn-style slice is a thin crust and more simplistic toppings. The dough is stretched thin, it says, which creates a crispy crust and a larger pie, typically between 18 to 45 inches. Also, a Brooklyn-style pie uses a half-mozzarella-half-provolone blend — about a 45% to 55% ratio, respectively. If you're hungry to try out a slice for yourself, give one of Brooklyn's many famed pizza shops a visit, like Roberta's in Bushwick, Paulie Gee's in Greenpoint, and Grimaldi's on Front Street. Your tastebuds will thank you.