What Makes New England-Style Pizza Unique?

What makes New England-style pizza unique? That's a loaded question. New Englanders take their pizza seriously. While pizza lovers around the world may tout the superiority of Chicago deep-dish, versus authentic Neapolitan pizza, New Englanders give a respectful nod to those iconic pies, but deep down inside they know New England-style pizza is the best.

That's because, despite an abundance of pizza-chain offerings, most New Englanders grew up eating pizza from the bar on the corner or the pizzeria down the street — family-run institutions where the secret recipe is passed through generations. Which is why the definition of New England-style varies from neighborhood to neighborhood and state to state. While some sources, like Taste Atlas, tie all New England-style pizza into one tidy bundle, insisting it's Greek-style pizza introduced to the region by Greek immigrants, that's only part of the story.

Let's start there. According to Restaurant Clicks, Greek-style pizza is defined by its cooking method, which differs significantly from Italian-style pizza. The dough is cooked on a flat, round pan, so the crust is similar to focaccia. And there's olive oil, lots of olive oil — under the crust, on the crust, on the top. And then there's the cheese, usually a blend of mozzarella, provolone, and cheddar. That Greek-style influence is the jumping-off point for what makes New England-style pizza unique.

The rest of the story

Another New England-style pizza is bar pizza. Similar to Greek-style pizza in that it's pan-cooked and incorporates a hefty portion of cheddar in its cheese blend, bar pizza is a Greater Boston, specifically the South Shore, favorite (via New England Today). Its fans swear by its signature crust, extra crispy — no droopy flop at the point —because it's cooked in small circular pans. And it's always served as one pizza per person (via Edible South Shore). 

It's okay to swap a slice or two, but when you're ordering single-serve is the rule. Oh, and the one true way to know you're getting authentic bar pizza? The pan. You'll know you've hit the gold standard if the pan is old and worn by decades of use, a sure sign you're getting one of the original New England bar pizzas. But bar pizza isn't the only New England-style pizza. 

Other variations unique to New England, according to Edible South Shore, include New Haven Pizza. Also known as "apizza," it's a charred-crust version of New York-style pizza. Take note — mozzarella is considered an add-on topping, so order appropriately. Salisbury Beach Pizza is served in rectangles — so four sides of crust — and topped with provolone cheese. And then we have Rhode Island Pizza Strips that feature slabs of dough with a thick topping of tomato sauce and sometimes the topping of choice is a bakery item.

What makes New England-style pizza unique? As we said, that's a loaded question.