The Unorthodox Epicure — New York-style Pizza

I first ate New York-style pizza in 1978 in my local mall. But I didn’t know it at the time.

In fact, that was a treat (as was going to the mall — my how times have changed). In our small northeast Texas town, we had Pizza Hut, Pizza Inn, Shakey’s (the place with the piano player) and Pizza King, which was a local joint with pizza made similarly to the way the homers do it in St. Louis. Naturally, Pizza King was our go-to place, since it was cheaper than the chains.

Pepperoni and black olive from my own baking steel.

Pepperoni and black olives from my own baking steel. Bada bing!

Fast-forward to my 1990s move to New Jersey, where the mass-produced stuff was rarely available and mom & pop dives were the places that specialized in big slices of Heaven. Nope. These local joints didn’t produce a cracker-style crust like the pizza I grew up on, but … wow. What works of art!

The thin crispy-chewy crust of a true New York-style pie is a veritable canvas on which fresh tomato sauce, house-made cheese, raw vegetables and artisan (nowadays anyway) meats complete the masterpiece. As I’ve mentioned before, I prefer mine with eggplant — fried, grilled, marinated — it doesn’t matter. But no matter how you slice it, the New Yorkers have the upper hand over the fine folks from St. Louis — and any chain — when it comes to foldable melty goodness.

A note on stones and steel
I used a baking stone for New York-style pizza for years until recently, when I switched over to carbon steel. Why? Well, most of the science aside, carbon steel transfers heat more effectively than stone in a home oven. The result: a crispier crust with a chewier interior, and nice char — similar to the pizza you’d get from a good pizza parlor. I still use my stone for other baking purposes, but steel is now my pizza making thing. You can find either online or at cookware retailers.

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New York-style Pizza

Pizza Margherita — Simple. Divine.

Pizza Margherita — Simple. Divine.

5.0 from 2 reviews
New York-style Pizza
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
For each pie
  • 1 recipe – Homemade pizza dough (or 14-inch pre-made crust)
  • 1½ cups – Pizza sauce (recipe below)
  • 2-3 cups – Shredded cheese (I prefer three parts shredded mozzarella to about one part each of smoked provolone, Asiago and Romano)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Your choice of toppings
Pizza Sauce – (per 14-inch pizza)
  • 1½ cups – Canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp - Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp - Red pepper flakes
    Combine ingredients. No need to cook.
  1. Preheat oven to 500F. If using a stone or carbon steel sheet, preheat about an hour before you bake your pizza.
  2. Make the dough. Roll out to about 14 inches round. Allow rolled dough to rest for about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Place dough on a peel that's been dusted with cornmeal, or place in a pizza pan.
  4. Brush entire crust liberally with olive oil; add sauce; then add cheese and your favorite toppings.
  5. If you are baking on stone, carefully slide uncooked pizza onto it. Otherwise, place pizza (in pan) on middle rack of preheated oven.
  6. Bake until crust begins to char and cheese is browned and bubbly – about 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Topping ideas
Thinly-sliced eggplant, brushed or sprayed w/ olive oil
Thinly-sliced tomato
Torn Basil, about 3 leaves per pie
Garlic, roughly chopped
Traditional meats – pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, ground beef, meatballs, etc.
Traditional veggies – Onions, sweet peppers*, black/green olives, etc.
*Sweet peppers tend to hold a lot of water and it will not evaporate effectively unless sliced super thin (lunch meat-thin).

Pizza Margherita (pictured)
12 oz - Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
3-4 - Fresh Basil leaves, torn
Pizza Sauce




  1. Dang. I really want pizza now! I do believe this is what I’ll be having for dinner tomorrow night (I’d make it tonight, but we’re having homemade mac & cheese at my son’s request).

  2. Your pizza looks divine; I also love eggplant! My husband is from Brooklyn and swears that the water makes New York style pizza crust what it is; have you ever heard that theory? If that’s the case I’ll never fine tune my NY dough here in Alabama!! I have tried a few times to recreate it but can’t seem to quite get there.

    • adamjholland says:

      We’ll never get there, Shea. (My wife is from the Bronx.) — It’s that damn dirty water from the Hudson River! ;-)

  3. Load mine up with anything and everything! I just don’t think any chain can beat a Mom & Pop pizza joint and certainly nothing even comes close to homemade. All of these suggestions look super although I’m partial to sausage or certainly bacon. I usually make a white pizza with caramelized onions as the base rather than tomato sauce. Have you ever tried that? Load it up with mozzarella, sprinkle the parm on top at the end…yum!

    • adamjholland says:

      Sounds good to me, Diane! (Never tried it that way, although I did have some very similar in the mid-90s at California Pizza Kitchen.)

      • Yes, that’s where I first tried it myself . I like pizza with a tomato based sauce but we’ve got quite a few good places around here that do those so when I make my own I tend toward something that I can’t easily find.

  4. Well, I’ve got you beat, in my small Kansas town we had a Pizza Hut, Pizza Inn, a local Pizza joint AND a Taco Tico. I don’t know if I’ve ever had NY style pizza.

  5. I’ve never thought of eggplant on pizza and while it sounds delish – that sausage one is just what I need right now, at 9:30 on a Monday night! :) It all looks fantastic.

    • adamjholland says:

      Oh, Kelli! You? You’ve never thought of eggplant on a pizza? Dang! (It’s good! But so is sausage!) Glad you stopped by and hope all is well.

  6. Kathleen Sturgis says:

    I’ve lived all but one year of my life in NYC, so NY pizza is all I knew most of my life. My preference is onion and mushroom, maybe fresh garlic. Eggplant would definitely work. So does spinach.

    I live in Staten Island now, with a pizza place on virtually every block. Lots of competition makes for great pizza. Natives argue over which is the best. Denino’s gets my vote, but Joe & Pat’s, and Brothers are both right up there. I met someone from Hawaii who had heard of Denino’s!

    As for the water, I’ve heard that too. There’s a pizza place in Cobleskill NY that brings up water from NYC (Cobleskill and the surrounding areas have sulphur water – not good for pizza) and makes great pizza for a place not in NYC.

    • adamjholland says:

      Thanks for the reviews, Kathleen. I’ll make sure that my wife doesn’t see them, else we’ll be driving all over NYC next time we’re up there. ;-)

  7. I have been very curious about carbon steel plates. I will check it out. I like my crust very crispy!

    • adamjholland says:

      Carbon steel is the way to go. As sad as I was to remove the stone from the oven, the carbon steel just produces a superior pizza crust. (I’ve been working on pizza crusts for years with various techniques/flours.) If you need a recommendation for a company that sells a nice piece of steel at a reasonable price, with top-notch customer service, visit Dough-Joe. The company is a one-man operation and he makes you feel like you’re his only customer.

  8. Oooh I missed this one the first time you posted it! I want to reach right through that screen and devour that pizza! (Although I know it is LONG gone…)

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