Are you new to the pizza game and want to know what is brooklyn style pizza? Then look no further – we’ve got you covered with all you need to know about this delightful treat. Experience rich, savory tastes as your tongue delights in every single bite of a thin crust cooked just right; enjoy the perfectly balanced combination of tomato sauce, cheese, and hand-picked selections of toppings that make each piece unique. From its origins in New York City boroughs, learn how Brooklyn style pizza came to be a beloved favorite around the world today.
The Essence of Brooklyn-Style Pizza
What is Brooklyn Style Pizza?
Brooklyn-style pizza refers to a thin and crispy pizza with a generous pie size, usually ranging from 18 to 45 inches. Its distinguishing features include a thin crust and minimal toppings. This style can be contrasted with Chicago deep dish pizza, which is characterized by its “deep” layers of sauce and cheese and thick crusts.
The History and Evolution of Brooklyn-Style Pizza
While pizza existed in Italy for centuries, Brooklyn pizza as we know it emerged in the early 1900s when Italian immigrants brought their recipes to New York. Several establishments stake plausible claims as the first pizzeria in Brooklyn, most notably Lombardi’s in 1905 and Totonno’s in 1924, both still open today. These early pies had simple toppings like tomato, mozzarella, anchovy, and pecorino romano.
After World War II, returning GIs craved pizza, fueling an explosion of new Brooklyn pizzerias in the 1940s and 50s. Legends like Di Fara, opened in 1965, pioneered new techniques. Rather than well-done pies, they favored lighter, crisper crusts with fresh mozzarella and imported ingredients. This diverged from prevailing New York–style pizza with its thicker, chewier crust.
Over time, Brooklyn pizza developed its signature thin crust, sweet sauce, and moderate cheese. Toppings expanded, though purists insist simplicity showcases the pizza’s essence. Contemporary pizzerias may offer creative options, but stay true to traditional preparation methods. Brooklyn pizza continues evolving while remaining soulful, humble street food.
Defining Brooklyn-Style Pizza
So what sets Brooklyn pizza apart? The crust steals the spotlight. Stretched thin and baked briefly in a blazing oven, it emerges crispy yet pliable. This lightness allows faster baking, enabling high output at busy Brooklyn shops. A subtle char adds complexity. The crust manages to be both sturdy enough to support generous toppings and foldable for the quintessential New York slice.
The tomato sauce also distinguishes Brooklyn pizza. Canned San Marzano tomatoes contribute sweetness and brightness. Just enough sauce imparts flavor without sogginess. The cheese tread a middle ground between gooey New York–style mozzarella blankets and restrained Neapolitan sprinkles. Low-moisture mozzarella has enough fat for meltiness but avoids oiliness. Restraint allows components to shine.
Finally, balance ties everything together. The crust’s crispiness contrasts the rich tomato sauce and decadent cheese. No single element overpowers, creating perfect harmony in every bite. This nuanced simplicity defines Brooklyn pizza.
Ingredient Sourcing: Local vs. Imported
To make authentic Brooklyn pizza, ingredients matter. Most pizzerias get tomatoes from Italy, flour from local purveyors, and mozzarella from specialized makers. Fresh, high-quality ingredients ensure optimal flavor.
Some shops go further. For example, Paulie Gee’s uses local and seasonal items like farm eggs, ramps, and honey. Owner Paul Giannone sources his meat and produce locally whenever possible. This locavore approach connects Brooklyn pizza to its home.
Other pizzerias import ingredients to emulate the original Italian experience. Di Fara uses premium olive oil, sea salt, wheat flour, San Marzano tomatoes, and mozzarella from Italy. For owner Domenico DeMarco, these inputs guarantee quality and tradition. Aficionados believe importing is integral to authenticity.
In truth, excellent Brooklyn pizza can be made either way. What matters most is skillful preparation using first-rate ingredients, whether from Italy or Brooklyn. The love and craft make Brooklyn pizza special.
The Art of Brooklyn-Style Pizza
Crafting the Perfect Slice
Preparing Brooklyn-style pizza requires both adherence to tradition and creative flair. The process starts with hand stretching fresh dough into thin rounds. Extra virgin olive oil and tomatoes get spread before applying the mozzarella. The pies then bake for 5-10 minutes in ovens exceeding 500°F.
The most skilled pizzaolo (or pizza maker) can tease out the dough’s air bubbles and irregularities to form a flawless crust. Rotating pies mid-bake ensures even cooking. Judicious use of toppings prevents sogginess without skimping on flavor. Attending to details gives Brooklyn pizza its crisp base and balanced construction.
Once baked, the pizza emerges with subtle charring and a distinctive mottled cheese crust. The melted mozzarella firms up yet retains silkiness. After cooling briefly, the pie slices neatly for serving. Folding is encouraged! When done right, the process seems effortless, belying the artistry involved.
Dough, Sauce, and Toppings: The Holy Trinity
Mastering each component elevates Brooklyn pizza. For the crust, high-protein bread flour allows a thin yet sturdy base. Many recipes include olive oil for flavor and sugar for fermentation and browning. After kneading, the dough slowly proofs before getting hand stretched. This process develops the signature chew and char.
For sauce, canned San Marzano tomatoes offer bright acidity. Spices like garlic, basil, and oregano add depth but respect the tomatoes’ natural sweetness. The sauce clings to each slice while allowing the crust to shine.
Finally, full-fat low-moisture mozzarella strikes the right balance of gooiness and melt. Whole milk versions have even more richness. Some places blend mozzarella with Parmesan, pecorino Romano, or provolone for complexity. The cheese embodies Brooklyn pizza’s essence of moderation.
DIY Brooklyn-Style Pizza: Tips and Tricks
Want to make Brooklyn pizza at home? With a few tricks, you can mimic the pros. Getting the crust thin enough is tricky without a roller, so stretch it aggressively by hand. Proof the dough slowly for airiness. Opt for bread flour over all-purpose.
A pizza stone or steel can mimic the effects of a hot oven, so crank your oven as high as it will go. Place the stone on the top rack close to the heating element. Sprinkle cornmeal on the peel before assembling to allow easy sliding. Work quickly to get the pie into the oven before toppings make it soggy.
Use a rimless baking sheet if you lack a pizza peel. Transfer the stretched dough to the hot pan, then build and slide the whole thing onto the stone. Rotate the pie midway and pull it once browned. Let cool before slicing to allow the cheese to set. With practice, you can create marvelous Brooklyn pizza at home!
Serving and Savoring
The Traditional Way to Serve and Enjoy Brooklyn-Style Pizza
Brooklyn pizzerias have perfected the pizza eating experience. The classic way to serve a pie is whole for patrons to slice themselves. This allows customization of slice sizes and topping ratios. Simply slide the metal pizza peel under the pie to transfer between counter and table.
Then comes everyone’s favorite part – folding and eating! Use hands or forks to pick up a slice, holding it sideways. Fold the slice lengthwise to prevent floppiness and contain the cheese and toppings. Lean forward to catch any errant drips. Enjoy your foldable feast!
What to drink with Brooklyn pizza? Beer or soda are standard, as is a simple house red wine. Spicy ginger beer nicely cuts the cheese’s richness. Avoid pairing flavor-bomb wines that overpower the pizza’s delicate balance. Focus on the perfect synergy of crisp, chewy crust and sweet, bright sauce.
Some final tips: let slices cool a bit or use a fork so the molten cheese doesn’t burn your mouth. Don’t be afraid to double up for extra sauce coverage. When finished, dab grease with a napkin to minimize stains, and sniff your fingers to relish every last whiff.
With its refined carbs, cheese, oil, and sodium, Brooklyn pizza is not the most diet-friendly fare. A slice can easily contain 300 calories and 15 grams of fat. However, some tweaks let you indulge while limiting damage:
- Choose thin crust over deep dish and load up vegetables rather than meats.
- Opt for extra sauce in place of extra cheese.
- Mix in whole wheat flour for the crust.
- Pick part-skim mozzarella over full-fat.
- Drizzle olive oil lightly over the finished pie.
- Limit sodium intake elsewhere in your diet.
- Have just one or two slices rather than an entire pie.
- Avoid dipping crust in fatty sauces and dressings.
Those managing diabetes should balance pizza with non-starchy sides. Individuals limiting dairy can ask for cheese alternatives. With thoughtful choices, even those with restrictions can savor Brooklyn pizza!
Where to Experience Brooklyn-Style Pizza?
Iconic Brooklyn Pizzerias and Beyond
For the quintessential experience, visit Brooklyn’s most storied and beloved pizzerias. Totonno’s, Grimaldi’s, Di Fara, and L&B Spumoni Gardens are all classics. Explore neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Bushwick to discover a dynamic mix of traditional and new wave places.
Beyond Brooklyn, top destinations include Manhattan and Connecticut. Ribalta and Don Antonio by Starita bring Neapolitan-Brooklyn fusion to NYC. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven claims to have created the white clam pizza. Saucy bread crust at Sally’s Apizza also channels Brooklyn flair.
Across America, pizzerias emulate Brooklyn pizza in cities like Detroit, Chicago, LA, and Phoenix. Internationally, Naples and Tokyo have outposts that transport Brooklyn pizza overseas. Wherever you travel, keep an eye out for spots advertising “Brooklyn-style” on their menus!
Community Voices: Interviews and Stories
To fully appreciate Brooklyn pizza, talk to those behind the slices! Pizzaiolo interviews reveal insights into perfecting recipes and running these beloved community hubs. Regulars share stories of hosting out-of-town friends and family pizza tours. Kids describe patiently waiting their turn on weekends when lines stretch out the door.
Tweets and Instagram posts document the frenzy over new pizzeria openings. Online reviews enable debates over whether the newest spot measures up to the borough’s best. Oral histories from Italian American families chronicle the immigrant experience, with pizza as a central thread.
These voices enrich Brooklyn pizza, reminding us that it’s not just delicious baked dough, but a living culture fostering community and continuity. Preserving and amplifying these stories remains as important as maintaining hallowed recipes.
Classic Brooklyn-Style Pizza Recipe
While nothing beats the taste of Brooklyn-style pizza from a pizzeria, you can also make your own at home. Here’s a classic recipe that will satisfy your cravings:
- 1 pound pizza dough (homemade or store-bought)
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Toppings of your choice (such as pepperoni, mushrooms, and black olives)
- Preheat your oven to 500°F.
- Roll out the pizza dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the dough, leaving about half an inch of crust around the edges.
- Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over the sauce, followed by your desired toppings.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crust is crispy and cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Let cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.
Conclusion: What Is Brooklyn Style Pizza
Far more than a meal, Brooklyn-style pizza embodies the spirit of a community and its heritage. This succulent staple has nourished generations of Brooklynites, whether born in the borough or adopted into its extended family. The local pizzerias serve up not just cheesy satisfaction, but a sense of home. That inviting, familiar flavor beckons the world over. Each new pizzeria inspired by Brooklyn pizza continues its legacy – one perfect, foldable slice at a time.
Bobby Kelly is a bartender at Molly Magees, an Irish pub in Mountain View. He’s been working there for two years and has developed a following among the regulars. Bobby is known for his friendly demeanor and great drink specials. He loves interacting with customers and making them feel welcome. When he’s not at work, Bobby enjoys spending time with his friends and family.