Pizza Terminology 101

What the heck is a Pizzaiolo?

California-Style Pie 
Thin-crust pizza popularized by Chef Wolfgang Puck in the early 1980s and topped with fresh, gourmet, and often exotic (e.g., smoked salmon, goat cheese, peanut sauce) ingredients popular in California cuisine. Frequently experimental and pushing the traditional perception of what makes a pizza. 

Char 
The blackened, slightly burnt patches of crust resulting from high-heat ovens. People tend to really love it or hate it. Either way, it adds a bit of a smoky flavor to any pie. 

Chicago-Style 
Thin-to-medium crust baked in a high-sided oiled pan and stuffed with large quantities of cheese, toppings, and tomato sauce. These pizzas are more an actual pie than traditional flatbread. Varieties include deep dish (single crust) and stuffed (has a second crust on top). Eaten with a knife and fork instead of hands. 

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Cornicione 
The outer edge of a pizza. While “crust” can refer to any part of the breading, cornicione specifically refers to the typically raised circumference of the pie.  

Detroit-style 
Thick and crispy deep-dish, baked in a square pan (originally trays designed for small auto parts), with a crust that has an almost fried texture (a Chicago-style’s crust is more buttery and flaky).

Grandma Pie 
These pies are stretched fast and laid out on an oiled baking sheet, resulting in a thinner, chewier crust (as opposed to Sicilian pies, in which the dough is proofed, or allowed to sit until fluffy, before baking). They’re covered in wide slices of mozzarella and a sweet, homestyle sauce. 

Margherita Pie 
Named for Queen Margherita of Italy in the last part of the 19th century, this pie features a red sauce, mozzarella, and basil, representing the colors of the Italian flag. A Neapolitan-style Margherita uses San Marzano tomatoes and is cooked in a wood-fired oven. 

New York-Style 
Hand-tossed, thin-crust pies typically sold in large, wide slices. Uses a low-moisture mozzarella instead of fresh and tends to have more cheese (and sauce, for that matter) than a Neapolitan pie. Easily foldable and meant to be eaten one-handed. 

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Neapolitan-Style 
Small, approximately 12” diameter pizzas made with specific types of wheat flour, San Marzano tomatoes, and mozzarella di bufala from the Campania region of Italy. Minimally adorned and cooked fast, these traditional pies are served whole.

New Haven-Style 
Originating out of New Haven, CT, this style of pizza has a charred, oblong, thin crust and is generally topped with sauce, oregano, and grated Pecorino Romano instead of mozzarella (which is an optional topping). White clam is a popular variety.  

White Pizza 
The dough of a white, i.e., sauceless, pizza is lightly drizzled with olive oil and perhaps a little garlic, typically baked with ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan. 

Pizzaiolo 
A professional pizza-maker, especially one that makes Neapolitan-style pies. 

Sicilian Pizza 
Descended from the sfincione style of topped focaccia popular in Sicily, these pies are usually rectangular, with a crispy, chewy crust an inch-plus thick, have a slightly airy interior and may feature sauce above the cheese. 

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Undercrust 
The part of the crust under a pie that made direct contact with the oven base. 

VPN 
Vera Pizza Napoletana, or “true Neapolitan pizza,” is a designation bequeathed by the Naples-based Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (or one of its international subsidiaries). It certifies a pie that upholds rigorous traditional standards, covering everything from equipment and ingredients used to technique and appearance, down to the time and temperature of baking. Shops that pay their dues are then permitted to use the VPN name and logo in their marketing. 

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