Pizza Wars: Can These Out Of Towners Compete With The NYC Slice?

by BILLY GRAY · November 5, 2009

    Even the most stubborn New Yorkers concede that there are a few foods (such as Mexican and barbecue) that the city just can't seem to master. Certainly, pizza has never been one of them. But that hasn't stopped out of town pie slingers from challenging the stranglehold that thin-crust, Neapolitan-style slices have on the marketplace.

    New Haven: Despite being a breeding ground for high crime rates and insufferable Yalies, New Haven does lay claim to some impressive pizza history. Now, Pepe's, the original New Haven pizzeria, appears to be making a move on New York as it opens a spin-off in nearby Yonkers. Clam pies, exceptionally chewy crusts and, most egregiously, a reluctance to pile on the mozzarella are hallmarks of a Pepe's pie. And while New Yorkers are understandably weary of Connecticut transplants, word of mouth suggests these pies might be worth a try.

    Chicago: Wise Chicagoans don't believe you can ever have too much of a good thing. For proof, witness their treatment of two New York favorites: hot dogs (on a poppy seed bun and topped with mustard, onion, relish, pickles, tomatoes slices, peppers and cucumber slices) and pizza (famously served deep dish-style, with up to a three inch crust). Outside of Pizzeria Uno chain outlets, a proper deep dish pizza is nearly impossible to find in New York. And as much as we enjoy our local specialty, we'll admit that a legit Second City alternative would be welcome.

    California: SoCal's mellow health nuts were ahead of the curve in bringing yoga, smoking bans and locavorism to the masses. California-style pizza was popularized by Wolfgang Puck in his celeb-studded Spago. More or less a normal pie topped with unorthodox gourmet ingredients (from goat cheese and duck sausage to smoked salmon crème fraîch), this type of pizza, like Chicago's, hasn't really made inroads beyond mediocre, suburbanesque chains (such as California Pizza Kitchen) randomly deposited in midtown.