New Yorkers are living in a "golden age of pizza."
That's how Scott Wiener, 35, a self-described "professional pizza enthusiast" who founded his namesake pizza tour company almost 10 years ago, sees it.
"A few years ago, there was the risk of losing the identity of New York-style pizza, because New York slice shops were disappearing," Wiener said in October, a.k.a. National Pizza Month. "But now, not only are they coming back, but we’ve got all these new styles."
"New York seems like the great melting pot of pizza culture," added the Flatbush resident, whose pizza tours include walks across Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side and Downtown Brooklyn.
Below you'll find a guide to the regional pizza styles available at the fundraiser as well as at pizzerias around the city, from the homegrown New York variety to the Midwestern-born deep dish.
The history: When Italians first started making pizza in America, they opened their businesses in old bakeries outfitted with coal ovens, Wiener said. At the turn of the 20th century, most ovens burned coal, which was a cheaper fuel than wood at the time.
The signature characteristics: There's visible charring on a coal-oven pizza crust, but "no leopard spots" or big bubbles, Wiener explained. The rounded edge of the pie isn't much puffier than the center. The dough is made with salt, flour, water and yeast.
The price: A pie, typically 18 inches in diameter, feeds two to three people and costs around $20.
Where to find it: Arturo's (106 W Houston St., Greenwich Village), Lombardi's (32 Spring St., NoLIta), and Juliana's (1 Front St., DUMBO)
New York-style pizza
The history: This style of pizza, synonymous with New York and its nightlife, evolved in the early 1940s as natural gas ovens became increasingly available, Wiener said.
The signature characteristics: A triangular slice of this pizza variety is typically floppier than its coal-oven counterpart, and its crust is more golden in color. That's because slice joints, in an effort to increase turnover rates, add sugar to their dough to make it rise faster and oil to make it stretchier. As for the cheese, pizzaioli usually cover their pies with low-moisture, shredded mozzarella.
The price: A single cheese slice usually costs between $2.75 and $3. (Gone are the days when a $1 would cover your tab.) A 20-inch pie that feeds between three and four people costs about $20.
Where to find it: Joe's Pizza (7 Carmine St., Greenwich Village), NY Pizza Suprema (413 8th Ave., midtown), Scarr's (22 Orchard St., Lower East Side)
The history: Neapolitan pizza, a revival of the Old World-style of pizza making in Naples, came onto the New York scene in the early aughts, but didn't pick up a following until after the 2008 economic recession, according to Wiener. "That set the stage for this fancy pizza to get a chance," because Neapolitan pies might be more expensive than their Italian-American cousins, but they're cheaper than swanky steakhouse meals.
The signature characteristics: This pizza is baked in wood-fired ovens for about 60 to 90 seconds, which makes it relatively soft. The rim of the crust is distinguished by its puffiness and black spots.
The price: A pie between 12 and 13 inches in diameter serves one and costs $15 on average.
Where to find it: Kesté Pizza & Vino (271 Bleecker St., West Village), Sottocasa (298 Atlantic Ave., Cobble Hill; 227 Lenox Ave., Harlem), San Matteo (1739 Second Ave., Upper East Side)
Square pan pizza
The history: New York City pizzerias have been serving homemade-style pan pizzas since the 1970s, Wiener said, but demand for the "Grandma" style (pictured) has picked up significantly over the past 10 years.
The signature characteristics: To begin, we have to distinguish between two types of pan pizza -- the Grandma and the Sicilian. "The Grandma pizza is when you push the dough out in the pan but you don't let it rise before you top it and bake it, and a Sicilian pizza, you do let it rise," Wiener said. "The Sicilian is more of a bread, and the Grandma is thinner and more dense." The order of toppings on a Grandma pizza is usually cheese, then tomato sauce on top; it's the opposite for a Sicilian pie.
The price: A slice costs $3.50 between $4.50. An entire pie costs on average $26.
Where to find it: Prince Street Pizza (27 Prince St., NoLIta), It Porto (37 Washington Ave., Clinton Hill), The House of Pizza & Calzone (132 Union St., Carroll Gardens)
The history: This style hit New York City tables not long after its predecessor. "Neo-Neapolitan takes the best characteristics from Neapolitan -- like the wood-fired, the artisanal funky charred crust -- but it makes them sturdier ... and it changes up the toppings," Wiener said. It puts no restrictions on a chef's creativity.
The signature characteristics: The dough for a neo-Neapolitan crust blends different kinds of flours, some with a higher protein content, which strengthens it. Pizzerias also bake these pies for two and a half minutes, on average. You can order yours with non-traditional sauces and toppings like hot honey and Brussel sprouts.
The price: Like its Neapolitan cousin, a 12- to 13-inch plain pie for one person costs between $14 and $15.
Where to find it: Roberta's (261 Moore St., Bushwick), Paulie Gee's (60 Greenpoint Ave., Greenpoint), Motorino (349 E. 12th St., East Village)
Roman-style pizza al taglio
The history: This type of pizza, commonly served by the slice for lunch in Rome, gained currency in New York through mega-markets like Eataly and Whole Foods.
The signature characteristics: The dough of a pizza al taglio has a higher water content than the average. Some are baked in a pan or directly on the floor of the oven. The long rectangular or oblong pizzas are thicker and puffier, and are usually sold by the weight or length with high-end ingredients. They're cut with a pair of scissors, rather than a wheel cutter, and often sold at room temperature.
The price: A slice goes for $4 to $4.50.
Where to find it: Fornino (849 Manhattan Ave., Williamsburg), My Pie (690 Lexington Ave., Upper East Side), Eataly NYC Downtown (101 Liberty St #4, Financial District)
Chicago-style deep-dish pizza
The history: If you can even call this Chicago-born cheesy casserole "pizza," it generated some local hype when Lake Forest native Emmett Burke started serving it at his SoHo establishment in 2014.
The signature characteristics: Deep-dish pizza is baked in a pan, with a thick, buttery crust that makes it more pie- than flatbread-like. The oil in the pan fries the edges of the crust and the toppings are usually layered on an inverted order: cheese lining the bottom, meat and vegetables in the middle, and tomato sauce covering the top.
The price: A $22 plain medium pie serves two to three people at Emmett's
Where to find it: Emmett's (50 MacDougal St., Greenwich Village), Big Al's Chicago Style Pizza (9 Thames St., Financial District), Uno's (various locations)