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A Detroit-style pizza at Ramona

The lowdown on pizza styles and where to find them

Published: June 6, 2022 at 10:44 am
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Dumbfounded by Detroit? New to Neapolitan? Let us break down those pizza styles, slice by slice, plus where to find them across the UK

Read on to find out about the many different styles of pizza, then check out the best pizza restaurants in the UK and our classic pizza recipe.

Once, pizza was simple: it was flat and round, occasionally deep-dish and sometimes had a stuffed crust. But recently Britain has undergone a pizza revolution, with a new wave of hip restaurants pushing niche pizza, from al taglio squares to New York slices.

It can seem bewildering, but no more – read on for your ultimate pizza primer. Tuck in!


Detroit-style pizza

Served in rectangular slices, Detroit-style pizza has a thick, focaccia-like base that’s topped, in reverse order, with meat, cheese and an intense, cooked tomato sauce (hence its nickname, ‘red top’).

Where to try Detroit-style pizza: Ramona, Manchester

Fittingly for a pizza originally baked in shallow steel trays that were used in Detroit’s car factories, the Manchester exponent of this style occupies a former MOT garage. Co-founder Dan Mullen describes Ramona’s take as an “artisan approach” to Detroit pizza, inspired by a Californian second wave that in recent years has taken the style in a fresh, gastro-nerd direction. Ramona’s toppings – “We make everything in-house,” says Dan – include pancetta, pineapple and thyme, or salami, ’nduja, sweet peppers and homemade hot honey that adds “richness, acidity, heat”. Some of Ramona’s slices come garnished with scooped ricotta or pecorino snowdrifts, because you can never have too much cheese – least of all with Detroit pizza, which develops “a crispy crust of cheese around the edge as it caramelises to the pan. The corner is the slice you fight over”. Slices from £5, takemetoramona.com

Other places to try:

A Detroit-style pizza at Ramona

Neapolitan-style pizza

Very few British pizzerias adhere to the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana’s exacting rules (Herne Bay’s A Casa Mia is one exception; acasamia.co.uk). But many, says George Leigh, chief pizza geek at Otto, are “strongly influenced by its spirit rather than the law”.

Where to try Neapolitan-style pizza: Otto, Lichfield

Using fiercely hot Gianni Acunto ovens, Otto’s three Midlands restaurants produce authentically thin, soft, pliable pizza, the bases swollen and blistered at the cornicione rim. Neapolitans would recognise Otto’s careful use of high-quality toppings and crushed (not cooked) Italian tomato sauce. But, at the same time, George likes to see delicious spots of so-called ‘leopard’ char on Otto’s bases, which would be unorthodox in Naples. Otto’s kitchens also use British cheeses and charcuterie in distinctive combinations, such as chorizo, ’nduja, mozzarella and honey, or roast squash, coppa, mascarpone and crispy sage. “Ferment slow, cook fast” is the motto, says George, whose 90-second cooked sourdough bases prove for 72 hours to unlock the dough’s character. Good neo-Neapolitan pizza involves coaxing layers of flavour from simple ingredients. “The longer I make pizza,” says George, “the more I see how much complexity there is in simplicity. There’s nowhere to hide.” Pizza from £9.50, ottopizza.uk

Other places to try:

A Neapolitan-style pizza at Otto

Al taglio pizza

There are two types of Roman pizza: the familiar round al tondo, and al taglio, served in rectangular slices. These, explains Mike Davies, co-founder of Peckham’s Mike’s, are then “generously topped, often with things that go on after the bake, like charcuterie or fresh cheese”.

Where to try al taglio pizza: Mike’s, London SE15

*Unfortunately, Mike's pizza has now closed* Cooked in large teglia trays, an al taglio slice should “hold when you lift it – the challenge is incorporating a super-crisp underside and a light, airy bubble structure [into the base], while keeping it strong enough to hold plenty of toppings, without being over-thick”. It’s a task that Mike’s chef, Francesco Canzani, has mastered, to the extent that its rosso slice (tomato sauce, home-dried oregano and confit garlic oil), is a big hit on Mike’s sun-trap terrace. “It’s a perfect representation of the work that’s gone into making the slowly fermented dough taste as it does,” says Mike. Other flavours recently wowing regulars include a tomato-sauce-free white pizza with caramelised leeks, baked prosciutto and gorgonzola cream; and a salsa verde, piquillo pepper and tuna slice. Slices from £3, mikespeckham.co.uk

Other places to try:

Mike’s pizza joint in London

Britalian pizza

Is British pizza a thing? Increasingly, yes. The Britalian bunch includes a broad church of pizza perfectionists who vibe off British seasonal produce or global flavours of UK food, to create pizza far removed from its Italian origin. Think of the smoked potato, black garlic vinaigrette and miso mayo umami bomb at Bertha’s in Bristol, or Crate Brewery’s Kashmiri dhal pizza in London.

Where to try Britalian pizza: Great British Pizza, Margate

In Margate, Great British Pizza uses a “really zingy” slow-cooked tomato sauce (instead of Neapolitan-style crushed toms), and toppings range from Cobble Lane Cured wagyu beef salami with horseradish cream, rocket and parmesan; to sprouts, chestnuts and pancetta. “From day one, we knew we weren’t creating authentic Neapolitan or Roman pizza,” says co-founder Lisa Richards. “That gave us the opportunity to play with flavours. Big, gutsy British flavours were something we were passionate about. But we just love food – especially, at the moment, Korean and Middle Eastern. It’s fun to top pizza with stuff we love. I could eat tahini on anything.” Pizza from £6, greatbritishpizza.com

Other places to try:

Great British Pizza’s vibrant Margate location, which puts out ‘Britalian’ pies featuring British seasonal produce; P

New York slice

In Moseley, Jack Richards and Dann Matheson are taking the classic New York slice – crisp XXL triangles with cheese-forward toppings – and doing it their way. This is a very New York attitude. In Brooklyn, every element of pizza is debatable. For example, some pizzerias use a cooked tomato sauce, to which they might add garlic or sugar; others use a fresh, uncooked, simply seasoned sauce.

Where to try New York slices: Peacer, Birmingham

Peacer splits the difference, using an uncooked marinara with salt and oregano: “It’s got a sweet, tangy punch,” says Jack. Peacer’s lower-hydration dough has been fine-tuned using long, cold fermentation to create a sturdy, aerated base bursting with flavour (note: New York slices shouldn’t flop about much). More unusually, Peacer’s toppings are meat- and fish-free. “I don’t think you’ll find many traditional New York shops that use halloumi,” says Dann, who quit eating meat seven years ago. Creating arresting pizza without meat requires fastidious scratch-cooking. “I’ve yet to try a bottled BBQ sauce that works as well as making one,” says Jack. This ensure Peacer’s combos of confit garlic cream, house pesto, mushrooms and rocket; or blue cheese, buffalo sauce and crispy fried onions, remain vivid. Slices from £3.50, peacer.co.uk

Other places to try:

Peacer’s meat-free New York-style slices

Another slice? More pizza styles to get across

Chicago deep-dish pizza

Imagine pizza dough shaped like a tart case (more pie than flatbread), with its buttery crust deep-filled with ingredients. Try at Japes, London W1, japes.uk


Grandma pizza

Like Detroit-style, this is a cousin of focaccia-like Sicilian sfincione, this time created by Long Island grandmas cooking pizza in oiled trays at home. It’s cheese first, with tomato sauce on top. Try at Civerinos Forrest Road branch, Edinburgh, civerinosslice.com

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Montanara pizza

Naples is not just about wood-fired pizza – it also gave the world pizza fritta, or montanara, in which the dough is fried in oil and topped. It can also be folded to include anything from ricotta to pork scratchings, then fried. Try at A’do’RE Fritto, London NW1, adorefritto.com

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Californian-style pizza

A fresher flip on pizza. Expect free-ranging use of incredible seasonal produce and zingy flavours: chillies, rocket, olives, anchovies, parma ham, goat’s cheese and roast tomatoes. Try at Pizzeria Mozza, London W1, pizzeriamozza.com

The light and airy counter at Pizzeria Mozza, reflecting its refreshing take on pizza

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