Spend any time with the pizza-obsessed managers and restaurateurs cited in these pages, and you’re bound to hear a few unfamiliar words. Most Amarilloans can differentiate between Canadian bacon and regular bacon, but that’s usually the extent of our pizza knowledge. A limited primer:
Cornicione: The end crust, or “lip,” of a pizza. Most people hold a pizza by its cornicione (pronounced cornee-CHO-nay), but would get laughed out of the buffet line if they actually called it that.
Char: The tiny, flavorful, much-desired, and rarely seen burn marks on the bottom of a pizza crust.
California-style: Pizza with a thinner crust and non-traditional toppings, like goat cheese, artichokes or spinach.
Chicago-style: Also known as “deep dish.” Chicago-style pizza has high corniciones – tall, doughy end crusts that contain heavy amounts of sauce, cheese and toppings. Best eaten with a knife and fork.
Connecticut-style: This dish originated in New Haven, Conn., and is based on the Neapolitan style. It has a thinner crust with a chewy texture. Cooked at high temperatures, it is drier than a New York pizza and features substantial char.
Margarita: A popular Neapolitan pizza made with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. The red, green and white call to mind the flag of Italy.
Neapolitan-style: The most traditional style of pizza, originating in the wood-fired brick ovens of Naples, Italy. These have a light crust, thick cornicione, and more sauce than cheese.
New York-style: A large pizza with a thin, soft, flexible crust. Usually sold in wide slices, then folded in half, length-wise, before being eaten.
Pan Pizza: The most popular approach to pizza crust, existing in a middle ground between thin crust and a deep dish. This crust style was first popularized by Pizza Hut.
Peel: The large, shovel-like baking spatula used to slide a pizza into a hot oven.
Proofing: The process of allowing pizza dough to rise before baking. Proofing is necessary for thicker, airier crusts.
St. Louis-style: A pizza with an extremely thin, cracker-like, unleavened crust. Most pizzas labeled “thin crust” from national chains reflect this style.
Throwing/Tossing: The most gentle way to stretch pizza dough to fit a pan. Forming crust with other methods, like a machine press, can dry out the dough. Hand-tossing pizza looks fancy and fun, but is necessary to achieve a lighter, softer crust.
Jason is a journalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, and the author of more than a dozen books. His most recent is “12 World Religions: The Beliefs, Rituals, and Traditions of Humanity's Most Influential Faiths”, published by Zephyros Press. Learn more at jasonboyett.com.