Pizza is a key part of life in New York. The simple combination of dough, sauce and cheese brings the city together. Regardless of one’s income, background or neighborhood, New Yorkers have long relied on reasonably priced slices that are all but omnipresent across the five boroughs. Pizza is a religion in Gotham, and pizzerias are as holy as any house of worship here.
But, according to our City Life Index 2018, New Yorkers don’t love pizza as much as our counterparts in Chicago. We surveyed roughly 15,000 people from 32 cities across the world and asked them to tell us how they really feel about their locales. When asked which dish in their city they would be willing to eat for the rest of their life, 27 percent of New Yorkers said pizza. A sizable chunk, for sure, but 30 percent of the respondents from Chicago also picked pizza, bringing New York's fervent devotion to cheesy, doughy goodness into question.
The easy response here would be to scoff at Chicago's deep-dish pizza and deem it a “fucking casserole” as Jon Stewart famously did back in 2013. But that's low-hanging fruit. I lived in Chicago for eight years, was raised in the area and can assure you that a slice of deep dish seldom passed through my lips. I, like many Chicagoans, prefer a thin crust or Sicilian pie—or even a pan pizza—to the saucy behemoths. For a lot of people in the City of Broad Shoulders, deep dish is more of a tourist attraction, something you show eager visitors and tourists but seldom consume with locals (sort of like the Statue of Liberty).
So what gives? How could New York and all of its delicious slices rank second in pizza affinity to the Midwestern metropolis? It could have something to do with the wider variety of food options in New York—eight percent of New Yorkers favored bagels as their food of choice, compared to zero percent in Chicago. It’s also worth noting that the survey did not give Chicagoans the option of Italian beef, a wet, spicy creation that is seldom found outside of the city.
But comparing pizza culture in New York and Chicago is like comparing peaches to kumquats. Chicago is much more of a delivery town when it comes to its pies; New York is certainly a slice city. Chicagoans do not have all-hours access to dollar slices like many areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn do. Pizza in Chicago is often a family or group meal. In New York, it’s more often a saving grace when you're too drunk to ride the subway.
So don't fret, New Yorkers. The love of pizza here is real, passionate and true, and no survey can ever take that away.