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What’s The Difference Between Sicilian and Grandma-Style Pizza?

Sometimes, two things can seem exactly alike when they’re not. For instance:

  • Alligators and crocodiles are not the same animal
  • “Great Britain” is not interchangeable with the “United Kingdom”
  • Katy Perry and Zooey Deschanel are different people
  • Sicilian pizza is not the same thing as Grandma-style pizza

That’s right. Sicilian and Grandma-style pies look remarkably similar, but they’re not the same pizza. Here’s what sets them apart:

The Crust

Grandma Sicilian Pizza Crust
The key difference is in the dough

If you’re looking to tell the two apart when peering through the counter, start with the crust. You’ll immediately notice that the Grandma-style pizza has a much thinner profile while the Sicilian crust is thicker (Or, perhaps, we should say thicc-er – its density is a virtue.)

Like the Sicilian pie, the dough of a Grandma pie is stretched in an olive-oil lined pan. However, the Grandma dough is given only a short period of time to proof, giving it a thinner and denser crust than it’s Sicilian cousin. 

The generous dousing of OO does more than separate the pizza from the metal when it’s done baking – it crisps up the bottom layer of the crust, imparting the delicious flavor of fried bread on the outside and creating a sturdy structure for the cheese and sauce on top.

Sicilian pizza is also cooked in a square pan with plenty of olive oil, but the key difference is in the dough. For Sicilian pizza, pizzaiolos give the dough extra time to rise, resulting in a softer crust layer that has more in common with Focaccia bread than the standard New York-style pizza.

The Cheese/Sauce Order

Sicilian Grandma Pizza
You can trust us when it comes to The Sauce

The classic Grandma pizza recipe calls for the cheese to go on the pie before the sauce, which may prevent the cheese layer from becoming overcooked. Some parlors stick to pizza’s typical order of operations (sauce ➡️ cheese), but the end result is roughly the same.

Sicilian pizza, more often than not, has the sauce layer on top of the cheese. But, because neither style was originally forged in Italy, there is no one way to layer a Sicilian or Grandma pizza.

The History

As the name suggests, Grandma-style pizza was, at one point in time, only made in the kitchen by Italian grandmas. Then, in the late 60s and early 70s, shops in the New York area brought it to the pizzeria world, where it found a rabid following. 

Sicilian pizza, despite the name, is not quite Sicilian. Or, at least, the version of Sicilian pizza that we know and love is not a southern Italian dish. These sensational squares were launched in Manhattan’s Little Italy neighborhood, where individual pizzerias honed and tweaked their recipes to the point where no two formulas are alike.

Which is better: Sicilian or Grandma-style pizza?

Sicilian Grandma Pizza Cheese

Why choose? Order both on Slice.