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Does New York’s Water Make its Pizza Taste Better?

Ever hear a New York City transplant complain about the quality of pizza and bagels in other parts of the U.S.? Surely you have, and you’ve surely heard a New Yorker bemoan the absence of “the New York water,” which is said to be an integral component in the dough.

Does the water in New York really make its pizza crust better? You may be surprised to hear what pizzaiolos and the scientific community have to say about it:

There must be something in the water.

Many pizza chefs and New York pizza fans swear that the city water gives special characteristics to its pizza crust. New York-style pizza is defined by a crust that is flavorful, thin, and surprisingly durable. When you fold a proper N.Y. slice, the foundation holds true, no matter the weight of its toppings.

The water, some say, is responsible for the crust’s unique bite. And, yes, the composition of tap water does vary from place to place. In New York, the water is said to be “softer” than what you mind find in other regions thanks to lower concentrations of calcium and magnesium.

The water also has a touch more sodium in New York, though we’re talking particles rather than pinches. When drinking a glass of New York water, you would no sooner notice its saltiness than you would notice the Earth spinning beneath your feet.

Some pizza-makers “import” their water from NYC.

New York water is prized, to the point where you’ll find pizzerias and bagel shops in other parts of the country that import their H2O in order to recreate NYC’s magic. Those that employ New York water boast about the crust’s perfect balance between springy and crunchy and insist that its flavor is superior to competitors who rely on the local tap.

And, for those who cannot fit water shipments into the budget, there’s even an New Jersey-based company that sells a “New York WaterMaker,” a device that supposedly makes any tap water taste like it came from the Empire State by adding certain minerals and adjusting the pH balance.

The counterpoint, in a New York minute.

PIzza has been a cornerstone of New York culture for more than 100 years – there’s a pizza parlor on every block and the pizza competition is fiercer in NYC than any other part of the country. That means pizza-makers must be on top of their games at all times, and that is probably a larger factor in NYC’s pizza supremacy than the water.