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Difference Between Greek and Italian Pizza? [moved from Boston board]

Someone asked me today what the difference between Greek and Italian pizza is. Duh......I know it when I see it or eat it, but I can't qualify it. So what makes, say, Regina's different from any "House Of" pizza?

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  1. Greek pizza is not handthrown and is always cooked in a pan. The sauce is sweeter and I believe they use a cheese blend as opposed to mozz.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

      In addition, Greek pizza crust is spongy, lots of tiny bubbles.

      1. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

        Really? I've seen it handthrown at multiple places, just not to the degree found at Regina and others.

        The sponge-like crust reminds me of Pizza Hut's crust. Greasy too.

        1. re: Dax

          Lots of oil in the dough makes it easy to work into the pan. Different cheeses have more fat and the oil is released.

        2. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

          It's sweeter because Greek cooks like to add cinnamon/nutmeg to everything! I used to work at an Italian restaurant that was owned and operated by a lovely Greek family. Everything always looked good but the smell and taste of their food was always off, in my Italian-American mind. I like Greek food, but not fake Italian-American Greek food.

        3. It can be a lot more oily than traditional thin-crust pizza. I know of a couple of places where you have to put a bunch of napkins on top of the pizza to soak up the excess oil.

          1. Crust won't fold and something about the sauce is almost always off..

            12 Replies
            1. re: rosie17

              I've noticed the non-folding crust thing too. Any theories on why? Is the crust thicker? The edge of the Greek pizza crust is bumpy, where Italian crust is smooth except for the occasional bubble.

              I've also noticed how the Greek pizza is more oily. Good point about about the different cheeses producing more fat. So is mozzarella the only cheese used on Italian pizza? What cheeses are used on Greek pizzas?

              1. re: pollystyrene

                The Greek crust is more biscuit-like, with less give than the Italian version.
                It's definitely thicker and drier which isn't conducive to folding.
                The pan is greased first too, which, on the rare decent greek pie, gives a tasty golden crust, and also more oil.

                1. re: joestrummer

                  biggest differences are crust and cheese. greek is pan pizza with mild white cheddar cheese, no mozzerlla ever, at least in the Boston area.

                  italian is hand tossed/strecthced, no pan and should have mozz in the cheese blend.

                  1. re: Bighead

                    Greek pizza is probably cooked at a lower temp. than italian pizza too.

                    1. re: Bighead

                      So you've been to every greek pizza place in the area to verify? ;-)

                      Pretty sure Steve's in Waltham uses mozz - and actually does a good job with the style - I love and prefer italian style pizza, but willing to give room for other styles that are done well. Granted if you desire italian style pizza, greek pizza isn't going to satisfy, but its all about the results, not the "authenticity" imo. Sauce at Steve's isn't that sweet -actually has a lot of acidity- and no cinnamon or other weird spices.

                      I used to go to New London out in Acton that used mozzarella and cheddar blend. Not a huge fan of cheddar on pizza (works on bbq pizza though), but loading the toppings up with meat seemed to make it work better.

                  2. re: pollystyrene

                    it simple cheap cheese
                    the reason it is so thick is to hold thew grease
                    1 slice if any of those (house of pizza) you can squeeze out enough grease to change the oil in your car

                    i don't know where anyone got the idea of no mozzarella. or a cheese blend is why it is greasy
                    the papa gino's co has always used a blend and like their pizza or not it is thin and not as greasy as the house of pizza
                    and no it is not all cooked in a pan either
                    it ia just all those house of pizza types use crap ingred. for everything inclu subs

                    1. re: foodperv

                      Did Jimmie The Greek give you some bad betting advice years ago ? I have had some fine Greek or Bar pizzas as I have also heard them called. In my experience, they are cooked in a pan, are usually more of a single serve size, and can use any type of cheese.

                      1. re: TonyO

                        Greek pizza is crap. Italian is the only way to go, especially when you have tried pizza in Italy, there is just no comparison. It would be like trying to compare Chicago style to New York style.

                        1. re: marcusnaz14

                          To be fair, not all Greek pizza is crap. It's a different style, that's all. I have been known to enjoy a Theo's pizza (Teele Square Somerville) even though my favorite local pie is Regina's and I've eaten a lot of pizza in Italy. Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks, but it's not completely out of the question that one might enjoy Greek-style pizza. Why all the haters?

                          1. re: yumyum

                            I'm with you. Growing up in RI, I ate tons (probably literally) of both Italian and Greek pizza. It's almost apples and oranges.

                            And there is plenty of greasy Italian pizza out there.

                      2. re: foodperv

                        but papas blnd has mozz. I once worked in restuarant supply schelping deliverys. we had dozens of greek pizza joints on our route and every single one uses cheap mild white cheddar and no mozzerella.

                        I'd bet money that you wouldn't find one greek joint inside 495 that uses anything but the cheap cheddar...

                        1. re: Bighead

                          My old b/f had that same job in the 80s - delivered cheese, sauce and meats to every pizza joint in New England. He made the exact same distinction you make - the Greek pizza parlors use cheap mild white cheddar and no mozzarella. (You didn't work for HB did you??)

                          (Ooops - sorry - didn't realize I was getting in on the 2007 end of this thread!!)

                  3. Here's a good discussion I remember from earlier this year:

                    What is Greek Pizza
                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/404325

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Rubee

                      Thanks, Rubee (and everyone else). So, here's the summary, as I see it. Greek pizza (compared to Italian) has:

                      -thicker, stiffer crust
                      -the edge of the crust has a lot of tiny brown bubbles
                      -the cheese is white cheddar instead of mozzarella
                      -the difference in cheese makes it more oily
                      -the sauce is scant and sweeter

                    2. I've worked for several years at a greek pizza place. Where I work both the cheddar blend that is being discussed as well as mozzerella is used. The biggest difference I see between greek and italian style in boston is that greek pizza is cooked in a pan, and depending on how long the dough has been left to rise in the pan the crust becomes much thicker (leading to the no folding thing). Some greek pizza places are really crappy, some can be really great, i guess it depends on your mood (or pizza style preference). But like someone already said it really is comparing apples to oranges.

                      1. IMO, bland cheese, bland sauce (little tomatoe taste), thicker meh crust, oily and not like Regina's anchovie and romano pizza where the olive oil is very flavorful.

                        1. I HATE Greek pizza. The crust is oily & the sauce tends to be sweeter. The cheese blend I agree in most places is cheap and does add more oil to the already oily pizza. Growing up in a small MA town, that's all they had--Greek pizza joints. I was so happy when I first experienced Italian pizza at a friend's house (they had gone to Regina in the N. End and brought a pizza home. We had leftovers). This was when I was in my teens.

                          1. I've definitely come around on this and get Greek pizza as a legit style. The crust is crispy, and the edge has a nice crunch to it. The cheese is maybe more separate from the crust, and there is often a layer of oil on the cheese: that's flavor! Anyway, there is better and worse Greek style just like Italian style. Personally, I'll always prefer a really good Italian pizza, but for neighborhood level I can dig either.

                            A shout to my hometown: Gregory's and his brother Michael's House(s) of Pizza in Belmont. Quality Greek style pizza.

                            And to my current local joints in Somerville: Caesar's for good neighborhood Italian, and Mama Lisa's, a nice Greek style place in Union Sq.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jajjguy

                              I grew up on Harbor House of Pizza in Scituate, and worked at Maria's in Scituate (which I can tell you used the greek method then i.e. greased cast iron pan cooked, 1/3 chedder to 2/3 mozz bled, , but have sadly since changed their ways, as it's not as good now) and Greek pizza is it's own thing, and good in it's own right, Italian is the first and king, but Greek gots it's place in the world

                              -----
                              Harbor House of Pizza
                              100 Front St, Scituate, MA 02066

                            2. And the BEST Greek pizza I've found to date:

                              Country Pizza in Lincoln, MA

                              Recommendation: custom pesto and fresh tomato slice pizza. This pizza will visit you in your dreams. The crust is perfect for this genre of pizza.

                              BEWARE: Country Pizza is located in a GAS STATION of all places but it's really superior. One of the chefs also works at a popular pizzeria in Watertown near the Sevan middle eastern market.

                              Greek pizza (House of *) is pan pizza with a foccacia crust (the sponginess) They will often add ingredients to the dough. The sauce is sweeter and the cheese is usually a blend consisting mostly of white cheddar.

                              1. Wow, it must be Dredge Up Really Old Threads Week.

                                I grew up on Greek-American, <my town> House of Pizza, too. It has its charms. You may prefer a different style, but I'm a student of the Thousand Flowers school. There are great pizzas in every genre, even unto Chicago stuffed pan pizza.

                                I frankly don't get folks who get wrapped up entirely with whatever they grew up with, to the exclusion of every other style. (Natives of NYC seem particularly, comically vulnerable to this disease.) If we all did that, there'd be no Formaggio: we'd all still be wire-cutting slices off the same block of Velveeta. Or believing that A-Rod may yet have a great autumn. Feh.

                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                1. Well, I was hoping this thread would tell me where to find Detroit-style pizza, which is I guess close to what you all are calling "Greek". Anyone here from the Midwest and found it?

                                  Something like (in order of preference): Buddy's, Buscemi's, Jet's. The crust is "bubbly" square and baked in an oiled pan, but the mozzarella comes up to the edge and gets crispy, too, and so good. No weird cheese. The sauce is pretty sweet.

                                  I miss it badly!

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: dulce de leche

                                    First time I've ever heard of a distinctive Detroit style of pizza. Haven't spent much time in that city.

                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      Having gone to school in Ann Arbor, I equate "Detroit style of pizza" with "bad pizza"! In fairness to our friends from Detroit, though, I've never been to Buddy's, Buscemi's (although I'm a huge Steve Buscemi fan!), or Jet's.

                                      1. re: Blumie

                                        >, I've never been to Buddy's, Buscemi's (although I'm a huge Steve Buscemi fan!), or Jet's

                                        No wonder you think Detroit pizza is bad! Buddy's is an institution and the pizza I compare everything else to.

                                        I didn't know it was called "Detroit-style pizza", but there's a wikipedia entry on it, so it must be. This article describes it best http://www.articleworld.org/Detroit-s... "the perfect Detroit pizza features a thick crust, crispy on the outside and bottom, soft and tender on the inside. A thick, rich sauce is topped with mozzarella cheese, which, because it’s baked on a high sided sheet, gets golden brown and crispy along the edges. A true Detroit pizza is as close as you will ever come to Heaven on Earth. "

                                        Since so many Greek immigrants run restaurants/pizzerias in Detroit, I thought that Boston Greek pizza might be similar, but it isn't at all.

                                        1. re: dulce de leche

                                          Something I never knew of (Detroit-style pizza). Thank you for the edification and the references. I will look forward to trying it when we visit in September (for biz). Thanks!

                                      2. re: MC Slim JB

                                        Thank you for your post...I always respect your opinion! I am of Greek heritage. I have spent a great deal of time in Europe and always visit Greece. Pizza differs according to the cook who makes it...Greek, Italian, French, American. Yes, Greek immigrants found a way to survive coming to the states by opening pizza places and they do quite well, for the most part. Each owner/family makes the recipe their own. Is that not what true cooking is all about? I love some, find some mediocre and truly avoid some. As an American of Greek heritage, I can cook ANY French dish that will compete with a true French Chef...yes I can! Happy Labour Day everyone!

                                    2. many NOT ALL of these house of pizza AKA greek places also use pre-formed pie shells that is why many have the exact same appearance right down to the exact millimeter thinkness

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: foodperv

                                        This is an old post but wanted to add a bit of information. Plenty of pizza places whether "Italian style," "NY Style," "House of Pizza," even "thin crust, hearth baked pizza" -- how they decide to advertise their pizza -- use parbaked shells and many others purchase dough. You don't necessarily save money on the materials with that approach, but it reduces the labor and with the shells you don't have to worry about dough management (dough which fermented too long, running out) which can greatly reduce waste.

                                        Since Greek pizza is generally pan baked vs what we'd consider Italian and NY styles, what is quite common is to in Greek pizzerias is using a dough sheeter. You make the dough balls on a certain schedule, store them, and each day prepare a certain number of pans, store cold, and the dough proofs some in the pan. With this method the dough is uniformly thickness, but when putting in the pan you make a bit of a small lip.

                                        Personally I love hand-stretched pizza and there are still small pizzerias where the owner makes the dough and the pies themselves. But there are plenty of recommendations here for pizzerias which hearth bake their pies, but roll the pies with a rolling pin, not surprisingly to a very uniform thickness (and plenty more that cut other corners to reduce their labor costs). So for the many Greek Pizzerias which use a sheeter, I don't think there is anything wrong with that -- they are mixing their dough, managing it, just trying to be efficient. There are owners who take their product seriously, if you like that style of pizza. But while par-baked shells are common in the market place, I haven't seen them any more often in Greek pizza shops than others. BTW there have been a lot of House of Pizzas which are no longer greek owned and offering different types of food... as well as some Greek pizza shop owners who have invested in making Italian style pizza (I talked to one who was selling his sheeter because they changed the pizza style because it was economically more favorable).

                                      2. My post was for MC Slim Jim and all of you! Thanks

                                        1. Crust almost fries in the pan due to the oil, and the cheese is a moz/ched blend.

                                          1. Cut in squares. Totally different texture. Never noticed that the sauce was sweeter, but perhaps it is.
                                            Park Lane Pizza in West Hartford, CT makes a fine Greek style pizza

                                            1. This is kinda ridiculous. Everyone's getting bent outta shape over the simple fact that the "Houses of Pizza" always seem to be Greek pizza. No one is starting a racial war here.

                                              I grew up in Revere, which used to mean, along with East Boston and the North End, that you were Italian by default, even if you were Irish. I have been all over the world in the Marines.. I've eaten both styles of pizza all my life(and lemme tell ya don't expect to get a decent slice south of Baltimore unless you go all the way to Florida)

                                              Americans associate Pizza with Italians, point blank. I never put 2 and 2 together but aside from Winthrop House, every single "House of Pizza" from here to at least Saco, Maine is Greek pizza. (Told a Greek girl from Maine who's dad owns a pizza place up there my house of pizza Greek connection conspiracy theory. She paused and said ..."my dads place is Saco House of Pizza... )

                                              Let's use our brains - nothing against Greeks but if Americans think Pizza=Italian, then business sense will tell you that Popodopoulis Pizza sounds as authentic as Lanzelli's Chinese Take Out. "Your Town Name Here" House of Pizza is safe. Ever notice non-name brand stores run by Middle Easterners is always called "Eastern Ave Market", "Allston Convenience" or "USA Repair"? Same reason - original reason anyway - you gotta be realistic with what the public perceives so you play it safe.