Everyone in the U.S has seen this before, no matter what State they are in, a “New York Pizzeria.” Why? Because N.Y. is famous for their pizza, and N.Y. is famous. Now these pizzerias claim to have captured the essence of New York Pizza, they have supposedly harnessed the special power, the secret ingredient. They try to get it to taste the way pizza tastes in the Big Apple. (Its said to be the water, I’ve been to a great pizzeria in Florida who actually drives to New York once a week and brings back gallons of tap water.) Anyway, this obsession with New York pizza does not only go as far as the American borders. It’s here in Sweden too, but as far as I have experienced, the presence is only cosmetic decoration and appeal.
Last night we went to a pizzeria that we have never gone to, but have always passed by. I noticed a large gray-scale painting of the Brooklyn Bridge hanging on one of the walls. I didn’t take a photo but I took a note of it and decided it was time to bring this pattern to light. I’ve only been to five local pizzerias, three of which have New York paintings on the walls, one being this “New York Pizza & Kebab,” which takes the cake. I can assure you that none of them have New York pizza, nor do they even attempt to. There is no mention of the pizza being New York style, and it is very classically Swedish pizza.
While I am used to having a great deal of selection in New York, I would say that Swedish pizza has a much wider variety of pizza toppings, mostly due to some we wouldn’t usually put on a pizza. Swedish pizza is known for this large selection of toppings to choose from, anywhere from bananas to béarnaise sauce. I estimate that I normally see 30+ toppings at each pizzeria we go to, each topping normally comprising of 4-5 items as opposed to our typical toppings of one or two. It takes me a long time to read through each description (A pizza menu was the first thing I studied in Swedish, so if its on a pizza I know it! (mostly..) I usually end up with the veterinarian since I get overwhelmed and am familiar with the mushroom, pineapple, asparagus, artichoke, olive, onion, pepper combo.
The most popular and most “Swedish” pizza topping is the Kebab with a hot sauce and a yogurt based sauce, sometimes with french fries baked onto the pizza as well and maybe a sprinkle of lettuce. A “plain” slice of N.Y pizza is just tomato sauce and cheese, while Swedes throw ham into the mix.
Since the pizza is sold by the pie and not by the slice there is no viewing the pizza to help decide what you want, everything is made fresh from when you place your order from the large menu. This means that Swedes do not feel limited by the choices of pre made pizzas in front of them, like New Yorkers often do, pointing at the pizza we want instead of asking for our toppings. Normally only giving a “special order” pizza over the phone since it will take some time to make, otherwise it will not be as delicious as the ones on the counter because the toppings you chose will usually only be thrown on top of a plain slice of pizza and the flavor won’t meld correctly.
While you wait for that fresh pizza to be made up you have your pizza salad to munch on, shredded cabbage marinated in vinaigrette, which is adored by most Swedes and is always a side dish to pizza. You eat with a knife and a fork, half because of the pizza salad and also because your pizza pie is not cut into slices for you and the crust is extremely thin and soft- not crispy like New York pizza. (I’ll never forget watching my in-laws have New York Pizza for the first time, teaching them to fold it in the center)
And so, where is the New York in this pizza?
Is nothing like this:
And nor should it be.
Why do these Swedish pizzerias turn to the New York skyline for inspiration? Is that the number one thing we are known for in Sweden? It seems that Swedish pizza is much more similar to Italian pizza, why not idealize Rome? I have seen New York paintings in a restaurant other than a pizzeria as well, so maybe it is more of a food culture than only pizza. In that case where are the delicatessens and the bagel shops. Swedish pizza is amazing and shouldn’t have to take on the presence of something its not, the two types of pizzas are very different and should be represented that way, proudly showing Swedish culture instead of New York.
I’m sure there are New York style pizzas in Sweden, somewhere (Aside from Pizza Hut), but I have yet to encounter any. If there is the attempt to make actual New York style pizza, with a thicker crust, different selection of toppings, and sold by the slice, then the photos, name, and theme would make a lot more sense.
Has anyone else noticed so many pizzerias with New York theme decor in Sweden?
Oh, now I am really craving New York Pizza.