Guest post by Denise Macuk
Being a native New Yorker and a chef, I’m happy to discuss the famous food of New York! As one of the 13 original colonies, the location of a former U.S. capital, and the largest port of entry for U.S. immigrants, New York state’s importance in American history is undeniable. Yet, its culinary contributions might be even more significant! New York is home to some of the best restaurants in the world as well as the most renowned cooking school in America, and Manhattan is unquestionably the culinary hub of the United States. Because of its diversity, you can find almost any food around the world in New York. However, with all of these accolades, it may surprise you that some of New York’s most famous foods come from humble beginnings.
History of New York-Style Pizza
In 1905, an Italian immigrant named Gennaro Lombardi started the first American pizzeria in Manhattan’s Little Italy. Over a hundred years later, pizza is one of the most popular foods of New York and America, with New York-style pizza arguably being the best in the states. Sorry, Chicago, I may be biased, but I stand by my opinion. I grew up hanging out with friends at our local pizzeria eating a slice of New York pie. And while I knew it was delicious, at the time, I had no idea it was better than the pizza in the rest of the country until my family took a road trip to California. After 4 more times across the U.S., I feel qualified to say it is the best pizza in America!
What makes pizza New York-style? It’s all about the dough. The first thing you notice is the size; authentic New York pizza is large—18 to 24 inches in diameter. Because the pizza pie is so large, it is often sold by the slice. The dough is thin and soft in the center and thicker and crispier at the crust which makes it ideal to fold in half lengthwise to be eaten. The water in New York City is said to contribute to the superior flavor of the pizza dough. Pizzerias across the country have even imported the water in an attempt to replicate New York pizza dough. This should end the New York vs Chicago pizza debate; I don’t see anyone importing Chicago’s water!
History of Cheesecake
Just like with pizza, the original cheesecake was not from New York. The history of cheesecake dates back to ancient Greece--there’s even evidence that athletes ate it at the very first Olympics. Over the centuries, different versions of cheesecake became popular in different countries. And in the 1920s, Arnold Reuben, a Jewish-German immigrant and deli owner, invented the New York cheesecake which quickly became the best known and loved American version. If you’re wondering if he also invented the Reuben sandwich, you’d be correct! Soon every New York deli had a version of this classic cheesecake.
The silky smooth texture and rich creamy taste comes from the cream cheese base, and that’s what makes this cheesecake version so special. Before Reuben, a farmer’s cheese that resembled cottage cheese was used in most cheesecake recipes. Traditional New York cheesecake is a plain cheesecake, yet it’s special enough to be served in high-end restaurants. For my New York family, cheesecake was always our celebration dessert. So, every birthday or holiday, we ate (and still often eat) this famous New York dessert.
History of Buffalo Wings
Even though Buffalo wings are a wildly popular food in the U.S., it may surprise you that they originated in the state of New York. The name Buffalo wings comes from the city where they were created. The most accepted story about the origin of this famous New York food is that the Anchor Bar in Buffalo was the first to fry chicken wings and toss them in the spicy vinegar-based pepper sauce in 1964.
Traditional Buffalo wings are served with blue cheese dressing and a side of celery and carrot sticks; ranch dressing is often substituted, but mostly outside of New York. The wings include the drumette and flat sections of the wing. My husband and I are a perfect Buffalo wing couple—he prefers the drumettes, and I like the flats. Today Buffalo wings are so beloved, there is a National Buffalo Wing Hall of Fame as part of the National Buffalo Wing Festival held in Buffalo, New York, of course.
Famous Food From New York Dinner Menu
New York State Facts
- New York was the 11th state in the US
- There are over 800 languages spoken in New York City, making NYC the most linguistically diverse city in the world
- The New York library is the 3rd largest library in the world and is home to more than 50 million books
- The New York Post was established in 1803 by Alexander Hamilton and is now the oldest running newspaper in the US
- New York has more than 650 miles of subway tracks
- Famous people from New York include: Theodore Roosevelt, Eddie Murphy, and Alicia Keys
About the Author
Denise Macuk created the food & travel blog, Chef Denise, to help others have amazing culinary experiences while traveling, as well as, when recreating regional dishes at home. As the founder of one of Los Angeles’s first healthy meal services, Denise developed hundreds of recipes based on her travels. She shares them on Chef Denise and on Pinterest @ChefDeniseMacuk
If this is the first state dinner you have enjoyed with us, check out our journey from the beginning, starting here.