I'm ticked off! Apparently there aren't any foodie writers who realize that there are two -- count them TWO -- California styles of pizza. Most importantly, the California style attributed to Chez Panisse, Spago's, CPK, and Ed LaDou with its gourmet toppings is the minor of California's two styles.
The major California style of pizza is a much older and dates back to when pizza first started to become popular across the nation. It originated with early West Coast pizza parlor chains like Shakey's (1954), Me & Eds (1958), Straw Hat (1959), and Round Table (1959). These were some of the nation's very first pizza franchises (Pizza Hut started in 1958), and these pizza parlors typified the original California style of pizza. It is definetly not the same as the New York style of pizza. It is also NOT the same as the thicker American style chain pizzas like Dominos, Little Caesars, Pizza Hut, and Papa John's. Nor is it a pan pizza like Godfather's or a Midwest cracker style either. It is a unique style all its own.
Unlike other styles, its crust is comprised of different layers. See the images from one of Lydia's posts (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=22370.msg235151#msg235151
). The bottom layer is a thin crisp layer that has a crunchy feel, but it is still pliable and not quite at the cracker stage. This layer is kind of like the crust of Italian bread or French bread. Next are several flakey layers of thin soft dough that is almost like a thin flaky biscuit. Lastly, it is topped with an airy puffy layer. This California style of crust supports a generous amount of toppings and provides the perfect balance of crust and toppings. In comparison, the New York street style crust is dense and cardboardy, and it is quickly overwhelmed once you start adding toppings. The New York style of crust is better suited as a base for cheese and a couple basil leaves. While the American style (Dominos/Papa Johns) is bready and heavy, and no amount of toppings can balance out this breadiness. (I'm being a little facetious here. A great NY style pizza has a buttery goodness that just melts in your mouth, and Dominos is... well... uh... delivered quickly.)
The bottom line is that sites like slice.seriouseats.com credits the East Coast with several great styles. New York has their coal-fired elite pizzas, as well as their street slices that were inspired by the NY elite pizzas, and the Neapolitan style that inspired the NY elite style. New Haven style and Trenton tomato pies are given their own style categories. There are also lots of styles that are variations on Sicilian inspired pizza -- Sicilian, Grandma/Nonna, Old Forge, Detroit style, and Philadelphia Tomato Pie. There are several variations on thin crust pizza as well -- Tavern/bar, Chicago thin-crust, St. Louis style, Midwest style, and Ohio Valley style. Yet a 50+ year-old style of pizza that is eaten by most of the people in the nation's most populous state is ignored.
Pizzamaking.com also doesn't recognize this style. Yet, there are a huge number of posts on this site discussing recipes for this style of pizza. Some of these posts are in the American style section, while others are in the Cracker style, and there are probably others in the California style, or in the Misc. style sections because people don't know where to post them. (Although it is probably too late to create a West Coast Parlor Style section now. Or is it?)
The truth is that I just needed to vent. Plus, maybe one of those fancy New York foodie writers will read this post and the next time they write a pizza styles article they'll give us our recognition.