New York City is one of the culinary capitals of the world, and it's possible to get almost any kind of dish in the city. Though the rest of the state is less adventurous, the city's influence and a large Italian-American population have strongly altered the state's early, simple German-English cooking style. Pizza sold in large, triangular slices is a standard on-the-go meal or snack. Although it's possible to get pizza topped with almost anything, the standard slice includes tomato sauce, dry mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese.
After pizza, hot dogs are the favorite quick meal or snack. New Yorkers will argue about their favorite hot dog like they do their favorite pizza. A local creation that's now common in areas across the country is the Coney Island hot dog, topped with a chili sauce. Though the sauce contains a bit of beef, it's not beef-rich chili stew. Often, it's ketchup enriched with very little ground beef, onion, mustard, relish, and other spices.
A more refined New York invention is Lobster Newburg, developed at a well-known New York restaurant in the late 1800s. It consists of lobster meat in a simple Madeira-cream sauce. Chicken Divan is another New York restaurant invention from the 1930s. It's sliced chicken served in a very rich egg yolk–cream sauce flavored with sherry, nutmeg, and Worcestershire sauce. Grilled steak served with a baked potato and creamed spinach is another New York City restaurant classic that's now common nationwide. Buffalo wings, yet another dish invented in the Empire State, were reportedly made for the first time at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo in 1964. Chicken wings are fried without batter and then coated in a spicy, vinegar-based sauce.
New York cheesecake is cream cheese–based, dense, and creamy with an even texture and usually a hint of lemon flavoring. It's often plain or topped with a very thin layer of sweetened sour cream and/or strawberries. Though this is the definitive New York cheesecake, it's not what you'll find in the state's many Italian bakeries, where a much drier, almost crumbly ricotta-based cake studded with candied fruit is the norm.
Apples are an important crop in New York, so apple-based sweets are common. The state muffin is an apple muffin made with brown sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, and cream cheese. The northern part of the state is maple country, so maple sugar and syrup sometimes sweeten desserts such as apple pie. Upstate New York is also grape country. In areas where Concord grapes grow well, grape pie is a favorite dessert in season.
Specialties popularized by Jewish immigrants from eastern and northern Europe are also widespread. A bagel spread with butter or cream cheese, for example, is a standard New York breakfast. Though bagels have become fairly common across the country, New York bagels are usually much more dense, chewy, and not sweet. Bialys are harder to find, even in New York, but are also a favorite. They are also breakfast-sized portions of bread, but are about half as thick as a bagel, with an indentation in the middle. The outside is lightly dusted with flour, the inside is light and very spongy, and the indentation usually contains shreds of onion and a few poppy seeds. On the sweet side, rugelach is a cream cheese–based baked good somewhere between a cookie and a pastry, filled with cinnamon, raisins, and nuts or a little chocolate or apricot jam.