- Pizza is a staple of Italian cuisine, part of Italian cultural heritage, with a history stretching back a few millennia.
- There are different types of traditional pizza in every region or city in Italy, each with unique dough and toppings.
- When in Italy, make sure you visit the best places to enjoy authentic regional pizza recipes.
- Eating pizza in Italy is quite different from the US, so learn how to eat like a local.
Every person on the planet knows what pizza is, and I believe there isn’t a single one that can resist the taste of it. It’s truly an international dish that’s even found its way to space, and can be seen enjoyed by a crew of ISS astronauts.
I don’t think you’ll be traveling to space soon, but there is a chance you’ll find yourself visiting Italy, the birthplace of pizza. And while you’re there, try the original pizza recipes and eat like a local.
Here, we’ve gathered all the facts you need to know about pizza in Italy.
Exploring the Delightful World of Italian Pizza
The appeal of pizza lies in its versatility. Every nation has developed its regional variety and the recipe is being reinvented over and over again. But pizza in Italy? Now, that’s something!
Brief History and Significance of Pizza in Italian Culture
The first mention of the word pizza dates back to the 10th century and then much later in 16th century Naples where it was considered food for the needy. But its history goes back a few millennia and across the whole Mediterranean, where people consumed a type of flatbread considered the pizza predecessor.
Italian pizza took off in the 19th century after King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy visited Naples. The Queen liked the pizza that only had 3 simple ingredients – tomato, cheese, and basil, representing the colors of the Italian flag.
It was immediately named after her, and the chef continued to make pizza Margherita in his pizzeria Brandi which you can still visit in Naples. At the beginning of the 20th century, pizza was brought to the new world by a wave of Italian immigrants, and the rest is history!
Overview of the Different Regional Styles of Italian Pizza
Every region in Italy has its version of pizza, but the most popular ones remain from Naples and Rome. They differ in the way the pizzaioli prepare the dough, and Roman pizza is much thinner with a crispy crust. Sicily boasts its version of Italian pizza, and the south of Italy contributed to the variety with its panzerotti, a type of Neapolitan calzone.
Different Types Of Traditional Italian Pizza
Let’s slice the best pizza varieties you can find in Italy today:
Part of the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage, pizza Napoletana is famous for its soft, elastic dough and fresh local ingredients, including buffalo mozzarella. It is baked in wood-fired ovens and comes with two kinds of topping – Margherita and Marinara, which only uses tomato sauce, olive oil, oregano, and garlic.
Pizza Tonda Romana
Tonda is a Roman pizza with a very thin crust making it light and crispy. The toppings tend to be simple and anchovies are among the most popular. You’ll easily find it in all pizzerias as it is the best pizza in Rome.
Pizza al Taglio
Al taglio means “by the cut”, and this is the only type of pizza you can buy by the slice at a pizza shop. It’s street food; you can choose how much you want to buy from each variety. They will cut a piece from the rectangular pizzas, weigh it, and you can enjoy it while walking around the Roman piazzas.
Also known as sfincione, this Sicilian pizza has a thick, soft crust with a distinct bread crumbs topping. You can also eat it as street food because it can be bought from bakeries around the island.
The Secrets of Authentic Italian Pizza
Why is pizza so good in Italy? Well, the secret lies in the fresh ingredients, the effort that goes into dough preparation, and the use of stone ovens in almost all Italian restaurants. And, of course, every pizzeria has a brilliant pizzaiolo that kneads and hand-stretches the dough.
Good luck preparing it at home!
Famous Pizza Places in Italy
It’s almost impossible to find bad pizza in Italy, but there are certain places that you’d want to visit to get an authentic pizza experience.
Pizzeria Sorbillo in Naples
Besides the most famous Pizzeria Brandi, you can enjoy excellent service and the best pizza in Napoli at Pizzeria Sorbillo. Visit the restaurant in the historic quarter to dine like an Italian.
Pizzarium in Rome
The Pizzarium has only been around for 20 years but has become THE place to try pizza al taglio in Rome. It’s a tiny space, so prepare to grab a slice and enjoy it on the go.
Gustarium in Florence
While sightseeing in Florence, take a lunch break at the Gustarium, located in the heart of the city—a tiny space with friendly staff and possibly the best pizza in Florence.
Popular Italian Pizza Toppings
The most popular Italian pizza toppings include the inevitable tomato sauce, mozzarella, and herbs. Other popular varieties come with:
Proper Ways to Eat and Enjoy Pizza Like a Local
Eating pizza in Italy is a restaurant experience and is quite different from the way people enjoy it in the US.
- There is always one (round) pizza per person, so no sharing.
- Use a knife and fork as it comes hot straight from the oven.
- There are no unusual toppings (think pineapple), nor extra dipping sauce or mayo.
- Italians order a glass of beer, never wine or coffee.
- You can’t get leftover pizza in a doggy bag as it is supposed to be eaten whole at the restaurant.
Comparing Italian Pizza with International Pizza Styles
The taste of genuine Italian pizza is unique and cannot be that easily recreated in other parts of the world.
First and foremost, it’s not layered with multiple toppings. It’s simple, and the quality solely depends on the finest of ingredients. Also, pizza in Italy is much smaller in diameter, and the typical size is about 8-12 inches.
American pizza is the complete opposite of this, with a chewy crust, unusual toppings, and sliced.
What do they call pizza in Italy?
Pizza is originally an Italian word that is used internationally.
Is pizza traditional in Italy?
Yes, pizza is a traditional Italian dish that has evolved from quick, cheap food for the poor.
Why is pizza so famous in Italy?
Pizza originated in Naples, Italy, and is part of their cultural heritage.
What was pizza originally called?
Originally, the type of flatbread was called “panis focacius” or focaccia, and was noted as pizza for the first time in the 10th century.
What is Italian culture known for?
Italy is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Empire once stretched across Europe, Asia, and Africa, and it is most famous for its art and artists like Michelangelo, music, and amazing cuisine.