When it comes to the culinary wonders of Italy, pizza undoubtedly takes center stage. Bursting with flavors and boasting a delicious combination of toppings, it’s no wonder this iconic dish has earned its esteemed reputation worldwide. But have you ever wondered what Italians actually call their beloved creation? As you embark on a journey to uncover the answer to this age-old question, prepare to unravel the delicious secrets behind the name of this beloved Italian staple.

What Is Italian Pizza Called?

1. Introduction

1.1 Overview

Welcome to the wonderful world of Italian pizza! In this comprehensive article, we will explore everything you need to know about this iconic dish. From its traditional origins in Italy to its various regional variations, we will delve into the rich history and cultural significance of Italian pizza. Whether you’re a pizza aficionado or simply enjoy a good slice now and then, this article will surely whet your appetite for all things pizza-related.

1.2 Background

Pizza, as we know it today, has its roots in Italy. The word “pizza” itself comes from the Latin word “pinsa,” meaning flatbread. While flatbreads have been consumed in various forms throughout history, it was in Naples, Italy, where the modern pizza was truly born. Naples, with its vibrant street food culture, is considered the birthplace of pizza, and its traditional style has become a worldwide favorite.

1.3 Purpose

The purpose of this article is to provide you with a comprehensive guide to Italian pizza. We aim to not only give you a detailed overview of traditional Italian pizza styles but also explore the regional variations that exist within Italy. Additionally, we will compare and contrast different pizza styles from around the world, and delve into the cultural significance of pizza in Italian society. By the end of this article, you will have a deeper appreciation for the art of pizza making and the delicious complexities of Italian pizza.

2. Traditional Italian Pizza

2.1 Neapolitan Pizza

Neapolitan pizza is the epitome of traditional Italian pizza. The original Neapolitan pizza, known as Pizza Margherita, was created in Naples during the late 19th century. It is characterized by its soft and chewy crust, which is preferably cooked in a wood-fired oven. Neapolitan pizza is topped with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil. It is a simple yet scrumptious delight that showcases the quality and freshness of its ingredients.

2.2 Roman Pizza

While Neapolitan pizza may be the most well-known style, Roman pizza also holds its own. Roman pizza, or “pizza al taglio,” is typically rectangular in shape and sold by weight. It has a thin, crispy crust and is often topped with a variety of ingredients, from classic tomato and mozzarella to more experimental flavors. Roman pizza is a popular street food in Italy and can be found in countless pizzerias throughout the country.

2.3 Margherita Pizza

Ah, the classic Margherita pizza! Named after Queen Margherita of Italy, this pizza is a true Italian staple. It consists of a thin crust topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil. The colors of the ingredients – red, white, and green – are said to represent the Italian flag. The Margherita pizza perfectly embodies the simplicity and elegance of Italian cuisine.

2.4 Marinara Pizza

Another traditional Neapolitan pizza is the Marinara pizza. Despite its name, it doesn’t actually contain any seafood. Instead, it features a delicious combination of tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, and olive oil. Marinara pizza is a great option for those who prefer a lighter and more aromatic pizza without the addition of cheese.

2.5 Napoletana Pizza

Napoletana pizza, the ancestor of Neapolitan pizza, is a classic Italian delicacy. Similar to Neapolitan pizza, it has a soft crust and is cooked at a high temperature in a wood-fired oven. Napoletana pizza is topped with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, anchovies, and oregano. It offers a delightful balance of flavors and textures, showcasing the beloved taste of Naples.

2.6 Sicilian Pizza

Moving away from Naples, we venture into the world of Sicilian pizza. Sicilian pizza is characterized by its thick and pillowy crust, which is typically rectangular in shape. It is often topped with a rich tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and a variety of ingredients such as onions, olives, and anchovies. Sicilian pizza is hearty and satisfying, making it a popular choice for those looking for a substantial meal.

2.7 Calabrese Pizza

Calabrese pizza originates from the Calabria region in southern Italy. It is known for its spicy kick, thanks to the addition of Calabrian chili peppers. Calabrese pizza typically features a thin and crispy crust, topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, spicy salami, and, of course, the fiery Calabrian chilies. It’s a taste sensation that will surely satisfy the adventurous spice lover.

2.8 Capricciosa Pizza

Capricciosa pizza is a true cornucopia of flavors. This Neapolitan-style pizza is loaded with a variety of ingredients, including tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, artichokes, cooked ham, olives, and sometimes eggs. The combination of savory, tangy, and earthy flavors creates a harmonious medley that will tantalize your taste buds.

2.9 Quattro Stagioni Pizza

Quattro Stagioni, or “Four Seasons” pizza, is a delightful creation that represents the four seasons through its diverse toppings. Typically divided into four sections, each quadrant of this pizza is topped with different ingredients. These can include mushrooms, ham, artichokes, olives, and more. Quattro Stagioni pizza balances an array of flavors and textures, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

2.10 Focaccia Pizza

Focaccia pizza offers a unique twist on traditional pizza. It has a thicker crust that is similar to focaccia bread, hence the name. Focaccia pizza is infused with herbs and olive oil, creating a delightful aroma and flavor. Its simplicity allows for a variety of toppings to be added, from fresh cherry tomatoes and mozzarella to rosemary and Parmesan cheese. Focaccia pizza is a popular choice for those who enjoy a thicker and more substantial base.

3. Regional Variations

3.1 Pizza from Naples

As the birthplace of pizza, Naples boasts a rich pizza culture. In addition to the iconic Neapolitan pizza styles mentioned earlier, Naples is also known for its fried pizza, called “pizza fritta.” This indulgent delight features a deep-fried dough that is stuffed with various fillings, such as ricotta cheese and pork rinds. Naples is a must-visit destination for pizza lovers seeking an authentic taste of Italian pizza.

3.2 Pizza from Rome

Rome, the eternal city, has its own unique pizza traditions. Besides the Roman-style pizza al taglio, Rome is famous for its thin and crispy “pizza in teglia.” This type of pizza is baked in rectangular pans, resulting in a satisfyingly crunchy crust. Rome also offers an array of toppings, from classic margherita to more inventive combinations. Exploring the pizza scene in Rome is a delightful adventure that will undoubtedly leave you wanting more.

3.3 Pizza from Sicily

Sicilian pizza, as mentioned earlier, is one of the most distinct regional variations in Italy. Its thick and doughy crust sets it apart from other Italian pizza styles. Sicilian pizza is often enjoyed as a square slice, called “sfincione,” and is known for its generous toppings. From the vibrant tomato sauce to the array of ingredients such as onions, anchovies, and pecorino cheese, Sicilian pizza offers a unique and flavorful experience that captures the essence of the island.

3.4 Pizza from Calabria

Calabrese pizza, originating from the Calabria region in southern Italy, is a reflection of the region’s culinary traditions. Besides the spicy Calabrian chilies that give the pizza its fiery kick, Calabrese pizza often features local ingredients such as ‘nduja, a soft and spicy spreadable salami, and caciocavallo, a semi-hard cheese. This regional variation offers a distinct flavor profile that showcases the bold and robust flavors of Calabria.

4. Pizza vs. Pizza Margherita

4.1 Pizza

Pizza, in its most general sense, refers to any flatbread topped with various ingredients. It can come in various shapes, sizes, and styles. The versatility of pizza allows for endless possibilities in terms of flavor combinations and toppings.

4.2 Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita, on the other hand, is a specific style of pizza that follows a traditional recipe. It is characterized by its thin crust, topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil. Pizza Margherita is considered the quintessential representation of Italian pizza, with its simplicity and focus on high-quality ingredients.

4.3 Differences

The main difference between pizza and Pizza Margherita lies in their specificity. While pizza is a broader term encompassing various styles and toppings, Pizza Margherita adheres to a specific set of ingredients and preparation methods. Pizza Margherita is a classic, while pizza as a whole is a versatile culinary creation that knows no bounds.

What Is Italian Pizza Called?

5. Italian Pizza Toppings

5.1 Classic Toppings

Italian pizza toppings vary widely based on regional traditions and personal preferences. Classic toppings for Italian pizza include tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, basil, oregano, garlic, olive oil, mushrooms, onions, and cooked ham. These ingredients form the foundation of many traditional Italian pizza styles and are beloved for their simplicity and delicious flavors.

5.2 Popular Variations

In addition to the classic toppings, Italian pizza has seen a myriad of variations over the years. These variations often reflect local preferences and international influences. Popular variations include toppings such as prosciutto, arugula, gorgonzola cheese, anchovies, capers, roasted red peppers, and even seafood like shrimp or squid. These toppings add a unique twist to traditional Italian pizza, combining flavors in unexpected and delightful ways.

5.3 Regional Toppings

Each region in Italy has its own unique set of regional toppings that showcase local flavors and culinary traditions. For example, in Naples, you may find toppings such as buffalo mozzarella, black olives, and fresh tomatoes. In Rome, artichokes, cured meats, and pecorino cheese are often used as toppings. Exploring regional toppings allows you to experience the diversity and richness of Italian cuisine.

6. Pizza Styles around the World

6.1 American Style

American-style pizza is known for its thick, doughy crust and generous toppings. Unlike the traditional Italian styles, American pizza often features a wide variety of toppings, including meats, vegetables, and even pineapple! The crust is typically more bread-like and can be stuffed or topped with cheese.

6.2 New York Style

New York-style pizza is a beloved variation of American pizza. It is characterized by its large, thin slices that are foldable yet sturdy. The crust is chewy and has a slight crispness. New York-style pizza is often served with a variety of toppings, from classic cheese and tomato to more elaborate combinations.

6.3 Chicago Deep Dish

Chicago deep-dish pizza is a hearty and indulgent style of pizza. It features a thick, buttery crust that serves as a vessel for generous amounts of cheese, tomato sauce, and various toppings. The pizza is baked in a deep pan, resulting in a deep-dish pie-like structure. Chicago deep-dish pizza is a satisfying and filling meal that satisfies even the heartiest of appetites.

6.4 Neapolitan Style

Neapolitan-style pizza, as mentioned earlier, is a traditional Italian pizza style that has gained popularity worldwide. Known for its soft and chewy crust, Neapolitan-style pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven, resulting in a slightly charred and smoky flavor. Its simplicity and emphasis on high-quality ingredients make Neapolitan-style pizza a beloved choice for pizza enthusiasts.

6.5 Sicilian Style

Sicilian-style pizza, also mentioned earlier, is a thick and doughy pizza style that hails from Sicily. It typically has a rectangular shape and features a generous amount of toppings. The crust is thick and soft, allowing for a satisfying bite. Sicilian-style pizza is known for its heartiness and ability to please a crowd.

What Is Italian Pizza Called?

7. Cultural Significance

7.1 Traditional Meal

In Italy, pizza is not merely a quick and convenient meal; it is a cultural institution. Italians take pride in their pizza traditions and consider it a symbol of their culinary heritage. Pizza is often enjoyed as a leisurely and social meal, bringing friends and family together to share in the joy of good food and good company.

7.2 Social Gathering

Pizza plays a significant role in Italian social gatherings. Whether it’s a weekend family gathering or a casual dinner with friends, pizza is often the centerpiece of these events. Sharing a round of pizza, passing slices around the table, and engaging in lively conversation epitomizes the Italian way of life.

7.3 World Recognition

Italian pizza has gained worldwide recognition and has become a cultural ambassador for Italy. Pizzerias serving Italian-style pizza can be found in nearly every corner of the globe, with each aspiring to recreate the authentic flavors and techniques of Italy. The cultural significance of Italian pizza has transcended borders and has become a beloved culinary staple worldwide.

8. The Art of Pizza Making

8.1 Selecting the Ingredients

The art of pizza making begins with selecting the finest ingredients. From the type of flour used for the dough to the quality of the tomatoes and cheese, each ingredient plays a crucial role in creating a delicious pizza. The innovation lies in striking a balance between tradition and experimentation to create a memorable culinary experience.

8.2 Pizza Dough

Pizza dough is the foundation of any great pizza. Italian pizza dough typically consists of flour, water, salt, and yeast. The key to a good pizza dough is proper fermentation, which allows the dough to develop flavor and texture. Achieving the perfect balance of chewiness, crispness, and airiness in the dough takes skill and practice.

8.3 Pizza Sauce

Pizza sauce is another crucial component of the pizza-making process. Traditional Italian pizza sauces often use San Marzano tomatoes, known for their sweet flavor and low acidity. The sauce is typically simple, allowing the natural sweetness and tartness of the tomatoes to shine through. A perfect pizza sauce should complement the other ingredients without overpowering them.

8.4 Cheese

When it comes to pizza, cheese is a star ingredient. Italian pizza often uses fresh mozzarella cheese, known for its creamy texture and mild flavor. The cheese should melt and bubble beautifully in the oven, creating a luscious and satisfying topping. Other types of cheese, such as Parmesan, pecorino, and gorgonzola, can be used to add additional depth of flavor.

8.5 Toppings

The toppings you choose can make or break a pizza. Traditional Italian pizza toppings are often simple, allowing the quality of the ingredients to shine. However, experimentation has led to a wide variety of toppings being embraced in Italy and beyond. The key is to strike a balance between complementary flavors and textures, ensuring that each bite offers a delightful combination.

8.6 Baking and Techniques

Baking a pizza to perfection requires skill and attention to detail. Traditional Italian pizza is typically baked in a wood-fired oven at a high temperature for a short amount of time. This results in a crispy crust and a slightly charred flavor. Achieving the ideal balance between a crisp base and perfectly melted cheese is the mark of a skilled pizza maker.

What Is Italian Pizza Called?

9. Famous Italian Pizza Restaurants

9.1 Da Michele in Naples

Da Michele is one of Naples’ most iconic pizzerias, known worldwide for its exquisite and authentic Margherita pizza. Established in 1870, Da Michele has remained a beloved institution, attracting locals and tourists alike. The simplicity and quality of their ingredients, paired with their time-honored techniques, have earned them a reputation as one of the best pizza places in Italy.

9.2 Pizzeria Brandi in Naples

Pizzeria Brandi, located in the heart of Naples, holds a special place in pizza history. It was here, in 1889, that the first Margherita pizza was made and presented to Queen Margherita of Italy. Today, Pizzeria Brandi continues to uphold its legacy by serving delicious Neapolitan-style pizzas that pay homage to their origins.

9.3 Pizzarium in Rome

Pizzarium, located in Rome, is a revolutionary pizzeria that reimagined the concept of pizza by the slice. Instead of the traditional round pizza, Pizzarium takes the rectangular pizza al taglio and elevates it to new heights. With an impressive array of toppings that change daily, Pizzarium offers a gastronomic adventure for pizza enthusiasts.

9.4 Pizzeria Sorbillo in Naples

Pizzeria Sorbillo is a family-owned pizzeria that has been serving mouth-watering pizzas since 1935. Known for their light and fluffy Neapolitan-style crust, Pizzeria Sorbillo prides itself on using high-quality ingredients sourced from local producers. The long lines that often form outside the restaurant are a testament to the popularity and reputation of their delicious pizzas.

9.5 Pizzeria Starita in Naples

Pizzeria Starita is another iconic establishment in Naples that has been delighting pizza lovers since 1901. Their classic Neapolitan-style pizzas are made with expertise and passion, exuding the essence of traditional Italian pizza. From their perfectly charred crust to the harmonious combination of flavors, Pizzeria Starita is a must-visit for anyone seeking an authentic pizza experience.

10. Conclusion

10.1 Recap

In this comprehensive article, we have taken a deep dive into the world of Italian pizza. We explored the various traditional Italian pizza styles, from the beloved Neapolitan and Roman pizzas to the regional variations found in Naples, Rome, Sicily, and Calabria. We compared and contrasted different pizza styles from around the world and uncovered the cultural significance of pizza in Italian society. We also delved into the art of pizza making, from selecting the finest ingredients to mastering the baking techniques.

10.2 Appreciating Italian Pizza

Italian pizza is not just food; it is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the hearts and taste buds of people worldwide. Its simplicity, quality ingredients, and emphasis on tradition make it a timeless culinary delight. Whether you’re enjoying a classic Margherita pizza in Naples or savoring a creative variation in a pizzeria abroad, Italian pizza is an experience that brings people together and celebrates the joys of good food. So the next time you indulge in a slice of Italian pizza, take a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship, history, and love that goes into creating this iconic dish. Buon appetito!

What Is Italian Pizza Called?


I'm Cooking Master, your culinary guide on Cooking Planet! With a passion for cooking and a deep appreciation for the diverse flavors and techniques scattered across the globe, this website is where I share my knowledge and experiences. From baking delectable treats to grilling mouthwatering dishes, I aim to inspire your cooking endeavors. Join me as we embark on a gastronomic expedition, exploring the realms of roasting, boiling, frying, and more. From Asian delicacies to European classics, African delights to American favorites, let's unlock the secrets of cooking around the world together. Discover the vast and appetizing world of Cooking Planet!