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8 Pizzas You Need to Try When You Visit Italy!

Updated on January 31, 2019
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I am an English-speaking freelance food writer based in Rome. I love writing articles on various aspects of Italian culture.

There are so many reasons everyone likes pizza, some of them even scientific, the chemical rush of Dopamine in the centre of the brain, but the best reason to nominate pizza here is that it really is nice and filling.

Why is it so special?

Italian pizzas are prepared with a superior mix of different Italian and Egyptian wheat flour and baked in an open wood-fired brick oven that infuses the crust with the aroma of wood smoke while the dough must also be hand-made and hand-kneaded.

Resting Pizza Dough
Resting Pizza Dough
Pinsa with Margherita topping
Pinsa with Margherita topping

Different Types of Pizza

Pizza Tonda or round pizza, broadly speaking refers to two types of Pizza:

  • Neapolitan-style alla Napoletana
  • Roman-style alla Romana.

Here the pizza styles refer to the type of bread or crust, not to the kind of topping. Neapolitan-style pizza is thicker with a more bread-like crust and is typical of Naples. Rome-style pizza found mainly in the city of Rome and the surrounding Lazio region is much thinner, with a crispy crust.

An Additional Rome style pizza is Pinsa Romana based on an ancient Roman recipe that is similar to pizza but the dough and the mixture are different.

The shape is a of rectangular oval, and the texture has crispy edges and a soft inside. It is more digestible due to the dough mixture being left to rest for up to three days. More water is added to the dough mixture which consists of different types of wheat, soybean, rice and maize flour. The finished result is lighter and is served with a variety of flavours, from savoury to sweet and from bitter to sour.

Pizza al taglio with Fungi Porcini mushrooms
Pizza al taglio with Fungi Porcini mushrooms

Found all over Italy is the Pizza al taglio is a rectangular takeaway pizza that is cut into small squares that are folded along the middle.

Pizze Rosse | Pizze Bianche

Italians usually divide pizzas according to whether they do or do not contain tomato. Tomato-based pizzas are called Pizze Rosse, while tomato-free pizzas are called Pizze Bianche.

White pizza or Foccaia is not just one variant of pizza, but any kind of pizza not containing a base of tomato. Famous examples of this white pizza are the four cheese pizza Quattro Formaggi or the spinach and ricotta pizza, Spinachi e Riccotta. A third type is a closed Calzone Pizza that is first folded then baked and filled with any choice of ingredients.

Tomato sauce
Tomato sauce

Types of Pizza toppings

The traveller who is lucky enough to have the chance to try pizza in Italy is often faced with a bewildering array of choices however these are the most common types of pizza toppings to be found on every menu.

Naples style Marinara
Naples style Marinara

This is the simplest and oldest type of red pizza with a sauce that originated in Naples with tomato, garlic, parsley and dried oregano a common Mediterranean herb. It is one of the few pizza that does not include mozzarella cheese and is light and easily digestible pizza.

Pizza Margherita.
Pizza Margherita. | Source

Named after Queen Margherita of Savoy, who visited Naples in 1889 and tasted a pizza created in her honour that had a topping whose ingredients resembled the colours of the Italian flag: red tomato, white mozzarella cheese and green basil leaves.

Thin crust Fungi pizza lower left before going into the oven at a pizzeria in Rome
Thin crust Fungi pizza lower left before going into the oven at a pizzeria in Rome

Another simple pizza that has its origins in the cheap ingredients found in Naples where this pizza was often originally eaten for breakfast.

A topping made up of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese is enhanced by the sliced fresh mushrooms.

A fully loaded Rome style Capricciosa Pizza
A fully loaded Rome style Capricciosa Pizza

A substantial pizza made on a “whim” with a long list of ingredients including tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, boiled egg, Proscuitto ham, olives and finally chopped artichokes that are seasoned in white wine vinegar and olive oil that help to bring out the flavours of the ham, cheese and whole black olives.

Pizza Quattro Formaggi
Pizza Quattro Formaggi | Source

Quattro Formaggi
A rich and very filling pizza made from four classic cheese pairings using Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Gruyere and finely grated Parmesan cheese that is all melted together in a 300-degree centigrade oven. A pizza for the cheese lover.

Funghi e Salsiccia Pizza
Funghi e Salsiccia Pizza | Source

Funghi e Salsiccia
Made with Prataioli mushrooms or to give them their correct Latin name Agaricus Bisporus the most common mushroom type found in Italy and with chopped soft Italian pork sausage and grated mozzarella all cooked in the oven in a matter of minutes.

Buffalo Cheese
Buffalo Cheese | Source

Bufala e Pachino
Small chopped sweet cherry tomatoes and Bufala cheese - a richer flavoured Mozzarella cheese made from Buffalo milk from cattle that graze in the south of Italy. Sometimes fresh green basil leaves are also added to this interestingly flavoured topping.

Rome style thin crust Pizza Rucola and Bresaola
Rome style thin crust Pizza Rucola and Bresaola

Bresaola e Rucola.
A protein-rich topping that is added after the pizza is removed from the oven made up of Bresaola, a dry thinly sliced salted beef and Rucola a strongly flavoured serrated salad leaf that is chopped and arranged loosely across the pizza and smothered with flakes of thin parmesan cheese.

The knife and fork question.

With these topping choices any diner will be able to confidently order and eat the pizza they want. Most Italian pizza restaurants are immensely proud of their pizza often adding in their own small details such as de-seeded olives or extra spicy sausage, but all offer the same broad style of toppings.

The idea of mixing of flour types in bread was originally brought to Rome by Greek slaves while early pizza was popular because it could be eaten easily without a knife and fork and nobody had to do the washing up at the end of the meal.

Eat outdoors with a knife and fork or eat with your fingers it is up to you
Eat outdoors with a knife and fork or eat with your fingers it is up to you

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