You think you know pizza, but do you really know pizza? With variations in crust, sauce, size, shape, and toppings, there’s a lot to know about Italy’s signature food. While some regions will argue that their pizza is better than another’s, it may just be a matter of personal preference. Which style is right for you? Let’s get saucy and find out which region’s specialty is the one to tickle your tastebuds.
Pizza Napoletana: A true Neapolitan pizza has an incredibly soft and thin crust that is cooked in a very hot wood-fired oven. How hot? About 900*F. The high heat causes the bubbly crust to char and blister before it reaches the base of the dough. This keeps the dough’s interior from drying out and hardening, leaving a pillowy soft base that is still strong enough to hold all your favorite toppings. Softcore pizza with a hardcore following.
Pizza al Taglio: Translating to “pizza by the cut”, pizza al taglio refers to the Roman style of pizza that has been cooked in a sheet pan and sold by the slice. You may also hear it called “pizza al tranco”, or, pizza by the slice. But you don’t just ask for a slice; after seeing all the glorious variations at your local pizzaria, one simply tells the server how much to cut off, then pays for it by weight. This type of pizza is baked in an electric oven, giving it a thick, crisp, yet airy crust. Because this type of crust cooks longer — up to 15 minutes — toppings are often added mid-bake, or after-bake to prevent them from overcooking.
Pizza Siciliana: Here in the USA, we often think of Sicilian pizza as square pizza. Sicilian immigrants in Boston, Providence, and New York prepared their pizza in square-shaped pans, inspired by the two types of pizza sold in bakeries back home. The dough has a certain breadiness, similar to Sicilian focaccia. That said, when ordering Pizza in most parts of Sicily, you will find round pies, or even two pizza stacked together to make a stuffed pizzolo. Shape is of less importance than the ingredients: semolina flour, pecorino siciliano, etc. Sicilian pizza is often seen with anchovies and a dusting of breadcrumbs — but never with buffalo mozzarella!
Pizza Romana Tonda: This style of pizza dough seems to be on steroids. The round pizza of Rome is thin, ultra crisp, and, well, strong. Hold up a slice by it’s rounded crust and the point of the pizza will never sag. You’ll also notice the dough will crack if you try to fold a slice. This phenomenon is known as schrocchiarella and is a style on its own.
Pizza Alla Pala/Pizza A Metro: The oblong pizzas cooked directly on the floor of the pizza oven appear to be pizza boards. Its size is determined by the number of people sharing it, which can be up to a meter long, as the name “pizza by the meter” suggests. “Alla pala” refers to the long, shovel-like tool used to slide the pizza in and out of the oven. Textures vary, but most pizza alla pala is thick and crunchy.
Pizza Frita: Deep-fried pizza? Apparently it’s a Naples thing. Greasy street food is trending and pizza fritta has taken over instagram. Pizza toppings are stuffed into two layers of dough that is folded, then deep fried until crispy. Hey, no one said pizza had to be healthy. But yes, you’ll need some napkins.
Pizza Italiana: This is the variation of pizza that doesn’t fit in any of the above styles. It’s the classic, or, traditional Italian style of pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven. It’s smaller in size (about 12 inches) with a thinner crust, fewer toppings, and less of them. You’re probably familiar with the standard options: Margherita, Marinara, Napoli, Quattro Stagione, Capricciosa. There’s no design-your-own option. And there’s certainly no pineapple either.