Posted on March 05 2018
When you think of Italian food, you most certainly think of pizza. Developed in Naples in the late 18th century, pizza was originally a simple focaccia with a tomato topping. This recipe soon gained a devoted following, and even become a tourist attraction. Such is the allure of pizza, it is now an incredibly popular meal worldwide, with 3 billion pizzas being consumed annually in America alone.
For many Italians, heading to a local Pizzeria is a Sunday evening tradition. Pizza is notably one of the only Italian dishes that is available across the entire country; many other famous Italian specialities are exclusive to the area they originated from. While this is not the case with pizza, local regions usually do offer their own spin on the dish, with different variations of toppings or even differing styles and recipes altogether.
The most well-known of Italian pizza styles is the Neapolitan pizza. The Neapolitan is probably what most people think of when they think of traditional pizza; very thin crust, made in a wood-burning oven with fresh ingredients. The crust is so think that it does not have much topping and probably needs to be eaten with a knife and fork. To be authentically Neapolitan, it must be topped with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil and Mozarella di Bufala Campana.
As the popularity of pizza has spread throughout the world however you can now find different flavour varieties, crusts and toppings in every country. From a basic cheese and tomato (Margherita), mushroom (funghi), ham and pineapple (hawaiian) or pepperoni in UK to a kimchi flavoured pizza in Korea to Squid Teriyaki flavour in Japan.
New York Slice
In the USA there are different types of pizza based on the crust and base. The New York Slice has a thin crust like the Neopolitan. Toppings include tomato sauce, cheese, oregano and chilli flakes. Ground beef, peppers and mushrooms are also possible. The slice is meant to be eaten by hand perhaps folded in two.
The Chicago pizza is made with a thick crust with raised edges - in the shape of a pie. The ingredients are also loaded in reverse. Cheese is first, then meat or vegetables and the tomato sauce is poured on top like a sauce.
Pizza Rustica / Al Taglio
Pizza Rustica or al taglio (literally ‘Sliced Pizza’) is a long, rectangular style of pizza that came to prominence in Rome during the 1960s. This type of pizza is also known as pizza al metro, due to the fact that the pie itself is a metre long. With a denser base and more importance placed on toppings, you will see ‘pizza al taglio’ advertised on the side of take away vans and cafes.
Pizza bianca (“White Pizza”) is another well-known type of pizza originating in Rome, although it’s incredibly different from al taglio in both style and recipe. The Pizza Bianca is a pizza without tomato sauce.
In Rome the Pizza Bianca can be seen as exemplifying simple and delicious cuisine - the pizza base sprinkled with just olive oil, sea salt and rosemary. Other versions use the Pizza Bianco as a show case for expensive ingredients without the acidic tomato base. Ingredients such as truffles, wild mushrooms, fennel sausage or just Italian cheese lovers. The often delicate flavours of some cheese such as ricotta can be overpowered by a rich tomato sauce. Pizza Bianco is also a good choice for any picky eaters.
The calzone is an oven baked folded pizza that originated in Naples. The name ‘calzone’ is thought to have come from the idea of a stuffed Christmas stocking. ‘Calza’ is the Italian word for ‘stocking’. Typically a Sandwich-sized calzones are a popular lunchtime treat from Italian street vendors, as they are easy to eat and contain a lot of filling. The fillings can vary from region to region but are usually tomato, cheeses, meats, vegetables, olives.
Another version of the calzone - slightly smaller and specifically fried - is the panzerotti. Typically filled with tomato and mozzarella panzerotti and are made in southern Italian town of Apulia.
The stromboli is more of an American - Italian invention. Thought to have started with immigrants in Philadelphia, it is made from a rectangular shaped pizza dough based.
Like a calzone the base is then covered with various cheeses, cold meats or vegetables. Rather than folded into a half moon shape, the stromboli is rolled up into a cylinder and baked in the oven.
Finally, dessert pizza is a style that has gained popularity across the globe, particularly in the US. Toppings range from the sickly sweet (marshmallows and sugared cream cheese), to the more indulgent (chocolate and fruit). Bonieri’s own Gianduja spread is perfect for a dessert pizza, topped with pears or bananas.
Whatever your pizza preferences, there is undoubtedly a style and choice of toppings available for you… although you may have to travel the length and breadth of Italy to ensure you really do find your favourite.