Authentic Italian Pizza: 8 Types of Italian Pizza You Should Know About
In Italy, our love of pizza runs deep, but not necessarily “deep-dish”. Depending on your roots and where you live, you may or may not be familiar with the origin of pizza, which we are proud to say begins in our beautiful Italy. Many countries have adapted Italian pizza to make their own versions, often making them much larger, differently shaped and adding uncommon ingredients, like pineapple pizza, to this (mostly) savory dish. Famously, North America’s version of pizza is a different scale of pizza altogether, with thicker and even cheese-stuffed crusts and a lot more ingredients, or at least ingredients that are not typically used in italian pizza making. You will realize that authentic Italian pizza is based on simplicity and exquisite flavors. Here we are going to tell you about 7 traditional Italian pizzas that are popular amongst Italian natives. These are so mouthwateringly good you’ll want to make your way to Italy to try them (or try and make your own at home).
Pizza Napoletana (Neapolitan)
This pizza is originally from Naples, or Napoli in Italian, and may be the most commonly recognised Italian pizza around the world. Though different countries have developed their own versions, the original Italian recipe is quite simple and the method of production is protected by UNESCO. The dough is made up of 4 ingredients: wheat flour, yeast, salt and water. Though you might be tempted to get prepping right away once you have formed the dough, for this particular pizza it is usually left to rise for up to 24 hours. Traditionally the dough is shaped by hand into a round, flat 3 millimeter disc, and topped with ingredients before entering a 900°F wood-burning oven for just 90 seconds. The typical ingredients for this pizza are San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil and a drizzle of olive oil, though it is common to add a touch of other vegetables or proteins such as mushrooms or meats, but always in moderation so the flavors are well balanced. What comes out of the scorching oven is the most original Italian pizza with a soft-elastic center and fluffy high-risen crust – simply delicious!
Pizza alla Pala
Pizza alla Pala is a very different style of pizza to Napoletana. A couple of factors set this pizza apart from others. Originally in Roman bakeries, these pizzas were created with the means to use leftover bread dough. They are recognised for being served on the same wooden-paddle that is used to put the pizza in and take it out of the oven, hence the name Pizza alla Pala, meaning ‘paddle pizza’. But it is also a very different style of pizza in that the dough is significantly more hydrated and it is cooked in an electric oven at around 580°F. Its cooking time allows for a soft risen interior and lightly crispy exterior.
Here we have another gem from Italy’s capital: Pizza Romana is a thin and crispy alternative to the soft and fluffy Pizza Napoletana. The dough for this pizza is rolled flat and thin, with the crust remaining as thin as the center. The result after cooking in an electric oven is a thin crispy pizza that will most likely break and not bend if you try to fold it. It may also be deliberately slightly burnt, which contributes to the overall flavor.
The Pinsa Romana has been a part of Roman artisan baking for over 100 years. The preparation of this dough involves pressing it flat by hand (hence the term “pinsa” from the latin “pinsere”, meaning to flatten by hand), as opposed to other pizza styles that are rolled out and spun in the air. The dough is a mix of different flours including wheat, soy and rice. Instead of a traditional round or rectangular shape, this pinsa romana is recognisable as it has an oblong or oval shape. The modern roman pinsa is said to be a reinterpretation of an ancient Roman recipe based on focaccia, which was made by grinding cereals such as millet, barley and spelt, and also adding salt and herbs. In 2001, the Di Marco family unveiled a story about how the pinsa romana formed an important part of a Gladiators diet during the times of the Ancient Roman Empire. This was however just a marketing stunt, but the story became popular amongst pizza lovers and throughout the next couple of decades, more pizzerias or better yet, Pinserie’s were opened.
Pizza al Taglio
Another common type of Pizza originating in Rome (source Il Messaggero) is Pizza al Taglio, which means by the cut. This type of Italian pizza is commonly sold as street food as you can buy it by the slice, making for an easy hand-held snack; no table, knives or forks required. They are prepared and cooked in large rectangular pans before being cut into squares or long rectangular strips. This pizza is usually sold with a variety of ingredients, from a simple mozzarella and tomato topped one to potato, sausage and cheese. Vendors will charge by piece/type or depending on the weight of each slice so bear this in mind when selecting which toppings you prefer.
This slightly more unconventional take on pizza has the pizzaiolo frying the pizza dough, rather than cooking it in an oven. This is a popular street food option for Neopolitans and actually dates back to World War 2 (Source La Cucina Italiana), when the burning-wood ovens were destroyed, the Neapolitan cooks adapted and came to the idea of frying the dough instead, and topping it off with whatever was available. Here in Abruzzo, Pizza Fritta is a traditional street food enjoyed by people of all ages at big and small festivals alike. Sometimes, the fried dough is just sprinkled with some salt or stuffed with prosciutto, cheese and other cold cut meats.
Pizza al Padellino/Tegamino
Ok, so we said in the beginning that our love for pizza runs deep, but not “deep-dish”. Well, we’re going to make an exception here, for our Pizza al Padellino. This pizza is prepared in small, round pans or tegamino in italian, which makes the dough rise higher. This results in a soft and fluffy center, while the oils in the pan slightly fry the crust, making it lightly crispy. Essentially this pizza is smaller than our typical Napoletana pizza, however it is thicker and commonly topped with similar ingredients to other classic Italian pizzas, such as mozzarella cheese, bell peppers and prosciutto or ham. Though you can find our Pizza al Padellino throughout Italy, it is said to originate from Torino, the capital city of Piedmont in northern Italy.
Otherwise known as Sfincione, this Italian pizza is similar to our Pizza al Padellino in that it is also thicker and spongier in consistency than some of our other varieties. It is cooked in a rectangular pan, depending on which pizzeria you visit, and it also stands out from the rest as the ingredients used are somewhat different to those of other types of pizza. For example, rather than buffalo mozzarella, pizza Siciliana typically has hard goat or cow’s milk cheeses and is topped with anchovies and bread crumbs to absorb the excess oil. You probably already guessed, as the name of the pizza suggests it; this pizza originated in Sicily.
We hope we haven’t left you feeling too hungry after reading about Italy’s 8 types of pizza. If you are a pizza fanatic and come to visit us here in Abruzzo, we can set up a customized tour for you where we will take you to different pizzerias specializing in each of the pizzas you read about. Furthermore if you enjoy authentic Italian cuisine in general, you may also enjoy reading about one of our favorite Italian pasta recipes: Pasta alla Chitarra.