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One god, many faces: the pizza styles in Italy

Pizza styles in Italy

Last updated on 03/07/2017 at 15:39:09

One of the may things we are famous for in Italy, is our food. Basically, everywhere in the world you will find a restaurant passing off as an Italian one, or selling food with a suspicious Italian name. Sometimes it’s just a trend, our cuisine sells, and it’s not difficult to prepare some of the basic famous dishes we have in our country, especially because we do care a lot on the simplicity.

Pizza is one of these recipes that from Italy spread all over the world, conquering every continent and person, in all its tomatoish glory. Ingredients may (and have to) vary, some combinations are simply outrageous even to see, but in the end, you can put on it whatever you like and you’ll be always right.

In Italy things are different. We have several traditional pizzas, meaning that ingredients are the ones strictly related to Italian cuisine, and you can find all of them in every pizzeria. Some are more typical of a certain region or city and they scowl at you if you ask something weird on them. Or, it can happen you can find an inflexible pizza maker and it goes this way.

Putting aside the ingredients, what you may not know is that there are different pizza styles in Italy. It’s not just a dish of dough with stuff on it, and I’m not even referring to a particular flour used for the dough (whole, Kamut, with squid ink to make it black…), I mean there are more ways to prepare it and serve it.

Let’s see which are the main pizza styles in Italy, and tell me afterward the one you prefer!

Neapolitan pizza (Pizza napoletana)

Pizza styles in Italy - Neapolitan pizza - Luca Travels Around

Neapolitan pizza Margherita, By ElfQrin (Valerio Capello)

That’s probably the most famous and the one recognized as THE Italian pizza worldwide. Here in Italy, but mainly in Naples, it’s not just a food, it’s a sort of divinity.

There are precise rules and methods of productions to follow if someone wants to proudly hold the brand name “Verace Pizza Napoletana” (Real Neapolitan Pizza) and sell it (the pizza, not the brand!) to the customers. If you’re curious about it, take a look at the disciplinare. If you see that brand outside a pizza restaurant in Italy (and in the world too) it means the pizzaiolo strictly follow these rules and you’ll eat the perfect Neapolitan pizza, thin on the inner part and thick on the crust, always soft, elastic, tender and fragrant.

Another variant is the one with filled crust, mainly with ricotta cheese. A must try!

Let’s continue with our tour of the different pizzas in Italy with the following one, one of my favorite.

Roman pizza (Pizza romana)

Pizza styles in Italy - Roman pizza - Luca Travels Around

Roman pizza By PastaFazzulla (Own work)

If you go to Naples, probably the Roman pizza is a pizza whose name derives from the ingredients on it but actually, this pizza is just one of the several pizza styles in Italy.

The main ingredients are the same of the Neapolitan one, just with less meticulousness in having only precise products from specific geographical places. The area this pizza covers in the plate is usually bigger than the Neapolitan, but the dough is different. The result is an overall thinner pizza, with no such a big crust like the other one, crunchier but that doesn’t crumble apart. I particularly like it and if you’re a fan of eating pizza with bare hands, that’s the one that fits the most.

Milanese pizza (Pizza milanese)

Pizza styles in Italy - Milanese pizza - Luca Travels Around

Milanese pizza (courtesy from

Do you find this pizza in Milan? Yes! Is it from Milan? No! This is a kind of pizza that got itself into the spotlights in the mid-50s of the 20th century, thanks to the pizzeria who invented it in Milan, pizzeria Spontini. Their origin, though, were from Tuscany, and this kind of pizza is a legitimate daughter of the ones sold in slices in center Italy, in Tuscany above all. You read correctly: slice. That’s not a “round” pizza, one that fits on your plate, this is a pizza sold in triangular slices only, where a slice, or a double slice depending on your appetite’s needs, is dressed with the combinations you can find everywhere.

So, why only a slice per person? Because it’s thick! This pizza has no thinner part, it’s height is around 2-3 cm overall, but it’s extremely soft, supported by a crunchy base. The secret is that it’s not cooked directly in the oven, but it’s cooked into a pan. So the base fries a bit, giving it a crispy touch while immersing your teeth into the dough. At the beginning you think one slice is just the beginning, once you see it on your plate, completely covered by mozzarella you think it would be hard to digest, then you realize it’s soft and tasty, and that slice was the perfect size for a meal and for your belly.

Pay attention, it’s not correct to call it Milanese since it’s not the proper name of this pizza, rather the place where you’ll most likely find it. It’s simply a sliced pizza, but sometimes it’s hard to understand if a restaurant prepares this pizza rather than the traditional ones.

Pan Pizza (pizza al tegamino/padellino)

Pizza styles in Italy - Pan Pizza - Luca Travels Around

This is a kind of pizza you can find only in Turin, where it was born probably after WWII. It’s a small mono portion pizza cooked in an aluminum pan, quick to cook and easy to prepare.

It’s quite thick and crusty, but soft due to the second leavening that happen in the pan. You can have it the way you want, there’s not an exclusive set of ingredients that define this pizza. Lately, it’s living a second youth and it’s one of the most appreciated street food in Piedmont’s main city.

Palermitan Sfincione and Scacciata from Catania

Sfincione palermitano - Pizza styles in Italy
Going south, in Sicily, above the usual pizza you have the opportunity to find something exquisitely local, the Sfincione in Palermo and the Scacciata in Catania. To untrained eyes, these two could seem a pizza, but actually they’re more a focaccia with ingredients on top than a proper pizza.

Both are similar in the dough to the pizza one but they’re taller and softer, like a focaccia. The fact, though, that on top you can see tomato sauce as well doesn’t mean it’s a pizza. There are variations without tomato sauce and they’re still the same food.

Anyway, the main combinations of ingredients for these two salty pleasures are poor ingredients. Seasoned tomato sauce, sardines/anchovies, caciocavallo cheese, and breadcrumbs for the Sfincione, fresh diced tomatoes, endive, and tuma cheese (sometimes mozzarella, anchovy, and scamorza cheese instead) for the Scacciata.

Both great, both delicious, but you’ll have to travel to Sicily to eat them!

Mustazzeddu and Prazzida

Piizza styles in Italy - Mustazzeddu - Luca Travels Around

Mustazzeddu (courtesy from )

From Sicily to Sardinia, the flight is a short one, so you can have more time to try these other two dishes, very similar one to another. Are they pizzas or focaccias? Well, let’s say that, from the outside, they look more of a savory pie than a pizza, but under the “bonnet” you’ll see that both are thick pizzas where the crust is stretched almost until the center, leaving only a red heart in the middle.

Inside the mustazzeddu there is an explosion of fresh cherry tomatoes, cut into slices and seasoned with garlic, onion, salt, olive oil, and basil. Everything is put raw on the dough, covered with the crust and cooked in the oven. The result is mouth-watering, no less!

Prazzida is similar on the outside, but the ingredients are various, not only tomatoes. You can eat it with tomatoes and eggplants, or tomatoes and cheese, or with peas or onions. It’s not uncommon either to find it also with eel or lamb meat inside! So take your time to try all of them.

And to finish this list, the most difficult to avoid among all the pizza styles in Italy, the…

Tourist pizza

Pizza styles in Italy -Tourist pizza - Luca Travels Around

Despite all the different pizza styles in Italy, every city has this pizza to offer to uninformed travelers. And the bigger the city, the more you’ll find these. I guess that in a city like Venice, for example, only the pigeons are common than this pizza.

Anyway, what’s wrong with that? Well, it sucks. Every time you find a small bar/restaurant with a catchy look, with flashy banners outside full of pictures of lasagna, cannelloni, Bolognese pasta and other classic, stereotypical Italian food, they have this pizza for sure.

The problem is that the dough isn’t usually homemade, they just buy industrially made dough dishes and fill them with low-quality ingredients. If you look at them, every pizza has the same exact size and shape, perfectly round, and the taste is shoddy.

Why waste your time and money eating something like this, when a properly made pizza starts from just 4/5 €? Just use your favorite “food hunting” app, be it TripAdvisor, Yelp or whatever, and go for the good one!

Are you a pizza lover? Did you know about these pizza styles in Italy? Which one would you eat? Tell me about it in the comment section!

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Pizza styles in Italy - Luca Travels Around


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36 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I had no idea there were so many different specific styles of pizza in Italy. We took a two-week road trip through much of the country last fall, but unbelievably, we only had pizza once! It was in Tuscany but I have no idea if it was authentic. It sounds like probably not since we bought it in a pretty touristy area.

    • Wait, I’m not saying there is a fake pizza, only that not all pizzas are the same, especially in terms of quality of ingredients. In a touristic place you can find for sure a proper pizzeria (that can prepare bad pizzas as well, of course) but the risk to find a sort of “frozen pizza” served as a hand made one is higher.
      I hope you liked it anyway!

  • I went to Italy this past summer and I can assure you I had pizza probably 5 different times for breakfast! I think my favorite out of them all has to be Milanese Pizza! It’s sheer size for one piece helps me to not overindulge in eating half a pizza myself! I deifnitely remember having the tourist pizza in some places because we were in a rush and didn’t want a huge meal. Guilty! All the food in Italy though was to die for so I can’t really complain!

    • 😀
      Wow, eating it for breakfast it’s no doubt an extreme act of commendation to the pizza! It will be pleased to read your words hahaha

    • Pizza is such a simple food to prepare (in the end, the ingredients are cheap and essential) but with those is possible to create things the mouth will water for days haha

  • Wow, I really should not have read this post right before dinner…now I’m dying for pizza! This is a really cool post though. I was in Italy this summer, and had no idea of all of the different types. Maybe I’ll have to go back with this handy guide!

  • I’ve travelled a lot in Italy and it was one thing I really noticed over the years as I went to different regions was how the pizza base changed. I like how you mentioned the divinity in Naples as well because that was by far my favourite style!!

  • This was not a good article for me to read while I’m hungry – now I’m STARVING! Those all look so delicious! It is interesting to me how there are so many variations in such a small geographic location. I could go for some Neapolitan pizza right now. I visited Naples and had some the, and now I American pizza will never taste the same. Thanks for all the pizza info! I had no idea there were so many options.

    • I can assure you there are others, but we’d enter in a world were the differences between pizzas and focaccias are so imperceptible that trying to properly define them would be hard! 😀

  • I have been to Italy twice now and have not been so impressed by the pizzas. Well, the first time in Trieste the one I tried was really horrible. The second time in Bergamo it was ok, but I guess my expectations was a bit too high. I usually prefer the pizzas here in Sweden. At the same time I assume that Italians would probably take offence of how we have treated their traditions. 🙂

    • Sacrilegious! Heretic!! hahaha!
      Well, I was hoping for this different kind of comment, I was curious to know the reasons behind that and the country of provenience 😛
      Unfortunately, I can’t say anything about pizza in Sweden, to compare and understand, because I tried to eat the more Swedish food as possible when I went to Stockholm!

  • Last year I went for the first time to Italy and I ate a lot of pizza in Milan. I found good ones and bad ones. I noticed that Italians like to use just a few ingredients on pizza, which left me a little dissappointed. Usually, I like lots of combinations on pizza and food in general. Anyway, there was something else that I loved in Milan, and that was trying lasagna with spinach. It may not sound good, but it was absolutely delicious 🙂

  • I never knew that there are so many types of pizza. When I first moved to India, I hated the Pizzas here. They were too Indianized for me and mostly the Milanese kind. But it is getting better these days. When I was in Italy, I preferred having Pizzas in local restaurants than near the touristy sights exactly because of the tourist pizza.

    • I don’t know how it’s an “Indian” pizza, but I’m imagining with curry everywhere. I do like curry, if this kind of pizza exists for real, I guess I’ll try it!

  • This was a woeful read Luca, especially since I am such a Pizza lover 🙂 I have had the good fortune of eating Neapolitan pizza in Naples itself, and can’t wait to get back there and eat some more! The pics are mouthwatering 🙂

  • Yes We are Pizza lovers and we find a variety of them in India and did taste a few of them all through Europe too. And must agree the ones we tasted in Italy have different delicious flavor to them. Mustazzeddu is something we hadn’t heard of before and even looks different from the pizzas we have tried before, would love to try them someday 🙂

  • I love Pizza! I have been to Italy so many times and tried so many different types of pizza. I love the Napoletan one, it’s so simple but so delicious. I used to go out with friends for pizza while in Napoli and I never paid more than 7 euros for pizza and wine. The proper dolce vita 🙂

  • I like the neopolitan and the roman style pizza. We had some pizza at a beach resort that was roman style I think. We were near Pisa. Viareggio was possibly the name of the town. Not really sure where the beach was. The pizza we had was a marinara with garlic and the pizzas were huge and flat with a very thin crust.

    • You’ve been to my city, Viareggio! 😀
      There are some good pizzas there but definitely the marinara one is not my cup of tea (garlic!) 😀

  • Good to see such stuff from the birthplace of the things. I always suspected the authenticity of the things I get here in India. I was not wrong really. lol

  • I’m getting hungry just looking at this. I love pizza in all its different shapes and styles and would love to try every single one of these. I usually prefer the pizzas with thinner dough so it sounds like Napoletana and Romana would be the right thing for me. I cannot wait for the day I visit Napoli and get to try the original.

    • If you go to Napoli, take note: there is another typical pizza from that city, it’s called pizza fritta (fried pizza). You should try that as well, it’s hard to find it elsewhere, only in some real Neapolitan pizzerias in bigger cities in Italy. 😉

    • I’d like too! I’ve seen several interesting styles of pizza in America too, I’m curious! (and hungry hehe) 😀

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