Italian Pizza 101

Modern's famous brick oven. Modern Apizza in N...

Modern’s famous brick oven. Modern Apizza in New Haven, CT (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since you have now mastered making your own Margherita Pizza I thought I should follow-up with some pizza “etiquette” when eating out in an Italian pizzeria.  Pizza as we know it in America is actually quite different from what you will get in an Italian pizzeria.  First of all there are no sizes.  It’s a “one size eats all” type of deal.  There is no thin, thick or stuffed crust option.  There is no half and half.  You can however order your pizza rossa (red) or bianca (white) meaning with or without tomato sauce.  Now let’s get down to business: the toppings!  You will not find combination on the menu.  In fact most pizzas do not have more than four toppings on them.  Hawaiian doesn’t exist since Italians don’t put pineapple on pizza.  Some do however put pear usually accompanied with gorgonzola cheese or walnuts.  The Italian take on vegetarian pizza usually consists of either grilled or stewed peppers, eggplant and zucchini.  Last week one of my friends even got peas on her pizza!  Be careful when ordering pepperoni pizza because you might get a pizza covered in peppers.  Pepperoni means peppers in Italian not spicy salami!  What you’d want to order is the Diavola pizza to get your pepperoni fix.

pizzeria

Some other common Italian pizzas are:

Prosciutto e Funghi: cooked ham and mushrooms

Quattro Stagioni (the four seasons): cooked ham, mushrooms, artichokes and olives

Parmigiana: eggplant and grana cheese (hard aged cheese)

Napoli: anchovies

Some other common toppings are raw ham (prosciutto crudo), sausage (salsiccia), speck (cured pork), tuna, onions, arugula, capers, onions, brie, gorgonzola, fontina cheese, and cream (panna).  You might be shocked to see ingredients such as egg, sliced hot dog (wurstel) and french fries but these are just common pizza toppings that you will find on every pizza menu.  Now when you are served your pizza will not be sliced for you.  I have observed two main styles of pizza eating in Italy.  Some people will cut the pizza into quarters, pick one up, fold it in half and eat it with their hands.  Then there is the more graceful pizza eater who cuts their pizza into small bite size pieces and generally doesn’t eat the crust.  Okay guys, you are now ready to face pizzerias with confidence and pizza “savior-faire” and blend in with the Italians!

What Italian pizza would you create and what would you call your pizza?

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