Thick or thin, fluffy or crispy, whatever you choose, pizza is always scrumptious. In Italy, all types of pizzas have their own clear origins. Whether you choose Marinara, Margherita, or Four Seasons, you can prepare them according to these guidelines. So let me help you make your own pizza with genuine simple ingredients and a delicious crust. You’ll be forever grateful.
There is nothing more popular than pizza, something easy to make which tastes delicious.
With a few ingredients, such as flour, water, yeast, tomatoes, and mozzarella, you have the basics.
The most important rule is to choose only top-quality ingredients. Just remember to add a little imagination.
A few years ago, pizza used to be the go-to solution when the fridge was empty. Takeout pizza was the easiest solution. However, since then, it has become an actual gourmet dish. Topped with simple ingredients, it has become a great culinary experience!
What kind of pizza would you encounter if you could travel all around Italy?
Well, what kind of pizza do you fancy: Neapolitan, Roman, or something between the two?
Neapolitan pizza is the most famous and delicious one known as “The Pizza” par excellence. A wood-fired pizza, it is topped with lot of tomato sauce cooked with coarsely sliced garlic and extra virgin olive oil.
Cornicione, or the outer edge of the crust is thick, high, and fluffy. You can’t leave it on your plate because if you did, the pizzaiolo or the pizza chef would get offended.
San Marzano peeled plum tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil are what make a top-quality Margherita pizza. Simplicity is the key to this queen of the pizzas.
Before serving, it is garnished with dried oregano and more extra-virgin olive oil. A good marinara tells you how skilled the pizza chef is. The most popular variation calls for anchovies as well.
To contrast, Roman pizza is thin, wide, and crispy (almost crunchy). The outer crust is barely noticeable because the dough, which is enriched with a little oil, is rolled out with a rolling pin in order to eliminate all the gas from the fermentation process. Thus, the “cracker effect” is guaranteed, especially if baked in an electric oven.
The third one, the Four Seasons, is just a good pizza without any of the well-defined features as the Neapolitan or the Roman. Its toppings vary according to tastes. The dough is less fluffy, the crust is less thin in the middle, the crust is less high but can sometimes be as golden brown as the Neapolitan’s. The range of toppings is quite extensive as well. From traditional to creative, local ingredients best represent their region. For example, for the summer section, there might be the same ingredients as those on the Margherita; the spring section might have artichokes and fontina cheese; the fall section might have mushrooms, red pepper, and provolone cheese; the winter section might have onion, potato slices, and Pecorino cheese.
What about the other variations?
Yes, this is not the end of the variations. In Italy, you may encounter plenty others, more or less traditional. In Naples, you’ll come across fried pizza, the real queen of Naples street food. If you stroll about any Italian cities, or towns you may easily come across small takeout shops which sell pizza al taglio, pizza baked in large rectangular trays and sold in rectangles or squares with its texture and modality of consumption more similar to focaccia, or flatbread. You can experience amazing varieties at Mr. Gabriele Bonci’s Pizzarium in Rome. He runs a small shop where, after patiently waiting in a long line, you can taste delicious slices of pizza with crispy airy crusts along with a wide range of toppings. A pure dream!
Which are the traditional Italian pizzas?
What are the most traditional Italian toppings? Here, you won’t find pineapple on pizza, avocado on pizza, or pepperoni pizza, but you can find one with al salamino picante, or hot chili salami. You will be able to choose among plenty of other options for toppings. I’m sure you will like them all.
- The Margherita is the most iconic of pizzas. Simply topped with fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, salt, and oil, it is the truest of Neapolitan culinary traditions. With a very old origin, it was supposedly invented by the chef Raffaele Esposito in 1889 in honor of Queen Margherita of Savoy as he wanted to represent the colors of the new Italian flag.
- Marinara pizza is topped with tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and oil. It is named after its long-lasting ingredients, which were stored on board ships by sailors in order to make pizzas during their long voyages.
- Pizza with buffalo mozzarella is the same as the Margherita, but fresh mozzarella is replaced with buffalo milk, a typical dairy product from Campania. Caprese is a delicious variety where the raw ingredients of the toppings are arranged onto the cooked crust.
- Capricciosa pizza is topped with tomatoes, mozzarella, mushrooms, baby artichokes, ham, and black olives. Sometimes, a hard-boiled egg is added, and occasionally, a raw egg is cracked onto the topping and cooked in the oven.
- Quattro Stagioni, or Four Seasons, pizza has got the same ingredients as the Capricciosa, but they are arranged separately in four sections.
- Diavola, or Devil-like, is a spicy pizza named after its main ingredients: tomatoes, mozzarella, hot chili salami, and red pepper flakes.
- Quattro Formaggi, or Four Cheese, has mozzarella, a creamy mix of fontina cheese, sweet Gorgonzola, provolone, Parmigiano, and fresh basil. In Naples, it is exclusively made with a white sauce, but you may also experience it with a variety of tomatoes.
- Carrettiera pizza contains two iconic ingredients from the Neapolitan culinary tradition: sausage and broccoli rabe. Also added is provolone cheese or Parmigiano cheese shavings.
- Pizza with ham and mushrooms is one of my favorites. Porcini or white (button) mushrooms are paired with ham after it’s cooked. So yummy!
- Pizza with Parma ham or Inglesina is a Margherita enriched with thin slices of ham arranged on the pizza after it’s cooked.
- Pizza with pistachio nut cream and mortadella is a delicious wood-fired pizza with a white sauce, extra virgin olive oil, and rosemary. After cooking, it is topped with a little pistachio nut cream and thinly sliced mortadella.
- Vegetarian Pizza is a Margherita enriched with grilled eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and sometimes peas.
- Pizza Primavera, or spring pizza, has cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, arugula, Parma ham, and Grana Padano cheese shavings.
There are plenty of other variations depends on the pizza chef’s own imagination. Thousands of combinations are available: I have just listed the masterpieces that any good pizza restaurant will have on its menu.
Are you drooling yet? Which pizza are you going to make next?
How do you eat pizza?
An easy answer is with fork, knife, and a little patience. Here are just a few table manners to follow in Italy when you eat a round pizza. If you follow this advice, you will fully enjoy your pizza and not embarrass yourself.
- Slice the pizza into triangular pieces. This makes it easier to eat with both a knife and a fork and then after with your hands.
- Pizza is very informal, so you can slice it with a sharp knife and then use your hands. In the case of one with very generous toppings, first, use the fork to eat some of it, then take a bite to fully enjoy its taste.
- The strictest table manners allow pizzas to be eaten with one’s hands only after it has been cut with a fork and a knife.
- Don’t fold the pizza over and eat it like a sandwich. I know, pizza is so scrumptious that you can’t resist, but slow down and enjoy it.
- Pizza must be eaten hot if you want to experience all its flavors. If the dough is not very good, when cold, it becomes inedible.
- The crust: Never leave it behind as the pizza chef might get offended. Good pizza must be eaten in full including the outer edge. Some people don’t eat the crust because they think it is indigestible, but actually, this is the most scrumptious part because it is proof of a top-quality dough. Though the experts recommend cutting a bit of it to check for airiness, a round pizza with triangular slices is usually eaten from the tip of the slice and upwards… start from there and don’t stop!