Thick or thin, fluffy or crispy, whatever you choose, pizza is always scrumptious. In Italy, all types of pizzas have their own clear origin: let’s say marinara, margherita, or four seasons, everyone can prepare them according to well-defined guidelines.
Genuine simple ingredients, a really delicious crust, the bottom. So, do you feel like making your own pizza with me?
There is barely nothing more popular than pizza: easy to make, super scrumptious.
A few ingredients: flour, water, yeast, tomatoes, and mozzarella; it is a done deal!
The most important rule: opt only for high-quality ingredients, add a little imagination- you will be satisfied with the result although the yeasting process is not always at its best!
A few years ago, pizza used to be a kind of way-out to prepare a nice dinner in a short time when the fridge was empty. Take away pizza used to be the easiest solution. Over the years it has become an actual gourmet dish! The perfect pizza is made and topped with simple ingredients which definitely conquer your palate. It has become a great culinary excellence, a chef’s dish!
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 in the middle?
Which are the differences among the three?
Neapolitan pizza is the most famous one (it is super scrumptious, indeed) and it is known as “the Pizza” par excellence, the wood fired pizza. It is simply topped: Marinara or Margherita. Unbelievably simple, yet extraordinary!
Cornicione, the outer edge is thick, high, and fluffy. You can’t leave it: if you did, the pizzaiolo would get offended!
San Marzano peeled plum tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, fior di latte mozzarella, and basil are the basics for a high-quality pizza! Simplicity and genuineness: these are the strong points of the queen of the pizzas.
Similar to margherita, which needs just a few wonderful ingredients to surprise everyone, marinara is topped with plenty of tomatoes sauce which and cooked with coarsely sliced garlic and extra virgin olive oil.
Before serving, it is garnished with dried oregano and more extra virgin olive oil. A good marina tells you how skilled the pizzaiolo is. The most popular variation wants anchovies as well.
On the other hand, Roman pizza is thin, wide and crispy (almost crunchy). The cornicione is not noticeable, because the dough, which is enriched with a little oil is rolled out with the rolling pin in order to eliminate all the gasses due to the yeasting process: the “cracker effect” is guaranteed and favored by the baking in the electric oven.
The third one is just a good ordinary pizza without any well-defined features as the previous ones: neither Neapolitan, nor Roman. It stands in the middle- its features vary according to tastes. The dough is less fluffy, the crust is less thin in the middle, the cornicione is less high, but sometimes as golden brown as the Neapolitan one. The range of toppings is quite wide as well: from traditional to creative: local ingredients often make it the best way to describe the area it belongs to.
What about the other variations?
Yes, this is not the end, of course! In Italy you may encounter plenty of variations: more or less traditional. Just to mention a few: fried pizza, the real queen of the street food in Naples. If you stroll about any Italian cities, or towns you may easily come across small take away shops which sell “pizza al taglio”, pizza baked in large rectangular trays and sold in rectangular or square. Actually, its texture and modality of consumption make it much more similar to focaccia, flatbread, yet nobody would contest the use of the word pizza neither if it is referred to the super toothsome matching with mortadella, nor if it refers to the amazing creations Mr. Gabriele Bonci bakes in his Pizzarium. It is a small shop, where, after patiently waiting in a long line, you can taste a super delicious slice of pizza: a crispy airy crust hosts a wide range of toppings. A pure dream!
Which are the “traditional Italian pizzas”?
Well, let’s set aside cornicione and crust for a few seconds, and focus on the most traditional Italian toppings.
Here you won’t find pineapple pizza, ‘pepperoni pizza’ (to be honest, there are a few similar variations, they are called “al salamino picante”-with hot chili salami), or avocado one! No pizzas with ice-cream scoops, yet you will be able to choose among plenty of other delicacies. Believe me, you will like all of them.
- “The Margherita” (it is so famous which is no more called pizza margherita, just margherita): the iconic pizza! Simply topped with tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella, fresh basil, salt, and oil, it is the typical dish of the truest Neapolitan culinary tradition, whose origin is really antique. It is said that it was invented by the chef Raffaele Esposito in 1889 in honor of queen Margherita of Savoy as he wanted to represent the colors of the newly born Italian flag.
- Marinara pizza is topped with tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and oil. It is named after its long-lasting ingredients which were easily taken and stored onboard by the sailors to make pizzas during their long voyages.
- Pizza with buffalo mozzarella: it is the same as the margherita, but fior di latte mozzarella is replaced by buffalo milk one which is another typical dairy product from Campania. Caprese is a scrumptious variant where the raw ingredients of the topping are arranged onto the cooked crust.
- Capricciosa is topped with tomatoes, mozzarella, mushrooms, baby artichokes, ham, black olives (to taste). Sometimes, a hard-boiled egg is added, less often a raw egg is cracked onto the topping and cooked in the oven as a fried one.
- Quattro stagioni-for seasons pizza has got the same ingredients the capricciosa has, but they are arranged separately in four sectors.
- Diavola- Pizza diavolo. A spicy hot pizza which is named after its main ingredients: tomatoes, mozzarella, hot chili salami, and chili flakes. It is usually super-hot!
- Four cheese pizza: mozzarella, basil and a creamy mix of fontina cheese, sweet gorgonzola, provolone and parmigiano. In Naples it is exclusively made “white”, but you may taste also the variant with tomatoes.
- Carrettiera pizza contains two iconic ingredients from the Neapolitan culinary tradition: sausages and broccoli rabe, along with provola cheese or parmigiano cheese shaves.
- Pizza with ham and mushrooms: one of my favorites- porcino or champignon mushrooms are paired with ham which finishes the pizza after the cooking. So yummy!
- Pizza with Parma ham (in Italy we also call it ‘Inglesina’): it is a margherita enriched with thin slices of Parma ham which are arranged on pizza after the cooking.
- Pizza with pistachio-nut cream and mortadella: a delicious white wood fired pizza with extra virgin olive oil, and rosemary. After the cooking it is topped with a little pistachio-nut cream and thinly sliced mortadella. A true delicacy!
- Vegetarian pizza: margherita enriched with grilled eggplants, zucchini, bell peppers, and sometimes, peas.
- A blast of flavor, too: Pachino cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, arugula, Parma ham and grana padano cheese shavings. Its name? Pizza primavera, spring pizza! Mouthwatering, definitely!
And then plenty of other variations depends on the pizzaiolo’s own imagination. Thousands of combinations are available: I have just listed the masterpieces a good pizza restaurant must have on its menu.
You are drooling, aren’t you? Which pizza are you going to make next?
How can you eat pizza? An easy answer: with fork, knife and a little patience!
Here are just a few table manners not to look weird when you eat a round pizza (sit down comfortably, we are going to have some fun!).
Follow these pieces of advice: you will fully enjoy your pizza!
- Slice pizza in triangular pieces: cut it into regular slices- it is easier to eat it both with knife and fork, or with your hands.
- Pizza is very informal, so you can slice it with a sharp knife and then use your hands. In case of very generous topping, first use the fork to eat some of it, then take a bite and fully enjoy its taste.
- The strictest table manners let pizza be eaten with hands after it has been sliced with fork and knife.
- Don’t fold pizza over and eat it as a sandwich: I know, pizza is so scrumptious that you can’t resist…but in this way you won’t fully appreciate its tastes … slow down and enjoy it!
- Pizza must be eaten hot, if you want to perceive all its flavors. If the dough is not very good, when cold, it gets unpleasant and uneatable.
- The cornicione: though the experts say you should cut a bit of it and check for its airiness, round pizza is usually eaten from the tip of the slice… start from there and don’t stop!
- Never leave cornicione: the pizzaiolo may get offended. Good pizza must be eaten in full, outer edge included. A few people don’t eat cornicione because they think it is indigestible, but actually this is the most scrumptious part, because it is the evidence of a high-quality dough.