Even though it’s become the most popular Italian food abroad, pizza and Italy didn’t weren’t always synonymous. In fact, pizza wasn’t even invented until the 19th century, when it started out as a fast food on the streets of Naples. In the beginning (and, we’d argue, even today), the simpler the pizza, the better: The classic pizza napoletana was just dough with a tomato sauce of Marzano tomatoes, oregano or basil, a little garlic, salt, and olive oil.
It’s another pizza from Naples, though, that has the neatest pedigree. When Queen Margherita came to visit Naples in 1889, she was charmed by a local pizza baker who had made, in her honor, a pizza with the colors of the new flag of the just-unified Italy—red tomatoes, white mozzarella, and green basil. Yep, you guessed it. It’s now called the pizza margherita (or margarita, on some menus).
Traditional Roman pizza (check out that thin crust!). Of course, Italian food is very regional, and so are Italian pizzas. (Although any real Italian pizza should always be cooked in a wood-fired oven; in fact, a pizzeria without one can’t even, legally, call itself a pizzeria!). That world-famous pizza in Naples is known as “pizza alta” (thick crust), while pizza in Rome is traditionally thin-crust and crisp.
Like the rest of Italian food, Italian pizza is best—and most authentic—when it’s made with fresh, local ingredients, especially any that are DOP. We’re not talking the microwaved dough and synthetic cheese that you see now both in Italy and abroad, but something completely different.
Types of Italian pizza
Pizza Marinara [mah-ree-NAH-rah]: tomato sauce, garlic and oregano. This is the pizza for lactose intolerants, for people on a diet or for vampire fighters.
Pizza Margherita [mahr-geh-REE-tah]: tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil. It is the most famous pizza of all, and one of my favourites too. They say, if you want to understand if the pizzeria makes a good pizza, you have to order a margherita.
Pizza Romana [roh-MAH-nah]: tomato sauce, mozzarella, anchovies. This pizza reminds me of an adorable lady that loved this pizza. I miss her.
Pizza Siciliana [see-chee-leeAH-nah]: tomato sauce, mozzarella, capers, anchovies, olives.
Pizza Prosciutto e funghi [proh-SHOOH-toh eh FOOHN-gee]: tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms. One of my favourites, too. But I hate when, in some places, they use pickled mushrooms. No! You must not put pickled mushrooms. The vinegar ruins the taste.
Pizza Capricciosa [ka-preech-CHOH-sah]: tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms, artichokes, olives . This is a very beloved pizza. My husband loves it for example.
Pizza Quattro stagioni [KWAHT-troh stah-JOH-nee]: tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms, artichokes, olives. It has the same ingredients of the capricciosa, but separated. Each one has its own quadrant of the pizza.
Pizza Quattro formaggi [KWAHT-troh fohr-MAHL-jee]: (tomato sauce discretionary), mozzarella, fontina, gorgonzola and parmigiano. This pizza is very rich, full of cheese. And the gorgonzola has a very pronounced taste. I love it, but some people don’t. So, you’re warned.
Pizza Tirolese [ti-roo-LEE-seh]: tomato sauce, mozzarella, speck (smoked, cured ham). Since speck is a speciality from South Tirol, this pizza is called Tirolese.
Pizza Gol0sa [Go-LO-sah]: tomato sauce, mozzarella, slices of sausages. Particularly appreciated by kids.
Pizza Diavola [DYAH-voh-lah]: tomato sauce, mozzarella, slices of hot salami (in Italian called salamino piccante). It is maybe similar to the famous Pepperoni pizza. But peperoni in Italian means peppers. So beware of the difference!
Pizza Tonno e cipolla [TOHN-noh eh chee-POHL-lah]: tomato sauce, mozzarella, tunafish, onion. This is another one of my favourites. I love it, even if sometimes my friends complain for the smell!
Pizza Vegetariana [veh-jeh-tah-reeAH-nah], also called Verdure (vegetables) or Ortolana (greengrocer’s): tomato sauce, mozzarella and veggies. In every pizzeria they use different vegetables: aubergines, courgettes, peppers, spinach, peas, carrots and so on. So if you have some despised vegetable, you better ask in advance for the exact ingredients.
Calzone [kahl-TSOH-neh]: tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms. The calzone is basically a prosciutto e funghi but folded in half. The tomato sauce in this case is served on the side.