italian pizza types

Discover all the Different Types of Italian Pizza with this Guide to Authentic Italian Pizza Styles



Greetings, fellow pizza enthusiasts! Ready to take your taste buds on a one-of-a-kind journey? Join me as we delve into the delectable world of Italian pizza types, cruising from the northern corners to the southern stretches of this pizza paradise.

But hey, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill pizza exploration. Nope, we’re here to unravel the mysteries behind what makes Italian pizza truly tick. From the crust to the toppings, we’re dissecting the essential elements that come together to create these iconic pies.

Oh, and did I mention we’re about to embark on a flavorful road trip? Picture yourself savoring every cheesy bite of classic Italian pizzas that have stood the test of time. And just when you thought you knew it all, get ready to meet the unsung heroes – the hidden gems of the pizza world that are waiting to be discovered.

Hungry for more? I’m dishing out the lowdown on the most beloved pizzas that grace tables all over Italy. Plus, I’ve got the scoop on where to find the ultimate pizzerias that turn these edible masterpieces into a reality.

So, if you’re up for an unforgettable expedition into the tantalizing universe of Italian pizza types, buckle up, and let’s hit the road. Your taste buds are in for an epic ride! 🚀🍕

Deconstructing Italian Pizza into Types: Key Factors

Italian pizza isn’t just a one-size-fits-all affair—it’s a symphony of flavors and techniques, each note telling a tale of tradition, region, and artistry.

1. Dough and Crust: Crafting the Foundation

Picture this: a pizza’s soul lies in its dough. But not all dough is created equal, especially across the Italian boot. Head down South, and you’ll find softer doughs crafted from durum wheat flour and extra-virgin olive oil. This combo is like a dance between land and sea, resulting in classics like Margherita or Marinara with capers and olives, echoing the Mediterranean flavors. Journey North and the dough transforms—crispy and thin, often adorned with cheese or robust cured meats like salami.

Oh, the famous crust! Neapolitan pizza wears the crown with its puffy, chewy cornicione (that’s the edge). Down South, it’s a resilient touch, rising back when pressed. In the North, the crust might be scrocchiarella, a marvelously crispy canvas inspired by focaccia. Roman pizza is another tale, flat and crispy, often sliced or sold by the meter, giving rise to the on-the-go pizza trend.

Cooking Method: The Heart of the Oven

Now, let’s talk about the oven—arguably the star of the show. In Naples, the birthplace of pizza, authenticity reigns supreme. A true Neapolitan pizza basks exclusively in a wood-fired oven. Head North and the trusty electric oven takes the stage. But what truly matters is the magic that happens inside.

Down in the South, the dough might be heartier, clocking in at 250-280 grams, baking at a scorching 450°C for a quick two minutes. This yields a pizza with a high, soft crust. As we journey up, the dough becomes lighter, crunchier, and thinner, like a symphony reaching its crescendo. In the North, a lighter 200-230 gram dough creates a larger, 33-centimeter disk. Here, the focus is on that delightful crunch.

Toppings: Where Creativity Reigns

Ah, the toppings—a playground for culinary artistry. Southern pies embrace local treasures like fresh tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and basil. Up North, it’s a flavor fiesta. Say ciao to the fiordilatte cheese of the North and the bufala mozzarella of the South, the latter adding a touch of creaminess to the melody.

Each region dances to its topping tune. In the South, a Margherita might set you back a mere 2.50 euros, while up North, where life’s a tad pricier, the same slice could grace your table for 8 euros.

So, as you embark on this pizza journey, remember, every bite tells a story—of tradition, craftsmanship, and the symphony of flavors that unite Italy one slice at a time. Next stop on our pizza road trip? Uncovering the diverse Italian pizza types that stretch from North to South.

Italian Pizza Types From North To South

Embark on a delectable journey through the diverse and delicious world of Italian pizza types, as we travel from the sun-soaked South to the charming North. Our pizza adventure begins where it all started – in the vibrant and passionate heart of Southern Italy.

Southern Italy: The Cradle of Pizza Craftsmanship

1. Napoletana (Naples): Our pizza journey begins with the iconic Neapolitan pizza, which is not just a pizza type but more like a category. The first pizzas were indeed all Neapolitan, whether we are referring to a Marinara, a Margherita, or a Pizza Bianca. The key characteristics are a roundish pizza, with a soft and fragrant dough, and a border that’s tall, and puffy but not burnt. The latter is called “cornicione”.

Neapolitan pizza
Neapolitan pizza

2. Bianca: Taste the elegance of simplicity with the Bianca, a pizza without tomato sauce, allowing the flavors of quality mozzarella, olive oil, and fresh herbs to shine. Did you know that the first pizza ever made in Naples was white? It included cheese, probably mozzarella, basil leaves, and black pepper. It was called Mastunicola in honor of the man who made it.

3. Pizza Rossa: The Pizza Rossa refers to all pizzas that come with a vibrant tomato sauce base, usually made with with a sprinkle of garlic and oregano or basil.

4. Pizza Fritta (Naples): This one is a really indulgent one, where the dough is fried to golden perfection, creating a crispy exterior that gives way to a warm and savory filling. The dough is thin and fluffy, the shape resembles a calzone, and the filling is simple but flavourful: ricotta, mozzarella, and Salami Napoli.

Often called Montanara, this type can also be enjoyed into smaller sizes as a starter. I usually like to go for the simplest, to really appreciate that fried dough – with tomato sauce, basil and parmesan.

5. Pizza al Portafoglio (Naples): Experience the convenience and deliciousness of the pizza al portafoglio, a folded pizza that fits snugly in your hand, making it a popular on-the-go treat in Naples. The dough is soft, and thin but can hold itself when folded, with various toppings combinations to choose from.

7. Pizza Casertana / Canotto (Campania): Delight in the Pizza Casertana, similar to Pizza Napoletana but smaller in diameter, is a local favorite called Canotto, which translates to “small boat” due to its elongated shape.

8. Calzone (Campania or Puglia): Sink your teeth into a delightful Calzone, a folded pizza stuffed with a variety of ingredients, creating a delightful flavor explosion. The dough is similar to that of the classic Pizza Napoletana, with the difference that’s folded. The original one is baked, not fried.

9. Pizza Siciliana (Sicily): This like Pizza Napoletana is more a category than a pizza type. The most famous pizza types in the region are pitone, sfincione, scacciata and pizzolo. Let’s explore each one. Siciliana is also the name of a Sicilian street food from Catania, that resembles a mini calzone, similar to the Pitone but filled with the classic tomato, ham, and cheese.

10. Pitone (Sicily): Not a pizza but more a piece of Sicilian “tavola calda” or “rosticceria” from Palermo, these moon-shaped crispy golden fried pies are filled with a local cheese called “tuma”, anchovies and curly escarole.

PS: Tavola calda refer to savoury pies and pastries Italians like to eat for a snack, light lunch on the go, or at parties.

11. Sfincione (Sicily): A Palermitan delicacy, this one has a thick and spongy dough. It’s topped with tomatoes, onions, oregano, local caciocavallo cheese, anchovies, and breadcrumbs.

scacciata pie with olives and broccoli

12. Scacciata (Sicily): Similar to a pie, this one has a bottom and top layer with a filling in between. The fillings are many and vary depending on the city. The most popular are broccoli, olives, potatoes, and pecorino; tomato, potato, ham, cheese, and onions; tuma cheese and anchovies. Its dough is thick and crunchy, more like bread than a pizza.

13. Pizzolo (Sicily): Think of this one as a pizza sandwich, with two thin layers of dough and a filling in the middle. It’s a delicacy from Sortino. First, they make a thick pizza, then they slice it in the middle, and then the filling is added. The ingredients can vary from savoury to sweet but the best part is that the dough is topped with salt, olive oil, parmesan, and oregano, making it extra flavourful.

14. S’Anguli & Cibudda (Sardegna): Let’s conclude our Southern exploration with a taste of Sardinia. This is a simple dish that was traditionally eaten by farmers during the harvest. It’s made by mixing flour and all the other ingredients – onion (cibudda), pumpkin or zucchini, tomatoes, cheeses, oil and other fats, and a little salt. Then the ingredients are worked into the dough, the latter is flattened and cooked in a wooden oven or a regular one like a normal pizza.

Central Italy: Where Heritage Meets Creativity

15. Pizza Pisana (Tuscany): This one differs from others because of the way it’s cooked and eaten. It’s usually a simple pizza topped with tomato sauce, anchovies, capers, and grana padano but it’s cooked in a deep dish, then sliced, and each slice is eaten folded.

16. Pizza Romana: The classic Roman pizza was born as a bakery pizza, hence why it then evolved into other types like “pizza al taglio”. The base is round and low and its border is crispy and slightly burned. Some say the difference between this and the Neapolitan is also the use of oil and the fact that the dough is put in the fridge to rest. The original one had no tomato sauce. A plain focaccia-like pizza is still widely enjoyed in the region with fillings like mortadella.

17. Pinsa Romana: A hybrid between a pizza and a focaccia that uses a mix of flour, including soy and rice. This one comes in both rossa and bianca versions, that is with tomato sauce and without. Classic toppings are tomato and mozzarella or ham, rucola, and scamorza.

18. Pizza alla pala (Roma): Explore the distinctive square-shaped pizza alla pala, featuring a thicker crust that acts as a canvas for an array of local toppings. This type of pizza is named after the way it’s made and the tool used to make it. It is called “alla pala” because the pizza is shaped and baked on a long and rectangular wooden or metal paddle (pala), the same one bakers use for bread.

pizza al taglio or pizza by the slice
Pizza al taglio

19. Pizza al taglio (Rome): This is a great snack while visiting the iconic Eternal City. You can find it at every corner and features different toppings. The key characteristic is the fact that it’s sold in slices, and it’s also called “al trancio” (another way to say slice in Italian) and “al metro” (by the metre).

20. Piadizza/Pidaza (Rome): This is simply a pizza made using the famous Piadina Romana as the base. It’s a great one to make at home for lunch or a quick dinner, although there are entire shops dedicated to making and selling this delicacy. 

21. Trapizzino (Rome): This is a pocket of pizza dough served in an appropriate piece of cardboard to make holding it and eating it easy. It’s a modern invention, perfect for street food eaters, and can include various fillings. 

22. Pizza Gialla (Umbria): Journey to Umbria and savor the unique flavors of this yellow pizza, a culinary gem from the region. It’s practically a flat polenta that’s enjoyed like a pizza, usually topped with the local ham “Prosciutto Crudo di Norcia”. 

Northern Italy: A Fusion of Flavors

23. Pizza al tegamino / pizza al padellino (Turin): Begin your Northern adventure with this Piedmontese pizza cooked in a pan. The difference from a regular pizza is that the dough has more water and is left to rise longer, plus the pizza is cooked in the oven inside a pan.

24. Pizza alla Monzese (Lombardy): This is the kind of pizza that’s simple but mouthwatering. The dough includes saffron, which is a delicacy of the Brianza area, and the toppings are just Italian sausage and stracchino cheese. I wouldn’t ask for more.

25. Pizza Lombarda: What makes this pizza type unique is the interesting toppings: mozzarella, asparagus, and pear. And that’s not it, the pears are cooked in butter with salt and cinnamon. This one it’s strange but intriguing.

26. Pizza Veneta (Veneto): The key characteristic of this Veneto specialty is the fact that it’s made exclusively with ingredients from the region, namely: Luganega sausage, radicchio from Treviso, local Asiago cheese, and extra virgin olive oil.

Trentino pizza with speck and onions
Pizza from Trentino

27. Pizza Trentina (Trentino Alto Adige): Experience the alpine charm of Trentino-Alto Adige with this pizza from the mountains. It’s thin, crispy, and features the local Speck.

28. Focaccia (Liguria): Although many might not consider this a pizza, often focaccia is topped with a variety of ingredients that make it look and feel like you are eating a proper pizza. That’s why it made it on this list. The original focaccia was born in Liguria, and more exactly in Genoa. It’s golden and beautifully scented with extra virgin olive oil and rough pieces of salt.

Classic Italian Pizza Names – Based on Toppings

From the iconic Margherita to the indulgent Nutella-topped delight, let’s explore a delectable array of classic Italian pizza names and their mouthwatering toppings that have delighted taste buds across generations. Who knows, you might even discover a new favorite Classic you didn’t know about.

1. Pizza Margherita: Tomato sauce, mozzarella, fresh basil leaves.

2. Pizza Marinara: Tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, olive oil.

3. Pizza Capricciosa: Tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, artichokes, olives, mushrooms, boiled eggs.

4. Pizza Caprese: Tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olive oil.

5. Pizza Boscaiola: mozzarella, mushrooms and sausage.

6. Pizza ai Quattro Formaggi: Four cheese blend (mozzarella, gorgonzola, Parmesan, fontina).

7. Pizza alla Diavola: Tomato sauce, mozzarella, spicy salami, red pepper flakes, sometimes olives.

8. Prosciutto e funghi: Tomato sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto, mushrooms.

9. Vegetariana or Ortolana: Tomato sauce, mozzarella, assorted vegetables (peppers, zucchini, eggplant, etc.).

10. Pizza con mozzarella di Bufala or Bufalina: Tomato sauce, fresh buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil, olive oil.

11. Pizza alla Norma: Tomato sauce, mozzarella, eggplant, ricotta salata, basil.

12. Frutti di mare e pomodorini or Pescatora: Tomato sauce, mixed seafood, cherry tomatoes.

13. Carciofini: Tomato sauce or not, mozzarella, artichokes, olives, oregano, sometimes ham.

14. Bresaola & Rucola: Tomato sauce, mozzarella, bresaola (air-dried beef), arugula.

15. Mortadella & Pistacchio: Mozzarella, mortadella, pistacchio spread.

16. Wurstel e patatine (for kids): Tomato sauce, mozzarella, sliced wurstel sausage, French fries.

17. Pizza alla Nutella (for dessert): Nutella spread, powdered sugar, and often crumbled pistachios.

PS: Although, the most modern on this list, I am calling the Nutella Pizza a classic because it has become a staple on almost every Italian Pizzeria’s menu, because it’s the perfect dessert to share after a pizza dinner, other than gelato of course.

Lesser-Known Pizza Types in Italy Worth Eating

Exploring beyond the well-trodden path of traditional Italian pizzas reveals a hidden treasure trove of lesser-known culinary gems, each boasting a distinctive blend of toppings that celebrate regional flavors and creativity. Here are some of these lesser-known Italian pizzas waiting to be discovered:

Pizza Carrettiera Con Salsiccia e Friarelli: A rustic delight featuring spicy sausage and tender broccoli rabe, a true taste of the countryside.

Gorgonzola e Salame: Creamy gorgonzola cheese meets savory salame, a harmonious marriage of bold and delicate flavors.

Valtellinese: Hailing from Valtellina, this pizza combines mozzarella, local bresaola, and a sprinkle of mountain rucola and grana padano cheese.

Al Salmone: An elegant choice, this pizza showcases smoked salmon draped over a bed of luscious mozzarella, and sometimes zucchini or leafy greens.

Mari e Monti: The union of land and sea, this pizza artfully marries earthy mushrooms with succulent shrimp.

Salsiccia e Patate: Rustic and hearty, this pizza features slices of sausage nestled among thinly sliced potatoes.

Pizza alla Parmigiana: Inspired by the classic eggplant Parmesan, this pizza boasts layers of eggplant, tomato sauce, ham, and melted cheese.

Pizza Provola: A simple but flavourful pizza that is topped with tomato sauce and smoked provola cheese.

Porchetta: Savor the rich flavors of slow-roasted pork, a nod to the beloved Italian porchetta sandwich.

Tirolese: An Alpine-inspired creation, this pizza has tomato sauce, onions, mozzarella, and is topped with slices of local speck (smoked prosciutto).

Focaccia Messinese: Straight from Messina, this focaccia-style pizza is adorned with a medley of olives, tomatoes, escarole, anchovies, and a local cheese called tuma.

Tonno e Cipolla: A match made in taste bud heaven, this pizza combines tender tuna with the sweet tang of caramelized onions.

pizza rules in italy like eating pizza with cutlery

According to a survey carried out by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, that is the Neapolitan Pizza Association, 77% of the Italians surveyed order a Margherita when trying a new Pizzeria. That confirms the Italian saying which says that those who order a Margherita understand pizza well. That’s because it’s easy to compare a pizza so simple but with such a defined taste. Plus, if a pizzeria can’t do Margherita well, don’t bother trying anything else.

That saying goes like this: “La Margherita è la pizza ordinata dai veri intenditori.”

If you’d like to learn more Italian pizza sayings, read this article about Italian Pizza Culture.

Another study carried out by Eataly in collaboration with Demetra Srl reveals the most popular pizzas in Italy from North to South.

  1. Margherita again gets first place, ordered by 35% of the population.
  2. Prosciutto e Funghi, is preferred in the North
  3. Capricciosa, is especially loved in Sicily (38% on the island)
  4. Carciofini, that is Pizza with Artichokes, is another favorite
  5. Diavola is loved by Italians

The most Eaten Pizzas in Northern Italy are Prosciutto e funghi, Gorgonzola e salame, Vegetarian, Bresaola e rucola, and Capricciosa.

The most Eaten Pizzas in Southern Italy are Capricciosa, Norma, Bufala, Frutti di Mare, and Tonno e cipolle.

As a proper Sicilian, my personal favorite has always been Pizza alla Norma with eggplant, basil, and salted ricotta. Recently, I have also been enjoying making rustic potatoes and blue cheese pizza.

Best Pizzerias in Italy

Here’s my special tip. If you want to eat the best pizza of your life instead of looking for the best pizzeria in the city you are visiting, find the best pizzaiolo and then hunt down his pizzeria. And that’s exactly what I have done for you in this final part of this article.

You might ask yourself .. “but where would I find a list of the best Italian pizza makers?”

I have looked at the results of the 100 Best Pizzerias in Italy for the year 2023, which luckily share both the pizzeria’s and the pizza maker’s name. Let’s look at the first 10 on this rank.

Top 10 Italian Pizzerias of 2023

  1. Francesco Martucci, owner of Pizzeria Masanielli in Caserta (1st Place)
  2. Diego Vitigliano, owner of Pizzeria 10 Diego Vitigliano in Naples (1st Place)
  3. Simone Padoan, from I Tigli in San Bonifacio Verona (2nd Place)
  4. Pier Daniele Seu, owner of Seu Pizza Illuminati in Rome (3rd Place)
  5. Ciro Salvo, owner of 50 Kalo` in Naples
  6. 180gr Pizzeria Romana in Rome by Jacopo Mercuro & Mirko Rizzo
  7. Sasa Martucci from I Masianelli in Caserta
  8. Francesco & Salvatore Salvo’s Pizzeria in Naples
  9. Simone Lombardi, chef at Dry Milano in Milan
  10. Ciccio Vitello’s Cambia-Menti in Caserta

We can quickly conclude that the top pizzerias this year are in Caserta, Naples, Milan, and Rome. So what about the other main Italian cities? 

Here are the top pizzerias for other major Italian cities.

Firenze: Giovanni Santarpia (29th)

Cagliari: Maiori (39th)

Venice: Grigoris di Mestre (44th)

Turin: Sestogusto Pizzeria (50th) 

Palermo: La Braceria (61st)

Trento: Bella ‘mbriana Pizzeria (85th)

Genova: La Piazzetta del Pisacane (90th)

Bari: Il Vecchio Gazebo di Molfetta (100th)

The data above was taken from an Italian article by La Cucina Italiana.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, pizza enthusiasts! Our journey through the delightful world of Italian pizza types comes to an end. From the sunny streets of Naples to the charming corners of the North, we’ve unraveled the secrets that make each slice irresistible.

As you wrap up this read, I hope your appetite for pizza and knowledge has been equally satisfied. Maybe you’ve even noted down a few pizzerias to visit on your next adventure – who knows where your taste buds will lead you next?

So, where’s your next destination? Are you planning a trip to Rome, eager to savor the classic Pizza Romana? Or are you drawn to a cozy pizzeria, ready to indulge in a hearty slice of Pizza alla Pala? The anticipation is real!

With that, my fellow pizza lovers, I bid you farewell. May your pizza adventures be full of Pizza alla Norma and Capricciosa. Until our next culinary escapade, stay hungry and keep exploring! 

Frequently Asked Questions about Traditional Italian Pizza Types

Traditional Neapolitan pizza like the classic Margherita pizza and Marinara pizza are very popular in Italy, especially in the South. Roman-style pizza al taglio is also a popular variety for its convenience.

What are some examples of traditional Italian pizza variety?

Some examples of traditional Italian pizza varieties include Margherita, Marinara, Capricciosa, Quattro Formaggi, Pizza Siciliana, Pizza Bianca, and Pizza al Padellino.

What authentic Italian pizza do Italians like to eat the most?

According to surveys, the most popular authentic Italian pizza for Italians is the Margherita pizza. It’s a classic Neapolitan pizza topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil.

What is the difference between Pizza Siciliana and Pizza Tonda Romana?

Sicilian pizza has a thick, spongy crust and is typically rectangular. Roman pizza is thin and crispy with rounded edges.

What style of pizza originates from Florence, Italy?

Pizza from Florence often uses Pecorino cheese instead of mozzarella and has simpler toppings. Schiacciata alla fiorentina is a popular local variety.

What was the original Italian pizza?

One of the original pizzas in Italy was the Pizza Marinara created in Naples. It was topped with tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and olive oil.

What is the most eaten variety of pizza in Italy?

Prosciutto e Funghi is the most eaten pizza variety in Northern Italy, while Capricciosa is most popular in the South. Overall, Margherita pizza is the most eaten pizza nationally.

Do Italians use garlic as a topping when making pizza?

Yes, Italians commonly use garlic as a topping on pizzas like Marinara or Pizza Bianca. It adds great flavor.

What type of pizza comes from Milan, Italy?

Pizza from Milan is thin and crispy. A local variety is Pizza con Gorgonzola e Salame.

What defines pizza from the city of Bari?

Bari-style pizza has a thin crunchy crust and is traditionally topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and oregano.

What is Torino-style pizza characterized by?

Torino-style pizza is cooked in a pan, resulting in a thicker yet soft crust. Popular local toppings include sausage and gorgonzola cheese.

What is Italy’s most expensive pizza?

According to recent reports, the most expensive pizza variety in Italy is the PIZZA LUIGI XIII (8,300 euro) created by chef Renato Viola. It features caviar but no gold leaf and is prepared and served in private residences with a full chef and sommelier experience.

What are the traditional cheese choices for Italian pizza?

The most common traditional cheeses used on Italian pizza are mozzarella cheese made from cow or water buffalo milk, Parmesan, and Pecorino Romano. Fresh mozzarella is preferred, especially for Neapolitan-style pizza.

What is Pizza Bianca?

Pizza Bianca is a type of white pizza made without tomato sauce. It is typically topped with olive oil, garlic, oregano, and mozzarella or ricotta cheese. Pizza Bianca originates from Rome.

What does a Pizza ai Frutti di Mare consist of?

A Pizza ai Frutti di Mare features a variety of fresh seafood as toppings, such as shrimp, mussels, clams, calamari, and anchovies on a tomato sauce base. It provides a taste of the Mediterranean sea.

What is unique about Fried Pizza or Pizza Fritta?

Fried Pizza is a specialty of Naples where the pizza dough is fried instead of baked, resulting in a crispy exterior and warm, melty center. Fillings often include ricotta, mozzarella, prosciutto, and parsley.

How does Sicilian-style pizza differ from a classic Neapolitan pizza?

Unlike Neapolitan pizza which has a soft, chewy crust, Sicilian-style pizza has a thick, crisp exterior crust while the interior dough remains soft and fluffy. It is typically rectangular as opposed to round.

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