A guide to the different types of Italian Pizza

A guide to the different types of Italian Pizza​

Pizza is undoubtedly the Italian dish par excellence, one of the emblems of our gourmet culture that has conquered the entire world.

Although when we think of pizza, the Neapolitan one is the image that comes to mind, many different sorts throughout Italy can satisfy the needs of all palates. Indeed, some people enjoy it thin and crispy, while others prefer it with a high and soft crust, and yet others prefer it fried or stuffed.

In reality, not only do the toppings differ, but so do the various methods of preparing them, which contributes to defining the characteristics of pizzas that can be very different from one another.

Are you ready to learn about all the different types of Italian pizza?

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Pizza Napoletana (Neapolitan Pizza)

Let’s begin with the most well-known and popular type of pizza in the world: the Neapolitan one.

The thin dough on this round pizza blends perfectly with the toppings and contrasts with the thickness of the very soft crust. The Neapolitan is baked in a wood-fired oven, as per the original recipe.

Pizza is a true philosophy of life in Naples, so much so that the features of this specific pizza are formalized by the international specification of the Neapolitan Pizza Association (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana) to defend its local identity and traits. Furthermore, it has been formally recognized as a “Traditional Specialty Guaranteed” of the European Union since 2010, and in 2017, UNESCO declared the art of the Neapolitan pizza maker, of which the Neapolitan pizza is the concrete product, an intangible heritage of humanity.

A Neapolitan pizza on a table, with a knife and a fork beside it

Pizza fritta (Fried Pizza)

The pizza fritta, considered today one of the Neapolitan street foods par excellence, can be viewed as the sister of the Neapolitan pizza, or more precisely, as its poor sister.

This pizza was born at the end of World War II as an alternative to the oven-baked one because it could be prepared at home without the need for a wood-burning oven and because it could be filled with the cheapest ingredients, such as pork cracklings and ricotta cheese.

The main feature of the fried pizza is the pocket that forms inside it during frying that can be filled with the most diverse ingredients, from Neapolitan salami and escarole to sweet variants filled with chocolate and dusted with powdered sugar.

If you find yourself in Naples, you shouldn’t miss it for the world.

Pizza a portafoglio

Like fried pizza, pizza a portafoglio is an iconic and traditional street food in Naples that can be bought on the street by pizzerias, bakeries, pastry shops, and rotisseries. This is indeed one of the best dishes to eat while walking, perfect for those who can’t sit down but want to enjoy the unique taste of pizza.

The pizza is called a portafoglio (wallet) or a libretto (booklet) because it is folded in four on itself, just like a wallet or a booklet.

Calzone Napoletano (Neapolitan calzone)

The Neapolitan calzone, a specialty closely related to the classic round pizza, brings the series of typical Campanian pizzas to an end.

The Neapolitan calzone is kneaded and rolled out in the same way as a pizza, thus obtaining a disk on half of which to arrange the toppings. The dough is then folded into a crescent shape and baked in the oven.

A typical Neapolitan calzone covered with tomato sauce

Pizza Romana (Roman Pizza)

Roman pizza, a thin, large, and crispy pizza, is the closest variant to Neapolitan pizza. In this case, the dough is kneaded and rolled out with a rolling pin to remove all the air and create a disk with a low and uniform thickness.

The lack of a crust is the most noticeable distinction between Neapolitan and Roman pizza, while the other is in texture: while Neapolitan pizza is soft, Roman pizza is crispy, which is why it is referred to in slang as “scrocchiarella”.

Pizza alla pala or Pinsa Romana

When we talk about Roman pizza, we can refer to both the basic circular pizza and another, more specific variant: pizza alla pala, or pinsa romana. This version gets its name from the long wooden shovel on which the dough is spread and seasoned before baking, giving it its characteristic elongated, rectangular shape.

It is again a crispy and light pizza, topped with the most diverse ingredients that spring from the imagination of Roman pizza makers.

The pinsa, which originated in ancient Rome, is now one of the capital’s many culinary highlights as well as one of the protagonists of Roman street food.

Want our advice? Don’t miss the chance to enjoy this pizza! 

An already-cutted pinsa romana, on a white table

Pizza al taglio

Another queen of Roman street food is pizza al taglio. Light and crumbly, this pizza is prepared in large rectangular pans after it has been leavened for about 72 hours.

After the rolling out, which requires great dexterity and experience on the part of master pizza makers, we proceed with the toppings, which can leave room for the imagination and include all the ingredients that make Italian pizza famous all over the world!

There is also a Milanese version, pizza al trancio, with a much higher crust edge and little tomato offset by a large profusion of mozzarella.

Several slices of pizza al trancio with various toppings 

Pizza gourmet o da degustazione

Initially called gourmet pizza because it was inspired by haute cuisine, this pizza is now called pizza da degustazione because of its characteristic of being served at the table already divided into slices, each individually garnished with all the ingredients to compose a perfect bite.

In this pizza, the base is already almost a dish, as each pizza maker carefully chooses flour that allows him to create a unique dough. In addition, the toppings are specially designed for the different types of dough, so that the unique taste of the dough enhances the flavors of the ingredients.

This pizza is perfect for enjoying with friends and ordering different types to taste together.

Our guide on the different types of Italian pizza ends here; we hope you get to try them all, possibly each in its home region!

If you are curious to try other Italian specialties, read our articles on the 7 foods in Milan you can’t miss and the 8 traditional Roman foods you must try when in Rome to discover the most traditional dishes to taste in Milan and Rome.

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