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For other uses, see Pizza (disambiguation).
Pepperoni pizza with basil.jpg
A pepperoni pizza with basil
Type Flatbread
Place of origin Naples
Serving temperature Hot or warm
Main ingredients Dough, often tomato sauce, cheese
Variations Calzone, Stromboli
Cookbook:Pizza  Pizza

Pizza(Listeni/ˈptsə/, Italian pronunciation: [ˈpittsa]) is an oven-baked flat bread usually topped with tomato sauce, cheese and various toppings. The modern pizza was invented in Naples, Italy, and the dish has since become popular in many parts of the world.[1]

Pizzerias specialize in making pizzas, although the dish is served in other restaurants worldwide. Many varieties of pizza exist worldwide, along with several dish variants based upon pizza. Pizza is cooked in various types of ovens, and a diverse variety of ingredients and toppings are utilized.

In 2009, upon Italy's request, Neapolitan pizza was safeguarded in the European Union as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed dish.[2][3]


The term 'pizza' first appeared "in a Latin text from the southern Italian town of Gaeta in 997 AD, which claims that a tenant of certain property is to give the bishop of Gaeta duodecim pizze ['twelve pizzas'] every Christmas Day, and another twelve every Easter Sunday".[4][5]

The origin of the word is uncertain. Suggested etymologies include:

  • The Ancient Greek word πικτή (pikte), "fermented pastry", which in Latin became "picta", and Late Latin pitta > pizza. Compare Greek pita bread and the Apulia and Calabrian pitta.
  • The Ancient Greek word πίσσα (pissa, Attic πίττα, pitta), "pitch",[6][7] or pḗtea, "bran" (pētítēs, "bran bread").[8]
  • The Latin word pinsa, the past participle of the verb “pinsere”, which means to pound or to crush and may refer to the flattening out of the dough.
  • The Latin word picea, which describes the blackening of bread in the oven or the black ash that gathers at the bottom of the oven.
  • The Italian word pizzicare meaning “to pluck”, which supposedly refers to pizza being “plucked” quickly from the oven (pizzicare was derived from an older Italian word pizzo meaning “point”).[9]
  • The Old High German word bizzo or pizzo meaning “mouthful” (related to the English words “bit” and “bite”), which was brought to Italy in the middle of the 6th century AD by the invading Lombards.[10]


A pizza just removed from an oven
Pizzas in a traditional wood-fired brick oven
Vegetarian pizza usually includes cheese and any toppings except meat, although vegans order or make it without cheese.
Main article: History of pizza

The origin of the word pizza is uncertain and debated. One popular suggestion holds that it originates from the Greek pita (derived from ancient Greek pēktos, πηκτός, meaning "solid" or "clotted"[11]). The ancient Greeks covered their bread with oils, herbs and cheese. The Romans developed placenta, a sheet of dough topped with cheese and honey and flavored with bay leaves.

A popular contemporary legend holds that the archetypal pizza, Pizza Margherita, was invented in 1889, when the Royal Palace of Capodimonte commissioned the Neapolitan pizzaiolo (pizza maker) Raffaele Esposito to create a pizza in honor of the visiting Queen Margherita. Of the three different pizzas he created, the Queen strongly preferred a pie swathed in the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato), green (basil), and white (mozzarella). Supposedly, this kind of pizza was then named after the Queen as "Pizza Margherita",[12] although recent research casts doubt on this legend.[13]

Pizza began being served in the United States with the arrival of Italian migrants, and the first pizzeria in the country, Lombardi's Pizza, opened in 1905.[14] After World War II many returning soldiers who were stationed in Italy created a high demand for the pizza they encountered and tasted in Italy. Since then pizza has evolved many variations. It can be deep-dish pizza, stuffed pizza, pizza pockets, pizza turnovers, rolled pizza, pizza-on-a-stick, all with combinations of sauce and toppings limited only by one's inventiveness.[15]

Cooking ingredients


In restaurants, pizza can be baked in an oven with stone bricks above the heat source, an electric deck oven, a conveyor belt oven or, in the case of more expensive restaurants, a wood- or coal-fired brick oven. On deck ovens, pizza can be slid into the oven on a long paddle, called a peel, and baked directly on the hot bricks or baked on a screen (a round metal grate, typically aluminum). When made at home, it can be baked on a pizza stone in a regular oven to reproduce the effect of a brick oven. Another option is grilled pizza, in which the crust is baked directly on a barbecue grill. Greek pizza, like Chicago-style pizza, is baked in a pan rather than directly on the bricks of the pizza oven.


Traditional pizza dough tossing

The bottom of the pizza, called the "crust", may vary widely according to style—thin as in a typical hand-tossed pizza, screen, thin, or Roman pizza, or thick as in a typical pan pizza or deep like a Chicago-style pizza. It is traditionally plain, but may also be seasoned with garlic or herbs, or stuffed with cheese. Whichever restaurant chosen, there are typically a few options of crust to chose from. The outer edge of the pizza is sometimes referred to as the cornicione.[16] Often, the pizza crust contains sugar to help with the yeast rising as well as the browning of the dough.[17]


Main article: Pizza cheese

The original pizza used only mozzarella, the highest quality ones the buffalo mozzarella variant, produced in the surroundings of Naples. Other kinds of cheese may be used for creative alternative recipes (provolone, pecorino romano, ricotta, scamorza and many others), including processed cheeses for mass-market pizzas manufactured to produce desirable qualities like browning, melting, stretchiness and fat and moisture content. Many studies and experiments have analyzed the impact of vegetable oil, manufacturing and culture processes, denatured whey proteins and other changes to creating the ideal and economical pizza cheese. In 1997 it was estimated that annual production of pizza cheese was 2 billion pounds in the U.S. and 200 million pounds in Europe.[18]


Myriad toppings are used on pizzas, such as:


500 pizzas are listed on a trattoria in Southern Italy


Neapolitan pizza (Margherita)

Authentic Neapolitan pizzas (pizza napoletana) are typically made with tomatoes and Mozzarella cheese. They can be made with ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes, which grow on the volcanic plains to the south of Mount Vesuvius, and mozzarella di bufala Campana, made with the milk from water buffalo raised in the marshlands of Campania and Lazio in a semi-wild state (this mozzarella is protected with its own European protected designation of origin).[19]

According to the rules proposed by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana,[20] the genuine Neapolitan pizza dough consists of wheat flour (type 0 or 00, or a mixture of both), natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer's yeast, salt and water. For proper results, strong flour with high protein content (as used for bread-making rather than cakes) must be used. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer. After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machine, and may be no more than 3 millimeters (0.12 in) thick. The pizza must be baked for 60–90 seconds in a 485 °C (905 °F) stone oven with an oak-wood fire.[21] When cooked, it should be crispy, tender and fragrant. There are three official variants: pizza marinara, which is made with tomato, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil, pizza Margherita, made with tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil, and pizza Margherita extra made with tomato, mozzarella from Campania in fillets, basil and extra virgin olive oil. The pizza napoletana is a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (Specialità Tradizionale Garantita, STG) product in Europe.[22][23]

Pizza in Lazio (Rome), as well as in many other parts of Italy, is available in two different styles. Take-away shops sell pizza rustica or pizza al taglio.[24] This pizza is cooked in long, rectangular baking pans and relatively thick (1–2 cm). The pizza is often cooked in an electric oven. It is usually cut with scissors or a knife and sold by weight. In pizzerias, pizza is served in a dish in its traditional round shape. It has a thin, crisp base quite different from the thicker and softer Neapolitan style base. It is usually cooked in a wood-fired oven, giving the pizza its unique flavor and texture. In Rome, a pizza napoletana is topped with tomato, mozzarella, anchovies and oil (thus, what in Naples is called pizza romana, in Rome is called pizza napoletana). Other types of Lazio-style pizza include pizza romana (tomato, mozzarella, anchovies, oregano, oil), pizza viennese (tomato, mozzarella, German sausage, oregano, oil), pizza capricciosa (mozzarella, tomato, mushrooms, artichokes, cooked ham, olives, oil[25]), pizza quattro formaggi: ("four cheese pizza":[26] tomatoes, and the cheeses mozzarella, stracchino, fontina and gorgonzola; sometimes ricotta is swapped for one of the latter three), pizza bianca ("white pizza":[27] a type of bread topped with olive oil, salt and, occasionally herbs,[28] such as rosemary sprigs; it is also a Roman style to add figs to the pizza, the result being known as pizza e fichi[29]), and pizza alla casalinga ("Grandma pizza": a thin layer of dough which is stretched into an oiled, square "Sicilian" pan, topped sparingly with shredded mozzarella, crushed uncooked canned tomatoes, chopped garlic and olive oil, and baked until the top bubbles and the bottom is crisp[30]).

Pizza capricciosa is a style of pizza in Italian cuisine prepared with mozzarella cheese, Italian baked ham, mushroom, artichoke and tomato.[31]

Pizza pugliese is a pizza in Italian cuisine prepared with tomato, mozzarella and onion.[32]

Sicilian pizza is pizza prepared in a manner that originated in Sicily, Italy. Just in the US, the phrase Sicilian pizza is often synonymous with thick-crust or deep-dish pizza derived from the sicilian Sfincione.[33] In Sicily, there is a variety of pizza called Sfincione.[34] It is that believed Sicilian pizza, Sfincione, or focaccia with toppings, was popular on the western portion of the island as far back as the 1860s.[35]

Bill for traditional Italian pizza

There was a bill before the Italian Parliament in 2002 to safeguard the traditional Italian pizza,[36] specifying permissible ingredients and methods of processing[37] (e.g., excluding frozen pizzas). Only pizzas which followed these guidelines could be called "traditional Italian pizzas" in Italy. On 9 December 2009, the European Union, upon Italian request, granted Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) safeguard to traditional Neapolitan pizza, in particular to "Margherita" and "Marinara".[38] The European Union enacted a protected designation of origin system in the 1990s.

The United States of America

Pizza was brought to the United Sates with Italian immigrants in the late nineteenth century;[39] therefore, it first appeared in areas where Italian immigrants concentrated. Distinct American pizza styles were developed in the twentieth century, as the original Italian pizzas went through several transformations. Varieties of American pizza include Californian, Chicago, Greek, Hawaiian, New Haven, New York, Old Forge, Quad City, Sicilian, St.Louis and Tomato pies.

People get easy access to pizza via retail stores like Pizza Hut and frozen/chilled ones. Thirteen percent of the U.S. population consume pizza on any given day.[40]

Around the world

Homemade pizza baked on a pizza pan

During the latter half of the 20th century, pizza become a globally accessible dish, mainly due to Italian immigrants that had brought their dishes to new people with resounding success, often in racially and culturally resistive environments.

A survey from 2004 showed that Norwegians eat the most pizza (5.4 kg/person*year), followed by Germans.[41]

Additional varieties

Macaroni and cheese pizza is pizza that includes macaroni and cheese in its preparation, sometimes using the macaroni and cheese as the pizza crust[42] or as a topping.[43]

Meatball pizza has become increasingly popular in the United States in contemporary times, and some pizzerias offer them on their menus.[44][45]

Seafood pizza is prepared with seafood as a primary ingredient.[46][47] Many types of seafood ingredients in fresh, frozen or canned forms may be used on seafood pizza. Some commercial pizza chains and smaller companies offer seafood pizzas for consumers.


A wrapped frozen pizza

Pizza is available frozen, as round traditional pizzas or in portion-size pieces. Methods have been developed to overcome challenges such as preventing the sauce from combining with the dough and producing a crust that can be frozen and reheated without becoming rigid. Modified corn starch is commonly used as a moisture barrier between the sauce and crust. Traditionally the dough is partially baked and other ingredients are also sometimes precooked. There are frozen pizzas with raw ingredients and self-rising crusts.

Another form of uncooked pizza is available from take and bake pizzerias. This pizza is assembled in the store, then sold to customers to bake in their own ovens or microwave ovens.

Another approach is using a fresh dough, sold with sauce and basic ingredients, to complete before baking in oven.


The world's largest pizza was at the Norwood Pick 'n Pay hypermarket in Johannesburg, South Africa. According to the Guinness Book of Records the pizza was 37.4 meters (122 feet 8 inches) in diameter and was made using 500 kg of flour, 800 kg of cheese and 900 kg of tomato puree. This was accomplished on December 8, 1990.[48]

The world's most expensive pizza listed by Guinness World Records is a commercially available thin-crust pizza at Maze restaurant in London, United Kingdom, which costs £100. The pizza is wood fire-baked, and is topped with onion puree, white truffle paste, fontina cheese, baby mozzarella, pancetta, cep mushrooms, freshly picked wild mizuna lettuce, and fresh shavings of a rare Italian white truffle.[49]

There are several instances of more expensive pizzas, such as the USD $4,200 “Pizza Royale 007" at Haggis restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland, which has caviar, lobster and is topped with 24-carat gold dust, and the USD $1,000 caviar pizza made by Nino's Bellissima pizzeria in New York City, New York.[50][51] However, these are not officially recognized by Guinness World Records. Additionally, a pizza was made by the restaurateur Domenico Crolla that included toppings such as sunblush-tomato sauce, Scottish smoked salmon, medallions of venison, edible gold, lobster marinated in the finest cognac and champagne-soaked caviar. The pizza was auctioned for charity in 2007, raising £2,150.[52]

Health issues

Some mass-produced pizzas by fast food chains have been criticized as having an unhealthy balance of ingredients. Pizza can be high in salt, fat and calories. The USDA reports an average sodium content of 5101mg per 14" pizza in traditional fast food chains.[53] There are concerns about negative health effects.[54] Food chains have come under criticism at various times for the high salt content of some of their meals.[55]

Frequent pizza eaters in Italy have been found to have a relatively low incidence of cardiovascular disease[56] and digestive tract cancers[57] relative to infrequent pizza eaters, although the nature of the correlation between pizza and such perceived benefits is unclear. Pizza consumption in Italy might only indicate adherence to traditional Mediterranean dietary patterns, which have been shown to have various health benefits.[57]

Similar dishes

A halved calzone
  • Calzone and stromboli are similar dishes (a calzone is traditionally half-moon-shaped, while a stromboli is tube-shaped) that are often made of pizza dough rolled or folded around a filling.
  • "Farinata" or "cecina".[58] A Ligurian (farinata) and Tuscan (cecina) regional dish made from chickpea flour, water, salt and olive oil. Also called Socca in the Provence region of France. Often baked in a brick oven, and typically weighed and sold by the slice.
  • The Alsatian Flammekueche[59] German: Flammkuchen. French: Tarte flambée is a thin disc of dough covered in crème fraîche, onions, and bacon.
  • Garlic fingers is an Atlantic Canadian dish, similar to a pizza in shape and size, and made with similar dough. It is garnished with melted butter, garlic, cheese, and sometimes bacon.
  • The Anatolian Lahmacun (Arabic: laḥm bi'ajīn; Armenian: lahmajoun; also Armenian pizza or Turkish pizza) is a meat-topped dough round. The bread is very thin; the layer of meat often includes chopped vegetables.
  • The Levantine Manakish (Arabic: ma'ujnāt) and Sfiha (Arabic: laḥm bi'ajīn; also Arab pizza) are dishes similar to pizza.
  • The Macedonian Pastrmajlija is a bread pie made from dough and meat. It is usually oval-shaped with chopped meat on top of it.
  • The Provençal Pissaladière is similar to an Italian pizza, with a slightly thicker crust and a topping of cooked onions, anchovies, and olives.
  • Pizza bread is a type of sandwich that is often served open-faced which consists of bread, pizza or tomato sauce, cheese[60] and various toppings. Homemade versions may be prepared.
  • Pizza sticks may be prepared with pizza dough and pizza ingredients, in which the dough is shaped into stick forms, sauce and toppings are added, and it is then baked.[61] Bread dough may also be used in their preparation,[62] and some versions are fried.[63]

See also


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  3. ^ International Trademark Association, European Union: Pizza napoletana obtains "Traditional Speciality Guaranteed" status, 1 April 2010
  4. ^ Salvatore Riciniello (1987) Codice Diplomatico Gaetano, Vol. I, La Poligrafica
  5. ^ Martin Maiden (2012) "Linguistic Wonders Series: Pizza is a German Word",[dead link]
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  31. ^ Rough Guide Phrasebook: Italian: Italian. p. 244. 
  32. ^ Wine Enthusiast, Volume 21, Issues 1-7. Wine Enthusiast. 2007. p. 475. 
  33. ^ "What is Sicilian Pizza?". WiseGeek. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
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  35. ^ [1][dead link]
  36. ^ "Bill for traditional Italian pizza". Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
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  41. ^ Svenska dagbladet: Pizza statistics according to AC Nielsen
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  57. ^ a b S Gallus, Cristina Bosetti, E Negri, Renato Talamini, M Montella Ettore Conti, Silvia Franceschi and Carlo La Vecchia. “Does pizza protect against cancer?”, International Journal of Cancer, Volume 107, Issue 2 (2003). Retrieved on 28 September 2014
  58. ^ "Brick Oven Cecina". Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
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Further reading

External links