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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A pizza cut into eight slices
CourseLunch or dinner
Place of originItaly
Region or stateCampania (Naples)
Serving temperatureHot or warm
Main ingredientsDough, sauce (usually tomato sauce), cheese (typically mozzarella, dairy or vegan)
VariationsCalzone, panzerotti, stromboli

Pizza (English: /ˈptsə/ PEET-sə, Italian: [ˈpittsa], Neapolitan: [ˈpittsə]) is a dish of Italian origin consisting of a usually round, flat base of leavened wheat-based dough topped with tomatoes, cheese, and often various other ingredients (such as various types of sausage, anchovies, mushrooms, onions, olives, vegetables, meat, ham, etc.), which is then baked at a high temperature, traditionally in a wood-fired oven.[1]

The term pizza was first recorded in the 10th century in a Latin manuscript from the Southern Italian town of Gaeta in Lazio, on the border with Campania.[2] Raffaele Esposito is often credited for creating modern pizza in Naples.[3][4][5][6] In 2009, Neapolitan pizza was registered with the European Union as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed dish. In 2017, the art of making Neapolitan pizza was added to UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage.[7]

Pizza and its variants are among the most popular foods in the world. Pizza is sold at a variety of restaurants, including pizzerias (pizza specialty restaurants), Mediterranean restaurants, via delivery, and as street food.[8] In Italy, pizza served in a restaurant is presented unsliced, and is eaten with the use of a knife and fork.[9][10] In casual settings, however, it is cut into wedges to be eaten while held in the hand. Pizza is also sold in grocery stores in a variety of forms, including frozen or as kits for self-assembly. They are then cooked using a home oven.

In 2017, the world pizza market was US$128 billion, and in the US it was $44 billion spread over 76,000 pizzerias.[11] Overall, 13% of the U.S. population aged two years and over consumed pizza on any given day.[12]


The oldest recorded usage of the word "pizza" is from a Latin text from the town of Gaeta, then still part of the Byzantine Empire, in 997 AD; the text states 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.[2][13]

Suggested etymologies include:

  • Byzantine Greek and Late Latin pitta > pizza, cf. Modern Greek pitta bread and the Apulia and Calabrian (then Byzantine Italy) pitta,[14] a round flat bread baked in the oven at high temperature sometimes with toppings. The word pitta can in turn be traced to either Ancient Greek πικτή (pikte), "fermented pastry", which in Latin became "picta", or Ancient Greek πίσσα (pissa, Attic πίττα, pitta), "pitch",[15][16] or πήτεα (pḗtea), "bran" (πητίτης pētítēs, "bran bread").[17]
  • The Etymological Dictionary of the Italian Language explains it as coming from dialectal pinza "clamp", as in modern Italian pinze "pliers, pincers, tongs, forceps". Their origin is from Latin pinsere "to pound, stamp".[18]
  • The Lombardic 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.[2][19] The shift b>p could be explained by the High German consonant shift, and it has been noted in this connection that in German the word Imbiss means "snack".

A small pizza is sometimes called a "pizzetta".[20] A person who makes pizza is known as a "pizzaiolo".[21]


An ancient Roman precursor of pizza shown on a fresco in Pompeii
A pizzaiolo in 1830

Records of people adding other ingredients to bread to make it more flavorful can be found throughout ancient history. In the 6th century BC, the Persian soldiers of the Achaemenid Empire during the rule of Darius the Great baked flatbreads with cheese and dates on top of their battle shields[22][23] and the ancient Greeks supplemented their bread with oils, herbs, and cheese.[24][25] An early reference to a pizza-like food occurs in the Aeneid, when Celaeno, queen of the Harpies, foretells that the Trojans would not find peace until they are forced by hunger to eat their tables (Book III). In Book VII, Aeneas and his men are served a meal that includes round cakes (like pita bread) topped with cooked vegetables. When they eat the bread, they realize that these are the "tables" prophesied by Celaeno.[26] In 2023, archeologists discovered a fresco in Pompeii appearing to depict a pizza-like dish among other foodstuffs and staples on a silver platter. Italy's culture minister said it "may be a distant ancestor of the modern dish".[27][28] The first mention of the word "pizza" comes from a notarial document written in Latin and dating to May 997 AD from Gaeta, demanding a payment of "twelve pizzas, a pork shoulder, and a pork kidney on Christmas Day, and 12 pizzas and a couple of chickens on Easter Day."[29]

Modern pizza evolved from similar flatbread dishes in Naples, Italy, in the 18th or early 19th century.[30] Before that time, flatbread was often topped with ingredients such as garlic, salt, lard, and cheese. It is uncertain when tomatoes were first added and there are many conflicting claims,[30] though it certainly could not have been before the 16th century and the Columbian Exchange. Until about 1830, pizza was sold from open-air stands and out of pizza bakeries.

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 pizza 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,[31] although later research cast doubt on this legend.[32] An official letter of recognition from the Queen's "head of service" remains on display in Esposito's shop, now called the Pizzeria Brandi.[33]

Pizza was taken to the United States by Italian immigrants in the late nineteenth century[34] and first appeared in areas where they concentrated. The country's first pizzeria, Lombardi's, opened in New York City in 1905.[35] Following World War II, veterans returning from the Italian Campaign, who were introduced to Italy's native cuisine, proved a ready market for pizza in particular.[36]

The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (lit. True Neapolitan Pizza Association) is a non-profit organization founded in 1984 with headquarters in Naples that aims to promote traditional Neapolitan pizza.[37] In 2009, upon Italy's request, Neapolitan pizza was registered with the European Union as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed dish,[38][39] and in 2017 the art of its making was included on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage.[7]


Pizza is sold fresh or frozen, and whole or in portion-size slices. 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. There are frozen pizzas with raw ingredients and self-rising crusts.

Another form of pizza is available from take and bake pizzerias. This pizza is assembled in the store, then sold unbaked to customers to bake in their own ovens. Some grocery stores sell fresh dough along with sauce and basic ingredients, to assemble at home before baking in an oven.


In restaurants, pizza can be baked in an oven with fire bricks above the heat source, an electric deck oven, a conveyor belt oven, or, in traditional style in a wood or coal-fired brick oven. The pizza is slid into the oven on a long paddle, called a peel, and baked directly on hot bricks, a screen (a round metal grate, typically aluminum), or whatever the oven surface is. Before use, a peel is typically sprinkled with cornmeal to allow the pizza to easily slide on and off it.[40] When made at home, a pizza can be baked on a pizza stone in a regular oven to reproduce some of the heating effect of a brick oven. Cooking directly on a metal surface results in too rapid heat transfer to the crust, burning it.[41] Some home chefs use a wood-fired pizza oven, usually installed outdoors. As in restaurants, these are often dome-shaped, as pizza ovens have been for centuries,[42] in order to achieve even heat distribution. Another variation is grilled pizza, in which the pizza is baked directly on a barbecue grill. Greek pizza, like deep dish Chicago and Sicilian style pizza, is baked in a pan rather than directly on the bricks of the pizza oven.

Most restaurants use standard and purpose-built pizza preparation tables to assemble their pizzas. Mass production of pizza by chains can be completely automated.


Caramelised crust – its cornicione (the outer edge) – of slices of New York–style pizza

The bottom of the pizza, called the "crust", may vary widely according to style – thin as in a typical hand-tossed Neapolitan pizza or thick as in a deep-dish Chicago-style. It is traditionally plain, but may also be seasoned with garlic or herbs, or stuffed with cheese. The outer edge of the pizza is sometimes referred to as the cornicione.[43] Some pizza dough contains sugar, to help its yeast rise and enhance browning of the crust.[44]

Dipping sauce specifically for pizza was invented by American pizza chain Papa John's Pizza in 1984 and has since been adopted by some when eating pizza, especially the crust.[45]


Mozzarella cheese is commonly used on pizza, with the buffalo mozzarella produced in the surroundings of Naples.[46] Other cheeses are also used, particularly Italian cheeses including provolone, pecorino romano, ricotta, and scamorza. Less expensive processed cheeses or cheese analogues have been developed for mass-market pizzas to produce desirable qualities like browning, melting, stretchiness, consistent fat and moisture content, and stable shelf life. This quest to create the ideal and economical pizza cheese has involved many studies and experiments analyzing the impact of vegetable oil, manufacturing and culture processes, denatured whey proteins, and other changes in manufacture. In 1997, it was estimated that annual production of pizza cheese was 1 million metric tons (1,100,000 short tons) in the U.S. and 100,000 metric tons (110,000 short tons) in Europe.[47]

Varieties and styles

A great number of pizza varieties exist, defined by the choice of toppings and sometimes also crust. There are also several styles of pizza, defined by their preparation method. The following lists feature only the notable ones.


Pizza varieties
Image Name Characteristic ingredients Origin First attested Notes
Pizza capricciosa Ham, mushrooms, artichokes, egg Italy Similar to Pizza quattro stagioni, but with toppings mixed rather than separated.
Clam pie Clams New England 1950s Pizza version of the covered pie served in New England since colonial times.
Hawaiian pizza Pineapple, ham or bacon Canada 1962 Tends to divide opinion.[48]
Pizza Margherita Tomatoes, mozzarella, basil Naples, Italy 1800s The archetypical Neapolitan pizza.
Pizza marinara Tomato sauce, olive oil, oregano, garlic. No cheese. Naples, Italy 1734 One of the oldest Neapolitan pizza.
Pizza pugliese Tomato, onion, mozzarella Apulia, Italy
Pizza quattro formaggi Prepared using four kinds of cheese (Italian: [ˈkwattro forˈmaddʒi], "four cheeses"): Mozzarella, Gorgonzola and two others depending on the region Lazio, Italy 1700s
Pizza quattro stagioni Artichokes, mushroom, ham, tomatoes Italy The toppings are separated by quarter, representing the cycle of the seasons.
Seafood pizza Seafood, such as fish, shellfish or squid Subvarieties include Pizza frutti di mare (no cheese) and Pizza pescatore (with mussels or squid).


Pizza styles
Image Name Characteristics Origin First attested
California-style pizza Distinguished by the use of non-traditional ingredients, especially varieties of fresh produce. California, US 1980
Calzone Pizza folded in half turnover-style. Naples, Italy 1700s
Chicago-style pizza Baked in a pan with a high edge that holds in a thick layer of toppings. The crust is sometimes stuffed with cheese or other ingredients. Chicago, US c. 1940s
Colorado-style pizza Made with a characteristically thick, braided crust topped with heavy amounts of sauce and cheese. It is traditionally served by the pound, with a side of honey as a condiment. Colorado, US 1973
Deep-fried pizza The pizza is deep-fried (cooked in oil) instead of baked. Scotland and Italy
Detroit-style pizza The cheese is spread to the edges and caramelizes against the high-sided heavyweight rectangular pan, giving the crust a lacy, crispy edge. Detroit, US 1946
Grandma pizza Thin, square, baked in a sheet pan, "reminiscent of pizzas cooked at home by Italian housewives without a pizza oven".[49] Long Island, US Early 1900s
Greek pizza Proofed and baked in a shallow pan; the crust is light and similar to foccaccia. Connecticut, US 1955
Italian tomato pie Made from thick dough covered by tomato paste; a variation on Sicilian pizza. Also called pizza strips (when cut as in the image), gravy pie, church pie, red bread, party pizza, etc. US early 1900s
Jumbo slice Very large slice of pizza sold as street food. New York and Washington D.C., US 1981
New York–style pizza Neapolitan-derived pizza with a characteristic thin foldable crust New York metropolitan area (and beyond) early 1900s
Pizzetta Small pizza served as an hors d'oeuvre or snack.
St. Louis–style pizza The style has a thin cracker-like crust made without yeast, generally uses Provel cheese, and is cut into squares or rectangles instead of wedges. St. Louis, US 1945

By region of origin


Authentic Neapolitan pizza (pizza napoletana) is made with San Marzano tomatoes, grown on the volcanic plains south of Mount Vesuvius, and either mozzarella di bufala Campana, made with milk from water buffalo raised in the marshlands of Campania and Lazio[50] or Fior-di-latte. Buffalo mozzarella is protected with its own European protected designation of origin.[50] Other traditional pizzas include pizza alla marinara, which is topped with marinara sauce and is supposedly the most ancient tomato-topped pizza,[51] pizza capricciosa, which is prepared with mozzarella cheese, baked ham, mushroom, artichoke, and tomato,[52] and pizza pugliese, prepared with tomato, mozzarella, and onions.[53]

A popular variant of pizza in Italy is Sicilian pizza (locally called sfincione or sfinciuni),[54][55] a thick-crust or deep-dish pizza originating during the 17th century in Sicily: it is essentially a focaccia that is typically topped with tomato sauce and other ingredients. Until the 1860s, sfincione was the type of pizza usually consumed in Sicily, especially in the Western portion of the island.[56] Other variations of pizzas are also found in other regions of Italy, for example pizza al padellino or pizza al tegamino, a small-sized, thick-crust, deep-dish pizza typically served in Turin, Piedmont.[57][58][59]

United States

Pizza banquet in the White House (2009)

The first pizzeria in the U.S. was opened in New York City's Little Italy in 1905.[60] Common toppings for pizza in the United States include anchovies, ground beef, chicken, ham, mushrooms, olives, onions, peppers, pepperoni, salami, sausage, spinach, steak, and tomatoes. Distinct regional types developed in the 20th century, including Buffalo,[61] California, Chicago, Detroit, Greek, New Haven, New York, and St. Louis styles.[62] These regional variations include deep-dish, stuffed, pockets, turnovers, rolled, and pizza-on-a-stick, each with seemingly limitless combinations of sauce and toppings.

Thirteen percent of the United States population consumes pizza on any given day.[63] Pizza chains such as Domino's Pizza, Pizza Hut, and Papa John's, pizzas from take and bake pizzerias, and chilled or frozen pizzas from supermarkets make pizza readily available nationwide.


Argentina, and more specifically Buenos Aires, saw significant Italian immigration at the end of the 19th century. Immigrants from Naples and Genoa opened the first pizza bars, though over time Spanish residents came to own the majority of the pizza businesses.

Standard Argentine pizza has a thicker crust, called "media masa" (half dough) than traditional Italian style pizza and uses more cheese. In Argentina pizza slices are often served topped with fainá, a Genoese chickpea-flour pancake, and accompanied by moscato wine. The most popular variety of pizza is called "muzzarella" (mozzarella), similar to Neapolitan pizza (bread, tomato sauce and cheese) but made with a thicker "media masa" crust, triple cheese and tomato sauce, usually also with olives. It can be found in nearly every corner of the country; Buenos Aires is considered the city with the most pizza bars per person of the world.[64] Other popular varieties include ham, tomato slices, red pepper and longaniza. Two Argentine-originated varieties of pizza with onion, are also very popular: fugazza with cheese, a regular pizza crust topped with cheese and onions, and fugazzetta, with the cheese between two pizza crusts, with onions on top.[65][66]


As of 2021, according to Guinness World Records:

  • The world's largest pizza was prepared in Rome in December 2012, and measured 1,261 square meters (13,570 square feet). The pizza was named "Ottavia" in homage to the first Roman emperor Octavian Augustus, and was made with a gluten-free base.[67]
  • The world's longest pizza was 1,930.39 meters (6,333 feet 3+12 inches) long; it was made in Fontana, California in 2017.[68] Other previous records include that of Marquinetti (Tomelloso, Spain), where a 1141.5 m pizza was achieved, itself surpassing a previous record in Poland.[69]
  • The world's most expensive commercially available pizza recognised by Guinness World Records costs US$2,700, and was sold at Industry Kitchen (USA) in New York, New York, US, as of 24 April 2017. It is made of black squid ink dough, and topped with UK white Stilton cheese, French foie gras and truffles, Ossetra caviar from the Caspian Sea, Almas caviar, and 24K gold leaves.[70]
  • More expensive pizzas have been reported, but are not recognised by Guinness World Records, such as the £4,200 "Pizza Royale 007" at Haggis restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland, which is topped with caviar, lobster, and 24-carat gold dust, and the US$1,000 caviar pizza made by Nino's Bellissima pizzeria in New York City, New York.[71]
  • A pizza 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 cognac, and champagne-soaked caviar. The pizza was auctioned for charity in 2007, raising £2,150.[72]

Pizza and health

Boy Scouts with pizza

Some pizzas mass-produced by pizza chains have been criticized as having an unhealthy balance of ingredients. Pizza can be high in salt and fat, and is high in calories. The USDA reports an average sodium content of 5,101 mg per 36 cm (14 in) pizza in fast food chains.[73] There are concerns about undesirable health effects.[74][75]

Similar dishes

  • Calzone and stromboli are similar dishes that are often made of pizza dough folded (calzone) or rolled (stromboli) around a filling.
  • Panzerotti are similar to calzones, but fried rather than baked.
  • Piadina is a thin Italian flatbread, typically prepared in the Romagna historical region.
  • Focaccia is a flat leavened oven-baked Italian bread, similar in style and texture to pizza; in some places, it is called pizza bianca ("white pizza").[76]
  • "Farinata" or "cecina".[77] 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.
  • Coca is a similar dish consumed mainly in Catalonia and neighbouring regions, but that has extended to other areas in Spain, and to Algeria. There are sweet and savoury versions.
  • The Alsatian Flammekueche[78] (Standard 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 Turkish pizza or Armenian pizza) is a meat-topped dough round. The base is very thin, and the layer of meat often includes chopped vegetables.[79]
  • The Levantine Manakish (Arabic: ma'ujnāt) and Sfiha (Arabic: laḥm bi'ajīn; also Arab pizza) are dishes similar to pizza.
  • Panizza is half a stick of bread (often baguette), topped with the usual pizza ingredients, baked in an oven.
  • 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 bagel is a bagel with toppings similar to that of traditional pizzas.
  • Pizza bread is an open-faced sandwich made of bread, tomato sauce, cheese,[80] and various toppings.
  • Pizza sticks are baked with pizza dough and pizza ingredients.[81] Bread dough may also be used in their preparation,[82] and some versions are fried.[83]
  • Pizza Rolls are a trade-marked commercial product.
  • Okonomiyaki, a Japanese dish cooked on a hotplate, is often referred to as "Japanese pizza".[84]
  • "Zanzibar pizza" is a street food served in Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania. It uses a dough much thinner than pizza dough, almost like filo dough, filled with minced beef, onions, and an egg, similar to Moroccan basṭīla.[85]
  • Zwiebelkuchen, a German onion tart, often baked with diced bacon and caraway seeds.

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Further reading

External links