Pizza's Not Pizza in Italy?

A friend of mine came back from Italy, and he says a pizza is called a “margharita”? I believe it is spelled slightly differently than the drink. Recently, I’ve noticed some sub shops use this term in their name…what’s the scoop? Furthermore, is it true that pizza and pasta, as a main dish, is strictly an Americanized thing?

  • Jinx

Pizza margharita is a particular dish: Pizza topped with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes, I believe.

What cher3 says is true for pizzas in France, Switzerland and Germany as well, probably throughout most of the rest of Europe. Pizza margerita (spelling varies) is the name for a plain pizza, with tomato sauce, some cheese and basil.

Also, AFAIK pizza in Italy is always served individual style, eg, one pizza per person, and never sliced in our classic pie style. Olives on top of the pizzas there are usually whole and with the pits in tact. Toppings which we would consider wierd or adventurous are common (tuna, goat cheese, prosciutto), while some of are toppings don’t show up often (I can’t recall seeing ground sausage on a menu).

I’ll let someone else tackle pasta.

I’ll second the weird toppings comment, and the fact that pizzas are served personally, not by the slice. I actually had pizza in Pisa, Italy, several times, and in that trip saw mussells, shrimp, goat cheese, and even calamari on pizza.

Pasta dishes, and risottos, are usually served as the “first plate.” The “second plate” is generally meat or seafood, often with a few veggies on the side.

If you really want to make a pig of yourself in Italy, you start with antipasti (“before the pasta dish”), which is a nice little something…bruschetti (sliced day-old bread with a savory paste of some kind spread over it), or olives and peppers, or fresh cheese with tomato, or sliced cold meats, or marinated fennel or eggplant or mushrooms…that’s smaller than an American “appetizer.” And then dessert afterward.

It’s becoming more customary in Italy to have smaller meals now…most people will order just a pasta dish at luncheon.

What cher3 and ShibbOleth have said is 100% consistent with my Pizza-Eating-In-Italy experience. (In fact, I mostly ate just Pizza in Italy 'cause it’s so cheap and a great deal, too!)

So, to chime in on answering the OP: Pizza in Italy is called “Pizza”. And it’s served at “Pizzerias”.

Along with the Whole Olives With Pits thing, if you order a Pizza Frutti di Mare (Seafood Pizza)–which I highly recommend–the mollusks are all still in their shells, which makes tackling an olive pit seem like quite an easy endeavor. Other Italian Pizza “Anomalies”:

  • Pizza Quatro Formaggi, four cheese pizza, very often consists of a pizza crust and four cheeses and… that’s it: no sauce. It’s what you ordered, right?

  • Unlike the above, Pizza Aeoliana has tomatoes. Big chunks of tomatoes; but still no sauce. It also has capers, a highly recommended topping for your next pizza.

  • Regarding herbs-n-spices, it seems that instead of having “herby-spicy sauce”–as we’re accustomed to here–the sauce is always a plain tomato thing (though perhaps with garlic and onion). Whatever herbs should be on the pizza (mostly parsley, oregano, basil) are simply placed on the pizza like a toping (per the OP Pizza, Margharita, which is plain tomato sauce, cheese, and basil on top).

Yeah, if you’re talking about spaghetti and meatballs, or veal Parmesan with linguine heaped next to it. In Italy, they’d be two separate courses.

Pizza, no. Pizza’s a perfectly acceptable lunch or light supper. And I do mean LIGHT. As the others have said, they come one to a customer, with a light blistery crust and fresh toppings. Those friggin’ wagon wheels from American chain pizzerias don’t come into it.

My family is from Sicily and whenever I’ve visited, I was treated with a wonderful local pizza dish. It is a thick crusted square pizza, baked in a brick-oven(many of the farmers have these), topped with fresh olive oil, basil, tomatoe, sharp pecorino and anchovies. My father owns a piza shop outside of Philly, and while he makes very good pizza, it is nothing like the various types of pizzas I’ve had in Italy.

Forgot garlic…lots of fresh garlic. mmmmmmm

Uke, I think you left out a course. Doesn’t it go:

Prima (= pasta)
Segundi (= meat)
Contorini (= salad, vegtable, or fruit course)

I remember that going that route costs you a boatload; especially compared to the ~5-7$US a pizza costs.

(Also, per Anthracite’s post, Pizza Frutti di Mare has calamari, mussels-in-shells, shrimp, and octopus. Yum!)

Yer right…the contorini (sp?) IS a separate section of the menu, although it’s usually served alongside the secondi. And the diners usually split the order of vegetables.

The History of Pizza

Obviously, this is very different than what everyone else has described (with is what I’m familiar with.) I imagine that’s because most Westerners who visit Italy go to Rome or points north (ah, Firenze – I hope to retire there some day), which of course has a very different cuisine than one finds in the south.


Antipasti is the plural of antipasto. Pasto means meal. The word antipasto has nothing to do with pasta but means before the main meal (exactly what hors d’oeuvre means in French).

And by the way, the Italian word mentioned earlier is spelled Margherita is and the name of a queen (or at least the king’s wife) around the turn of the century (the 20th).

I went to Italy about 9 years ago (wow, was it that long? I was in high school.) I distinctly remember one of my friends getting sausage on his pizza in Florence. It wasn’t whole pieces of Italian sausages, but it reminded me of the big clumps that you get on pizzas from Dominos. It stuck in my mind because it was still pink, and not fully cooked. I don’t know if it was smoked or something that made it ok to serve it pink or not. It didn’t make a difference; Chris ate it anyhow. This is the same kid that’d eat food that fell on the floor at lunch.

I digress. Point: I’ve seen sausage on pizza in Italy.

OK - so hands up anyone who’s ever seen pineapple :eek: on a pizza in Italy?

This thread wouldn’t be complete without a reference to the following Stff Report:
Who invented pizza?
It doesn’t answer the OP, but gives some interesting insight to the history of Pizza.

It is also worth mentioning that pizza has become highly regionalised. Even if you buy a pizza with the same name (let’s say capriciosa), it will differ if you buy it in Italy, France, Germany or Sweden. (I know nothing about American pizzas.) The bread will be slightly different, and the cheese will differ quite a lot. Sometimes there will be olives, sometimes mushrooms, and sometimes just ham, cheese and tomato.

Regarding Italian cuisine in general, I believe that it differs according to regions. One of the bigger meals I’ve ever eaten was on the Ligurian coast, and it consisted of 10 (yup ten) courses. It lasted for hours, and was chased down with grappa.

I usually think about pizzas in terms of “American” and “Italian” pizzas. I’ve lived in the UK, the Middle East, and Australia, and this goes for all those places.

“Italian” ones are the ones I like - they have thin crusts, and rich toppings of olives, basil, real mozzarella, goat cheese, anchovies, pesto, prosciutto, artichoke, etc etc (not all together at the same time usually though!!) Usually sold by independent restaurants, as well as restaurant chains like Pizza Express. Names are often traditionally Italian: “funghi” “marinara” “quattro formaggi” etc (excuse spelling!)

“American” ones are the ones I don’t really like - they have thicker, often “deep-pan” crusts, the cheese is much much thicker and more rubbery, and flavours include things like “Meat Feast” and “Meatosarus”, where all the “meat” is a strange, fluorescent pink colour. Pineapple is also popular, as well as extra cheese (“Cheese Feast”). These are often sold by chains such as Eagle Boys, Pizza Haven, Pizza Hut, and Deep Pan Pizza.

A third category is all those “Woodfire” and “Gourmet” pizzas. They tend to bridge the gap. They don’t taste Italian, but many will have similar toppings, or things like chicken tikka, thai chicken with peanuts, rocket lettuce, garlic prawns, etc. They are usually twice the price of the other types of pizza.

This is a broad generalisation and not really an accurate division, as I am sure you can buy Eagle Boys-style in Rome and there must be masses of Italian-style ones made by all the American Italians in the US. Nor is it a judgement on Italy V US!!

This is accurate but doesn’t do bruschetta justice! It is amazing stuff. Imagine a slice of eg French bread, rubbed with garlic, and toasted a bit. On top are fresh basil leaves, chunks of sweet ripe fresh tomato, and piquant finely-chopped red onion. The whole thing is drizzled with virgin olive oil and maybe pesto.

There are different types, but all are mouthwatering.

Oops! I lost your “s” from “sliced” - sorry! There are definitely no lice in bruschetta!! :wink:

…Yet another Food thread. Did I mentioned I luv youz guyz for this? Keep these food threads coming.
. Jeff smith, the now defamed T.V. Cook known as the ‘Frugal Gourmet’ did an Entire episode on Pizzas in his 3 Ancient Cusine series.His pizzas were based on Old recipes, hence the term ‘Ancient’, and in NO way resembled that dish we call “Pizza”
. First thing you must remember about pizza, or most sauces in general is that the Tomatoe was an Unknown food product,(As was the Turkey,Pumkin,and Chocolate)untill ol’ Chris Colombus made his trip to the New World.
. Those food loving Italians just took the ingredient and made it their own.Thank the Lord for great blessings huh?
. The Pizza as we know it here in the Good ol’ U.S. of A. originated, no doubt from the Italian dishes described above. But on the same vein,is Chilli really Mexican? NO, it is an American dish,inspired by imagrant traditions.
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. BE PROUD Americans! Pizza belongs to us! We made it up, we make it best!
. Did I mention I luv to discuss food?