What Is An "Artisanal" Pizza?

A local greasy spoon has been advertising that their pizzas are better than the regular “run of the mill” pies.
“Artisanal” is now being applied to all kinds of foods-chocolates, candy, coffee, etc.
Am I likely to find a big difference between artisanal and regular pizza?

When I think of ‘artisanal’ pizza, my thoughts would be:
thinner crispy crust
fresh mozzarella
fresh tomatoes
reggiano cheeses
olive oil
marinated artichokes

Think California Pizza Kitchen.

Around here, between five and twelve dollars a pie.

I have seen the word “artisan” before, but not “artisanal,” and I can’t help focusing on the “anal” part.

Handmade crust, maybe sourdough, nice and chewy and tasty, not perfectly round
Cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven, with some nice ash at the edges, crispy on the bottom
Premium ingredients, unusual toppings


“Fresher” ingredients, thinner crust. Unusual offerings in toppings, like shrimp, caramelized pears and baby salad greens. Roasted cloves of garlic instead of jarred minced. Fresh mushrooms that aren’t button mushrooms.

The crust is stretched and/or tossed by hand, instead of squished through a roller.

Often, but not always, cooked in wood fueled ovens instead of gas or electric ones.

No it’s worse than that - it’s art is anal as in our art looks/tastes like assholes.

When I first encountered it, the word “artisanal” in the culinary world indicated that the stuff was hand-made by the proprietor, usually on-site or nearby, and was applied to stuff like cheeses, wines and cured meats (i.e., the guy got raw meat from a butcher, whose name he could provide on demand, mixed with spices, stuffed in sausage casing and hung to dry in his own facility). For example I have toured the cheese “caves” for Artisanal Premium Cheese in NYC.

The people doing the hand-making of food ingredients were deemed “artisans”, hence the adjective for a product made by a food artisan is “artisanal”. (I guess.)

Pizza is “second order food” that is cooked WITH pre-prepared foods like cheese, possibly cured meats and other stuff like tomato sauce, garlic, etc. Calling something like that “artisanal” originally meant it was made with artisanal ingredients, i.e., the same guy making cheeses and curing sausages is also making pizza with them.

Then it got stretched to mean “well we don’t make the ingredients ourselves, but all the ingredients of the pizza are of artisanal origin” (e.g., “Mozzarella from Mr. Jones’ Dairy, sausages from Mr. Smith’s Farm”).

But what it clearly has evolved into is simply to mean “we made it here from scratch on-site” if you’re lucky.

“California style” isn’t limited to CPK. A DC-area pizza place had been doing California style for years before CPK opened here.

As a life long mid-westerner, I don’t know what “California style” is. I have however eaten at Califonia Pizza Kitchen many times. Whether or not that’s considered California Style or not, I don’t know. But I’d think it would qualify as a generic ‘artisanal’ pizza. For the record, I never used the term ‘California Style.’

Smaller and more expensive.

“Artisanal” just sounds like the new “gourmet” to me.

As a life long Californian, neither do I.

I think it has something to do with getting people that have never set foot in California to think they’re eating what people in California eat…and by California, of course I mean the movie and rock stars.

It is.

This is what I think of. Ingredients needn’t be unusual, but they do have to be of superior quality or made in-house. Extreme attention is paid to perfecting a flavorful crust, usually in the form of using a bit of a poolish (a sourdough starter) and a high-heat oven technique for charring on the edges (a wood-fired or coal-fired approach.) I disagree that it has to be crispy–a lot of Neapolitan pies that the “artisanal” styles are modeled after can have a little bit of a softer center.

Here’s an article from 2004 about the rising artisan pizza movement:

I mean, yeah, a lot of the term is a bit of marketing hooey. But the above is what I think of when I think of “artisan pizza.”

In general, when I hear “artisan” or “artisanal” what it means to me is that the thing was hand-made by somebody who knew what they were doing… as opposed to made by a machine.

It weirds me out that there was a time when the machine-made stuff was thought to be so much better, and things have made such a 180 since then. The 1950s must have been a very weird place.

You’re getting off cheap. A large pie at Pizzacato can go for $25, depending on ingredients.

That’s the *difference *between a regular and an artisanal pie around here, not the price of the smaller, weirder one.

Or it might have something to do with former Chicago Bull Artis Gilmore.