The Pizza, Love at First Bite
The modern pizza that was invented by the baker Raffaele Esposito of Naples ( a city in South Italy) is probably the most popular food in the modern world. Everybody, save for those who live under a rock, has tasted or at the very least has heard of it. It has become so popular that different countries in the world have tweaked it to adapt in its local culture –deep dish pizza, cheese stuffed crust pizza, bbq chicken pizza, super thin crust pizza are just among a few of the hundreds if not thousands of pizza incarnations in the world. But, for someone who has eaten a lot of pizza from a whole lot of places around the world, let me tell you that nothing compares to how it really tastes like in its unadulterated form in its country of birth.
As a foreigner living with my very Italian husband and daughter in Italy for three years now and counting, I feel compelled to share my knowledge on what to expect when eating in a pizzeria in Italy just in case you decide to go to Italy, or are already in Italy just so you wont have the same experience that I had when I was a pizza neophyte in a pizzeria.Not wanting to admit that my Italian vocabulary was almost non existent at that stage, I ordered Pizza Tonno con Cippolo which I found out after was Pizza topped with tuna (in a can) with onions. Don’t get me wrong, I love tuna, but, not just on a pizza, even if it did come topped with basil. Needless to say, it was not the best pizza that I had, and my only consolation at that time was that I had an excuse to drink copious amounts of wine to wash it all down.
Pizza Pepperoni Does Not Exist
A shocker, I know, but what the world knows as pepperoni is actually called salami in Italy. Pepperoni is bell peppers, and unless you want pizza topped with bell peppers, I strongly suggest against ordering Pizza Pepperoni. If you can’t live without it, opt for something that has salami in it. It’s the closest thing to Pizza Pepperoni that you know and love.
The Safe Pizza Bets
The Italians love tradition, and it filters down to their food. Pizza menus in Italy, unless you are in a heavily touristed area like Rome or Milan ,is, of course, in Italian. But, don’t worry, let me help you by providing you by what I like to call my pizza safe bets. And, while some restaurants will be a bit adventurous in their pizza toppings, and stray away from the norm they will always have these classics on the menu.
Pizza Margaherita. This is the classic mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil pizza. Said to be invented in 1889 by Raffaele Esposito to honor the visiting Queen Margherita. The mozzarella, tomoato sauce and basil represent the colors of the Italian flag ( red, green and white)
Quattro Formaggi . Four cheese pizza. No explanation needed.
Quattro Stagione. Litertally translated as the four stations. It is basically four pizza in one. My personal favorite.
Capricciosa. Another classic. This pizza has tomoatoes, mozzarella, artichoke, ham, and olives.
Prosciutto . Pizza with ham. Any pizza that has Prosciutto on top, in my opinion, is good.
Calabrese . Tomoatoe, mozzarella, pepperoni ( bell pepper) , sausage, spicy salami. A good order if you like your pizza to be on the spicy side.
Do Not Ask For Hot Sauce or Ketchup…like ever
They don’t have hot sauce or ketchup, and is practically a crime to put them on top of the pizza.
Eating in a pizzeria in Italy should be an experience that you shouldn’t miss if you are visiting Italy. The ambiance, the smell, the wine, the pizza all combine to guarantee that you will have a meal experience you will never forget. And, trust me, it will be definitely be love at first bite.