Pizza is one of the world’s most unifying foods. Originally from Italy, it seems like almost every country has its own version of the classic.
Although some play fast and loose with the concept of ‘pizza’ – for example, making a sushi version or adding tacos on top – the traditional, fail-safe recipe includes some form of dough, sauce and cheese. Within this remit, there’s huge amounts of scope for variation, and different regions can get seriously fired up over which type is best.
This International Pizza day, we’ve taken a look at some of the different types you can get all over the world. Just make sure you don’t anger any Italians by adding pineapple on top…
Sicilians won’t like this, but the Neapolitan is widely considered to be the godfather of pizza. After all, pizzaiuolo – the Neapolitan art of making the pizza by twirling it in the air – is on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage.
The recipe itself is simple. Hailing from Naples, it’s made of a basic dough with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and olive oil. To be an authentically accredited Neapolitan pizza according to the True Neapolitan Pizza Association (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana), you must follow the specifications to a tee.
It’s a round pizza with a diameter of no more than 35cm, with a raised crust and soft centre.
The Neapolitan’s greatest Italian rival comes from Sicily, which has a completely different interpretation of pizza. Known as sfincione, which means ‘thick sponge’ in Italian, the dough is fluffy and bready, almost like a focaccia.
Traditionally, the base is topped with a tomato, onion, anchovy and herb sauce and covered with breadcrumbs and hard cheese. Making it instantly recognisable as Sicilian and not Neapolitan, it’s baked in a square or rectangular pan.
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There are technically two types of pizza originating from Rome – the first is pizza al taglio, which means pizza by the slice. This is a thick, focaccia-like base served by the slice as a street food snack.
The second – which you’ll find at basically any restaurant in the city – is the Roman take on the Neapolitan. Instead of a small pizza, the dough is stretched out into a much bigger and thinner, with an extra-crispy crust. Romans are said to be less strict about toppings and are happier to experiment than the Neapolitans.
Chicago is home to the deep-dish pizza. A far cry from the thin Neapolitan, this pizza is baked in a pan which means the edge almost looks like a pie crust, and the middle is piled high with cheese, tomato sauce, and whatever else you want – in Chicago, sausage is preferred.
Deep-dish pizzas are closer to a pie than a flatbread, and have plenty of space for lots of cheese.
Like Naples vs Sicily, the pizza battle between Chicago and New York is fierce. In New York, the style is closer to a classic Neapolitan in its thinness. It doesn’t have quite the same crust – instead, it’s softer and thinner, meaning you can fold the pizza in half and eat it like a true New Yorker.
While the Neapolitan is on the small side and suitable for one person to eat as a meal, the New York version tends to be sold in massive single slices.
Detroit-style pizza takes a classic Sicilian dough and puts a Michigan spin on it. The dough is baked in a rectangular pan with plenty of cheese, sauce and perhaps pepperoni piled on top. The result is a spongy base with a crunch at the bottom, and rather than a discernible crust (like in the Chicago version, where the crust is up the sides), the edges are basically made up of blackened, crispy cheese.
The pizza is made in a different way too, with the cheese piled straight on top of the dough and the sauce following afterwards.
All of the pizzas so far on this list have been from specific locations, but a calzone is a completely different style of pizza. It’s originally from Naples, but has become so widespread everyone is putting their own spin on it. Essentially, it’s a pizza folded in half and baked with all the toppings you might expect inside.
Interpretations of the classic calzone are getting more experimental, with people stuffing theirs with macaroni and cheese or even making a chocolate-filled dessert version.
Pizzas aren’t exactly the healthiest of meals, but the average Sicilian slice is basically saintly next to the montanara. Also from Naples, the classic disc of dough is deep-fried – making it puff up and extra crispy – then the sauce and mozzarella are put on top and it’s quickly placed in the oven to melt the cheese. Delicious, but not exactly something you should eat every day.