ID:20761 Section: Food

Updated:Tuesday 14th October 2014

Pizza Definition

(Wikipedia) - Pizza For other uses, see Pizza (disambiguation).
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Pizza Type Place of origin Serving temperature Main ingredients Variations
A cheese pizza cut into 8 slices
Hot or warm
Dough, often tomato sauce, cheese
Calzone, Stromboli
Cookbook:Pizza  Pizza
Part of a series on
Main articles
  • History of pizza
  • Pizza
  • Pizza delivery
  • Pizza in the United States
  • Pizzeria
  • List of pizza varieties by country
Pizza varieties
  • California-style pizza
  • Chicago-style pizza
  • Detroit-style pizza
  • Greek pizza
  • Hawaiian pizza
  • Lazio
  • Meatball pizza
  • Mexican pizza
  • Neapolitan pizza
  • New Haven-style pizza
  • New York-style pizza
  • Pizza al taglio
  • Pizza capricciosa
  • Pizza carbonara
  • Pizza pugliese
  • Quad City-style pizza
  • Seafood pizza
  • Sicilian pizza
  • Sushi pizza
  • Tomato pie
  • St. Louis-style pizza
Cooking variations
  • Deep-fried pizza
  • Grilled pizza
Pizza tools
  • Pizza cutter
  • Pizza saver
  • Pizza stone
  • Peel
  • Masonry oven
  • Mezzaluna
  • Long Island Pizza Festival & Bake-Off
  • World Pizza Championship
Related articles
  • List of pizza chains
  • Pizza cheese
  • Pizza theorem
Similar dishes
  • Pizza bagel
  • Calzone
  • Coca
  • Cong you bing
  • Farinata
  • Flammkuchen
  • Focaccia
  • Garlic fingers
  • Lahmacun
  • Manakish
  • Panzarotti
  • Paratha
  • Pastrmajlija
  • Pissaladière
  • Quesadilla
  • Sardenara
  • Sausage bread
  • Scaccia
  • Stromboli
  • v
  • t
  • e

Pizza(i/ˈpiːtsə/, Italian pronunciation: ) is an oven-baked flat bread usually topped with tomato sauce, cheese and various toppings. The modern pizza was invented in Naples, Italy, and the dish has since become popular in many parts of the world.

Pizzerias specialize in making pizzas, although the dish is served in other restaurants worldwide. Many varieties of pizza exist worldwide, along with several dish variants based upon pizza. Pizza is cooked in various types of ovens, and a diverse variety of ingredients and toppings are utilized.

In 2009, upon Italy''s request, Neapolitan pizza was safeguarded in the European Union as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed dish.

  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 History
  • 3 Cooking
    • 3.1 Crust
    • 3.2 Cheese
    • 3.3 Toppings
  • 4 Varieties
    • 4.1 Italy
      • 4.1.1 Examples
    • 4.2 United States
      • 4.2.1 Examples
  • 5 Preparation
  • 6 Records
  • 7 Health issues
  • 8 Similar dishes
  • 9 See also
  • 10 References
  • 11 Further reading
  • 12 External links


The term ''pizza'' first appeared "in a Latin text from the southern Italian town of Gaeta in 997 AD, which claims that a tenant of certain property is to give the bishop of Gaeta duodecim pizze every Christmas Day, and another twelve every Easter Sunday".

The origin of the word is uncertain. Suggested etymologies include:

  • The Ancient Greek word πικτή (pikte), "fermented pastry", which in Latin became "picta", and Late Latin pitta > pizza. Compare Greek pita bread and the Apulia and Calabrian pitta.
  • The Ancient Greek word πίσσα (pissa, Attic πίττα, pitta), "pitch", or pḗtea, "bran" (pētítēs, "bran bread").
  • The Italian word pizzicare meaning “to pluck”, which supposedly refers to pizza being “plucked” quickly from the oven (pizzicare was derived from an older Italian word pizzo meaning “point”).
  • The Old High German 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.
HistoryA pizza just removed from an ovenPizzas in a traditional wood-fired brick ovenVegetarian pizza usually includes cheese and any toppings except meat, although vegans order or make it without cheese.Main article: History of pizza

The ancient Greeks covered their bread with oils, herbs and cheese. The Romans developed placenta, a sheet of dough topped with cheese and honey and flavored with bay leaves.

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 pie 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 as "Pizza Margherita", although recent research casts doubt on this legend.

Pizza was a sweet dish (not savory) until the early twentieth century. There is a record showing that the current bread-tomato-cheese combination was introduced as early as 1927. Along with the popularity of the tomato in Europe, pizza was led to a form using flat bread with tomato that serves as toppings. Famous examples of the savory pizzas with tomato toppings include the Marinara and the Margherita.

Pizza began being served in the United States with the arrival of Italian migrants, and the first pizzeria in the country, Lombardi''s Pizza, opened in 1905. After World War II, soldiers returning from stations in Italy created a high demand for the pizza they had encountered in Italy. Since then pizza has evolved many variations. It can be deep-dish pizza, stuffed pizza, pizza pockets, pizza turnovers, rolled pizza, pizza-on-a-stick, all with combinations of sauce and toppings limited only by one''s inventiveness.


In restaurants, pizza can be baked in an oven with stone bricks above the heat source, an electric deck oven, a conveyor belt oven or, in the case of more expensive restaurants, a wood- or coal-fired brick oven. On deck ovens, pizza can be slid into the oven on a long paddle, called a peel, and baked directly on the hot bricks or baked on a screen (a round metal grate, typically aluminum). When made at home, it can be baked on a pizza stone in a regular oven to reproduce the effect of a brick oven. Another option is grilled pizza, in which the crust is baked directly on a barbecue grill. Greek pizza, like Chicago-style pizza, is baked in a pan rather than directly on the bricks of the pizza oven.

CrustTraditional pizza dough tossing

The bottom of the pizza, called the "crust", may vary widely according to style—thin as in a typical hand-tossed pizza, screen, thin, or Roman pizza, or thick as in a typical pan pizza or deep like a Chicago-style pizza. It is traditionally plain, but may also be seasoned with garlic or herbs, or stuffed with cheese. Whichever restaurant chosen, there are typically a few options of crust to chose from. The outer edge of the pizza is sometimes referred to as the cornicione. Often, the pizza crust contains sugar to help with the yeast rising as well as the browning of the dough.

Cheese Main article: Pizza cheese

The original pizza used only mozzarella, the highest quality ones the buffalo mozzarella variant, produced in the surroundings of Naples. Other kinds of cheese may be used for creative alternative recipes (provolone, pecorino romano, ricotta, scamorza and many others), including processed cheeses for mass-market pizzas manufactured to produce desirable qualities like browning, melting, stretchiness and fat and moisture content. Many studies and experiments have analyzed the impact of vegetable oil, manufacturing and culture processes, denatured whey proteins and other changes to creating the ideal and economical pizza cheese. In 1997 it was estimated that annual production of pizza cheese was 2 billion pounds in the U.S. and 200 million pounds in Europe.


Myriad toppings are used on pizzas, such as:

  • Anchovy
  • Artichoke
  • Bacon
  • Bell peppers
  • Chili peppers
  • Corn
  • Feta
  • Garlic
  • Ground beef
  • Ham
  • Jalapeños
  • Mushrooms
  • Olives
  • Onion
  • Pepperoni
  • Pineapple
  • Sausage
  • Seafood
  • Spinach
  • Sun-dried tomato
  • Tomatoes
  • Other Vegetables
Varieties Main article: List of pizza varieties by country500 pizzas are listed on a trattoria in Southern ItalyItalyNeapolitan pizza (Margherita)

Authentic Neapolitan pizzas (pizza napoletana) are typically made with tomatoes and Mozzarella cheese. They can be made with ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes, which grow on the volcanic plains to the south of Mount Vesuvius, and mozzarella di bufala Campana, made with the milk from water buffalo raised in the marshlands of Campania and Lazio (the water buffalo are raised in a semi-wild state, and this mozzarella is protected with its own European protected designation of origin).

  • Pizza capricciosa is a style of pizza in Italian cuisine prepared with mozzarella cheese, Italian baked ham, mushroom, artichoke and tomato.
  • Pizza pugliese is a pizza in Italian cuisine prepared with tomato, mozzarella and onion.
  • Sicilian pizza is pizza prepared in a manner that originated in Sicily, Italy. Just in the US, the phrase Sicilian pizza is often synonymous with thick-crust or deep-dish pizza derived from the sicilian Sfincione. In Sicily, there is a variety of pizza called Sfincione. Essentially focaccia with toppings, Sfincione has been made since the 17th century. Until the 1860s, it was the type of "pizza" usually consumed in Sicily, especially on the western portion of the island.
United States Main article: Pizza in the United States

Pizza was brought to the United States with Italian immigrants in the late nineteenth century; and first appeared in areas where Italian immigrants concentrated. Distinct American pizza styles were developed in the twentieth century, as the original Italian pizzas went through several transformations. Nowadays, there is easy access to pizza via chain stores like Pizza Hut and Papa John''s Pizza as well as frozen/chilled ones, such as DiGiorno. Thirteen percent of the U.S. population consume pizza on any given day.


Varieties of American pizza include:

  • Californian
  • Chicago
  • Greek
  • Hawaiian
  • New Haven
  • New York
  • Old Forge
  • Quad City
  • Sicilian
  • St. Louis
  • Tomato pies
PreparationA wrapped frozen pizza

Pizza is available frozen, as round traditional pizzas or in portion-size pieces. 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. Modified corn starch is commonly used as a moisture barrier between the sauce and crust. Traditionally the dough is partially baked and other ingredients are also sometimes precooked. There are frozen pizzas with raw ingredients and self-rising crusts.

Another form of uncooked pizza is available from take and bake pizzerias. This pizza is assembled in the store, then sold to customers to bake in their own ovens or microwave ovens.

Another approach is using a fresh dough, sold with sauce and basic ingredients, to complete before baking in oven.


The world''s largest pizza was at the Norwood Pick ''n Pay hypermarket in Johannesburg, South Africa. According to the Guinness Book of Records the pizza was 37.4 meters (122 feet 8 inches) in diameter and was made using 500 kg of flour, 800 kg of cheese and 900 kg of tomato puree. This was accomplished on December 8, 1990.

The world''s most expensive pizza listed by Guinness World Records is a commercially available thin-crust pizza at Maze restaurant in London, United Kingdom, which costs £100. The pizza is wood fire-baked, and is topped with onion puree, white truffle paste, fontina cheese, baby mozzarella, pancetta, cep mushrooms, freshly picked wild mizuna lettuce, and fresh shavings of a rare Italian white truffle.

There are several instances of more expensive pizzas, such as the USD $4,200 “Pizza Royale 007" at Haggis restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland, which has caviar, lobster and is topped with 24-carat gold dust, and the USD $1,000 caviar pizza made by Nino''s Bellissima pizzeria in New York City, New York. However, these are not officially recognized by Guinness World Records. Additionally, a pizza was 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 the finest cognac and champagne-soaked caviar. The pizza was auctioned for charity in 2007, raising £2,150.

Health issues

Some mass-produced pizzas by fast food chains have been criticized as having an unhealthy balance of ingredients. Pizza can be high in salt, fat and calories. The USDA reports an average sodium content of 5101 mg per 14" pizza in traditional fast food chains. There are concerns about negative health effects. Food chains have come under criticism at various times for the high salt content of some of their meals.

Frequent pizza eaters in Italy have been found to have a relatively low incidence of cardiovascular disease and digestive tract cancers relative to infrequent pizza eaters, although the nature of the correlation between pizza and such perceived benefits is unclear. Pizza consumption in Italy might only indicate adherence to traditional Mediterranean dietary patterns, which have been shown to have various health benefits.

Some attribute the apparent health benefits of pizza to the lycopene content in pizza sauce, which research indicates likely plays a role in protecting against cardiovascular disease and various cancers.

Similar dishesA halved calzoneA tarte flambée
  • Calzone and stromboli are similar dishes (a calzone is traditionally half-moon-shaped, while a stromboli is tube-shaped) that are often made of pizza dough rolled or folded around a filling.
  • "Farinata" or "cecina". 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.
  • The Alsatian Flammekueche 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 Armenian pizza or Turkish pizza) is a meat-topped dough round. The bread is very thin; the layer of meat often includes chopped vegetables.
  • The Levantine Manakish (Arabic: ma''ujnāt) and Sfiha (Arabic: laḥm bi''ajīn; also Arab pizza) are dishes similar to pizza.
  • 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 bread is a type of sandwich that is often served open-faced which consists of bread, pizza or tomato sauce, cheese and various toppings. Homemade versions may be prepared.
  • Pizza sticks may be prepared with pizza dough and pizza ingredients, in which the dough is shaped into stick forms, sauce and toppings are added, and it is then baked. Bread dough may also be used in their preparation, and some versions are fried.
  • Pizza Rolls are a frozen snack variation of traditional pizza that can include various toppings. Homemade versions may be prepared as well.

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