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Pizza in Italy - it is not junk food!

Pauline Kenny

In most restaurants, especially in smaller towns, pizza is only served at dinner. Pizza is a very popular dinner for Italians and for tourists. It is inexpensive and is a quicker and lighter meal.

Larger towns may have takeout style restaurants that serve pizza by the slice for lunch. Or you may find pizzerias that serve pizza for lunch as well as dinner. In most towns, you can find simple pizza sold at bakeries for lunch. You will also find a pizza-like food in caffes for lunch, but this is not great pizza.

The best pizza is had at dinner time in a restaurant that specializes in pizza.

Pizza for Dinner

The best pizza is made in a traditional pizza oven, fired by wood. The burnt edge of the pizza crust shows where it got close to the flames. Because it takes a long time to get the oven ready, frequently pizza is only served at dinner.

Some restaurants only serve pizza (e.g. Pizzeria Da Baffetto in Rome), but others serve pizza as well as regular dinner items. If you are having pizza for dinner, order one pizza per person. You might also order and antipasto to have first. The tradition in Italy is to eat the pizza with a knife and fork, not with your hands (as we do in the US)!

Pizza Menu

Most pizza menus have similar items, but you will find differences by region. In some regions, adding an egg to the top of the pizza is an option. Here are a few typical types of pizza:

  • Marinara - tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, basil (no cheese - good for vegans)
  • Margherita - tomato sauce, mozzeralla, basil. The colors are red, white and green - the same colors as the Italian flag. This pizza was first in Naples made for Queen Margherita of Italy.
  • Cipolla - tomato sauce, mozzeralla, onions

Coming soon - a sample pizza menu from Taverna Garibaldi in Levanto.

Pizza in Rome

Pizza in Rome has a thin crust and not much cheese. You will not find as many toppings as we are used to in the US. The pizzas are lighter and simpler. Rome pizza is my favorite pizza. You can find this style of pizza in other parts of Italy too - I have had similar pizza in Tuscany and in Liguria.

Many of the good pizzerias in Rome are very popular and do not take reservations. Get there when they open (usually 7:30), or plan to wait an hour or more in a line.

In the photo below, taken at Pizzeria Da Baffetto in Rome, I am having a zucchini pizza (tomato sauce, cheese and zucchini). Steve is having an onion pizza (tomato sauce, cheese, onion).

Pizzeria Da Baffetto in Rome - Zucchini Pizza, Onion Pizza and beer

Pizza in Naples and Campania

Naples is famous for pizza. We found that pizza in this area has a thicker crust and is a bit more cheesy.

At Christmas 2003, we had lunchtime pizza at Trianon, one of the famous Naples pizzeria (from 1923). Pizza prices ranged from 3.00 euro for a simple Marinara, to 4.50 euro for a Margherita con Uovo (with egg), to 7.00 euro for their special pizza. 7.00 euro was the top price; most were around 5.00 euro. Add 6.50 euro for antipasto, 2.60 euro for a large beer and you have a good meal for around 14 euro per person.

Photos of Pizza

Taverna Garibaldi in Levanto, Liguria

Taverna Garibaldi, Via Garibaldi, 57, Levanto, tel:0187-808098, closed Tuesday, reservations recommended.

Levanto is a lovely seaside town on the Ligurian coast, near the Cinque Terre (it is the next town north). There is a festive and fun feel to the town, especially in the summer. Taverna Garibaldi is run by a local couple and serves very good, and inexpensive, pizza. We spent two weeks in Levanto in 2003, and had several dinners at this restaurant.

>> Photos of Taverna Garibaldi in Levanto

Pizza in Italy

Photos of pizza in Sorrento, Rome, Orbetello, Lerici, Levanto. A scan of the menu from Trianon in Naples.

>> Photos of pizza in Italy

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