Hands holding fork and knife over a pizza with eggplant and parmigiano toppings.
Home » Italian Culture » Do Italians Eat Pizza With A Fork? Answers From An Italian Family

Do Italians Eat Pizza With A Fork? Answers From An Italian Family

Last updated on May 10th, 2024

It’s true, everyone eats pizza differently and there is no right or wrong way BUT here in Italy, we do have specific guidelines and ways of eating pizza, according to the situation and type of pizza. 

In short, yes, Italians eat pizza with a fork. They also use a knife. They also use their hands. But when? 

If you are coming to Italy and wondering how you should be eating your pizza, you are in the right spot. 

In this article, I will explain when exactly Italians eat pizza with a fork, when they will eat pizza with their hands, and my best tips for eating pizza in Italy.

Eating Pizza With A Fork And Knife

Three to-go pizzas sitting on their cardboard boxes.

Imagine that you have just ordered a pizza and you see your waiter making his way to your table with your steaming, hot Italian pizzas. He sets them down in front of you but wait…it’s not sliced! “Are we not sharing?” you might ask.

No, you certainly are not sharing your Italian pizza when in Italy. Italians always order their own pizza and generally speaking, there is no sharing involved. So why would you need it to be pre-sliced?

At the end of it all, Italians make their decision about how to eat their pizza based on these questions:

  • Will I be making a fool of myself?
  • Will this be messy?
  • Will I burn myself?
  • Am I being well-mannered?

Why Do Italians Eat Pizza With A Fork And Knife?

Fork and knife laying at 45 degree angle on a whole pizza.

Italians eat pizza with a fork and knife for many reasons:

  1. It’s not as messy
  2. You can dig in right away
  3. Your Italian pizza doesn’t come pre-sliced
  4. Everyone orders their own pizza and it’s served to them, not in the center of the table to share
  5. What toppings have I ordered?

Part of what makes Italian pizza so good is that it’s served to you literally straight out of the wood fired oven, piping hot and impossible to cut into large slices and devour.

If you were to cut a pizza straight from the oven, the sauce would ooze out, the cheese would drop off and the whole center of the pizza would fall apart. 

To keep this from happening, Italians eat pizza with a fork and knife to start with and then move on to slices once the pizza has cooled enough to coagulate and stick together. 

zoomed in birds eye image of pizza calabrese topped with onions, olives and salami.
Trying to pick up a pizza full of toppings and eat it in slices would be nearly impossible!

Some of the best pizza in Italy is made with fresh ingredients and includes authentic Italian pizza toppings that don’t withstand being sliced. For example, a pizza with buffalo mozzarella, fresh cherry tomatoes and arugula is a mess, especially if you try to eat it in slices. It’s going to be messy no matter what but a fork and knife with help!

How Do Italians Eat Pizza With A Fork?

Fork with a bite of pizza with the pizza and a knife below.

Italians dig in right away, starting from the middle of their pizza and cutting it into small pieces, working their way outwards as it cools. 

The initial bites of pizza are going to be extremely hot and eating pizza with a fork allows you to slow down, blow on your pizza bites and (hopefully!) avoid burning your mouth. 

Unfortunately, we all know how hard it is to wait to bite into the piping hot pizza when it arrives so even if you eat pizza with a fork, it’s almost impossible to hold back and wait for it to cool! At least, this is true for me, despite countless burns! 

When Do Italians Eat Pizza With Their Hands?

Kids eating pizza from white plates. They're sitting in green plastic chairs and eating at a small kids' table. They're smiling.
My two boys eating pizza with their hands after it has cooled off

Italians may switch to eating pizza with their hands when the pizza has cooled down enough to hold up to cutting it into pieces. 

At this point, Italians cut what is left of their pizza into large wedges and fold them in half, much like a pizza sandwich and finish eating their pizza this way. 

Not all Italians use their hands though. Many eat their whole pizza with a fork and knife!

hand holding a piece of pizza wrapped in parchment paper

In addition, Italians eat pizza with their hands when they are eating a pizza a taglio or square of pizza to-go for a fast lunch. Most pizza a taglio spots also have a few tables or stools to sit down and eat the pizza as well. In this case, I have seen Italians eat pizza with a fork and knife as well but it’s less common. 

How Do They Do It? Read how Italians stay so svelte while eating pizza and pasta every day.

Why Do Italians Cut Pizza With Scissors?

Pizza being cut with scissors.

Yes! It’s strange for Americans but Italians love a pair of kitchen scissors for cooking, including cutting take-away pizza. When you order pizza da asporto, or to-go, by the time it gets home, it’s cool enough to cut and not fall apart. To do this, many Italians, including my family, uses scissors to cut the pizza up into slices.

Traveling in Italy? Be sure to check out my guides to the Best Pizza in Florence and the Best Pizza in Venice!

Do Italians Eat Pizza With A Fork? FAQ

Do Italians eat pizza with hands or fork?

Both! Pizza in Italy comes unsliced and so you will need a fork and knife to cut it. Italians often start cutting it into bite size pieces from the middle and once the pizza is cool enough to cut into slices and not fall apart, they will do so. 

Is it OK to eat pizza with hands in Italy?

Italians do eat pizza with hands in Italy, especially if it’s being sold by the slice or piece, known as pizza a taglio. In a restaurant, you certainly can eat pizza with your hands but most Italians start with a knife and fork, which helps the pizza from completely falling apart on them. 

Do people eat pizza with a fork and knife in Italy?

Italians eat pizza with both a fork and knife together in Italy. When the pizza comes straight out of the oven and to your table, it’s unsliced. Italians like to eat their pizza straight away and cutting it into bite size pieces allows them to dig in immediately!