Last updated on November 27th, 2023
So you have learned how to order a pizza in Italy, you have familiarize yourself with authentic Italian pizza toppings and you have read all about pizza in Italy and now you are asking yourself how to eat your pizza without making a fool of yourself?
I asked myself the same question countless times when I first came to Italy over 15 years ago. There are so many different kinds of pizza so what is the right time and place for eating pizza with your hands? But wait, you heard Italians eat pizza with a fork and knife? Yes, that too but only sometimes!
Now that I live here, I have a pretty good answer to how do Italians eat pizza in any possible situation. In this article, I will cover exactly how Italians eat pizza with detailed explanations for each scenario you might find yourself in when eating pizza in Italy.
Jump to Section
How Do Italians Eat Pizza
Italians Eat Pizza In Italy Standing
Usually, Italians don’t eat standing because food is a sacred moment of sharing and coming together with friends and family.
BUT this is not always true in terms of eating pizza in Italy. Pizza is one of the few Italian foods that’s acceptable to eat ‘on-the-go’, standing with a coke in hand.
Usually, these pizza options include pizza alla pala, pizza pinsa, pizza a taglio, also called pizza al trancio when slices are sold by the slice, not by weight.
Italians Eat Pizza In Italy Sitting
Italians eat pizza most often sitting when they are at a pizzeria, restaurant or at home.
Eating pizza in Italy is a very informal affair and is considered a very casual night out with plenty of kids running around, rowdy waiters, and great people watching. Yet, this is the most formal situation in which Italians eat pizza.
Initially, Italians will usually eat this pizza with a knife and fork when sitting down instead of their hands. As the pizza cools, they may decide to move on and cut what is left of their pizza into wedges, fold it over and eat it.
Italians Eat Pizza In Italy As Take-Out
Pizza is one of Italy’s most popular forms of take-out. Many Italian families, including mine, get pizza for an easy dinner, especially on the weekends.
You will also see many young students eating a pizza to go on a stoop, sitting on a sidewalk or even on the steps of a historical monument or church (usually frowned upon).
Do Italians Eat Pizza With A Fork?
Italians eat pizza with a fork and knife or with their hands. But when?
Italians eat pizza with a fork and knife when they are eating a whole pizza that is fresh out of the wood fired oven. These pizzas do not come pre-sliced and because they are served at such high temperatures, the pizza would fall apart if you tried to eat it with your hands.
To learn more about how and when Italians eat pizza with a fork and knife read my in-depth guide Do Italians Eat Pizza With a Fork?
Do Italians Eat Pizza With Their Hands?
Italians eat pizza with their hands when they are eating pizza a taglio or by the slice or square. This means pizza that has been purchased either at a pizza a taglio window, a bakery, a bar or even an Italian grocery store.
When Italians get take out pizza, it’s generally cool enough to cut with a fork and knife into slices and eat it with their hands by the time they get home.
How Italians Won’t Eat Pizza
Italians will never dip their crusts into olive oil either.
You might see an Italian drizzling a bit of spicy chili oil on their pizza but other than that, no condiments!
Italians generally won’t order pizza to share. Everyone picks their own and eats their own. This isn’t to say that you will never see an Italian trading slices with someone but Italian pizza won’t be ordered for the table and passed around.
And don’t ask for grated parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes!
How Do Italians Eat Pizza – FAQ
The correct way to eat a pizza if you are sitting down at a restaurant is to start with a knife and fork. If you are eating pizza a taglio or pizza by the slice that you have purchased at a bakery, grocery store or pizza a taglio vender, you can absolutely eat it with your hands.
Italians eat pizza with hands and forks and knives, depending on the circumstance. Street food, snacks and pizza by the slice is enjoyed with your hands. A whole pizza pie isn’t pre-sliced and requires a fork and knife.
Italian pizza isn’t sliced because it’s cooked at such high temperatures and served immediately, making it impossible to pre-slice. The freshly baked pizzas in Italy are so hot that they would just fall apart if you sliced them straight out of the oven. The only pizza that is pre-sliced in Italy is pizza a taglio, pizza al trancio, pizza alla pala or pizza pinsa and even in these cases, the server often cuts what you want right in front of your eyes, not straight out of the oven.
It’s not considered at all rude to leave your pizza crusts in Italy. Many Italians do so, especially in thicker crust pizzas such as Neapolitan style pizzas.