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close up pizzas margherita from top view with red sauce and mozzarella white cheese with three pieces of whole basil on top

Pizza In Italy – A Traveler’s Guide To Eating Pizza In Italy

Last updated on December 29th, 2023

If you are coming to Italy then hopefully you plan on eating a lot of pizza in Italy as well! I mean, when in Rome, right? 

But if you haven’t noticed already or this is your first time to Italy, it’s overwhelming. There is a pizzeria on every corner. How is one to choose? What are all the different kinds? The questions are endless when it comes to pizza in Italy.

I have been in Italy for 10+ years and now have four children. Needless to say, it’s a meal that everyone likes so we end up eating a lot of it. 

In this article, I will share all my insider information and tips on pizza in Italy including:

  • What to expect from pizza in Italy
  • How, where and when do Italians eat pizza in Italy
  • What to drink with pizza in Italy
  • Popular kinds of pizza in Italy
  • Italian pizza crusts
  • Italian pizza toppings

Are you hungry yet? 

What Is Pizza Like In Italy?

one pizzas cooking in a wood-fire oven from side view with big fire flame in back and hard concrete surface in foreground.

Pizza is an Italian flatbread made from leavened dough (either sourdough or fresh or dried yeast), topped with a sauce, cheese and sometimes, toppings before being baked at a high temperature either in an oven or in a wood-fired brick oven. 

Good To Know: In some regions in Italy, pizza is also a term used to refer to flatbread such as focaccia or schiacciata. Pizza is not the technical term for these flatbreads but I often hear elderly people asking for pizza from the deli but they are referring to the basic flatbread sold throughout Italian grocery stores

How To Pronounce Pizza In Italian

Pizza is pronounced peetz-ah in Italian.

Listen to the pronunciation of pizza here:

Good To Know: The plural form of pizza is pizze in Italian.

Where Do Italians Eat Pizza?

street view of mister pizza pizzeria in florence italy with white door and glass windows

There are three main ways to eat pizza in Italy. 

  1. At a pizza stand – pizza a taglio by the slice, or rather weight, which is the equivalent of a quick pizza slice to-go. You can eat it sitting down or standing at a pizza a taglio joint (usually at lunch)
  2. Pizza at a restaurant – sit down at a table and order to dine (usually at dinner).
  3. At home – take away whole pizzas from a pizzeria or restaurant has been popularized over the years and is a popular weekend take-out meal in Italy (usually at dinner).

How Do Italians Eat Pizza?

Hands holding fork and knife over a pizza with eggplant and parmigiano toppings.

How Italians eat pizza will depend greatly on where they are eating their pizza and what kind they have ordered.

These are common ways to eat pizza in Italy:

  • With a fork and knife – this happens when you are eating a whole pizza and it has come out of the brick oven, piping hot.
  • In slices, folded in half – when the pizza cools off enough and can be cut into slices, Italians will fold their large pizza wedge in half and eat it much like a triangle sandwich. 
  • When Italians order pizza pinsa, pizza alla pala, pizza al trancio, or pizza a taglio, they will usually just eat the square as is, biting directly into the pizza (especially if they are eating quickly and standing). If the pizza has too many toppings, however, or you are eating your pizza a taglio at a table, Italians eat pizza with a knife and fork as well.

Quick Guide To Ordering Pizza In Italy

Sign in glass display showing a menu for Pizzeria da Linda in Italy.

To order pizza in Italy, decide what you are having and say:

Vorrei una pizza con mortadella e pistacchio, per favore.
“I would like a pizza with bologna and pistachios, please.”

Io prendo una pizza con funghi, per piacere.
“I will have a pizza with mushrooms, please.”

Vorremmo tre pizze. Una margherita, una ai quattro formaggio e una con la salsiccia, per favore
“We would like three pizzas. One margherita, one with four cheeses and one with sausage, please.

To order pizzas to go, be sure to indicate da portare via, meaning “take-out”. You can either call head or order right at the hostess counter in a pizzeria and wait the 15 or 20 minutes it takes to make the pizzas. You can also say da asporto, which is the same thing.

For our full guide to ordering pizza, including ordering pizza a taglio, read How to Order Pizza in Italy.

Order Like a Pro in Italy: Be sure to read How to Order Food in Italian.

What Do Italians Drink With Pizza In Italy

Italians drink just about anything with pizza in Italy but beer and Coca Cola are the most popular choices, along with water.

Other popular drinks to pair with pizza in Italy:

  • Red wine
  • Fanta
  • Non alcoholic beverages such as lemonsoda

Popular Italian Pizzas

zoomed in angle shot of pizza margherita garnished with fresh basil

Pizza

When Italians use the term pizza, they are usually referring to a whole, round pizza, thin or Neapolitan style pizza 

Florence Travelers: Looking for the best pizza in the city? Read my first hand guide to Best Pizza in Florence, Italy – From a Local.
Venice Travelers: Check out my guide to the Best Pizza in Venice.

Pizza Bianca

Close up of three baked pinse on a marble surface.

Pizza Bianca is a bit of a funny term as it can be used to describe any Italian flatbread all’olio, meaning a piece of pizza dough cooked without any sauce, just olive oil.

Essentially, this is a piece of Italian flatbread like focaccia in Liguria or schiacciata in Tuscany.

Pizza Pinsa

Close up of pinsa from the side. They're topped with proscuitto crudo and cotto and mozzarella and basil.

Sometimes called pinsa romana (Roman Pinsa), this light and airy pizza is shaped into a long, oval pizza, often served as pizza a taglio or by the slice. 

The dough has a high hydration and mixed flour crust, creating a unique flavor, cloud-like texture with a crispy crust.

The absolute best pizza pinsa is from Rome. It has become very trendy in the last year and I now find it even pre-cooked in the refrigerator section (next to fresh pasta and pie dough), ready to be warmed and topped with fresh ingredients such as prosciutto, mortadella, cheese and tomatoes. 

Pizza alla Pala

pizza pala from frontal shot in a bakery window
Fresh baked focaccia or pala romana pizza with vegetables and cheese in bakery in Parma, Emilia Romania, Italy

Pizza alla pala from Rome (Lazio) is very similar to pinsa and oftentimes, I see the terms used interchangeably. Pizza alla pala has the same shape as pizza pinsa but it doesn’t necessarily follow the same recipe as pizza pinsa. 

The dough has, however, high hydration, is slowly leavened and is similar in texture to pizza pinsa. 

Usually, the dough is first cooked without toppings and then served on a pala or wooden board, and topped with the remaining ingredients.

Pizza A Taglio

side view of pizza a taglio for sale in glass window

Pizza a taglio refers to pizza by the slice, or rather, by the weight. In Italy, you can order pizza in large squares that will then be priced by its weight. 

Pizzas a taglio is the most popular option for quick, standing lunches or afternoon snacks. It’s also a popular mid-morning colazione for early-risers

Pizza al Padellino

close up of pizza al padellino on a wooden board on a red cloth.

Pizza al padellino from Piedmont is a thick crust pizza cooked in a round pan, similar to a deep dish American-style pizza.

I have only seen this in Piedmont as this pizza in Italy remains very regional (meaning it isn’t made much outside of Piedmont). 

Pizza Fatta In Casa

top view of a pizza sliced into wedges with loves in a marble surface.

Pizza fatta in casa is homemade pizza. It usually is made with a simple leavened dough from either fresh or dried yeast and baked in a teglia or large square pan in the oven at a high temperature. 

Many Italian families, including ours, make pizza on the weekends. It’s fun for the kids and although it’s not as good as real pizza from a pizzeria, it’s very comforting and nostalgic for Italian families. 

We bake our homemade pizza in the oven and also our wood-fired brick oven. If you make pizza at home, be sure to preheat your oven to the highest temperature possible at least 1 hour prior to baking.

Get Our Recipe: Making pizza at home? Get our recipe for Authentic Italian Pizza Sauce Recipe – Straight From Italy!

Calzone

A calzone is a pizza that is made folded in half and closed securely before being baked. Most pizzerias can make a calzone but they are not as popular as regular pizza in Italy. 

Learn More: Read about the Italian panzerotti.

Pizza Surgelato 

Green box of Buitoni frozen pizza in the freezer at a grocery store in Italy.

You might think that Italians don’t really eat frozen pizza in Italy because take-out pizza is so amazing but don’t be fooled. Italians love their frozen pizza and it seems that everytime I go into the supermarket there are more and more options including:

  • Gluten-free frozen pizza
  • Vegetarian frozen pizza
  • Frozen pizza rossa (no cheese)
  • Lactose-free frozen pizza
  • deep-dish frozen pizza (pizza alta)

Other Types Of Pizza

hand holding a piece of pizza wrapped in parchment paper
I hate a lot of pizza by the slice in Italy when pregnant without worrying about the mozzarella because it’s cooked
  • SfincioneSicilian pizza similar to a focaccia topped with pizza sauce and cheese
  • Pizza fritta – from Campania is made from pizza dough that is filled with various pizza toppings, folded over and deep fried until crisp. 
  • Pizza al trancio – pizza sold by the square or slice, usually at an Italian grocery store, bar or highway service station with a bar.
  • Pizza portafoglio – meaning “wallet” this smaller pizza is folded onto itself two times, wrapped in paper, making it easy to eat as a snack in Naples.

Pizza Crust In Italy

Pizza crusts in Italy vary significantly depending on what region you are in. 

In Southern Italy, Neapolitan-style pizza is the most popular kind of pizza in Italy, characterized by a thick, puffy crust that is pillowy and light. 

Good To Know: Neapolitan pizza is so good that no matter where you are in Italy, you will always be able to find a pizzeria serving up this version of Italian pizza. 

Rome is famous for their thin, crisp pizza crust, which is almost like a cracker. When you bite down on it, it crackles and breaks on the edges. 

Rome is also famous for their pizza pinsa crust, defined by the combination of rice, soy and regular flour. It’s a very light crust, easy on digestion. 

And of course, there are several variations within these thick and thin crust varieties including these popular choices:

  • Whole wheat pizza crust (integrale)
  • White whole wheat pizza crust (semi integrale)
  • Kamut pizza crust 
  • Gluten-free pizza crust (senza glutine)
  • Sourdough pizza crust (lievito madre)

The trendiest pizza crusts are those made with seeds and grani antichi or ancient strains of grain which are said to be good for your health and easy on your gut. These pizza crusts are the most flavorful and most interesting. 

Plastic bags filled with fresh pizza dough on sale at a grocery store in Italy.

Good To Know: You can also find pre-made leavened fresh pizza crust at the supermarket ready to bring home and make your own pizza fatta in casa in no time. Look for it next to the bakery refrigerator section in any Italian grocery store. 

Authentic Italian Pizza Toppings

Pizza in Italy with spicy salame as a topping.

There is really no end to what you can order on your pizza in Italy, including french fries and hot dogs (mainly for kids). 

Here are some of the most popular Italian pizza toppings:

  • Salame piccante – spicy salami
  • Salsiccia – sausage
  • Prosciutto cotto e funghi – cooked ham and mushrooms
  • Prosciutto crudo – cured ham
  • Capperi e acciughe – capers and anchovies
  • Gorgonzola and pera – gorgonzola cheese and pear
  • Melanzane – fried eggplant
  • Buffalo mozzarella – fresh buffalo mozzarella

Read More: To learn more about Italian pizzas and authentic Italian pizza toppings read Authentic Italian Pizza Toppings.

How Much Does Pizza In Italy Cost?

The cost of pizza will depend primarily on the type of pizza you are getting, the toppings and where you are. Southern Italian regions are generally less expensive while Central and Northern Italian pizza prices are higher. 

Type Of PizzaCost
Pizza a taglio€8-14 per kilo
Pizza bianca€8-10 per kilo
Pizza pinsa€16 per kilo or around €15 per pinsa
Pizza alla pala€12-15 per kilo
Pizza al padellino€7-14
Pizza surgelato€3-5 
Take out pizza€7-14
Pizza at a pizzeria€7-14, depending on toppings + coperto
Pizza rossaCheapest of them all, usually around €5 per pie

Good To Know: When you order pizza in Italy with fresh mozzarella such as mozzarella di bufala, the price will be much higher. 

Pizza In Italy FAQ

Which city has the best pizza in Italy?

Naples is Italy’s most famous city to eat pizza in. It has amazing thick-crust pizza that is light as a feather but also plenty of street pizzas to try as well. Sorbilla is one of Naples most famous pizzerias to try. 

What’s the most famous pizza in Italy?

La pizza margherita is Italy’s most beloved pizza. It originally comes from Naples and is made from a simple, uncooked tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella, olive oil and fresh basil. My whole Italian family only ever orders margherita pizza, despite all the varieties out there!

Is pizza actually popular in Italy?

Is it ever! Pizza remains one of the most popular foods in Italy. It’s a favorite weekend meal out at a pizzeria, a great quick lunch and even one of Italy’s favorite snacks in the afternoon. You can buy pizza anywhere including: bars, restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, delis, street venders and markets. 

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