A pizza featuring the Italian flag

Types of Italian Pizza: A Guide to the Most Popular Pizzas in Italy

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Italy, the birthplace of pizza, offers a wide range of pizza styles, each representing the country’s diverse culinary traditions. This article explores the history of the most popular kinds of Italian pizza, from their beginnings to the present day, discusses the distinctive features of its various styles, and provides guidelines for their preparation

Italian Pizzas: Introduction

Before we discuss Italian pizzas, it is important to recognize the wide variety of pizza types that exist in Italy. Each province, region, and even city has its own unique pizza type. Therefore, trying to cover all the different types of Italian pizzas would be a huge task (or at the very least, it would take a significant amount of time).

Just imagine bringing together three Italians from different regions of Italy in the same kitchen – you would witness a small-scale war. This illustrates the passion and respect that Italians have for their cuisine; they have a deep reverence for tradition and the culinary heritage of their hometowns (Need an example? Try telling an Italian that you plan on making pasta ‘Alfredo’/Carbonara with cream, and see what happens). Naturally, this same level of passion and tradition extends to pizzas as well.

Most Popular Italian Pizzas: General Background, History, Eating Characteristics, and Preparation

Disclaimer:
This article provides a comprehensive overview of the most popular pizza styles in Italy. While I have made an effort to remain faithful to the original sources in terms of authenticity and tradition, it is worth noting that while some pizza styles have specific definitions, most styles have general guidelines without a clear and precise definition of what constitutes a “Pizza X” (unless you strictly adhere to tradition).

Also, all the pizza pictures included in this post are of my own bakes; While they effectively display each pizza style, it is important to note that they should not be considered as “representative” photos; This is because it can be challenging to find a single photo that fully captures the essence of each style, even if taken from a specialized pizzeria. If you want a better idea of what each pizza looks like beyond the pictures in this post, a quick Google search of the specific pizza style will be helpful.

Margherita

A picture of a Margherita pizza

General Background and Characteristics

Known by every pizza lover, the Margherita is the most popular “style” of pizza in the world. Similar to its older sister, the Marinara, the Margherita is famous for its simplicity and adherence to tradition. It is made with only four ingredients: tomato sauce, fresh basil, mozzarella cheese (traditionally buffalo mozzarella), and olive oil. Like the marinara, the Margherita is also a form of pizza assembly that can be applied to any style of pizza.

Roots and History of Margherita Pizza

The story behind the margarita is one of the most well-known in the culinary world. It involves Raffaele Esposito, a pizzaiolo who owned a small pizzeria called ‘Pizzeria di Pietro e Basta Cosi’ in the 19th century. Esposito is considered by many to be the “father” of modern pizza.

According to the tale, in 1889, Esposito was asked to create a special pizza in honor of Queen Margherita of [House] Savoy, the wife of Umberto I, the king of Italy. Esposito decided to make a patriotic-Neapolitan-inspired pizza that would showcase the colors of the Italian flag: tomato sauce (red), fresh basil (green), and mozzarella cheese (white). Legend has it that the queen loved the pizza so much that it became a symbol of national unity in Italy, a country that was previously divided. Historically, mozzarella had already been used on pizza for at least 80 years, but Esposito’s version solidified its place as a central ingredient in the pizza we know today.

The truth of the story is debated, as some historians refute the claim that Queen Margherita ever visited Naples; However, one thing is certain: the margherita pizza has evolved from a simple street food for the working class to the most popular and beloved type of pizza worldwide. Today, margherita is almost synonymous with ‘pizza’, and serves as a benchmark for its quality, with the skill of the pizzaiolo often judged by the quality of their margherita.

Eating Characteristics of Mergherita Pizza

Tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil, which combine to create the perfect bite. The classic pizza taste that we have all grown to love.

Preparation of a Margherita Pizza

The pizza base is spread with tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella, followed by a drizzle of olive oil. A few fresh basil leaves are added on top of the cheese (usually post-bake). If desired, grated hard cheese such as Parmesan or Pecorino can be added pre/post bake.

Marinara

A picture of Marinara pizza

General Background and Characteristics

The marinara pizza consists of just four ingredients – tomato sauce, oregano, thinly sliced garlic, and olive oil – with no mozzarella. In some regions, anchovies are also included. Interestingly, in Rome, the marinara with anchovies is referred to as “Napolitana,” while in Naples, it is called “Romana.” In the broader spectrum of pizza varieties, the marinara is a specific way of assembling a pizza, and this style can be applied to any type of pizza.

Roots and History of Marinara Pizza

The marinara, also known as “Napoletana,” is the older sister of the Margherita and is considered one of the oldest “styles” of pizza in the world. The origin of the name “Marinara” is a little confusing and brings up a connotation of the sea (“Marin”), but at least on the surface, Marinara has no direct connection to seafood or the sea in general. So, what IS the origin of the name ‘Marinara’?

The origins of marinara can be traced back to the late 18th or early 19th century, and similar to the Margherita pizza, its beginnings are shrouded in urban legends. Although the details may vary, all these legends lead to one conclusion: the pizza was named after the sailors and fishermen of the Naples port region who used to eat it.

The most popular legend regarding the marinara suggests that it was created by a pizzaiolo who prepared it for the sailors and fishermen of the port of Naples, as a simple and nutritious meal that represents the culinary history of the city – tomatoes, olive oil, and basil. Initially, anchovies were included in the marinara, but due to fluctuations in price and availability, it did not become a regular topping. Over time, in response to complaints from the fishermen and sailors about the pizza’s “lack of flavor,” the pizzaiolo added a fourth ingredient – garlic – and the rest is history.

Another legend speaks of the sailors’ wives who would prepare pizza for their husbands upon their return from long sea voyages. They used readily available ingredients, including garlic and dried oregano, which were believed to have antiseptic properties to help maintain the sailors’ health. Similarly, another legend describes sailors who brought back a supply of garlic and tomatoes from their sea voyages, which were used to prevent scurvy (a common disease among sailors). When they returned home, they used the garlic and tomatoes to prepare the marinara.

Regardless of the exact origin of the marinara, it has become an iconic symbol of pizza heritage in Naples. Today, it is one of the types of pizza that best exemplify the simplicity of Neapolitan cuisine, especially as Neapolitan pizza has gained great popularity in recent years.

Similar to the Margherita, the marinara is protected by the AVPN.

Eating Characteristics of Marinara Pizza

A simple but intense flavor that truly highlights the high quality of the ingredients.

Preparation of Marinara Pizza

The base is spread with tomato sauce (traditionally made with San Marzano tomatoes), then sprinkled with dried oregano, topped with thinly sliced fresh garlic and a drizzle of olive oil.

Pizza al Piatto (Classic Italian Pizza)

A picture of classic Italian pizza (pizza al piatto)
This is NOT a Neapolitan pizza

General Background and Characteristics

When the term “Italian pizza” is used, it refers to pizza al piato. If you hear an Italian (outside of Naples) use the term “pizza al piato,” they are likely referring to this type of pizza (although they may simply call it “pizza”).

This is the “regular” or classic Italian pizza that is found throughout Italy (except Naples, which has Neapolitan pizza). It is also the most popular type of pizza in Italy and Europe in general (Americans have their own styles of pizza, which are discussed in a different article).

The name “al piatto” (“on the plate”) comes from the fact that it is served on a plate.

This pizza is round, thin, and crispy. The level of thinness and crispiness can vary because, as mentioned earlier, each region has its own unique style of pizza. However, in general, if you’re thinking of a “classic” Italian pizza – it’s likely pizza al piato.

If you were to place pizza al piato on a scale between the soft Neapolitan pizza and the crispy Tonda Romana (which we will discuss later in this post), it would fall somewhere in the middle. It is typically baked for 2-5 minutes in either a wood-fired oven or an electric oven.

Roots and History of Pizza al Piatto

Since pizza al piatto is not a specific style of pizza (as mentioned earlier, it varies across regions in Italy), it becomes challenging to determine its exact origin.

Historically, we know that the roots of the original pizza (or at least the first pizza defined as “pizza”) can be traced back to Naples. We also know that round pizzas (or at least a flatbread resembling a round pizza) did not exist outside of Naples until after World War II. It is widely believed that following the war, residents of Naples started migrating to central and northern Italy (particularly Rome and the province of Lazio), where they began opening pizzerias. Unfortunately (or fortunately), they did not have the traditional tools to make Neapolitan pizza as they did back home, so they had to make do with the tools available to them. The result: the classic Italian pizza we all know today – pizza al piatto.

Eating Characteristics of Pizza al Piato

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve tried pizza al piato at least once in your life. It is round, thin, and moderately crispy, and it can be topped with a variety of toppings, making it a delight for any pizza lover.

The sauce usually consists of fresh tomatoes with minimal seasoning, while the cheese is fresh mozzarella cut into relatively large chunks or strips and placed sparingly on the pizza (see picture above).

Preparation of Pizza al Piato

In general, it is a ‘simple’ dough: 55-60% dough hydration, 0-3% oil, and 0-2% sugar. The dough should be stretched by hand and baked for 3-7 minutes at a temperature range of approximately 280-330C (530-620F).

Neapolitan Pizza

תמונה של פיצה מרגריטה נאפוליטנית
Yes, that’s the same pizza from the Margherita chapter, and it deserves it

General Background and Characteristics

Neapolitan pizza is considered the queen of all pizzas and serves as the origin for the pizza styles we enjoy today. Its most distinctive feature is the puffy, soft, and leopard-spotted crust achieved by baking at a very high temperature for a short time. Neapolitan pizza is a defining characteristic of Naples’ culinary tradition.

Apart from the puffy and soft crust (known as the “cornicione”), Neapolitan pizza is round and thin, allowing the ingredients to shine. It is cooked at a scorching temperature of approximately 450°C (900°F) for a maximum of 90 seconds. Traditionally, Neapolitan pizza is eaten with a knife and fork.

The Neapolitan style can be categorized into two main variations, with additional sub-versions even within Naples itself:
1) “Classic” Neapolitan, or Ruota di Carro (“cart wheel”), features a relatively flat (yet puffy) crust that resembles a cart wheel, with a thick center and a thin outer rim. This represents the traditional and “original” Neapolitan pizza preserved by the AVPN organization. It harkens back to a time when folding the pizza into quarters and eating it on the go was common.
2) “Modern” Neapolitan or Neo-Neapolitan refers to various variations that deviate from the strict definitions set by the AVPN organization. Modern Neapolitan pizzas may incorporate techniques such as high hydration, the use of preferment, cold fermentation, longer bake times, or any other method that contradicts the AVPN rules. The crust of a modern Neapolitan pizza is often puffy and airy, sometimes taking up to 50% of the pizza’s surface. An example of a modern variation is the Canotto style, which translates to “inflatable boat.”

There are also variations that fall between the two main types mentioned above, like the one shown in the image above.

Another notable variation is the Pizza a Portafoglio, or “wallet pizza.” This is a slightly smaller and thinner Neapolitan pizza, with both the base and the rim being thinner. It is sold as street food and meant to be eaten on the go from street stalls and pizzerias in Naples, particularly in the Centro Storico area. This pizza is folded into quarters, forming a cone shape, hence its name. It is a great option when you want to enjoy pizza on the go in Naples. It is not typically sold in this form outside of Naples, but you can always make a regular Neapolitan pizza and fold it yourself if you wish to experience it at home.An organization called AVPN was established in Naples to protect the cultural heritage of Neapolitan pizza. AVPN serves as the official regulatory body for all matters related to Neapolitan pizza and provides clear and precise rules for the authentic preparation of this culinary specialty on its website. These rules cover the entire process, including preparation techniques, ingredients, and baking methods. The organization is dedicated to preserving the ancient Neapolitan tradition and maintaining 100% authenticity. According to AVPN, any deviation from their protocol renders a pizza not truly Neapolitan (as Italians say: La verace, “the real one”). Therefore, pizzerias seeking official AVPN approval must strictly adhere to this protocol.

It is worth noting, based on my own experience, that many Italians, as well as individuals within the pizza industry, have serious reservations about the AVPN organization. They argue that instead of promoting authenticity, the organization allegedly encourages corruption to obtain its stamp of “authenticity.”

While Neapolitan pizza may not be as popular in Italy (outside of Naples) compared to other regional varieties, it has gained significant worldwide popularity in recent years. The factors contributing to this phenomenon, such as the pizza’s photogenic appearance in the age of social media, the influence of trends, the emergence of small home pizza ovens, and whether it was simply discovered late, all warrant separate discussions and deserve their own dedicated posts.

Roots and History of Neapolitan Pizza

Neapolitan pizza has a rich and picturesque history deeply intertwined with the city of Naples and its culinary tradition. To trace the origins of pizza as a baked good, one must look back to ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans, and other Mediterranean peoples who have been baking various versions of flatbreads for thousands of years.

However, it was in Naples that pizza as we know it today was born.

The roots of Neapolitan pizza, or pizza in general, can be traced back to the 18th century when Europeans discovered America, and the consumption of tomatoes, a key ingredient in modern pizza, began. Tomatoes were brought to Europe in the 16th century by Spaniards returning from their travels in America. Initially, Europeans were suspicious of tomatoes and considered them poisonous and unsuitable for consumption. During this time, pizza, or flatbread, was seen as a simple and affordable food primarily eaten by the working class and peasants.

So how did tomatoes find their way onto the flatbread of the people of Naples? It was through courage, desperation, and perhaps a little luck as well.

According to historical records, the residents of Naples were the first Europeans to experiment with growing and eating tomatoes. They started using tomatoes as an addition to the flat yeasted breads they baked, with the aim of providing themselves with additional nutrition.

Thus, unintentionally and with touching innocence, the Neapolitans forever changed the culinary culture not only of their own city but of the entire world.

Fast forward to the 19th century, in 1830, when a pizzeria called Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba opened in Naples. It is believed to be the first pizzeria ever opened, although it had been operating since 1738 as a hawker’s stand and not as a pizzeria. From that moment, pizza began to spread throughout Naples, and by the early 20th century, it had firmly established itself in Neapolitan food culture.

During World War II, pizza became a symbol of hope and local resilience for the people of Naples. Despite the destruction and hardships of war, pizzerias continued to operate and feed the city’s inhabitants. In the years following the war, pizza spread beyond Naples (primarily through immigrants from the town of Tramonti in the province of Salerno, rather than from Naples itself). It eventually made its way across Italy and the rest of the world, and the rest, as they say, is history.

In 1984, the AVPN organization was established in Naples with the purpose of preserving the tradition and heritage of Neapolitan pizza, which, as we have just learned, dates back hundreds of years.

Eating Characteristics of Neapolitan Pizza

When prepared correctly, Neapolitan pizza boasts a unique texture and flavor profile. The crust is soft, lacking any crispiness, and has a “liquid” and floppy center, differentiating it from other pizza styles. The bottom of the crust is also soft and floppy, without any crispy elements. Due to its “delicate” nature, Neapolitan pizzas typically feature minimal toppings, as the soft crust may struggle to support heavier ingredients unless eaten with a knife and fork.
First-time Neapolitan pizza tasters

Those who try Neapolitan pizza for the first time often struggle to compare it to other styles. This is primarily due to the distinctively soft texture of the crust, setting it apart from all other pizza styles. The soft texture may not appeal to everyone; personal preferences may vary (personally, I prefer other pizza styles). Nevertheless, it is important to emphasize this distinction to ensure that first-time tasters know what to expect when trying Neapolitan pizza for the first time 🙂

To eat a slice of Neapolitan pizza, it is customary to fold it in half. If needed, fold the edge of the slice into its base to create an envelope-like shape. While these “instructions” are not set in stone, attempting to eat a Neapolitan slice like other pizzas may lead to toppings spilling onto the plate or even your clothing. In Naples, some take it a step further and forego slicing the pizza altogether, choosing instead to eat it with utensils or even rolled up as a “pizza wrap”.

Preparation of Neapolitan Pizza

In the case of Neapolitan pizza, specific and well-known guidelines exist. The AVPN organization provides a detailed document on its website that outlines the step-by-step process for preparing an authentic Neapolitan pizza. This includes:
– Using 00 or 0 flour.
– A dough hydration of 55-62%.
– Making the dough with only four ingredients: flour, water, yeast (compressed, dry, or sourdough), and salt, without any added fat or sugar.
– Allowing the dough to ferment at room temperature.
– Stretching the dough by hand only.
– Baking the pizza at a temperature of approximately 485C/900F (the temperature inside the oven cavity; the baking surface temperature should be around 400C/750F), directly on a stone without a pizza disk or pan, for no more than 90 seconds.

Regarding toppings, the traditional options for Neapolitan pizza are Margherita or Marinara.

Is it possible to achieve these standards at home? Absolutely.
Is it necessary? As you may have already gathered from the previous section, the AVPN guidelines primarily target professional pizzerias. As home bakers, we are not obligated to prove “authenticity” to anyone, so we are free to experiment and follow our own preferences (and appetites).

When it comes to toppings, the typical cheese for a Neapolitan pizza is whole milk, high moisture (“fresh”) mozzarella. It’s important to remember that with Neapolitan pizza, less is more. Overloading it with toppings can make it difficult to eat without losing half of them on the way from the plate to your mouth 🙂

Pizza Al Taglio Romana (Roman Pan Pizza)

A picture of slices of pizza al taglio

General Background and Characteristics

The Al Taglio Romana, as its name suggests, originates from Rome, and is a type of pan pizza. It is also known as Pizza in Teglia, which means “pizza in a pan”. This style of pizza is baked in a rectangular pan and then cut and served in squares or rectangles.

The name “Al Taglio” translates to “by the slice,” referring to how it is sold – either by slice or weight. Due to being baked in a pan and having a high dough hydration (up to 90%), the bottom of the pizza becomes crispy, while the center is very light and airy. In terms of thickness, it is relatively thick.

In Italy, Al Taglio is exclusively sold by the slice or weight as street food, perfect for eating on the go, and it offers a variety of toppings to choose from. Unlike many other pizza styles, Al Taglio is not made to order; Instead, it is prepared in advance and displayed at the counter for sale, similar to pastries in a bakery.

Roots and History of Pizza Al Taglio

Compared to other pizza styles we have discussed so far, the history of Al Taglio is relatively shorter and less well-known. Most stories about its origin revolve around a type of flatbread baked in a pan. After World War II, bakers began experimenting with this flatbread, aiming to create a healthier and more “easily digestible” product. Additionally, they wanted to develop a food suitable for people on the go, given the increasing industrialization of the city.

Pizzarium, a Roman pizzeria run by renowned pizzaiolo Gabriela Bonci (pronounced “Bahn-chi”), is considered a pioneer of modern Al Taglio. Bonci was one of the first to use high-quality ingredients and innovative toppings, contributing to the elevated culinary status of Al Taglio in Italy and beyond. Many pizzaiolos have since followed his uncompromising approach.

Nowadays, you can find Al Taglio available throughout Italy, with Rome being a particularly popular destination for it.

Eating Characteristics of Pizza Al Taglio

The Al Taglio is sliced into squares, with a (very) crispy bottom and a relatively thick yet light and airy crumb, making for a perfect combination of crispiness and softness. The Al Taglio is highly versatile – the dough can accommodate almost any combination of toppings, allowing individuals to find or create a personalized blend that suits their unique taste; Whether it’s a classic margherita or a bold fusion of flavors, the possibilities are endless.

Preparation of Pizza Al Taglio

Traditionally, the dough for Al Taglio pizza is made with flour, water, yeast, olive oil, and salt. It is important for the dough to have a hydration level of at least 75% and to use a strong flour.

The Al Taglio dough is stretched into the pan just before baking. Al Taglio is typically par-baked (depending on the chosen toppings) in a deck oven at around 300C/570F for about 10 minutes. Toppings that may dry out during baking, such as fresh leaves, certain cheeses, and meat, are added to the pizza after it is taken out of the oven (or during the final minutes of baking).

Pizza Tonda Romana (Roman Thin Pizza)

A picture of pizza tonda romana

General Background and Characteristics

The Tonda Romana, also known as Scrocchiarella (which means “crispy” in English), is an Italian cracker-style pizza that can be considered the “antithesys” of Neapolitan pizza. It is a round and extremely thin pizza that is typically stretched with a rolling pin and cooked in a wood-fired oven at a high temperature for 3-4 minutes. The crust of the Tonda Romana is completely flat, very crispy, and slightly charred/burnt, while the center is crispy with a hint of chewiness. To prevent the pizza from becoming soggy, the toppings on the Tonda Romana are usually minimal.

It is important to note that unlike Neapolitan pizza, the Tonda Romana does not have a specific “recipe” or set of preparation guidelines, and its preparation can vary from place to place in Rome.

Roots and History of Tonda Romana

It is challenging to determine the exact origins of the Tonda Romana. Like other styles of pizza, it is believed to have evolved from flatbreads. According to popular belief, Roman pizza makers created it after World War II as a “rival” to Neapolitan pizza.

Today, the Tonda Romana holds a special place in Rome’s culinary culture and is extremely popular, alongside the Al Taglio. Typically, it is sold as a whole pizza for dine-in, similar to the Neapolitan style, rather than being commonly eaten “on the go” like the Al Taglio.

Outside of Rome, there are variations of the Tonda Romana, such as the Pizza Battuta found in the Veneto region.

Eating Characteristics of Tonda Romana

The Tonda Romana is a thin pizza with an incredibly crispy crust, featuring an outer edge bordering on being burnt/well-done. If you are a fan of thin and crispy pizzas, the Tonda Romana is a must-try.

Preparation of Tonda Romana

As mentioned, there is no standard recipe for Tonda Romana. However, in general, the dough is made with yeast, salt, no sugar, a small amount of olive oil (which helps stretch the dough and improve texture; it does NOT contribute to crispiness), and has a dough hydration of about 55%. Since the Tonda Romana is very thin, the size of the dough balls is accordingly small, about 180 grams for a standard 30cm/11in pizza.

The dough is fermented at room temperature for several hours, rolled out thinly with a rolling pin, and baked at a temperature of about 350 degrees for 3-4 minutes.

When it comes to toppings, it is important not to overload the Tonda Romana with too many toppings, especially those with a high moisture content – this can negatively affect the final result, leading to a soggy dough that loses its crispiness.

Pizza alla Pala (Pizza Pala Romana)

A picture of pizza pala

General Background and Characteristics

The Pala, also originating from Rome, is a rectangular pizza that is thick and airy, similar to focaccia or pizza Al Taglio. However, unlike these two styles, the Pala is baked directly on the baking surface without a pan. The name “alla Pala” comes from the tool used to place it in the oven – a long wooden pizza peel resembling a paddle, known as a pala (which translates to “paddle”).

Similar to the Al Taglio, the Pala has a high dough hydration (at least 70%). It is shaped just before baking and transferred to the oven using a pala (instead of being baked in a pan like Al Taglio).

In general, the Pala can be made from the same dough as Al Taglio, with the main difference being the way it is stretched and baked. The Pala is baked at a higher temperature (around 350C/660F) for a shorter time, and depending on the toppings and preferences, it can be par-baked. The result is a soft and airy pizza with a very crispy crust on both the bottom and top. Just like with Al Taglio, you can get creative with the toppings. The Pala also works great as bread for sandwiches.

Roots and History of Pizza Pala

Similar to Al Taglio and Tonda Romana, there is no consensus regarding the origin of the Pala. The general agreement is that it was first created in the province of Lazio (whose capital is Rome). It is believed to have resulted from attempts to create a unique and slightly different style of pizza.

Eating Characteristics of Pizza Pala

Thick, yet light and airy dough with a crispy crust that offers a satisfying bite and a perfect contrast – crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Preparation of Pizza Pala

The dough of the Pala is very similar to the Al Taglio dough, with a high dough hydration of at least 70%. Before baking, the dough is shaped into a rectangle by gently patting it with the finger tips. It is then placed in the oven using a long wooden pizza peel and baked at 350C/660F for 5~ minutes.

When it comes to toppings, like the Al Taglio, you have the freedom to get creative or stick to traditional options: a sprinkle olive oil and grated pecorino cheese, along with oregano and black pepper on top.

Pizza Pinsa

A picture of pizza pinsa

General Background and Characteristics

I debated whether to include the Pinsa in this list, but since it’s a relatively new style of pizza that’s recently gaining popularity, it’s probably worth mentioning.

Pinsa (also known as Pinsa Romana) is (also) a type of Roman pizza. The name “pinsa” comes from the Latin word meaning “to press” or “to pinch”, which describes the action used in preparing (stretching) the pinsa.

The pinsa is essentially a pizza Pala and is almost identical to it. According to the Romans, the original Pinsa recipe has been around for over 2000 years, but its “rebirth” took place in 2016 by the Di Marco family, an old Roman family of bakers. The Di Marco family also founded the “Official Pinsa Pizza Organization” and registered Pinsa as a trademark in an interesting attempt to emulate the regulations surrounding Neapolitan pizza (the AVPN organization).

Similar to Neapolitan pizza, in order for a Pinsa to be “authentic,” one must follow specific preparation instructions published on the organization’s website (currently only available in Italian). Similarly, pizzerias that want to use the name “Pizza Pinsa” must pass tests and be registered with the official organization; otherwise, they can only use the name “Pala Romana” (as the name “Pinsa” is a registered trademark).

So what differentiates the Pinsa from the Pala? Mainly, it’s the unique flour mixture sold exclusively by the Di Marco family: a mixture of wheat flour, soy flour, rice flour, and dried sourdough. If this specific mixture is not used, then it is not an “authentic” pizza pinsa. Additionally, the dough preparation and baking process have slight differences (see the preparation section below).

Today, the Pinsa is gaining popularity in Italy and abroad, with over 7000 “Pinsaiolos” officially trained by the official Pinsa organization and the Di Marco family.

Eating Characteristics of Pizza Pinsa

The eating characteristics of the Pinsa are very similar to those of the Pala. The small amounts of rice and soy flour give it a slightly different texture and taste. In my opinion, the dried sourdough does not contribute much (if at all) to the flavor.

Preparation of Pizza Pinsa

As mentioned, Pinsa has precise preparation instructions published by the official Pinsa organization:

The flour used must be the original Di Marco family flour mixture. However, a combination of 8% rice flour and 2% soy flour can also be used (based on the total amount of flour in the dough formula).
The dough hydration should be exactly 80%, with 1.5-2% salt and 1-1.5% olive oil.
The size of the dough balls should range from 130-250 grams, and the dough should be fermented for a minimum of 24 hours and up to 96 hours.

Similar to the Pala, the dough should be stretched by patting it with the fingertips to create air pockets.

The Pinsa should be par-baked for approximately 5 minutes in total at around 300C/570F. The toppings should be added during the last few minutes of baking, or post-bake.

Italian Pizza Types: A Summary Table

The table below provides a concise summary of the characteristics of the pizza styles discussed in this article:

ShapeThicknessCrispyLightToppings Friendly?How Easy Is It to Make?Required Equipment
Pizza al Piatto (Classic Italian Pizza)🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕
Neapolitan🍕🍕NO🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕Wood-fired oven / Professional pizza oven
Al Taglio🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕Rectangular pan (flat)
Tonda Romana🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕
Pala🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕
Pinsa🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕

For more on pizza styles, check out our guide to the most popular American pizza styles

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