Updated: Sep 6
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When you think of Italian food, you most certainly think of pizza. Raffaele Esposito, who was a baker from Naples, was credited for making the first pizza in 1889. In 2019, my husband and I visited several places in Italy, and as a pizza lover, I was determined to try a pie in every city we went to. In order to take my readers on a brief pizza journey, I made sure to take pictures and notes of what I thought. Here's my completely opinion-based, not-at-all comprehensive ranking of the types of pizza in Italy.
The fashion capital of Milan has a different vibe than anywhere else we visited in Italy. That's not to say I didn't love Milan, because it definitely has a lot to love, but it's for sure a more commercialized area of the country. In fact, commercialized is one of the ways I'd describe the pizza as well. It had a thicker crust, and it seemed to be catering specifically to American tourists. If I were to compare this pizza to a chain restaurant in the states, it would still come out on top, but it lacked in charm and authenticity when compared to other Italian pizza. For those wondering, the pizza pictured is topped with Buffalo mozzarella.
We stopped to get pizza at one of the eateries along the Grand Canal in Venice. The restaurant was outdoors with unbeatable views and moonlight glistening off the water. Because northern Italy is best known for its Mediterranean food, we ordered our pizza with that in mind. It had a variety of seafood on it, such as calamari and shrimp layered on top of cheese and sauce. I'm unsure if this was the best idea - I didn't find that seafood and pizza meshed very well. After this, I decided that southern Italy knows pizza best while the north is better for its seafood.
Even though Rome is a hot tourist city just like Milan, the feel and food are completely different. It was actually my favorite stop on our entire Italian trip. While there, I ordered a white pizza that came out very thin. The thinness wasn't a problem though, as I really enjoyed how light it was on the stomach. It was also extremely cheesy, which is another thing I love. That amount of cheese, though, is not actually a traditional feature of Italian pizzas. Typically, pizzas made in Italy focus more on the sauce and seasonings. So, although I thought it was very good, it didn’t make the top of my list for that reason.
We visited Modena because it’s near the home of the Ferrari, and we wanted to rent exotic cars and try traditional balsamic vinegar. As an area not frequently visited by tourists, the pizza had the potential to be very good or very bad. Luckily, it was the former. My husband ordered an exciting pizza topped with balsamic vinegar, bacon, and potatoes. Balsamic vinegar in Modena is so sweet that the potatoes almost tasted like pineapple. All in all, it had an amazing taste, and I think we were stunned that it came from such an unlikely place.
As the birthplace of pizza, we were definitely not surprised that Naples topped our list. In fact, it's such a big deal here that you can even take a pizza tour to find the best stop. We visited a famous local spot called L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele after hearing about it through a travel video. On our way back to Rome from a Pompeii day trip, we made the best use of our time while waiting on our train and went here to dine. We knew the place was going to be good when we met locals who were boasting about it. It’s one of the oldest pizzerias in Naples, and it only serves two types of pizza: margherita and marinara. My husband and I ordered one of each so we could capture both tastes. Most of the pizzas' flavor came from the incredible sauce, with only a minimal amount of cheese on the margherita pie.
I enjoyed so much great food while I was in Italy, and I definitely don't regret indulging in a pizza at every stop. My list was determined based on two things: taste and authenticity. If I ever go back, which I hope I do, I'll see where other cities fit on this list. It's definitely going to be hard for anything to top the pizza in Naples, though.