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A Brief Guide to Italy’s Pizza

Updated: Mar 4

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Pizza is likely one of the first things that come to mind when you think of Italian food. The popular cuisine was reportedly invented in 1889 by Raffaele Esposito - a baker based in Naples.

My husband and I visited several Italian cities in 2019, and I was determined to try pizza in each one. Here's my completely opinion-based, not-at-all comprehensive ranking of the types of pizza in Italy.

5. Milan

The fashion capital of Milan has a different vibe than other cities we visited. That's not to say I didn't love Milan - it definitely has a lot to love - but it's obviously a more commercialized area of the country. The word "commercialized" can also be used to describe the pizza. It had a thicker crust and 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.

4. Venice

We stopped to get pizza along the beautiful Grand Canal in Venice. With moonlight glistening off the water, the outdoor restaurant had unbeatable views. Northern Italy is best known for its Mediterranean food, so we ordered a pizza topped with calamari and shrimp and further decorated with cheese and sauce. I'm unsure if this was the best idea; I didn't find that seafood and pizza meshed very well. It seems like southern Italy knows pizza best while the north is better for its seafood.

3. Rome

Rome echoes Milan in terms of tourism, but the feel and food are completely different. I ordered a very thin, very tasty white pizza loaded with cheese. The thinness was a plus, as it was light on the stomach, but the issue I had was with the authenticity of the recipe. That amount of cheese is not usual for Italian pizzas, as they mostly focus on sauce and seasonings. Although I thought it was delightful, it landed the number 3 spot for that reason.

2. Modena

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. The authentic balsamic vinegar was so sweet that it nearly made the potatoes taste like pineapple. All in all, it had an amazing flavor, and we were happy to have stumbled upon it.

1. Naples

As the birthplace of pizza, it wasn't a surprise that Naples topped our list. Pizza is such a big deal in Naples that locals host pizza tours briefing the best spots. We visited a famous shop called L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele after hearing about it through a travel video. It became our mission to try it for ourselves, swinging by on our way back to Rome from a Pompeii day trip. 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.

Italy has a lot to offer in terms of food, and I was glad to experience so many pizzas for myself. I'm far from an expert, but I tried to represent each stop accurately in terms of taste and authenticity. If I'm ever lucky enough to make a return, I'll see where other cities measure up. For now, it's hard to imagine anything will top the pizza in Naples.


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