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Italian Pizza vs American Pizza

I just came back from a week in Italy. I'm curious as to what peoples opinion is comparing the 2 countries Pizzas.
I have my opinion having eaten Pizza in Venice, Florence and Rome but i'll wait until other people have expressed theirs.

Posted by
7050 posts

Which kind of Italian pizza? There are lots of regional varieties and ingredient combinations, just as there are in the US. I can get a Neapolitan pizza close to where I live that's indistinguishable from Italy because it's certified to meet certain standards. I realize a lot of folks really don't like Neopolitan pizza (margherita) because it's soft and lacks the hard crust (and has "burns"), but I love it.

Posted by
5687 posts

All over Europe (including many places in Italy) the pizza at a restaurant is most often a thin crust, and the style is very similar in my experience. (I eat a lot of pizza when I travel and tend to get "Margherita" - plain.) It's very different from the pizza we mostly have in America (where the pizza varies regionally somewhat). One exception is that, in Venice in particular, some cheap restaurants that sell pizza slices sell what is essentially New York-style pizza by the slice - it's greasy and tastes very similar.

Some of the best pizza I had in Italy was in fact in Bologna - not sure why, the style was about the same as everywhere else, but it just tasted amazing. Everything I ate in Bologna tasted was amazing, and I am far from a foodie. Pizza I had in Naples was also excellent, which wasn't a surprise.

In the Cinque Terre, I found pizza with focaccia bread - different from pizza I had elsewhere in Italy and excellent as well.

Posted by
1393 posts

I'm in favor of the pizza in Rome. The more traditional thin crust w/the spicy salami, could not get enough of that. I noticed when we were in Florence the majority of the places sold the thicker crust or more bread like pizza crust.

Posted by
11487 posts

Generally no comparison. Great pizza with a tasty crust, limited top-quality ingredients, and cooked in a wood-fired oven is rare in the U.S. We had four favorite places in Rome where we ate month-after-month. How I miss them! We have two not-too-far-away in Oregon, only one is from a wood-fired oven and both are good but not as good as in Italy.

In fairness, I have to say we have had marginal pizza in Italy (Cinque Terre) and great pizza in the Netherlands (A Neopolitan-owned-and-operated pizzeria in Haarlem).

Some of the mistakes in American pizza: odd toppings (I am not a fan of BBQ chicken on a pizza), too many toppings, tasteless crust, waxy cheese, poor quality sausage.

I also love that in Italy a pizza for each person is the norm. They are sized for individual consumption and priced fairly. I can't always eat the whole thing, but my husband is happy to help. :-)

Posted by
276 posts

I have a feeling I'll be in the minority here but I wasn't a fan. I tried pizza three times and quit. The crust while thin was chewy like cardboard, the cheese rubbery and the toppings were bland. But I did enjoy some of the best meals I've had on vacation in Italy just not the pizza.

Posted by
1025 posts

It is difficult to generalize by countries, because as one of the prior posters states, pizza is regionalized rather than just being "Italian." One of the best slices of pizza I ever had was in Aosta, at an "a taglio" kiosk. It reminded me of the pizza my grandmother used to make. I grew up in Naples, and find the basic Margherita pizza and the marinara pizza to be less interesting than other pies. I've had pizza in Venice that was magnificent. I have also had great pizza in Paris, once with a fried egg in the middle.

American pizzas are often produced by chains that standardize the product and then attempt to provide choices for all diners. Most of these chains aren't looking for a top end product, but rather to provide a dining experience replete with extras, such as wine and beer choices, salads, and desserts.

The wood fired (or coal fired) experience is expanding, so there are great American pizzas to be had in the larger cities on the coasts, such as San Francisco.

Overall, I think Italian pizza is becoming more diverse, and American pizza is becoming more "authentic."

Posted by
8642 posts

Well, you should consider them as different things, so comparison is not useful, and of course dependent on the restaurant. We had it in those three cities and some was good, some was not. We had pizza in Italy that I am certain was frozen, as well as others that were freshly made.

Two things I was told by locals: pizza is not good in Venice - not a traditional food and something to do with the humid climate effecting the dough. Second was that pizza at lunch time is often the unsold pizza from the evening before, since it takes so long to make the dough properly. Anyone confirm?

But actually, pizza should be considered a general concept - like a sandwich. Too many variations. You wouldn't ask which country's sandwiches are better without getting more specific.

Posted by
1282 posts

I'm not a lover of pizza anyway (it's just a pasty someone has forgotten to shut), but when I have it I prefer the American version, or at least what I think of as the American version - thick, greasy, cheesy and with lots of tasty topping choices. The thin, burnt Italian version with just a smear of cheese and tomato and perhaps an anchovy doesn't seem so good. Mind, I'm probably a pleb because I do quite like the one with pineapples (and I think that's a Canadian invention).

PS forget pizza and choose croquetas The food of the gods.

Posted by
5427 posts

. I realize a lot of folks really don't like Neopolitan pizza (margherita) because it's soft and lacks the hard crust (and has "burns"), but I love it.

Neopolitan is about the topping, red tomato base, white mozzarella and green basil in recognition of the Italian flag. The base is no different to any other pizza base which should be thin and crusty with the characteristic blisters from being cooked in a wood fired oven.

I can't stand the pizzas from the American chains here however I have a wood pellet fired pizza oven that can knock a mean one out in about 30 seconds, thin, crispy and as far removed from the stodgy, greasy, limp affairs from the likes of Pizza Hut et al.

Posted by
444 posts

Oh man, I loved the pizza we had in Italy last year. My favorite was at a place in Florence, but it was a Naples-style pizza. We tried pizza all over (Ercolano, Rome, Florence and Cinque Terre) and I basically liked them all. We had some really excellent walk-up slices at a place near the Pantheon in Rome. We also recently had pizza in Germany (Rothenburg-meh and Nuremberg-very good) and Prague (delicious). I do prefer the thinner crust, wood-fired, and simple, fresh toppings (Bufalo mozzarella, parma ham, salami, basil, rocket/arugula) that you get in Europe. And, now I'm hungry. :)

Posted by
2586 posts

I was having this pizza comparison discussion once with someone at the table from Taiwan, and he explained how shocked he was the first time he went to a Pizza Hut in the USA -- 'there were these thin disks of mystery meat' that he had never seen before, i.e. pepperoni 'who would put that on a pizza?' -- in Taiwan his friends went to Pizza Hut regularly and got everybody's usual favorite, with mixed seafood like scallops and shrimp and fish balls -- 'you know, normal pizza', he said.

Generalizing doesn't work with pizza, just as someone above said regarding sandwiches --
I like adult Bay Area pizzas when done well, like a thin crust pie with goat cheese, pistachios, and red onion
that I had last week, but I also like a nicely made deep dish flirting-with-gut-bomb with crumbled sausage and spinach --
we could do the same exercise with other cosmopolitan foodstuffs like burritos and bagels and burgers ---
is there really a true/authentic bagel any more?

That said, when I am in a particular city, I do indeed want to savor the dishes of that city, even if there are gourmet cosmopolitan options available -- for instance Barcelona has gone nuts for sushi this past year, but I'd still prefer to have catalunyan cuisine when I'm visiting, and save the sushi for back in San Francisco where it's from (ha)

Posted by
72 posts

I agree with the people who prefer the American style. Like i said we just had the thin crust and when we order sausage toppings, it was literally 6-7 sauage slices, the rest cheese sauce and crust. Just not my style.
But again maybe we didn't hit the best ones.

Posted by
891 posts

Years ago in Venice we got a pizza with a little white sauce, buffalo mozzarella and artichoke hearts and a little bit of chicken. The chicken surprised me, but it was seasoned nicely. The crust was thin and crispy bottom in the middle even, we loved it. Have been back to Venice 2 more times and always go to eat it.

On that original trip we were on a RS tour and went through Assisi as a half day stop. After doing our sightseeing we were free for lunch and then had to meet the bus. We wandered around looking for food
with 3 other couples and found a pizza place. We were happy to get inside with the ovens on because it was chilly. We all ordered and told the server who turned out to be an owner with his brother, that we had to catch our bus at such and such a time. He said no problem. He and his brother owned, cooked and served. They hustled! So friendly he stood around while we were eating wanting to know where we all were from (all over the states) and after we paid and were leaving they both came and shook hands and said thank you for coming to their town. That was a great pizza!

Posted by
3941 posts

I mean - almost all pizza is good pizza, but there is something about the thin crust and the simplicity of a margherita pizza, though I'm more than happy to have a stuffed crust piled high with meat.

We had some good ones in Italy and some horrible ones. But some of the best I've had outside of Italy - was actually from a food truck here in my home province. They come up to our town a few times a year where there is a food truck festival and they make real Italian style pizza - in a wood fired stove - in a food truck. It. Is. Delicious.

Posted by
920 posts

Have only had pizza from Italy in Rome--both sit-down and take away-- so I can't speak to pizza elsewhere in the country, but, honestly, I was a little disappointed. The takeaway variety (rectangles they cut) was too much bread and not enough sauce and other. For me, it's all about the sauce. We have a Connecticut-based pizzeria near my office that has some of my favorite pizza. And, really, some of the best American Italian food I've had has been in Connecticut. So, until I try it elsewhere in Italy, I like what I've had in the U.S. better.

Posted by
3336 posts

I'm with Andrew H - the best pizza I ever had was in Bologna. I wish I could explain what made it so special - just the basics perfectly done.

Posted by
2788 posts

I just came home Saturday (6/2) from spending 23 days in Italy (Rome and Sicily) and taking 2 RS tours. I prefer the thicker crust with lots of toppings that I find in the US over the pizza I had numerous times in Italy. During the Sicily tour we had a demonstration of pizza making by a certified master pizza maker which was very interesting. After the demonstration we were rewarded with sampling five different pizzas. I must admit that the 4 cheese pizza on a thin crust without any sauce was exceptionally good. I would buy it here if I ever find it.

Posted by
9871 posts

I loooooooove Italian pizza, and we're so lucky in Paris to have some Neapolitans who have set up shop (well, set up their fornos!) here so we can get good pizza if we make the effort. When my husband and I go "home" to visit his folks in Turin, we ALWAYS get pizza - I've found that my favorite pizza place in the WORLD is just a few blocks from the apartment where he grew up!!

miam miam miam

I thought I was so clever about three years ago - I had a friend visiting from the States with three of his sons. I thought, "boys like pizza, I'll take them for pizza!" Luckily an American friend reminded me of the difference between American pizza and Italian pizza. He said, "if you tell those boys you're going for pizza, they're going to have Pizza Hut in mind, and they'll be disappointed when they get there and receive their pizzas. But if you tell them you're going somewhere you order open-faced flatbread sandwiches with cheese and sauce, they might be nicely surprised!"

Posted by
1476 posts

I like pizza crust that is good enough to eat on its own, so my favorite pizzas so far have been from Bonci's in Rome, a crispy potato pizza from a bakery in Trastevere, and several pizzas in towns in Puglia that had their crusts made from ancient grains. My preference would be never greasy, never wet in the middle, never very cheesy. Not fond of any meat on pizza.

Had several really good pizzas in Florence, too, all pretty far from the main tourist areas. I did enjoy the classic pizza from some of the classic places in Naples, plus one street-food pizza in Naples that was deep-fried and hardly even pizza anymore but really good.

There are so many regional pizza-like things in Italy that are really excellent, like a piadina in Emilia-Romagna.

There is now a Bonci pizzeria just off highway 90 in Chicago, so on our frequent driving trips from Minnesota to New York we now schedule our driving so that we can stop there and eat pizza for lunch both ways. Last year we even greedily bought two extra boxes full of different pizzas on our way home and then accidentally left them in a motel refrigerator in Wisconsin and almost wept.

Pizza is absolutely one of those foods that there is no "best" of and there is no "real" pizza, just what is your favorite style. I've never had mediocre pizza in Italy, but then we are very careful not to go to mediocre pizza places and not to order it at regular restaurants whose specialty is not pizza.

Posted by
11368 posts

The best pizza I have ever eaten was in a little place in Naples and cost 3.50 Euro.

Posted by
3521 posts

In a good restaurant each style is good. I tend to like the California style while in the US (the ones with bbq chicken for example and a crispy crust). I do enjoy the true Italian thin crust now that I have gotten past the sometimes underbaked (to my taste) crust and have learned to eat it with knife and fork. The precooked rectangular pizzas I found in several parts of Italy that are sliced and served quickly also have become one of my go to options. In other words, any good pizza is good no matter where it is from..

Posted by
7453 posts

My favorite pizza is an authentic Chicago pizza, not to be confused with the normal Chicago pizza available in various places. The crust is amazing with a completely different taste, and the crushed tomato topping, the.....well, everything about it! I also like a wood-fire thin crust pizza.

So much of the food is amazing in Italy, but I’ll say that I have not had a memorable pizza there that would make me return to the same restaurant again.

Posted by
996 posts

I loved the pizza I had in Rome. Yes, the crust was different from what I'd find at home, but I was eating pizza in ROME. To me, that makes the experience amazing, regardless.

Posted by
5057 posts

Regardless of the specifics of the pizza, any pizza eaten in Italy is better than one eaten in America simply because one is in Italy. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it!! :-)

Posted by
2252 posts

Ah, pizza in Sicily. Any kind really, but my preference is the simplicity of only basil, cheese and tomatoes-Margarita. Yum!

Posted by
3961 posts

Can't recall any Pizza in Italy as memorable. Especially didn't care for the "prize winning pizza" we had in Naples. Very rarely eat pizza.

Posted by
1625 posts

Even in my tiny little hometown Pizza differs greatly between restaurants. Same with Burgers.

I feel like I had a 100% different experience eating Pizza in Italy compared to the US. In the US I would never order my own Pizza, but in Italy I get my own Pizza. A whole Pizza just for me, yes please!!

I loved the Naples Margherita Pizza which was VERY different from the potato pizza I had in Rome (my absolute favorite pizza in Italy) and we also had zucchini flower pizza and salmon pizza in Rome, all very unique. How you buy pizza in some places is unique also, letting the cutter know with your hands how much you want. Getting two or three smallish pieces of different types was also fun. I don't expect the same experience I had in Italy to happen in the US and vice verse.

Posted by
2531 posts

Pizza Margherita Is my go to version when in Italy. While too plain for some, the simplicity and taste of a properly made one meets my standards. I enjoy high quality pizza in America too, but usually order several different ones. Are pizzas, coffees, etc. better in Italy or America? I’ve found good and bad in both. Mox mix.

Posted by
7453 posts

"So much of the food is amazing in Italy, but I’ll say that I have not had a memorable pizza there that would make me return to the same restaurant again."

Ooh, I take back that comment. I'm remembering the agricultural market shop in Siena on the way to the Campo that sells fresh pizza squares by weight. Everything was so fresh in that place that we went back a couple of times - yum!

Posted by
5697 posts

Impressed with all the comments. Since my pizza night usually revolves around frozen cheese pizza from Safeway, adorned with onions, olives, mushrooms and anything else that's in the refrigerator, ANY pizza in Italy is wonderful.

Posted by
15678 posts

I prefer Italian-style. I had great pizza last year from Venice to Rome to Naples to Salerno. It's partly knowing where to eat it. The best was in Trastevere, so was the only one that disappointed me - at a place that was highly recommended. The pizza was just weird - the crust with tomato sauce was freshly baked and hot, but the mozzarella and other toppings were straight out of the fridge.

I grew up on Chicago pizza, which was Italian-style thin crust with lots of tasty tomato sauce and a reasonable quantity of mozzarello (though more than most Italian pizza), and the addition of one topping - if you want two toppings, you got half and half. Nowadays, it seems that American pizza is like American sandwiches - the bread is merely a conveyance for half a ton of meat, cheese and "additions." My Chicago friends love garbage pizza - ugh, the crust and the sauce are lost in the shuffle - probably a good thing since neither is very good. If I sound like a pizza snob, that's probably what I am.

Posted by
920 posts

I want to echo Kim's comment that there's some great Neapolitan style pizza to be had in Paris! Some of the best pizza I've had in Europe, so far, has been in France.

Posted by
9871 posts

How you buy pizza in some places is unique also, letting the cutter know with your hands how much you want. Getting two or three smallish pieces of different types was also fun. - Letizia

Yes, I enjoyed this in Rome, at Roscioli for example, very much!! Fun to make a little picnic with it - and then ate it with my brother and sister-in-law on their tiny terrace of their hotel room. Memorable, enjoyable, and a fun time together.

Posted by
5427 posts

The best American pizza is made by Italian Americans, so I would guess there wouldn't be much difference?

There is a difference to some degree particularly when you look at the evolution of the deep pan coal fired pizzas that originated in Chicago and from which the pizzas from Pizza Hut, Domino's et al take their influence.

Pizza in itself is not difficult to make and it all boils down to the quality of the ingredients, a thin base pizza made with top notch ingredients and cooked in a wood fired oven should taste just as good if made in Rome, Paris, London or New York. One of the best pizzas I've eaten was in Warsaw! One of the worst was in Rome (although it was actually my wife's pizza) she asked for hers to be made without artichokes but when it arrived there were clear indentations where the artichokes had been picked out so clearly it was a bought in pizza simply heated up, it wasn't cheap either!