Global Journey Through Beloved Pizza Styles: From Naples to New York


Is there any food more globally glorified than pizza?

The ultimate comfort food that traces its roots to Naples, Italy, has been adapted by cultures all over the world. Italians have even devised a series of lists of the best pizzas outside of Italy.

And it’s precisely pizza’s versatility that makes it so universally beloved, says Fabio Errante, an Italian ​​pizzaiolo (pizza maker) and author of “Fabioulous Pizza.” Errante says he’s cooked more than 300,000 pizzas in his lifetime.

“Pizza easily lends itself to extreme customization and fusion with other cultures and cuisines, and this explains why you will find a ‘pizzeria’ in every corner of the world,” he wrote in an email to CNN Travel.

Nino Coniglio, a ​​pizzaiolo and owner of Brooklyn Pizza Crew and Williamsburg Pizza in New York City, agrees that pizza’s adaptability is what makes it so popular.

It can be made with a near endless variety of toppings, he says, allowing individuals to create a pizza that’s just to their liking.

“Additionally, pizza is a social food that can be shared with friends and family, making it a perfect dish for gatherings and parties,” Coniglio says.

Pizza is also a comfort food that brings people together and evokes feelings of happiness and joy, he adds.

Pizza is a comfort food to Neapolitans, says Naples, Italy, native Enzo Algarme, co-founder of Pupatella, a Neapolitan pizzeria with several locations in Virginia. “Pizza has brought people together for generations,” he says, and in Naples there’s a pizza shop in every neighborhood. “Italians cook all sorts of things at home, but pizza is the one thing Italians go out to eat,” Algarme says.

The Art of Neapolitan ‘Pizzaiuolo’ is officially recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), founded in Naples in 1984 to “promote and protect in Italy and worldwide the true Neapolitan pizza,” according to its website, maintains that true Neapolitan pizza must be garnished with peeled tomato crushed by hand, sliced fresh tomato, buffalo mozzarella or fior di latte (traditional mozzarella), fresh basil leaves and extra virgin olive oil.

The dough must be made using just water, salt, yeast and flour, according to the AVPN, and the pizza must always be baked in a wood-burning oven. Another hallmark of real Neapolitan pizza is the raised edges of its crust, called cornicione.

There are two styles of pizza in Rome, says Henry Cunningham of The Roman Food Tour, which visits famous pizzerias among other iconic eateries during tours in Rome’s Prati and Trastevere neighborhoods. “Whole round pizza, called pizza tonda, and the rectangular pizza, al taglio, which means pizza by the slice.”

Pizza fans flock from all over the world to Pizzarium in Prati, owned by famed baker Gabriele Bonci, one of Italy’s most famous pizzaioli (and a star in the Netflix series, “Chef’s Table: Pizza”), to try the pizza al taglio, Cunningham says. Specify the type and how much you want (choosing from seasonal toppings such as zucchini flowers and artichokes), and your slice will be cut with scissors before your eyes and priced according to its weight.

Pizza tonda is “paper thin and the edge is super crispy and not raised at all, although some bubbles are accepted,” according to Errante. Olive oil in the dough adds to the crispiness of the finished crust. And the dough is usually prepared using a rolling pin, he says, “in order to blow all the gas pockets in the dough that otherwise would make the pizza puff up while baking.”

“Whatever you do, don’t dream of asking for it with pineapple,” says Tatyana Serraino, a guide with The Roman Food Tour who says that’s considered a cardinal sin.