Instant guide to gourmet pizza

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#California Pizza, #Chicago Pizza, #Deep dish pizza, #Food and drink, #Neapolitan Pizza, #New York Pizza, #Pizza, #Pizza Romano, #Sicilian Pizza, #Types of Pizza

(Representational image) Pizza started out as a simple peasant dish of bread and tomato sauce in Italy. Today, there is a dizzying array of styles, crusts, toppings.

Free pizza is the best kind of pizza. There’s no debate around that. But when it comes to the many different styles of pizza, things can get a bit more complicated.

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Making a decision on whether to get a Neapolitan pizza, a Sicilian or a New York style slice can be a little overwhelming. And let’s not even get to the crust part!

The great thing about pizza according to Renato Viola, curator and consulting chef, 1441 Pizzeria, is that it can be arranged in so many different ways and made with a variety of bases and toppings.

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“Everyone loves pizzas, and the different styles, crusts and toppings have made this one of the most diverse food options available everywhere in the world,” says the Italian chef known for his wood-fired pizzas made with 00 flour and San Marzano tomatoes (both signature to authentic Italian pizzas).

Planet Pizza

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As much as a pizza excites our brains, thrills our taste buds and causes our mouths to water, it also leads to countless disputes. In Italy, they argue over which province has the best pizza style. In parts of the US, they call it pie, and around the world, we have a long-standing feud between those who do put pineapple on their pizza and those who definitely DO. NOT. But there’s no argument about the fact that bread, sauce, cheese and all of your favourite things on top makes for a dynamo combination. 

Pizza is so great that it has even had its fair share of iconic moments in television and film. Remember that scene in Saturday Night Fever where John Travolta asks for a couple slices of pizza during the movie’s opening credits? Or when Julia Roberts ravenously digs into a slice in Eat, Pray, Love? And who can forget Walter White slinging an entire unsliced pizza onto the roof of his family home in Breaking Bad? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles always make it a point to express their love for pizza, and Pixar always has that Pizza Planet truck hiding somewhere in the back of its movies. 

The birth of pizza

Pizza originated in Naples as peasant food. Explorers returning to Europe from Peru brought the delicious and nutritious tomato to the continent. Fun fact: many Europeans actually thought tomatoes were poisonous until poor peasants in Naples began putting them on their flatbreads. Thus, the pizza marinara was born – flatbread and tomatoes. The dish was dubbed marinara after the wives of mariners who would prepare the food for their seafaring husbands after fishing trips.

So where did the cheese come from? Cheese pizza, AKA the pizza margherita, was invented when King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889. In the queen’s honour, baker Raffaele Esposito added toppings that captured the colours of the Italian flag: red (tomatoes), white (mozzarella cheese), and green (basil). And the world was never the same.

So what makes a pizza good today?

“A light and thin crust base, using flavourful and tangy tomato sauce, the right amount of mozzarella cheese (not overly filled) and only 2-3 toppings. One must be able to enjoy the base, the sauce, the cheese and the toppings all together to truly enjoy the experience of eating a pizza,” says Viola, who recently started serving a gourmet range of pizzas made using Terroso Truffle.

If you love pizza like I do, here are the kinds you have to try at least once.

#California Pizza, #Chicago Pizza, #Deep dish pizza, #Food and drink, #Neapolitan Pizza, #New York Pizza, #Pizza, #Pizza Romano, #Sicilian Pizza, #Types of Pizza
Renato Viola, curator and consulting chef, 1441 Pizzeria.

Neapolitan pizza

This is the real OG of the pizza scene dating back to Naples in the 18th century. Made with ultra-fine 00 flour, Neapolitan pizzas are distinguished by their thin, crispy centers and puffy, spotted edges, which are produced by a quick firing at very high temperatures. It is usually served uncut and eaten with fork and knife. In fact, Neapolitans take their pies so seriously that there’s an association dedicated to certifying pizzas that are true to the city’s style. You can’t legally call it a Neapolitan pizza unless it meets the requirements: it has to be made with San Marzano tomatoes or Roma tomatoes and has to use Mozzarella di Bufala Campana – a specific type of cheese made with the milk of a water buffalo raised in the marshlands of Campania and Lazio. If that sounds a bit exacting, it’s because it is. 

#California Pizza, #Chicago Pizza, #Deep dish pizza, #Food and drink, #Neapolitan Pizza, #New York Pizza, #Pizza, #Pizza Romano, #Sicilian Pizza, #Types of Pizza
Neapolitan pizzas have thin, crispy centers and puffy, spotted edges.

New York style pizza

These are typically American pizzas – large, foldable slices with a crispy outer crust. The best way to devour a slice is by hand, off a paper plate. This style evolved to suit the needs of the on-the-go New Yorker, so it’s the city’s perfect food. 

#California Pizza, #Chicago Pizza, #Deep dish pizza, #Food and drink, #Neapolitan Pizza, #New York Pizza, #Pizza, #Pizza Romano, #Sicilian Pizza, #Types of Pizza
The best way to eat a large New York slice is by hand – fold it and eat it on the go.

Roman style Pizza

This rectangular style of pizza commonly found on the streets of Rome has a slightly thicker crust. Known as pizza al taglio (“pizza by the cut”) or pizza romana in Italy, this pizza is often cut with scissors and sold by weight in bakeries and street food carts. It’s usually topped only with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and a good glug of extra-virgin olive oil.

#California Pizza, #Chicago Pizza, #Deep dish pizza, #Food and drink, #Neapolitan Pizza, #New York Pizza, #Pizza, #Pizza Romano, #Sicilian Pizza, #Types of Pizza
Pizza Romano with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and extra-virgin olive oil.

Chicago-Style Pizza

This is a deep dish pizza with lava-like oceans of sauce, gushing pools of cheese and fortress of a crust that just manages to hold it all together. The primary differentiator is the quantum of dough used. A traditional Italian pizza is light and airy while a deep dish is doughy quite like a pie,” explains Viola.

You need an empty stomach and a ‘can-do attitude,’ to tackle this one. Interestingly, this pizza was invented in the early 1900s when Italian immigrants in the US were searching for a pizza that was similar to the Neapolitan pizza. The ingredients are placed in reverse – the dough is first covered with mozzarella followed by the toppings and then a layer of tomato sauce on top.

#California Pizza, #Chicago Pizza, #Deep dish pizza, #Food and drink, #Neapolitan Pizza, #New York Pizza, #Pizza, #Pizza Romano, #Sicilian Pizza, #Types of Pizza
The Chicago-style deep dish pizza will have the tomato sauce on top.

Sicilian Pizza

No, a Sicilian pizza is not the same as a Neapolitan Pizza, though they both originated in Italy. There are significant differences between the two types of Italian pizza. Sicilian pizza is thick and bready, practically a focaccia with extra toppings and a robust tomato sauce. But most importantly, unlike the traditional pizzas, a Sicilian pizza is rectangular and is also called “sfincione” (which translates roughly to mean “thick sponge”). Very fluffy and very comforting.

#California Pizza, #Chicago Pizza, #Deep dish pizza, #Food and drink, #Neapolitan Pizza, #New York Pizza, #Pizza, #Pizza Romano, #Sicilian Pizza, #Types of Pizza
Sicilian pizza is thick and bready, with a robust tomato sauce.

California Pizza

California pizza is one of the few pizzas that’s less distinguished by its crust than it is by the toppings you put on it. Cheese and sauce are limited to a supporting role so that more eclectic ingredients can take center stage (especially vegetables; it’s California, after all).

Whichever style you choose, the glorious trinity of cheese, sauce and carbs deserves to be celebrated in all its forms.

#California Pizza, #Chicago Pizza, #Deep dish pizza, #Food and drink, #Neapolitan Pizza, #New York Pizza, #Pizza, #Pizza Romano, #Sicilian Pizza, #Types of Pizza
The California Pizza typically has a lot of veggies.

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