Italian pizza and American pizza both have dough, sauce, and cheese. So how is Italian pizza different from American, and why is it better?

Italian Pizza in Italy at Eataly

Italian Pizza


Curious why Italian pizza is believed to be the best in the world? Wondering if eating pizza in Italy is really all it’s cracked up to be? Our guide to Italian pizza includes a collective comparison of all the cool, quirky experiences we’ve had eating pizza in Italy and in America.

Italian Pizza

We kick things off with 5 reasons Italian Pizza is the best in the world including the origin of Pizza in Italy. Then we go head to head with an overview of Pizza in Italy vs Pizza in America and why Neapolitan Pizza is so good.

Next, we share a list of some of the different types of Italian Pizza found around Italy. Finally, we sum things up with a short and sweet list of 11 Differences Between Italian Pizza and American Pizza.

Our opinions are a little like pizza dough, meant to be tossed around a little. Comments (about Pizza) are welcome in the comment section at the end of the article. Keep ’em clean and polite or you will be excused from the table.

We are Paolo and Brandy. Together we have been traveling across Italy for over a decade. After becoming dual Italian American citizens, we moved to Italy to live out our early retirement dreams. Now we travel to Italy’s most popular destinations and explore hidden gems full-time from our home base in the Italian Alps.

Photographer Paolo Ferraris eating Italian Pizza in Sicily
Photographer Paolo Ferraris

5 Reasons Italian Pizza is the Best in the World

Why is Italian pizza the best in the world? Five reasons. The first is history because Italy is the birthplace of pizza. Secondly, Italians are sticklers for fresh, quality ingredients. Thirdly Italian pizza is ready fast! Fourth, Italian pizza is made by trained Piazziolo, and these guys are series. Finally, Italian pizza is certified and regulated.

1. Pizza Originated in Italy

Pizza is one of the most beloved symbols of Italy. It has a history that stretches back a thousand years. Even though yeast and bread can be attributed to Egypt, the Romans were the first to use bread in the shape of a disc to hold saucy dishes.

Around 1000 AD, the first documented words resembling Pizza began to surface in Italy. By 1535 Benedetto di Falco finally wrote the phrase “focaccia in Neapolitan is called pizza” in his Description of Ancient Places of Naples. Hence making Napoli the official birthplace of Pizza.

If you have the time and want an in-depth look at the history of Pizza, the video below is among the best we’ve seen in English.

The History of Pizza and Types of Pizza in Italy
Video: The History of Pizza and Types of Pizza in Italy

2. Italian Pizza is Made from Fresh Quality Ingredients

Some of the best tomatoes in the world come from Italy. Likewise, some of the best mozzarella cheese in the world also comes from Italy. In short, Italy has access to the best pizza ingredients in the world in its freshest state.

Italian pizza might be made with Fior di latte (cow’s milk) or Mozzarella di Bufala (buffalo milk) cheese, but either way, it’s fresh, full-fat, and full of moisture.

Both are light with a creamy flavor that pre-shredded cheese can only dream of.

3. Italian Pizza is Cooked in Minutes

Pizza ovens in Italy are wood burning and reach temperatures of 800 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter! The scorching temperatures enable Italian pizza to be cooked in under two minutes. Consequently, the type of cheese used in Italian pizza is critical. It must melt without burning under the scorching temperatures reached by Italian pizza ovens.

Wood Burning Pizza Oven
Wood Burning Pizza Oven

4. Pizzaiolo, the Secret Ingredient in Italian Pizzas

A Pizzaiolo is a chef who is trained, certified, and specializes in making Neapolitan pizza.

Consequently, a Pizzaiolo is a respected professional with deep technical knowledge of Italian pizza. There is even a registry for Pizzaiolo. What do pizza makers have to do to prove they are worthy of the title Pizzaiolo?
A Pizzaiolo in Italy must start from the bottom and work his way up.

Typically Pizzaiolo train for one to two years as an oven operator first. Next, come the recommendation letters, and exams. Then they can apply for registration.

There are even advanced levels of Pizzaiolo including Instructor and Master Pizza Maker (Maestri Pizzaioli).

5. Italian Pizza is Certified

Neapolitan pizza (Pizza from Napoli, Italy) is arguably the most famous Italian pizza. Because it is so freakin’ good Neapolitan pizza is Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG) certification. That’s right. It’s a certifiably good pizza!

In fact, Neapolitan pizza was added to the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage in 2017! In other words, Neapolitan Pizza is an art form in Italy.

The rules around what makes a pizza an authentic Neapolitan Pizza are so strict in Italy that they have been codified, certified, and protected by L’Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN). The AVPN was formed in 1984 to “defend against the impure and improper use of the phrase ‘true Neapolitan pizza.’”

36 years later, they still defend the ancient Neapolitan pizza tradition with regulatory and disciplinary action. Think of them as the pizza police. 

For a pizzeria in Italy to say it serves Neapolitan pizza, it must follow this official Pizza Neapolitan recipe. If not, no matter how good it is, it’s not Neapolitan pizza.

In summary, these five points make Neapolitan pizza not only the best Italian pizza but the best pizza in the world.

Pizza in Italy vs Pizza in America

Yes, on the whole, Italian pizza is better than American pizza. If we’re talking dough, sauce, and cheese, how different can pizza in Italy and pizza in America be? Let’s get into it, shall we!

From a purely objective standpoint, pizza is a bit like wine. There’s Old World (Italian pizza) and New World (American pizza).

Defining American pizza is tricky because it’s almost always personal. Customers pick and choose from a list of ingredients to customize their pizza. Do you want ham and pineapple? Have at it. Goat cheese and mushrooms, why not! Pepperoni, sausage, and pickled onions, YES! In America, pizza is creative, personal, and expressive.

As a dual-American-Italian citizen, I’m quick to defend pizza in America. Yet endless topping combinations are not what makes the best pizza in the world. Instead, it’s fresh, high-quality ingredients, technique, and a history of excellence that Italy turns out for a fraction of the price.

If you haven’t eaten good pizza in Italy, a little convincing might be required. Check out this video about Neapolitan Pizza.

The Best Pizza In Naples | Best Of The Best
Video: Neapolitan pizza


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