Italian vs American Pizza: Which One Would You Pick?

Italian pizza is simple, fresh, and the toppings tend to be distributed appropriately. But in the US, more is more, and toppings are generous and not restricted by tradition.

A dough base, tomato sauce, and cheese topping, baked in an oven. These are the fundamentals of the pizza. Toppings can be added — or taken away, like the pizza bianca or the pizza rossa — according to your liking (but we don’t talk about pineapple on pizza, thank you). It is the culinary ambassador of Italy across the world.

Pizza as we know came to be from similar flatbread dishes in Naples in the 18th or early 19th century, and made its way to the shores of America with Italian immigrants towards the end of the 1800s — it’s said the first pizzeria was Lombardi’s, opened in New York City’s Little Italy in 1905. In the century since, American pizzas have adapted to local tastes (although it’s worth noting that even within Italy itself there are variations in pizza style from region to region) and developed a pedigree of their own.

But what makes these two styles so different? The main differences can be outlined quite simply.


In Italy, pizza dough is typically left to rise for up to three days, which serves to enhance the flavor. Traditional Neapolitan pizza uses 00 flour that helps to perfect the famous thin crust (while the Sicilian pizza is essentially a kind of focaccia slathered with a tomato sauce and toppings, a kind of thick-crust style). In the US there are no rules on what kind of flour to use or for how long to let it rise, crusts vary from thin (in New York) to thick (the Chicago deep-dish style), and usually are left to rise for between eight and 16 hours.


If you want the traditional, original Neapolitan pizza, then San Marzano tomatoes must be used for the sauce. Otherwise, the average Italian pizza sauce is made with pureed fresh tomatoes. Stateside, the sauce is thicker, made with canned tomatoes, cooked with aromatic herbs and spices for a bolder flavor.


Mozzarella is used in both countries, but in Italy it is strictly fresh mozzarella di bufala (although other options like ricotta, provolone, scamorza, pecorino are also used, depending on the type of pizza); while grated mozzarella is largely used in the US, which tends to be low-moisture and more salted, creating a less ‘wet’ result.


Italy has the tried-and-true pizza varieties that generally doesn’t leave much room for creativity — it’s simple, fresh, and the toppings tend to be distributed appropriately without overwhelming the balance of flavors. But in the US, more is more, and toppings are generous and not restricted by tradition. For example, the meat lover’s pizza is typically sprinkled with minced meat (and sometimes additional sausage, ham, bacon etc.) over the cheese, while in Italy no such pizza exists.

And you, which one would you pick? Italian or American pizza? Let us know by commenting on our social media!