Pizza is one of those foods that has traversed the planet, unquestionably international, simple, yet diverse, and almost always delicious. Over the years and across geographical regions, pizza wears and has worn a different costume time and time again. In the end, it is all pizza.
Although historians believe some form of pizza or something similar has been around since farming began thousands of years ago, the modern version first started appearing in Naples in either the late 1700s or early 1800s. A Neapolitan pizza is one made with a certain type of tomato, usually San Marzano and mozzarella. Basil is often added, and a modern variation is the Margherita pizza.
The Italians carried the modern pizza traditions with them into New York City in the early 1900’s. New York first had a pizza restaurant in Little Italy. Today, New York-style pie is a thin-crust version of pizza. In the east coast it is extremely popular, although you can find many different types, especially the last couple of decades.
Chicago is a major contrast, as they began assembling their masterpieces using a deep dish pan. This allows for a crust and cheese lovers’ dream, as those elements are thicker. Generally, a chunkier tomato sauce is used as well. The buttery crust is more of a pie crust than a flatbread.
The toppings on American pizzas are also incredibly important in shaping what kind of pizza pie it is. Some traditional toppings are sausage, pepperoni, peppers, mushrooms, onions, and olives. A slice of tomato as a topping has become more popular. In the last ten to twenty years, toppings have become more and more exotic. First bacon and chicken, then ham and pineapple. Now some exquisite gourmet pizzas are irresistible with their artichoke hearts, ricotta, pancetta, shrimp, and even prosciutto and other meats and veggies. A crispy barbecue version of pizza has really gained steam in parts of the country as well. Even health movements have legitimized pizza as a source of nutrional value. Broccoli and other green vegetables have made incremental moves as toppings, and pizza dough has been replaced by cauliflower in certain circles.
A traditional Sicilian pizza has some characteristics similar to a Chicago deep-dish, mainly because the crust is so thick. However, some Sicilians don’t even have cheese, while others have strong scented cheeses such as toma and caciocavallo. Tomatoes, anchovies, and herbs such as oregano and basil are prominent traditional Sicilian elements. The Sicilian can be particularly delicious when an outer crispy crust gives way to a softer interior.
In some places like Philadelphia and Detroit, pizza can be served with sauce on top of the cheese. This is an interesting take on a traditional pizza and has it’s admirable qualities. Additionally, this is probably helping to emphasize the basic, simple, yet eternal attraction to pizza. Its simple foundational ingredients, dough, tomatoes, cheese. Except of course, in the case of white pizza. This is a variation based on using an alfredo based sauce in most cases.
The tarte flamblee in France is an intriguing cousin to the pizza. Also, it is a particular specialty in the region of Alsace, which would make it easy to pair with the famous Alsatian wines. It is a thinly rolled dough with a white cheese or a sour cream on top, in addition to fatty bacon or pork (lardons) and onions. This writer finds this to be inextricably and remarkably appetizing.
Tutto Fresco Italian Restaurant has an intricate curation of ingredients, developed through tradition and the tenets of authentic Italian pizza. Tutto Fresco of Forest Hill is continuously expanding it’s pizza offerings, and creating the pizzas of the world for the greater Bel Air community.