Italians gave us their beautiful creation- pizza and we now have so many different versions of it in America that it is interesting to see how the American and Italian pizzas compare with each other.
Both the pizzas have stark differences and in this post, you are going to see those differences and which is better pizza- the American Pizza or Italian Pizza?
A brief history
Italian immigrants brought pizza back to the U.S., gaining popularity after men brought their liking for it back with them after WWII.
This exchange of culture brought pizza to the U.S, and it resulted in the opening of pizzerias that were Italian-owned.
There is a lot of debate on who opened the first pizzeria in the U.S. For more, you should check out this detailed post on the history of pizza.
I just want to point out and discuss these two types of pizza and that is what I would be doing in this post.
There are different types of Italian pizza, but the one we would use here for comparison is the classic Neapolitan pizza.
Neapolitan pizza has Pizza Cornicione which is a slightly raised edge and a thin crust with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and basil as a topping.
Comparing this classic Italian pizza to different types of American pizza and how the American pizza has changed and commercialized in so many different ways is going to be fun.
Below are the primary differences between the crust, sauce, toppings, texture, taste, and the calories of a classic Neapolitan pizza and American Pizza.
So, since we are more focused on the differences and similarities between Italian and American pizza, let’s get into that.
Chart of the differences
Differences between American and Italian Pizzas
Let’s break down each aspect of both these pizzas to understand how they are different from one another.
|American Pizza||Italian Pizza(Neapolitan Pizza)|
|Crust||There are different types of crust in the America- Deep Dish, Stuffed Crust, Thin Crust, etc. Crust is usually dense.||Thin crust with thick crust on the circumference, the crust is thin, light, crispy, and fluffy.|
|Sauce||Slow-cooked tomato sauce with herbs.||Fresh Crushed San Marzano tomatoes with seasonings and herbs.|
|Cheese||Dry Mozzarella cheese and pizza are usually loaded with A LOT of cheese||Fresh Mozzarella used in moderation.|
|Toppings||You can customize American Pizza with any kind of toppings you like.||Simple toppings like sauce, cheese, basil and olive oil.|
|How to eat||Pizza slices are Folded and eaten except deep dish or stuffed crust(eaten with a knife and fork).||ALWAYS eaten with a knife and fork, everyone gets their whole own pizza and not slices of pizza.|
American vs Italian Pizza- The Crust
The Neapolitan pizza has a thin pizza crust because the pizza dough is stretched to its maximum capacity making the base extra thin.
This thin base is crispy when cooked at a high temperature, along with some tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.
Neapolitan pizza is chewy, crispy, and airy with that fresh mozzarella giving a nice creamy touch to the pizza along with the fresh tomato sauce.
A drizzle of olive oil on top of an Italian Neapolitan pizza is a must when out of the oven, giving this pizza its final touch.
On the other hand, American pizza has thicker crusts, and the thinnest crust is the ones you see on New York Style Pizza or Brooklyn Style Pizza.
These thin-crust pizzas are chewy but not that airy and light like the Neapolitan ones.
Most of the time, the pizza crust is thicker than the Italian pizza crust, and some specific pizza styles like the stuffed pizza, deep-dish pizza, hand-tossed pizza, and Sicilian pizza can have a bread-like crust texture.
So, the American crust’s overall texture is thicker and bread-like than an authentic Neapolitan Italian pizza which is light, airy, and chewy.
American vs Italian Pizza- The Pizza Sauce
The sauce that goes on American and Italian pizzas is different.
American pizzas have slow-cooked sauce mixed with various herbs and spices on top of the pizza.
Every pizzeria in America has a different pizza sauce recipe giving their pizzas a unique taste.
So, if you go for a pizza taste test and test out pizzas from different pizzerias in the US, you will see that their pizza sauce tastes differ due to unique pizza sauce recipes.
On the other hand, Italian pizza has a straightforward pizza sauce recipe; hence, it does not undergo many changes or variations.
Italian pizzas have a typical Neapolitan pizza sauce recipe requiring you to take San Marzano tomatoes, crush them, and add garlic, oregano, and olive oil.
This is a basic Italian pizza sauce recipe, and if you are making Neapolitan pizza, then using fresh, juicy tomatoes is the key.
This gives the pizza a lovely fresh and refreshing taste which is impossible to get in an American pizza.
Toppings on an Italian pizza are simple: freshly cut mozzarella cheese, some basil leaves, and the pizza sauce.
A drizzle of olive oil in the end, and you have a nice Italian pizza to enjoy.
This simplicity is not the case with an American pizza. American pizza has SO many toppings options that include different types of meat like pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, chicken, and so on.
Hawaiian pizza also has pineapple on pizza which, in my opinion, is just not right, but there is a massive chunk of the population who love pineapple on a pizza.
Adding too many toppings to a pizza is JUST NOT the Italian way of eating a pizza, and many consider this to be blasphemy.
Italian pizzas have limited number of toppings.
The simplicity of Italian pizza makes it the best, and you cannot get that with a fully loaded meat lovers pizza that is a hit in the US.
The most popular pizza topping in America is Pepperoni and sausage.
Pizzerias in the US have different options for toppings, and in an American pizza, you can choose to add anything on top of your pizza pie.
This gives you more freedom to customize your pizza as you like, which will not happen with an authentic Italian pizza.
In Italy, pizzas cook in a HOT pizza oven, and the temperature has to be high, around 800-900 Fahrenheit, for the pizza to get that nice charred leopard spots.
This makes baking a Neapolitan pizza interesting, as you cannot do this in a home oven without a pizza stone and using the broiler method.
High heat is what makes Italian pizzas fast and easy to cook. Using an oven-like Ooni, you can make a Neapolitan pizza in under 60 seconds at home.
If you are using the broiler method in a regular home oven, then it can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes.
Most pizzerias have a brick oven, so it would take 2-3 minutes to whip out a nicely done Italian pizza.
On the other hand, American pizzas cook at a slightly lower temperature, around 700-800 F.
American pizzas are cooked in large-scale convection ovens, especially in pizza delivery chains like Dominos, Pizza Hut, Papa John, etc.
This is another reason why American pizzas have a bread-like texture.
The higher the temperature, the lighter the crust(of course, the dough needs to be thin, too), but the temperature is another crucial factor that decides the texture of the crust on these two pizzas.
In most pizzerias, American pizzas cook in a brick oven, but if they have a thicker crust, they take a longer time, depending on the crust’s thickness.
What makes Italian pizza different from the rest of the world?
As a lover of Neapolitan pizza, I have to admit Italian pizza is different from pizzas in the rest of the world.
Italian pizza is light and not heavy like an American pizza. You can eat Italian pizza as an appetizer or as an evening snack.
Yes, it is that light and yet so flavourful.
The fresh mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, fresh basil, and a drizzle of olive oil give pizza the much-needed light and fresh taste you cannot get with any other pizza.
Most pizzas these days are loaded with cheese making the pie so heavy. I would eat a Neapolitan pizza any day over a loaded cheese pizza.
How are American and Italian Pizzas served?
Italian pizzas are circular, and you get one whole pizza for one serving. One Neapolitan pizza nicely fits on a plate, and you eat them using a fork and knife.
Italian pizzas are not cut into slices like the American pizzas, which is a significant difference in how Americans and Italians serve pizzas.
American pizzas come in small, medium, and large slices; you can get a pizza as a slice or the whole pizza.
NY is known for selling large pizza slices that easily serve one person. American pizzas are cut into slices and are known for that clean-cut and cheese pull.
Ordering American pizza is also slightly different since you can add toppings to your liking, unlike Italian pizzas, where the toppings are rigid, and there is little to no customization.
How to eat an American and Italian Pizza?
Americans and Italians eat pizzas differently, way different from each other.
Americans eat pizza by the slice, where you slice the pizza, and everyone picks up their piece.
If you have a large thin slice like the New York Pizza, you fold it in half and eat the pizza.
This way, you do not drop any toppings; with each bite, you get the taste of all the toppings on the pizza.
Italians eat pizza with a knife and fork. Yes, they do not cut their pizzas into slices; instead, they eat an entire pizza all by themselves using a knife and fork.
I prefer eating pizza the Italian way because you get a whole medium-sized pizza to yourself, and it is less messy.
American pizzas have their charm, and if you are a pizza lover, you would appreciate both their take on pizza.
Italian vs American Pizza- Calories
A Neapolitan pizza will contain 700-1000 calories considering you are eating the whole pizza.
If you plan on eating a slice of it, you will be consuming around 180 calories per slice, depending on your toppings.
A Dominos’s pizza which is a typical pizza from an American outlet has 1680 calories on a medium hand-tossed pizza.
A Large New York Pepperoni pizza slice has about 508 calories; this is just ONE slice.
In terms of healthier pizza, I have to side with the Italian pizza as they are healthy and not heavy on calories like the American pizzas.
Is Italian pizza better than American?
YES, YES, and YES. Italian pizza has a uniformity when it comes to making Neapolitan pizza, and they have an association that maintains the standard of making these pizzas.
Hence, there are not many changes in the pizza you get from one pizzeria to the other.
There is a standard maintained, and this is something that keeps their tradition intact without being diluted by any changes.
Italian pizzas are light and delicious to eat, and they melt in the mouth, which is hardly the case with an American pizza.
American pizza is a nice change from the traditional Italian Neapolitan pizza, but if I had to go back to a pizza, it would be the Neapolitan one.
It just hits different.
Commercialization of the American pizza
The commercialization of American pizza is HUGE, considering all the pizza chains out there and the amount of money they make.
These pizza delivery chains make billions of dollars, and that just shows Americans love pizza, and these pizza chains constantly make changes to the recipe to sell more.
Pepperoni Pizza is a hit in the US, and in a poll, around two-thirds of the American population said they loved Pepperoni on pizza.
Delivery chains provide different customizations to pizza, including stuffed crust, cheese crust, and whatnot.
So eating pizza has become a part of the American culture, and many people know of pizza through this commercialization.
It is a single dish that has taken over the world with its taste and flavor.
So even though Italians made this beautiful dish, there are so many variations of it, and with the commercialization, the Italian pizza is lost.
Not many people know of Neapolitan pizza, but it is how the pizza culture started.
I love a good Neapolitan pizza with just cheese and basil.
Let me know what is your favorite pizza in the comments below!
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