Since there are countless toppings, versions, and combinations, here, I’m going to list the most common and popular, those that you are likely to find in more than one pizza place.
Of course, every pizzeria will also have its original toppings, and it’s quite impossible to list them all because they are potentially limitless. For example, there are some new pizza places serving gourmet pizza that I absolutely adore and they often come up with very original toppings and daring combinations.
This is why it’s important that you remember some basic Italian words for foods, carry a small dictionary with you, or just have your smartphone handy and check the word online!
Pizza toppings in Italian + Pronunciation
This is one of the simplest pizzas. Its toppings, in fact, include only tomato sauce and oregano. In some pizza places, you can find the version with also garlic, like at 50 Kalò, one of my favorite pizzerias in Rome.
Margherita is another simple pizza and my favorite. My ideal concept of pizza needs to contain tomato sauce and I find the combination with the mozzarella cheese delicious.
Margherita con bufala
Margherita is my all-time favorite pizza and this is the version I order when available because the buffalo mozzarella has a stronger flavor than the ordinary mozzarella.
Capperi e acciughe or Napoletana
Depending on the pizza place, you can find this pizza called as “napoletana”, meaning Neapolitan, or simply with the list of its main ingredients, capers and anchovies, scattered on top of a base of margherita.
Just to be clear, despite its name, I’ve never seen the “napoletana” pizza listed in a pizza place menu in Naples!
With the quattro stagioni, you are entering the realm of more sophisticated and richer pizza toppings. I never order these types of pizza because I find them too rich and I never manage to eat the whole thing. Plus, I simply prefer to feel the full flavor of the tomato sauce and too many ingredients on top cover it too much.
The quattro stagioni pizza is a base of margherita topped with cooked ham (prosciutto cotto), black olives, artichokes in oil, and mushrooms.
Very similar to the quattro stagioni to the extent that some confuse that two, pizza capricciosa, in reality, slightly differs in that it’s topped with anchovies, olives, sliced fresh mushrooms usually white mushrooms, and artichokes usually in oil.
The base is always the same, tomato, mozzarella, and extra-virgin olive oil.
This is also quite a common pizza. On top of the margherita base, the pizzaiolo pizza chef adds thin slices of spicy sausage. Often, on the menu, you will read ‘nduja, which is the typical very spicy sausage from Calabria, and other times simply “salamino piccante“, with piccante meaning hot.
Sometimes, you can find pizza alla diavola with fiordilatte instead of mozzarella. Fiordilatte is also a type of mozzarella but with a more delicate flavor and texture.
Ortolana or Vegetariana
These are two different names to define vegetarian pizza. It usually has a topping of mixed veggies on the margherita base. The veggies should be fresh and baked together with the pizza so not those kept in oil or canned.
Good pizza places change the veggies of the topping depending on the season, so in summer, it would usually be zucchini, eggplants, and maybe bell peppers, while in winter, you can find veggies such as pumpkin and cavolo nero.
If you want to make this vegan and entirely plant-based, you can ask not to add the mozzarella cheese, so the veggies will be placed directly on the tomato sauce. I tried both versions because sometimes I prefer to avoid dairy, but I prefer the version with mozzarella.
Prosciutto e funghi
I used to see this pizza more often when I was a child, but now not much. If you see it, however, keep in mind that it’s simply with ham (cooked, not raw) and mushrooms. The mushrooms are usually thin slices of fresh white mushrooms.
Sometimes, it can happen that you find a version with canned mushrooms in oil. When I see this version, however, I tend to avoid it.
Rucola e grana
This has been for years my go-to pizza every time I was in a pizzeria. So much that I finally decided I needed to take a break. You can find both red or white, so with or without tomato sauce. I like both versions, even though this is probably the only pizza in Italy that I prefer without tomato.
Very simply, this pizza topping in Italian means arugula rocket and grana padano parmesan cheese. The parmesan is placed in flakes or very thin slices straight after the dough is taken out of the oven. So is the rocket, which is added fresh once the pizza is ready. A splash of good-quality extra-virgin olive oil and your rucola e grana is ready.
Among the most common pizza toppings in Italy, this is my husband’s favorite. So much favorite that when he doesn’t see it on the menu, he requests it.
This is a white pizza, so there is no tomato base, and just like the name reads, it contains four types of cheese. These are usually mozzarella, gorgonzola Italian blue cheese, fontina semi-soft young cheese, and Parmigiano Reggiano.
Gorgonzola e speck
Gorgonzola blue cheese is a fantastic addition to pizza so you will find it in many different combinations of toppings in Italy. One is this one combined with speck cold cuts from northern Italy.
Ai frutti di mare
This pizza topping in Italian means “with seafood”, usually mixed seafood such as mussels, clams, shrimp, and sometimes even squid. It’s not very common, but if you go to a pizza place that is on the seafront or where fish and seafood dishes are typical such as Sicily and Sardinia, you might find it.
What is a slice of pizza called in Italy?
We can translate “a slice of” pizza in Italian with three words: “trancio”, “pezzo”, “fetta” di pizza.
How do you order pizza in Italian?
In Italy, we have two styles of pizza places, one is a street food place, you order it by the slice, and you have it on the go. The other is just like a normal restaurant, you are allocated a table, brought the menu by a waiter, and your pizza experience will be like a typical restaurant experience.
Ordering pizza by the slice
You can order a slice of pizza at a typical street-food style pizzeria that in Italy we call “pizza al taglio”. To order your slice here, you can say:
Posso avere un pezzo di questa pizza? (Can I have a slice of this pizza?)
Mi dà un trancio di pizza margherita? (Can I have a slice of pizza margehrita?)
Vorrei una fetta di questa pizza broccoli e acciughe, per favore. (I would like a slice of this broccoli and anchovies pizza, please)
Ordering round pizza at the table
This is the ordinary restaurant experience where you need to order the dish of your choice. You will be greeted by the waiter, led to your table, and given the menu.
In these types of pizzerias, the pizza will be round and you will be choosing one topping and not mixing a few as you would do at a pizzeria al taglio takeaway where you can take three different slices.
To drink, you will see several Italians ordering a beer with their pizza. You can also opt for wine and in some pizzerias even house wine.
So just like any other restaurant where you are ordering food and drinks in Italian, you can say something along these lines:
Per me pizza alla diavola, grazie (I would order diavola pizza, thank you)
Può portarmi una birra rossa/bionda, per favore? (Can I have red/blonde beer, please?)
What is the pizza rule in Italy?
There are not really extremely rigid pizza rules in Italy. You will see by yourself that if you are at a street food place, you will have the option to opt for different pizza toppings in Italian and even decide how big or small you want your slice.
On the other hand, at a pizzeria serving round pizza, you can’t really choose the size of your pizza and you will have to pick a topping, even though you can ask for some change. For example, you can ask for a vegetarian without mozzarella or without tomato sauce.
When you are having a round pizza, you can decide whether you want to eat with a fork and knife or by hand. While in Italy we always use a fork, knife, or spoon when eating, in front of a round pizza, it’s very common for us to cut it into slices, fold them, and eat them with our hands. This is actually what I do because it makes me enjoy my pizza more.
Is it rude to leave pizza crusts in Italy?
No, it’s OK to leave pizza crusts in Italy. If the edges are too tall, you can just eat the inner part of the dough where is the topping and only part of the crust.