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Italian Pizza Toppings & More

Once you have your dough, what to do with it? The standard topping combinations one encounters in Italy differ somewhat from those I have encountered elsewhere. The quantities given below will be sufficient for one pizza each.

Pizza:

Pizza Margherita: to honor the Queen
You will want 1/2 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes, about a quarter pound of shredded mozzarella, and 3-4 fresh basil leaves. Spread the tomato sauce on the dough, sprinkle with the mozzarella, drizzle with a few drops olive oil, add the basil and bake.
Pizza Marinara: the garlic-lover's delight
You will want two cloves (or more or less to taste) finely sliced garlic, and 1/2 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes. Spread the sauce over the pizza, sprinkle the garlic, drizzle with a few drops olive oil and bake.
Pizza al Prosciutto: a standby
You will want 2-3 ounces finely sliced cooked ham, shredded, 1/2 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes, and 1/4 pound shredded mozzarella. Spread the tomato sauce, sprinkle the with the mozzarella and ham, drizzle with a few drops olive oil and bake.
Pizza Prosciutto e Funghi: another standby
You will want about a cup finely sliced Champignon mushrooms, 1/2 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes, 2-3 ounces finely sliced ham, and 1/4 pound shredded mozzarella. Spread the tomato sauce, sprinkle the other toppings over it, drizzle with a few drops olive oil and bake.
La Napoletana: yet another standby
1/2 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes, 1/4 pound shredded mozzarella, 3-4 anchovy filets or more to taste, 1 tablespoon or so rinsed salted or pickled capers, a dusting of oregano. Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza, dot it with the remaining ingredients, drizzle with a few drops olive oil and bake.
L'Atomica: A fiery wonder
Though the one constant is a healthy jolt of crumbled red pepper, the other ingredients vary considerably from pizzaiolo to pizzaiolo.
Variation 1: 1/2 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes, a tablespoon or to taste salted or pickled capers (rinsed), 3-4 anchovy fillets, boned, a dusting of oregano, and crumbled red pepper, to taste. 1/4 pound shredded mozzarella is optional. Assemble the pizza, drizzle with a few drops olive oil and bake.
Variation 2: 1/2 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes, 3/4 cup finely sliced mushrooms, a dusting of oregano, crumbled red pepper to taste, and 1/4 pound shredded mozzarella (optional). Assemble the pizza, drizzle with a few drops olive oil and bake.
Pizza Quattro Stagioni: The four seasons
1/2 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes, 3-4 canned artichoke hearts, quartered, 5-6 black olives packed in brine (you'll want the sweet variety), 1/2 cup finely sliced mushrooms, 2 ounces finely sliced ham, shredded, and 1/4 pound shredded mozzarella. Spread the tomato and the mozzarella, arrange the other four toppings each in its quarter of the pizza; drizzle with a few drops olive oil and bake.
Pizza Capricciosa: Everything in the house
Not really, but it seems like that. It's usually the richest pizza offered, and every pizzaiolo makes it differently. This is based on the Pizzaria Giancarlo, outside Florence's Porta San Frediano. 1/2 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes, 1/4 pound shredded mozzarella, 1 finely sliced hot dog, 1 link sweet Italian sausage (about 2 inches long), skinned and shredded, 8 thin slices salamino piccante (pepperoni in the anglo-saxon world) 2 ounces thinly sliced ham, shredded, 2 canned artichoke hearts, quartered. Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza, sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the sauce, drizzle with a few drops olive oil and bake.
Pizza ai Quattro Formaggi: Cheese Galore!
1/2 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes, 1/4 pound shredded mozzarella, 1/3 cup (each) shredded pecorino, gorgonzola, groviera (Swiss Cheese), and fontina or asiago, one black olive. Spread the tomato, and sprinkle it with the cheeses; the pizza will look almost white. Dot it with the olive and bake.
La Maialona: The hogger (sorry, but that's what it translates to)
1/2 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes, 1/4 pound shredded mozzarella, 2-3 ounces thinly sliced ham, shredded, 1 hot dog, finely sliced, 1 sweet Italian link sausage (2 inches long) skinned and shredded. Spread the tomato sauce, sprinkle the remaining ingredients over it, and bake.
Contadina: Another specialty from Giancarlo, outside Porta San Frediano
1/2 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes, 1/4 pound mozzarella, shredded, a small onion, finely sliced and the rings separated, 1 sweet Italian sausage (2 inches), skinned and crumbled. Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza, sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the sauce, drizzle with a few drops olive oil and bake.
Pizza alla Bismark: What's that egg doing here?
For reasons unknown to me a pizza with an egg cracked over it so it emerges from the oven sunny-side-up is called a Bismark. Excactly what else goes onto the pizza is up to the pizzaiolo, but ham goes quite well. So: 1/2 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes, 2-3 ounces thinly sliced ham, shredded, and an egg. Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza, sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the sauce, crack the egg over the middle of the pizza, drizzle with a few drops olive oil and bake.
Pizza Vegetariana: Betty's favorite
Again lots of variability, though the vegetables used are almost always cooked: stewed peppers, stewed eggplant, artichoke hearts, spinach, and what have you Begin with the standard 1/2 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes and 1/4 pound shredded mozzarella, and go from there, adding the cooked vegetables you prefer. Drizzle with a few drops olive oil and bake.

Calzoni & Focacce:

A Focaccia is a disk of dough baked in the oven, and topped (if it is) when it emerges. Toppings are generally quite simple. Perhaps the most common one is sliced fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced prosciutto (the raw variety, not cooked ham), and shredded arugola (rucola in Tuscany). The color combination is quite pretty, and the flavors meld very well. Other common toppings include straight prosciutto (not ham), just tomatoes, or tomatoes and thinly sliced mozzarella. Olive oil is served at the table so the diner can drizzle some to taste.

There’s a more variety to calzone fillings.

Basic Calzone:
2-3 ounces finely sliced cooked ham, shredded, 1/4 pound shredded mozzarella, and 1/4 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes. Sprinkle the shredded ham and cheese over half the disk, fold it over to cover the topping, and crimp the edges. Spread the tomato sauce on top of it, and bake.
As a variation, you can add 1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms. Or, you can make a calzone Bismarck by cracking an egg into the calzone before you fold over the crust.
Calzone Farcito: Everything in the house.
Farcito means stuffed, which this calzone certainly is. It’s the equivalent of the Pizza Capricciosa, and every pizzaiolo has his version. This is based on the Pizzaria Giancarlo, outside Florence's Porta San Frediano. 1/4 pound shredded mozzarella, 1 finely sliced hot dog, 1 link sweet Italian sausage (about 2 inches long), skinned and shredded, 8 thin slices salamino piccante (pepperoni in the anglo-saxon world) 2 ounces thinly sliced ham, shredded, 2 canned artichoke hearts, quartered, 1/4 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes. Sprinkle the ingredients except the tomato sauce over half the disk, fold it over to cover the topping, and crimp the edges. Spread the tomato sauce on top of it, and bake.
Calzone ai Quattro Formaggi: A Cheesy Wonder!
1/4 pound shredded mozzarella, 1/3 cup (each) shredded pecorino, gorgonzola, groviera (Swiss Cheese), and fontina or asiago, one black olive, 1/4 cup tomato sauce or chopped canned tomatoes. Sprinkle the ingredients except the tomato sauce over half the disk, fold it over to cover the topping, and crimp the edges. Spread the tomato sauce on top of it, and bake.

As is the case with pizza toppings, the sky is the limit when it comes to fillings. Feel free to experiment (for example, a few salted capers, rinsed, tossed into the basic calzone), though you should keep in mind that too many ingredients can interfere with each other.

Winding down, a variation on the theme that's popular in the Sabina area during Carnival, Pizza Sfogliata con Salsiccia e Pancetta: A sheet of dough, covered with sausage and pancetta, rolled up, coiled, and baked: Who could ask for more?

How to use a wood-fired pizza oven.

To drink? A light zesty red wine, for example a Chianti d'annata, or a Valpolicella Classico, or something even zestier, for example Lambrusco (I especially like these), or beer.

Afterwords? Tiramisu.

If you plan to eat pizza in Italy, here is some advice on selecring your pizzeria.

Good Food & Drink,
Kyle Phillips

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