Yup, I'm talking pizza, or zah as we call it in my household.
The Italians can take credit for developing the style of pizza that we eat now. The by-the-slice food may have originated in Italy but we sure have plenty of it in this country. On a recent mini-girl's-road-trip my daughter and I took to Wisconsin, about 1400 miles round trip through Missouri, Illinois and into Milwaukee, pizza was the star attraction of dozens of bar and grills, restaurants, cafes and bistros.
If I'd made a list of the independent businesses and billboards touting pizza as their main fare, it would've made a good sized phone book. Here's a teensy sampling of what I saw:
Balistreri Brothers Pizza
Don't you think I should toss my chef's hat into the pizzeria ring? Polly's Pizza sounds pretty classy. :-)
(Why is pizzeria spelled with an 'e' instead of an 'a' after the zz? Pizzaria. Must be an Italian thing....)
Wanna Getta Pizza
Old Chicago (Saw this one in St. Louis - a little far from home)
Loucci's NY Pizza (and this one in Milwaukee)
Ancient Roman oven - flatbread has been around since the single digit centuries. The first recipe was flour mixed with water then baked in an oven like this one
The closer we got to Chicago, the more pizzeria signs we saw. Several for Giordano's. (Saw another Giordano's in Normal, Illinois. No, I'm not making that up. That is the name of the town. Which to the people living there is perfectly.....normal)
I haven't been to Italy - yet - but people I've talked to who have say that pizza in Italy is nothing like what we have in America. A class of food unto itself. There's Italian pizza and then what the rest of the world calls pizza. First off, any respectable Italian pizzeria uses only fresh mozzarella, not the shredded, from a bag stuff that's typically used here. In the early 19th century, tomatoes were added to the Italian pizza, which gave us the base to the modern day variety we're all familiar with.
One thing that hasn't changed since Queen Margherita sunk her royal teeth into chef Esposito's festive zah is that pizzas in Italy are always round, always made to order and always cooked in a wood fired oven. There are too many regional varieties to list but here are some that make my pizza taste buds do a happy dance:
Pizza Marinara ~ traditional Neapolitan pizza with oregano, anchovies and lots of garlic
Pizza Napoli ~ tomato, mozzarella and anchovies
Capricciosa ~ mushrooms, prosciutto, artichoke hearts, olives and half a boiled egg.
Pizza Capricciosa - the breakfast of champions!
Pizza Veronese ~ mushrooms and Prosciutto crudo (thinly sliced and uncooked prosciutto)
Quattro Formagi ~ a four-cheese combo using fresh mozzarella and three other cheeses such as ricotta, gorgonzola and parmigiano-reggiano.
Quattro Stagioni ~ represents the four seasons with sections of salami or Proscuitto cotto, (basically, cooked ham), mushrooms, artichokes and tomatoes.
Sicily has a whole other thing going on with its pizzas. There it might be topped with tuna packed in olive oil, shrimp, anchovies, hard-boiled eggs and peas. Sounds colorful!
Here in the USofA there's the ubiquitous pepperoni, meat-lovers and veggie pizzas and usually something with a fruity twist, like a Hawaiian Delight, with pineapple and Canadian bacon (usually known as "back bacon" in other parts of the world - interesting having a Canadian food product on a pizza with a Hawaiian title).
How about you? Got a favorite? Ever made it from scratch?
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