Pizza Around the World: Influence of Italian Pizza Globally

Pizza Around the World

Italian pizza, with its iconic thin crust, flavorful toppings, and rich cultural heritage, has transcended borders to become one of the most beloved dishes worldwide. This article explores the global influence of Italian pizza, tracing its journey from Naples to international fame, and examining how it has evolved and adapted across different cultures and culinary landscapes.

Pizza Around the World
Pizza Around the World

Origins and Evolution

Birth in Naples

Pizza as we know it today originated in Naples, Italy, in the late 18th century. Initially a humble street food enjoyed by the city’s working class, Neapolitan pizza gained popularity for its simple yet delicious combination of ingredients:

  • Margherita Pizza: Legend has it that the Margherita pizza was created in 1889 to honor Queen Margherita of Savoy. Topped with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, it represented the colors of the Italian flag and became an instant classic.

Spread Across Italy

In the early 20th century, pizza spread beyond Naples to other regions of Italy, each adapting the original Neapolitan style to suit local tastes and ingredients:

  • Roman Pizza: Characterized by a thin, crispy crust, Roman pizza often features unique toppings such as artichokes, prosciutto, and pecorino cheese.
  • Sicilian Pizza: Known for its thick, airy crust and hearty toppings like tomatoes, onions, anchovies, and herbs.

Global Expansion and Adaptation

United States

Italian immigrants brought pizza to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly to cities like New York and Chicago:

  • New York-Style Pizza: Thin crust, foldable slices, and a generous layer of mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce characterize New York-style pizza, often sold by the slice.
  • Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza: A deep-dish crust filled with cheese, toppings, and chunky tomato sauce, baked in a deep pan, creating a hearty and filling pie.

International Influence

Italian pizza’s popularity surged globally post-World War II, thanks to American soldiers who developed a taste for it during their service in Italy:

  • France: French cuisine embraced pizza with a local twist, incorporating regional cheeses, meats, and vegetables.
  • Brazil: Brazilian pizza has become a cultural phenomenon, with variations like pizza de calabresa (sausage pizza) and pizza de frango com catupiry (chicken with catupiry cheese).
  • Japan: Japanese pizza often features seafood toppings like shrimp and squid, alongside uniquely Japanese flavors such as mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce.

Cultural Impact and Adaptation

Fusion and Innovation

Pizza has evolved into a versatile dish that embraces local ingredients and culinary traditions while maintaining its Italian roots:

  • Toppings: From Hawaiian pizza (pineapple and ham) to Indian-inspired pizzas with curry toppings, creativity knows no bounds in the world of pizza.
  • Crust Variations: Gluten-free crusts, cauliflower crusts, and whole wheat options cater to health-conscious consumers without compromising on taste.

Culinary Diplomacy

Italian pizza serves as a culinary ambassador, fostering cultural exchange and appreciation:

  • UNESCO Recognition: In 2017, the art of Neapolitan pizza-making was recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, highlighting its cultural significance and craftsmanship.
  • Tourism: Pizzerias in Italy and abroad attract tourists seeking authentic Italian dining experiences, contributing to local economies and cultural exchanges.


In conclusion, Italian pizza’s global influence is a testament to its universal appeal, adaptability, and ability to bring people together across borders. From its humble beginnings in Naples to its widespread popularity worldwide, pizza has evolved into a culinary canvas that reflects local flavors, traditions, and innovations. Whether enjoyed in a bustling pizzeria in New York City, a traditional trattoria in Rome, or a trendy café in Tokyo, Italian pizza continues to captivate taste buds and unite people through its delicious simplicity and cultural resonance. Embrace the global phenomenon of Italian pizza, savor its diverse interpretations, and celebrate its enduring legacy as a symbol of culinary excellence and cultural exchange on a global scale.