Ra ron' vien' ?
(Where does it come from?)

The word pizza means pie. Non-Italians typically get confused when they see this word applied to non-traditional understandings of pizzas such as cooked dough stuffed with various items, thin cakes with meats, cheeses, greens etc, and even sweet pies. The word may have derived from the ancient Roman “picea”, meaning bread. Some people say the word pizza comes from “pizzicare” meaning pinch, pluck, or sting, clearly referring to the pointy tip of the pizza. Pizzicare is the verb form of “pizzo”, which means point.

Some unheard-of pizzas are Pizza Rustica and Pizza di Pasqua. Pizza Rustica is a tart made with cheese and meats such as mozzarella, ricotta, prosciutto, and mortadella. Pizza di Pasqua is a lofty bread made with eggs and cheese in Central Italy.

There is also something called Pizza di Spaghetti, which is usually left over pasta mixed with eggs, cheese, and perhaps chopped meat that is baked or cooked in a pan to resemble a cake. It can also be referred to as a Frittata (open faced omelet) di Spaghetti.

Casatiello is a bread from Naples made during Easter with pizza dough that is stuffed with strutto (rendered pork fat), salame, and cheese. Hard-boiled eggs are set in the dough and two strips are placed over it, resembling the Crucifix. There is also a sweet Casatiello, found mostly in and around Caserta, which uses eggs and sugar.

Another example is the Panuozzo, which is a sandwich made with pizza dough and stuffed with meats and cheeses and cooked in a wood fired oven. This is a specialty of Gragnano and served with the equally special red sparkling wine called Gragnano.

There is also Pizza Dolce, which means sweet pizza, and is mostly found in Abruzzo. It is a sweet pizza with toppings such as candied fruit and citrus.

I did not initially intend to include a section detailing the origin of the word “pizza”, but as stated earlier, many Non-Italians confuse this term. They would benefit from remembering that the word means pie. For this article on pizza, I refer to the “True Pizza” as what is commonly known as La Pizza Napoletana, a round, whole pie measuring about 10 inches in diameter.