Pizza has been a staple of the Italian kitchen for centuries, starting life as a simple flatbread topped with herbs and brushed with olive oil. With time, other ingredients came to be added. Mozzarella, made from the milk of water buffaloes, was first mentioned in writing in the 16th century, though its history may date back much further. Tomatoes were first imported from the Americas at the same time, though it took a while for them to become truly popular for cooking.
The first pizzeria, located in Naples, opened its doors in 1830; before that, pizza had been sold at open-air stands in the city and was something of a local speciality. These early examples were simple: the Margherita, supposedly created to honour the visit of Queen Margherita of Savoy in 1889, uses just tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Fast forward to the present and the variety of toppings in the average pizzeria is endless, with the best seasonal and local produce to the fore.
The unassuming looking Antico Forno has been a local favourite since it opened 14 years ago thanks to its delicious focaccia, pizza and sandwiches. The secret of its irresistible pizza is not just the high-quality ingredients, but also the way the base is made. The dough is left to rise for a whole day, which enhances the flavour and means it can be rolled out until it is incredibly thin, guaranteeing a crispy base. Antico Forno is popular for its signature pizzaccia, a light and more-ish cross between focaccia and pizza.
Antico Forno, Calle de la Donzela, San Polo 970, 30125 Venice, +39 041 520 4110
Dry puts a cool and glamorous spin on the traditional Italian pizzeria with an in-house cocktail bar. Begin your evening with one of Dry’s classic signature cocktails, such as the Vintage Negroni, a blend of gin, Barolo Chinato, sweet vermouth, Campari and mandarin bitters. The pizza is in traditional Neapolitan style: small, with a reasonable thickness that perfectly balances crunchiness and soft dough. Ingredients are paramount, such as Cerignola tomatoes, Fiordilatte cheese from Agerola, and 24-month-aged prosciutto (air-dried ham).
Dry, Via Solferino 33, 20121 Milan, +39 02 6379 3414
Obicà is, first and foremost, about mozzarella– in particular, the buffalo mozzarella from the Campania region. It’s no surprise, then, to find a carefully chosen selection of pizzas on its menu. The bases are made with premium Molino Quaglia flour, with the dough left to rise for a minimum of 48 hours, and then baked on a refractory stone. Flavours follow a classic theme – the simple but delicious organic tomato and buffalo mozzarella is hard to beat. The emphasis is on showcasing fantastic ingredients to their best possible advantage, with a few seasonal variations thrown in for good measure.
Obicà, Via Santa Radegonda 3, 20121 Milan, +39 02 885 2453
Family-run Roscioli has been in operation since 1972 on the same site not far from Campo de’ Fiori. The bakery’s pizzas, flatbreads and sourdoughs are among the best in the city, making Roscioli a big hit with locals and visitors alike, and it also supplies several of the city’s best hotels. The signature bake is its pizza bianca, a soft, chewy and crispy flatbread with a lightly toasted top that’s been brushed with olive oil. For those who prefer a more colourful pizza, the pizza rossa, topped with a light tomato sauce, is a delicious alternative.
Roscioli, Via dei Chiavari 34, 00186 Rome, +39 06 686 4045
Il Pizzaiuolo is a little off the beaten track in Santa Croce, but it’s certainly worth the effort to find it. The interior is unfussy and charming – the perfect backdrop for the Neapolitan-style pizzas, with a thick crust but a thin centre, which draw crowds on a regular basis. Each pizza is baked in a wood-fired oven; flavours include the Diavolo, spicy salami with mozzarella and olives, or the indulgent Burrata. There’s even a pizza fritta, essentially a calzone stuffed with spinach, ham and ricotta and fried.
Il Pizzaiuolo, Via de’ Macci 113R, 50122 Florence, +39 055 241171