Differences between US and Italian Pizza

Born in Italy but evolved in the US, if you’ve ever visited Italy and tried the pizza, you may have noticed some differences. Brought to the US by Italian immigrants and made popular by service men returning home from World War II, the delicious dish quickly took the country by storm. Initially, the US pies were probably very similar to the pies in Italy, but as the dish became increasingly popular in the US, it was changed to fit American tastes.

The Sauce

A key difference between the American and Italian versions is the type of sauce used. In the US, a slow-cooked tomato sauce is used. Some restaurants create their own tangy recipes to give their pizzas a unique taste that you can’t find anywhere else.

However, this is not the case in Italy, to the surprise of many an American visitor. Instead, you are more likely to find olive oil, pureed fresh tomatoes, garlic, and oregano on your pizza. This gives the pizza a fresh, herby taste that infuses the crust underneath.

The Meat

In the US, you are more likely to be able to have the pizza done your way. America is the home of the meat lover’s special. You’ll see every type of meat piled on top of a pizza – sausage, pepperoni, hamburger, bacon, ham, the list goes on and on.

Italians are horrified by this approach to pizza. They consider it a sacrilege. In Italy, mixing meats just isn’t done – they appreciate the unique flavors of each type of meat. They don’t generally include a savory medley of different types of meats in one dish. They often view meat lover’s pizza is a part of the US tradition of excess, but that doesn’t mean that this type pizza isn’t tasty.

The Crust

In Italy, you’ll find a wide variety of crusts; it seems like every tiny village has their own unique version. In some places, the crust is so thin it’s like eating cheese crackers with toppings piled on top. Again, different, but tasty.

In the US, in addition to thin crust pizza, we also have deep-dish pizza, which is an entirely American creation. Some deep dish pizza crusts are so thick you might think you are eating fresh baked bread with some toppings on it.


The US has taken what was once hearty workman’s fare sold by street vendors in Napoli and created an international dish. This was achieved by putting every type of topping you could conceive of on a pizza. But not all at once (meat lover’s pizza aside). We now have Hawaiian (ham and pineapple), Cajun (shrimp and Cajun seasoning), and “Everything” (needs no explanation).