Pizza - Naples vs. Rome

  • Basilico Margherita Pizza

Pizza - Naples vs. Rome

When it comes to pizza, the battle between Rome and Naples persists - but what really is the difference between the two?

Behind every great foodstuff there is a great story… and in pizza’s case it is more like a great battle! You can have yours meaty or vegan, with tomato sauce or white sauce, thick crust or thin crust, there are infinite options, but when it comes down to true pizza loyalty – are you team Naples or team Rome?

If the stories are to be believed, modern pizza was born in Naples and has been around since the 1700s. Before that, pizza could be found, in one form another, in the cultures of the Etruscans, the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, but its current incarnation was indisputably first seen in Naples. This version spread throughout Italy throughout the twentieth century and now pizza can be found all over the world. Different Italian regions started experimenting and a range of alternatives to the traditional Neapolitan format emerged, including our personal preference: Roman-style pizza. So what is the big deal and what is the difference? Read on to find out!

Naples Pizza

In 2009, Neapolitan pizza was safeguarded by the EU as a “Traditional Speciality Guaranteed” and with this came a set of rules that has to be followed if you want to call your pizza “Authentic Neapolitan”. Naples’ pizza fans are so strict about this that they even have an organisation called the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani (the “Association of Neapolitan Pizza”) also known as the “Pizza Police” who monitor authentic pizzerias and will even fine them if they are not making their pizza correctly!

The main characteristic is the dough – made with only flour, water, yeast and salt, this makes a soft, light dough which is what creates the pillow-y texture at the pizza’s edge. The pizza must be cooked in a wood-burning oven, with a stone bottom – often made from volcanic rock from Mount Vesuvius. The pizza must be cooked directly on this stone floor, and not in a pan or on a tray. These ovens are intensely hot, so the pizza often has characteristic black, charred spots on it. There is no real crust and they tend not to be that crispy.

To be truly authentic, a Neapolitan pizza should use San Marzano tomatoes, grown on the volcanic plains south of Vesuvius (though it must be said, the number of San Marzano tomatoes apparently used vastly outweighs the volume which could possibly be grown in this area) and buffalo mozzarella made from the milk of water buffalo raised in the marshlands of Lazio or Campania (though recently this has been predominantly from Lazio, due to high levels of water pollution in Campania).

Roman Pizza

Roman pizza-making is considerably less policed and you can find a wide range of different pizza doughs. As a general rule, however, Roman dough is made with flour, water, yeast, salt, and olive oil. The addition of olive oil is crucial because it gives the crust more weight and flavour, and allows the dough to be hand-stretched out wide and thin. Roman pizza dough often uses a tougher wheat as well, so the pizza base does not lose its chewiness.

In Rome you can also find more innovative styles of pizza – such as those with black dough (like our Pizza Nera) or a white base. Roman-style pizza’s crisp crust also means that the pizza can be loaded with ingredients without collapsing, unlike its Neapolitan cousin.  

At Basilico we opted for Roman-style pizzas for many reasons but, most importantly, because they are better for delivery. A Neapolitan crust – while often delicious – has a tendency to steam in a delivery box and will lose any crispiness, becoming chewy. There is also a distinctive quality to the centre of a Neapolitan pizza – sometimes referred to as “soupiness” – where the cheese and the sauce form a molten pool at the centre, which can make it very difficult to eat without a knife and fork.

Basilico is firmly on Team Rome but, as true pizza lovers, we don’t intend to bash Neapolitan pizza! It is all a question of personal preference so – if you are the crispy, takeaway type – we think we might have what you are looking for


Do you go Neapolitan or Roman? Get in touch over Facebook or Twitter and let us know which – and why! Alternatively, if you want a glimpse of what to expect from our tasty Roman-style pizza, head to our Instagram and start drooling!

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