Here’s a BIG secret… Our family aren’t big fans of pizza (shock)!? My children have been served many kinds of pizza since they were able to walk (due mainly to kid birthday parties at Chuck E Cheeses). From Pizza Hut to Papa John’s, we finally agreed that Costco in Hawaii had the best cheese pizza on the island. But on an average day at home we would never order the stuff, we find it so tasteless.
We knew, as we made our way through Europe our trip to Italy would stir up some interesting conversation. Especially when Lou Lou asked, “When we get to Italy, are we going to eat pizza every single day?”, and not in an enthusiastic kind of way. “It’s so boring, I hate it.” And so, for the first week while in Italy we ate pasta and panini’s until they could no longer take it anymore. While visiting friends at Tuscany, their daughter Vi had tennis lessons in town and invited us to go. Shortly after the lesson, the kids were hungry and Vi wanted pizza. (Oh boy, you should have seen the look on Lou Lou’s face). Secretly she whispered, “Mom, can I just stay and wait for you in the car? I don’t want to eat pizza, please”. Thankfully, Vi grabbed Lou Lou by the hand and and dragged her through the pizzeria doors.
In trattorias or pizzerias across Italy, you will find pizza served in large square pans, cut into squares and served at small “stand up” counters.
According to Lou Lou, “it wasn’t so bad”. “Of course I said, when you only order the crust!!!?” Two days later we were ready to leave Tuscany and that evening we all decided to visit the town of Montalcino and have dinner together once more. The kids immediately wanted pizza and this time there was no complaining coming from Lou Lou saying, “I’ll just order the same thing”, not realizing we’re going to a new restaurant. Thankfully, Vi was very excited and started telling Lou Lou about all the great pizzas at this local restaurant, the different kids of toppings (some of which she’s never heard of), she was intrigued and hopped into the car. After 9 months, she finally ordered her very own Neapolitan pizza saying, “Mom, Italians really know how to make the best pizza!”
(she still doesn’t believe pizza originated from Italy)
You’ll never see a pizza being made in a convection oven (and if you do, stay away). Italians make their pizzas to order and bake them in a traditional wood-fired oven. All pizzas are made for one individual, not in Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large servings as we Americans are accustomed to. Italian pizzas are served with a super thin, slightly chewy, crispy crust. What we soon learned was that taste of a great pizza really is in the dough, which compliments the flavor of the toppings.
After our pizza eating spree that lasted for a week, the kids finally settled on which ones were the best, the ones “other kids” would most likely enjoy. Here’s our kid pizza suggestions if you’re ever passing through Italy;
Pizza Bianca – different than the white pizza in America. This is a focaccia style pizza bread served in bakeries throughout Rome (like the photo Lou Lou is eating above)
Margarita – Plain with tomato, cheese and basil.
Neapolitan – You can ask for just a plain cheese pizza. This is different than a margarita since it has no other toppings, just cheese.
Capricciosa – Ham with artichokes and black olives, my kids LOVED this one.
Pizza Patatine – Pizza covered in potatoes
Quattro Stagioni – Made with four cheeses And finally, our Lou Lou decided that she now LOVES pizza and her new found favorite is the Pizza Alla Bismark, made with ham, eggs and cheese.
So if you’re feeling like pizza tonight, do yourself a favor and seek out a local trattoria or Italian pizzeria in your neighborhood for the real deal. We promise, you’ll never want to eat at Pizza Hut, Costco or Papa John’s again.