Pizza: A Beginner’s Guide to the World’s Most Beloved Dish

Pizza is a universal dish that has been enjoyed by many for centuries. Its crispy crust, tangy sauce, and gooey cheese are a winning combination that has inspired countless variations around the world. In this beginner’s guide to pizza, we’ll explore the history, types, and anatomy of pizza. We’ll also delve into the art of making a delicious pizza, from selecting the right dough to choosing the perfect toppings. So, let’s get started on our journey through the wonderful world of pizza!

A Brief History of Pizza

The origins of pizza can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans. These societies baked flatbreads with various toppings, including herbs, cheese, and olive oil. However, it wasn’t until the 18th century in Naples, Italy, that pizza, as we know it today, was born. Legend has it that a baker named Raffaele Esposito created a pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil to represent the colors of the Italian flag. This pizza, known as the Margherita, became a hit with Queen Margherita of Savoy and is still popular today. Pizza eventually made its way to the United States with Italian immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, pizza has become a staple food in many countries and is enjoyed by people of all ages.

Types of Pizza

Pizza comes in many different styles and variations, depending on the region and personal preference. Some of the most popular types of pizza include:

  • Neapolitan: 

Neapolitan pizza is the original pizza that originated in Naples, Italy. It has a thin, chewy crust that’s cooked in a wood-fired oven. The sauce is made from San Marzano tomatoes, and the toppings are usually simple, such as fresh mozzarella, basil, and olive oil.

  • New York-style: 

New York-style pizza is thin and crispy, with a foldable crust that’s perfect for eating on the go. The sauce is made from crushed tomatoes, and the cheese is usually a blend of mozzarella and provolone. Toppings can range from simple (like pepperoni) to complex (like artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes).

  • Chicago-style: 

Chicago deep dish pizza is a thick, hearty pizza that’s cooked in a deep pan. The crust is made from buttery dough, and it’s topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and various meats and vegetables. It’s a filling pizza that’s perfect for a cold winter night.

  • Sicilian: 

Sicilian pizza is a thick, square pizza that’s cooked in a pan. The crust is soft and fluffy, with a crispy bottom. The toppings are usually simple, such as tomato sauce and cheese, but some variations may include vegetables or meat.

  • California-style: 

This pizza is known for its creative toppings, such as avocado, goat cheese, and arugula. It has a thin, crispy crust and is baked in a wood-fired oven.

The Anatomy of a Pizza

Pizza consists of three main components: crust, sauce, and toppings. 

  • The crust is the foundation of the pizza and can be thin and crispy or thick and doughy.
  • The sauce is made from tomatoes and can be seasoned with various herbs and spices.
  • Toppings can include meats, vegetables, and cheeses. 

Some popular pizza toppings include pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers. The cheese is typically mozzarella but can also include other types such as cheddar, Parmesan, or feta.

Pizza Dough: Making and Choosing the Right One

The key to a great pizza is the crust, and the crust starts with the dough. Making pizza dough is a relatively simple process that involves flour, yeast, water, and salt. However, choosing the right type of flour and yeast can make a big difference in the final product. High-quality flour such as bread flour or Tipo 00 flour is recommended for a chewy crust. Yeast can be either active dry yeast or instant yeast, with instant yeast being the easier and quicker option. The dough should be kneaded until it’s smooth and elastic, then allowed to rise for several hours. Once the dough has risen, it can be stretched or rolled out to the desired size and shape.

Sauce and Toppings: The Art of Making a Delicious Pizza

The sauce and toppings are what make each pizza unique and delicious. The sauce can be made from canned or fresh tomatoes and can be seasoned with herbs such as basil, oregano, or garlic. Toppings can be anything from meats and vegetables to fruits and nuts. Some popular pizza toppings include:


The sauce is the foundation of any good pizza. Here are some popular pizza sauces:

  • Tomato sauce: made from crushed or pureed tomatoes, with added spices like garlic and oregano.
  • White sauce: made from a mixture of butter, flour, and milk or cream. It’s a creamy, rich sauce that’s perfect for white pizzas.
  • Pesto sauce: made from basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. It’s a flavorful sauce that’s perfect for veggie pizzas.


Toppings are what make each pizza unique. Here are some classic pizza toppings:

  • Cheese: mozzarella is the most popular cheese for pizza, but you can also use other types like cheddar, feta, or goat cheese.
  • Meat: pepperoni, sausage, and bacon are popular meat toppings. You can also use chicken, ham, or meatballs.
  • Vegetables: mushrooms, onions, peppers, and olives are classic veggie toppings. You can also use spinach, tomatoes, or artichoke hearts.
  • Specialty toppings: some pizzas feature unique toppings like pineapple, jalapeños, or anchovies.

The key to a great pizza is to use high-quality ingredients and to balance the flavors and textures of the toppings. A good rule of thumb is to use no more than three toppings to avoid overwhelming the pizza.

Cooking Methods: Oven, Grill, or Stovetop?

Pizza can be cooked in various ways, including in an oven, on a grill, or on a stovetop. The most common method is to bake the pizza in an oven at a high temperature (around 500-550 degrees Fahrenheit) for 10-15 minutes. This produces a crispy crust and melted cheese. Grilling pizza is another option, which can produce a smoky flavor and charred crust. To grill pizza, place the dough directly on the grill grates and cook for a few minutes on each side. Stovetop pizza is also an option, which involves cooking the pizza in a pan on the stovetop. This method is best for thin-crust pizzas.

Pairing Your Pizza: The Perfect Beverage to Complement Your Slice

Pizza is often served with a cold beverage, and the right pairing can take your pizza experience to the next level. Here are some popular pizza and beverage pairings:


Beer is a classic pairing for pizza. It’s refreshing and cold, and the carbonation helps cut through the richness of the cheese and toppings. Here are some beer and pizza pairings:

  • Lager: pairs well with simple pizzas, like cheese or pepperoni.
  • IPA: pairs well with spicy pizzas, like sausage or jalapeño.
  • Stout: pairs well with hearty pizzas, like meat lovers or deep dishes.


Wine is another popular pizza pairing. Here are some wine and pizza pairings:

  • Chianti: pairs well with tomato-based pizzas, like Margherita or Neapolitan.
  • Pinot Noir: pairs well with mushroom or veggie pizzas.
  • Sauvignon Blanc: pairs well with white pizzas, like garlic or pesto.


Soda is a classic beverage for pizza. It’s sweet, and refreshing, and pairs well with any type of pizza. Here are some soda and pizza pairings:

  • Cola: pairs well with meaty pizzas, like pepperoni or sausage.
  • Lemon-lime soda: pairs well with veggie pizzas, like mushroom or onion.
  • Root beer: pairs well with a deep dish or Chicago-style pizza.

Pizza Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts when Eating Pizza

There are a few unwritten rules when it comes to eating pizza, especially when dining with others. Some pizza etiquette do’s and don’ts include:

  • Do use a knife and fork if the pizza is hot and messy.
  • Don’t put toppings back on the pizza if they fall off.
  • Do take turns cutting and serving the pizza.
  • Don’t double-dip your pizza slice in the sauce.
  • Do eat your pizza with your hands if it’s not too hot or messy.

Famous Pizza Places Around the World

Pizza is a global phenomenon, and there are countless pizza places around the world. Here are some of the most famous pizza places:

Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix, AZ

Pizzeria Bianco is a small, unassuming restaurant that serves some of the best pizzas in the country. Their signature pizza, the Margherita, is made with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil.

Di Fara Pizza, Brooklyn, NY

Di Fara Pizza is a legendary pizza place that’s been around since 1964. Their pizzas are made by one man, Domenico DeMarco, who uses only the freshest ingredients and cooks each pizza to perfection.

Pizzarium, Rome, Italy

Pizzarium is a popular pizza place in Rome that’s known for its gourmet toppings and creative flavor combinations. Their pizza is made with a focaccia-like crust and topped with fresh ingredients like prosciutto, arugula, and truffles.

Gino’s East, Chicago, IL

Gino’s East is a famous pizza place in Chicago that’s known for its deep-dish pizza. Their pizza is made with a buttery crust, tomato sauce, and a variety of toppings. They also have a unique graffiti wall where visitors can leave their mark.


Pizza is a beloved dish that has captured the hearts and taste buds of people all over the world. From its humble beginnings in Italy to its global popularity, pizza has evolved into a delicious and versatile dish that can be enjoyed in countless variations. Whether you prefer thin-crust or deep-dish, classic or creative toppings, there’s a pizza for everyone. So, the next time you’re in the mood for a slice, remember the tips and tricks from this beginner’s guide to pizza and enjoy the wonderful world of pizza!