While you can, to this day, enjoy a fine pizza pie from Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba (which is considered by many to be the first pizzeria ever opened in Naples), the history of this world-famous dish indeed goes back much, much further. Likely derived from the Latin word “pinsa” (or flatbread) the pizzas of today are a far cry from the original, which were basically an elaboration on the classic Italian bread, focaccia.
Pizza really took hold as a point of culinary interest in Naples, where over the early history of this food, tourists from the surrounding area would visit outdoor pizza stands and munch on this early foodie phenomenon. However, like most delicious things, the pizza slowly migrated and today is one of the most ubiquitous foods on the planet.
As Pizza’s footprint extended outside of its early roots in Mediterranean Europe – and certainly by the time it made its way to the shore of North America – and interesting transition took place, as pizza became more focused on toppings (and cheese!) than the original concept which effectively a dressed up, flavourful bread.
Certainly most of us are familiar with many of the original Italian classics, like Margherita, Marinara, al Prosciutto, al Funghi & Quattro Stagioni, to name a few. The global following for this dish has lead to boundless regional and international flavours and toppings, a range of sauces, cooking methods and even crust types. The glorious result (perhaps not so glorious in the minds of pizza traditionalists) is a vehicle whose only limits to delivering incredible flavour are the creativity and skill of the maker.
When it comes to crust, I must declare my bias, in that I strongly prefer lighter and thinner crusts to the heavier, thicker (even deep dish) style doughs. That said, like most things in life, there are as many opinions on this subject as there are styles of crusts to choose from.
You’ll note that the recipes I’ve picked today are really intended to highlight amazing ingredients, amazing flavours and interesting or novel preparations. In so doing, I have tried to select a representative selection of crust styles – but I think you’ll see my personal preferences still manage to take centre stage.
(As a quick aside – this is an absolutely fabulous pizza crust recipe you should check out, if you share my preference for this classic, lighter style of dough.)
A final thought before getting on to the tastier slices of this feature article: it would’ve made this piece a whole lot easier to right if I sat down and assembled a short list of the classic Italian pizza recipes, and suggested you could enjoy Chianti or Pinot Grigio with either one.
Given my love of things simple and classic, there are definitely a few of the old-school pizza recipes included, but as you’ll see, we’ve also tried to push boundaries a bit with some incredibly novel pizza recipes, along with a gorgeous set of wine picks from around the globe.
Get ready to toss your dough in the air with excitement – and check out these awesome pizza recipes and wine matches!
1. Prosciutto Pizza w/ Roasted Asparagus & Fresh Peas: RECIPE
WINE PAIRING: Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo
This salty mouthful of spring screams for a bright, citrus-inspired and refreshing glass of white wine. You’ll find both Sauvignon Blanc to be a delicious choice, but for a splash of adventure, check out a wine considered by many to be Spain’s most gulp-able white, in Verdejo.
2. Whole Wheat Spring Onion & Herb Pizza: RECIPE
WINE PAIRINGS: Verdicchio, Vinho Verde
Both Verdicchio, which is native to Italy, and Vinho Verde, from Portugal, are fresh, bright blasts of lime and lemon fruit flavours offered up within a zippy, super-lean and frame. These refreshing counterpoints are the perfect match to this spring veg and herb decorated pie.
3. Pizza Margherita: RECIPE
WINE PAIRINGS: Pinot Noir, Garnacha/Grenache
The fundamental challenge with this pairing is finding a wine that “doesn’t” go with Pizza Margherita – a dish that is just so delicious that it’s hard to imagine a wine you like actually “clashing” with it. This said, the flavours here – basil, tomato and cheese – are all quite mild, so lighter to mid-weight reds are ideal.
4. Squash Blossom Pizza: RECIPE
WINE PAIRINGS: Prosecco, Cava, Champagne
This stunning pizza recipe demands a wine pairing as delicate, textural and refined as the dish itself; and with those words ringing in my ears, there is no better choice than your favourite sparkling wine or Champagne. From Cava to Prosecco – or even the lofty heights of lighter, more delicate Champagnes, this is a pairing that will elevate your next pizza to a whole other level!
5. Pizza w/ Snow Crab, Shisitos, Ricotta & Wasabi Aioli: RECIPE
WINE PAIRINGS: Albarino, Friulano
Was anyone else ready to just quit reading and go make dinner when they saw the title of this recipe? What an exciting gathering of flavours – which, in turn, deserve a wine match offering aromatics and refreshment in equal measure. Albarino, from Spain, is a natural with crab – or Friulano, from Italy, offers a bit more body and weight with its own floral/peachy set of flavours.
6. Pizza w/ Gruyere, Yukon Golds, Black Olive & Rosemary: RECIPE
WINE PAIRINGS: Grenache Blanc, Pinot Blanco
This rich golden pizza top with salty olives and aromatic rosemary requires wine with body, but delicate aromatics as not to overwhelm the pizza. Grenache Blanc, from the south of France or northern Spain offers up its own garrigue-inspired herbal notes and minerality, while the richness of an Italian Pinot Blanco would be a lovely play off the rich golden layer of potato.
7. Maine Pizza w/ St Andre, Lobster & Sweet Corn: RECIPE
WINE PAIRINGS: Godello, Barrel-Aged Chardonnay
If you don’t want to eat this, I’m afraid there just may be no hope for you. Easiest pairing on the list today: lobster, sweet corn and decadent triple cream cheese scream at the top of their lungs for white Burgundy. If you’re looking for a bit of an adventure in flavour-town – check out a barrel aged Spanish Godello.
8. Pizza w/ Maple Roasted Squash, Sausage & Chard: RECIPE
WINE PAIRINGS: Monastrell, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc
This pizza, adorned with earthy, rich flavours demands a red wine with balance, freshness and spice. All three of these reds offer up this virtues in spades, with lovely red berry fruit offering a punchy and refreshing complement to the meaty sausage atop these delicious pizza.
9. Nicoise Salad Pizza: RECIPE
WINE PAIRINGS: Dry Rose, Unoaked Chardonnay, Viognier
Amazing bright fresh roses (like Tavel) are a stunning match with the classic Nicoise Salad salad, so if you feel like going sticking with the classic pairing, I’d be looking to the south of France for Grenache based rose offering up strawberry fruit and lovely dried summer herbals notes. Whites with like Viognier or unoaked Chardonnay offer up the floral dimension with enough body to create solid pairing as well.
10. Pizza w/ Gorganzola, Figs, Prosciutto and Aged Balsamic: RECIPE
WINE PAIRINGS: Tempranillo, Amarone, Primitivo
Bold and complex flavours characterize this pizza, so we went hunting for brooding, spicy and full-flavoured reds to fill your glass. All three of these wine grapes are also known as delivering bright acids and high tones that will work well with the balsamic flavours.
11. Pizza w/ Calabrese, Pickled Pepper, Mustard Greens: RECIPE
WINE PAIRINGS: Carignan, Touriga Nacional, Syrah/Shiraz
When we up the flavour on a pizza like this, we must also raise the ante on concentration and depth of flavour in the wine matches. Here we have three grapes oozing with spicy dark fruit making them ideal candidates to pour alongside this savoury pizza.
12 Pizza w/ Porchetta & Caramelized Onion: RECIPE
WINE PAIRINGS: Teroldago, Barbera, Merlot
Refreshing style reds are the order of the day with this pizza, so we’re looking at Merlot from cooler parts of the world (like northern Italy, for example) or a lovely discovery red from the same geographic vicinity like Teroldago, for their crushed raspberry, strawberry and red currant fruit. Another Italian gem worth considering is Barbera – best known as the baby cousin to the Nebbiolo based wines of Piedmont – a wine chalked full of floral red fruit.