Pizza is a world-popular dish of Neapolitan origin, made with an
oven-baked, flat, generally round bread that is often covered with tomatoes or a
tomato-based sauce and cheese. Other toppings are added according to region,
culture, or personal preference.
Left: Authentic Neapolitan
pizza margherita, the base for most kinds of pizza.
Originating in Neapolitan cuisine, the dish has become
popular in many different parts of the world. A shop or restaurant that
primarily makes and sells pizzas is called a "pizzeria". The phrases "pizza
parlor", "pizza place" and "pizza shop" are used in the United States.
The bottom base of the pizza (called the "crust" in the
United States and Canada) may vary widely according to style—thin as in
hand-tossed pizza or Roman pizza, or thick as in pan pizza or Chicago-style
pizza. It is traditionally plain, but may also be seasoned with butter, garlic,
or herbs, or stuffed with cheese.
In restaurants, pizza can be baked in an oven with stone bricks above the heat
source, an electric deck oven, a conveyor belt oven or, in the case of more
expensive restaurants, a wood- or coal-fired brick oven. On deck ovens, the
pizza can be slid into the oven on a long paddle called a peel and baked
directly on the hot bricks or baked on a screen (a round metal grate, typically
aluminum). When making pizza at home, it can be baked on a pizza stone in a
regular oven to imitate the effect of a brick oven. Another option is grilled
pizza, in which the crust is baked directly on a barbecue grill. Greek pizza,
like Chicago-style pizza, is baked in a pan rather than directly on the bricks
of the pizza oven.
In the 20th century pizza has become an international food
with widely varying toppings. Modern pizzas consist of the same basic design but
include an exceptionally diverse choice of ingredients.