Robert Frost in the US, there is a fundamental difference in philosophy, after several years, mainly due to different interpretations of the marketing and the pizza is very accurate. In Naples, Italy where pizza was supposedly founded, dough/ingredients are prepared fresh, the dough is skillfully stretched out very thinly immediately after the order is placed, and the typically fired off into a screaming hot.It is near about 850 degrees+. When you are taking about its time, it will be an oven for 90 seconds or less to create what is one of my favorite crusts.
A crisp outside with a soft pillow inside, and a pizza light enough that you could eat a whole 12 inches pie without feeling weighed down. It's topped with just a just a bit of fresh tomato sauce, very lights amount of cheese, and maybe a small sprig of basil or other ingredients. Let's take a look at a picture of the 60-second pizza from Da Michelle in Naples:
When you try that whole thing by yourself, then you didn't feel weighed down at all. It was delicious enough that we went back twice within 48 hours. Even better, each pizza cost $5 (approx) in the US... its also important to take into account that much like in the United States, in Italy, there are regional differences in pizza. Where we have Chicago Deep Dish, New York floppy slices, Detroit Pan, and New Haven Coal fired pizza in the US, Italy has Neapolitan (Naples), Roman style, Sicilian style, etc. When you looked at Individual interpretation of pizza over time has bred many forms of what folks call pizza, and in my opinion, there's no wrong classification.
When you looked at American particularly places and some restaurant, due to the fact the pizza is commercialized, adjusted to fit American tastes, and created so that the staff doesn't require as much skill in handling dough. You have a thicker crust with stabilizers, piles of in cheese/ingredients, and a far heavier mixture that weighs you down even after a few slices.
Your average person in America wants as much bang for their buck as possible; they love to be able to add as many ingredients as they want, get huge pizzas for cheap, etc. Now to be fair, there are plenty of dangerous places in Italy that serve terrible pizza, just as there are plenty of amazing places in the US that make their dough from scratch, use great ingredients, don't load on ridiculous amounts of toppings, etc. But with how many fast food pizza places there are in the US, it's far unlikely you'll be able to walk into an unknown pizza joint and enjoy a phenomenal pizza that's practically healthy for you.
Let's discuss the primary difference.
The major difference is a difference in philosophy. In Italy, they feel that only a few flavors are needed if those flavors are at their best. In America, they've adopted a culture of convenience for food. Quality ingredients have been sacrificed in exchange for constant availability and long shelf-life.
You all knows that Italian pizza is as simple as it can get. A freshly made dough cooked in a brick oven, with tomato sauce made from real tomatoes with mouth watering flavor, not too sweet and a bite of acid.
That is topped with fresh mozzarella cheese that was probably inside the Buffalo two days ago. If it's a Margherita pizza, there will be a few fresh basil leaves sprinkled atop. Look at simple Italian pizza.
Great Italian Pizzerias pride themselves on using as FEW ingredients in the most modest quantities possible to get great results. Thus the ingredients must be of the highest quality possible. Americans have pushed pizza in the opposite direction, never missing an opportunity to add in more stuff and using lower quality ingredients.
Why use just one cheese, when you can use 6? And why stop at one meat when you can make a “meat lovers” pizza with nine kinds of meat? And let’s stuff something in the crust as well and make it a triple decker pizza.
Lets checkout some images.
Italian Margherita pizza
American stuffed-crust meat lovers pan pizza. “more is better, more more more”
American Pizza is made to be portable and comes in slices.
In Short we can see
American pizza: topped with whatever it takes to get it down the gullets of kids and people who want crazy combinations (would you eat anchovy, pineapple, and guacamole with your oatmeal?). It can be good, but the national shops (frozen dough, frozen everything, kids who don't care behind the counter) can't compete with smaller businesses staffed by people who are proud of what they do.
Italian pizza: traditional recipes defended by culture and law. The ingredient list is short but high in quality. Pizza al taglio (probably the closest [I am so sorry to say this my Italian friends] to American pizza) is pan pizza and allows lots of different toppings. Sfincione is Sicilian and superficially similar to pizza al taglio (but they are /completely/ different!!!!).
Then there's pizza Napoletana, my favorite. Bread dough, worked by hand, topped with crushed tomatoes, garlic, and oil (marinara) or topped with crushed tomatoes, slices of mozzarella, basil, and oil (Margherita). There's still Pizza Rustica, which would hardly be recognized by Americans but is a great traveling meal.