Roman vs Neapolitan Pizza

Pizza is one of the most popular and widely consumed dishes around the world. However, where pizza originated from is often debated between two styles – the Roman vs Neapolitan pizza. Both Roman and Neapolitan pizza trace its history back to Italy but have developed distinctive characteristics over time. 

This blog post will provide a brief overview of the two classic pizza varieties and discuss some of the main differences between their ingredients, cooking techniques, and overall taste.

What Is Roman Pizza?

Roman pizza, also known as ‘Pizza Romana’, is a unique style of pizza originating from Rome, Italy.

Unlike its Neapolitan counterpart, Roman pizza is characterized by a thin, crispy crust, achieved through a lengthy fermentation process. The toppings are often simple, allowing the quality of fresh ingredients to shine.

Varieties range from the classic ‘Margherita’, adorned with tomato, mozzarella, and basil, to more creative renditions featuring regional specialties.

The pizza’s distinctive traits reflect Rome’s culinary philosophy – a blend of tradition and innovation.

What Is Neapolitan Pizza?

Neapolitan pizza, hailing from Naples, Italy, is celebrated for its soft, chewy crust and vibrant, robust flavors.

The crust, made from high-protein flour, is hand-kneaded and fermented, resulting in a distinctive puffy edge and thin center. The traditional toppings include San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Strict guidelines outlined by the ‘Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana’ ensure that every Neapolitan pizza maintains its authentic roots.

This pizza style is an embodiment of Italian culinary passion and the rich, historical culture of Naples.

Which Pizza Appeared Earlier: Roman Or Neapolitan?

The Neapolitan pizza holds the credit for being the earliest form of pizza, dating back to the late 18th century in Naples. This pizza style was a staple for the city’s working class, with its readily available, inexpensive ingredients.

The Roman pizza, despite its ancient city origins, is considered a newer creation. Its characteristic thin and crispy crust reflects the evolution of pizza styles over time, adapting to different culinary preferences and techniques.

Thus, while both styles share common roots in Italy, the Neapolitan pizza is the older of the two, paving the way for future pizza innovations, including the Roman style.

Neapolitan and Roman-Style Pizza: What Is Similar?

Despite their unique characteristics and origins, Neapolitan vs Roman pizza share several similarities in terms of ingredients and cultural impact that reflect their Italian heritage.

1. The Ingredients

Both styles predominantly utilize fresh, high-quality ingredients, central to Italian cuisine. Traditional toppings such as San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and extra virgin olive oil are common to both.

The dough is made from high-protein flour, with the fermentation process playing a crucial role in defining the crust’s texture.

2. Cultural Importance

Pizza holds a special place in Italian culture, beyond being just a culinary delight. Both Roman and Neapolitan pizzas are a testament to Italy’s rich culinary heritage and ingenuity.

They symbolize Italian community and tradition, often being the centerpiece of gatherings and celebrations.

Furthermore, they’ve become global ambassadors for Italian gastronomy, winning hearts worldwide with their delicious, authentic flavors.

Roman vs Neapolitan Pizza: The Main Differences

Now, let’s delve into the main attraction today: the differences between Roman and Neapolitan pizza. We will look at some aspects that reveal their distinctions in these titles below.

1. The Dough

The dough is a key distinguishing factor between Roman and Neapolitan pizza.

Roman-style pizza dough undergoes a longer fermentation process, resulting in a thin, crispy crust. In contrast, Neapolitan pizza dough is fermented for a shorter period, resulting in a soft, chewy texture, especially around the edges.

Additionally, the Neapolitan dough uses only high-protein flour, whereas the Roman dough can include different types of flour like semolina for a unique texture and flavor.

2. The Toppings

The toppings on a Roman pizza are typically more diverse and experimental, often incorporating local and seasonal ingredients, which can lead to an innovative fusion of flavors.

On the other hand, Neapolitan pizza strictly adheres to traditional toppings, such as San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and olive oil, maintaining its authenticity and simplicity.

This difference in toppings highlights the creative flexibility of Roman pizza and the traditional appeal of Neapolitan pizza.

3. The Crust

Neapolitan pizza is known for its soft, fluffy crust with charred spots, a result of baking in extremely hot, wood-fired ovens.

Meanwhile, Roman pizza, baked at a lower temperature, boasts a thin and crispy crust. The edge, or “cornicione,” of a Neapolitan pizza is significantly puffier than the Roman’s, which tends to be uniformly thin throughout.

These differences stem from variations in dough preparation, fermentation time, and baking techniques, creating unique textural contrasts across these two beloved pizza styles.

4. Type Of Oven

The type of oven used in pizza baking significantly influences its final characteristics. Neapolitan pizzas are traditionally cooked in wood-fired ovens, reaching temperatures of up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in a quick, intense bake that gives it its signature charred, puffy edge.

On the other hand, Roman pizzas are typically baked in electric ovens at lower temperatures. This slower, more controlled baking process results in a uniformly thin and crispy crust, distinct from the Roman pizza style.

Thus, both the oven type and baking temperature contribute to the unique textures and flavors of these two pizza styles.

5. Type Of Pan

For Neapolitan pizza, a traditional pizza peel is used to transfer the pizza directly onto the heated surface of a wood-fired oven. This method contributes to its distinctive blistered crust and smoky flavor.

In contrast, Roman pizza is typically baked in rectangular pans, yielding a thin, evenly baked crust. This difference in baking methods marks another distinct variation between the Roman and Neapolitan pizza styles, further demonstrating the diversity within Italian culinary traditions.

6. The Cooking Time

The cooking time for pizzas varies significantly based on the style and oven used. 

A Neapolitan pizza takes only 60 to 90 seconds to cook in a blisteringly hot wood-fired oven (about 430 to 480C°), resulting in a lightly charred, smoky crust.

In contrast, Roman pizza, cooked in a lower-temperature electric oven, requires a longer baking time of up to 25 minutes. This extended cooking time allows for the development of a uniformly thin and crispy crust, a characteristic feature of Roman pizza. 

7. Serving Method

Neapolitan pizza is traditionally served whole, not sliced, to be enjoyed with a knife and fork, allowing one to savor the soft dough and rich toppings directly.

Conversely, Roman pizza is typically pre-cut into rectangular pieces, reflecting its street food origins and making it easy for on-the-go consumption. This serving method aligns with the pizza’s thin and robust structure, permitting an easy, mess-free eating experience.

These differences in serving styles further distinguish the two pizzas, adding another layer to their unique identities in the realm of Italian cuisine.

Which Has a More Distinctive Flavor?

The flavor distinction between Roman and Neapolitan pizza lies mainly in the ingredients and preparation methods.

Roman pizza, with its thin, crispy crust, tends to highlight the flavor of the toppings. 

On the other hand, the Neapolitan pizza, featuring a thicker, softer crust and simple, fresh ingredients, has a rich, robust taste where the dough plays a crucial role. The wood-fired cooking method also imparts a unique smoky flavor to the Neapolitan pizza. 

Overall, both styles offer distinctive and delightful flavor experiences, reflective of their regional backgrounds in Italy.

Which Pizza Is People’s Favorite, Roman style Or Neapolitan?

For those who relish a thin, crispy crust and prefer the flavor of the toppings to take center stage, Roman-style pizza is the ideal choice. Its lightness and simplicity make it perfect for those looking for a pizza experience that balances flavor and texture in a harmonious blend.

Alternatively, for individuals who enjoy a thicker, softer crust and savor the taste of fresh, straightforward ingredients, Neapolitan-style pizza is sure to satisfy.

The smoky flavor imparted from the wood-fired cooking method adds an extra dimension to the taste, making it an irresistible option for those craving a rich and robust pizza experience.

In short, the choice between Roman and Neapolitan pizza styles largely depends on personal preference.

Which Style Is Easier For Home Pizza Lovers To Make?

Making pizza at home can be a delightful culinary adventure. Generally, Roman-style pizza is easier for home chefs to recreate.

Its thin, pan-baked crust doesn’t require special equipment like a pizza stone or a high-temperature oven, making it more accessible for the average home kitchen.

Additionally, the longer baking time and pre-cut serving style allow for more flexibility and ease in handling and serving.

Despite this, with the right tools and a bit of practice, Neapolitan pizza can also be made at home for a more authentic Italian pizzeria experience.


In conclusion, the debate about Roman vs Neapolitan pizza comes down to personal preference in terms of taste, nutritional value, and preparation ease. Both styles hold their unique charm, reflecting the rich culinary traditions of their respective regions in Italy. 

The Roman version, with its thin, crispy crust and lighter toppings, may be more health-conscious and easier for home chefs to recreate. On the other hand, the Neapolitan version, with its thicker, soft crust and richer flavors, provides an indulgent and authentic Italian pizza experience.

Ultimately, it’s recommended to try both styles and decide for yourself which pizza truly wins your heart.

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