How to Make The Most Authentic Italian Pizza

by Ruth Nix ; Updated September 28, 2017

Fresh or buffalo mozzarella works best in traditional pizza recipes.

Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images

Pizza, as we know it today, likely originated in the late 19th century. Italian baker Raffaele Esposito is said to have made the first Margherita pizza in honor of the Italian King Umberto and his Queen, Margherita, who were visiting his home of Naples. Umberto adorned his pizza with the colors of Italy: red tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and green basil leaves. The product quickly became a popular recipe among the lower and upper classes of Italy and remains a traditional favorite today.

Making the Pizza Dough

Combine 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, water and yeast in a large bowl. Stir and whisk the mixture well. Allow it to sit for five minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cup of flour to the mixture. Again, combine the ingredients thoroughly. Add a second cup of flour, now agitating and kneading the mixture with your hands.

Move the mixture to a lightly floured surface (like a smooth, clean kitchen counter) and knead it into dough. Add a little flour to ensure the dough comes out stretchy, not sticky. Work the mixture for up to seven minutes, eventually shaping the dough into a ball.

Lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil. Move the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel and transfer it to a dry, warm place. Allow the dough to rise for one hour.

Move the dough again to a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the ball out into a crust about 1/4 in. thick. The pizza will serve up to eight people.

Topping and Baking

Move the pizza stone onto the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Add 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, tomatoes and pinches of salt and black pepper to the basin of your food processor. Mix the ingredients until they are smooth.

Spread the sauce across your pizza dough, leaving a half border around the edges.

Top the pizza with basil leaves, onion, garlic, oregano, parsley and mozzarella slices, dusting it off with the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Bake the pizza for eight minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is slightly golden-brown. Slice as you desire and serve warm.


  • Do not overload the pizza with toppings; let a little bit of sauce shine through. Authentic Italian pizza is lightly topped and, as such, reheats nicely.

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About the Author

Ruth Nix began her career teaching a variety of writing classes at the University of Florida. She also worked as a columnist and editorial fellow for "Esquire" magazine. In 2012, Nix was featured in the annual "Best New Poets" anthology and received the Calvin A. VanderWerf Award for excellence in teaching from the University of Florida.