I, like many college students across the country, have a love affair with American pizza and the existence of mozzarella sticks. I am fully, 100% aware of how these two food items are not the most authentic of Italian foods. My main issue with American pizza, however, is the sauce. I typically order my American pizzas with light sauce or extra cheese. And frankly, tomatoes in Italy are just… better. Plus, the sauce is swirled on the pizza in an effort to blend with the mozzarella and basil, not to drown it out.
Boston.com recently posted a list article detailing GrubHub’s most popular Italian eateries in the Boston area, a list that mainly focuses on pizza places closer to college campuses (uncannily not a coincidence). The point author Callie Ahlgrim tries to make is that “enjoying good Italian food” does not require a trip to the North End, where the more expensive (and authentic) of Italian dishes can be found.
Granted, neither Domino’s or Papa John’s (not even going to suggest Pizza Hut) make the list. However, when taking a look at the menus of the pizzerias on the list, one is hard-pressed to find a classic pizza margherita or la napoletana, opting instead for a Hawaiian pizza or an American classic pepperoni pizza. This begs the question: can one truly argue that this lists contains the best Italian foods, or should we just refer to this as a list of most accessible American-style pizzas?
Alessio Ganci discusses the idea of the American pizza versus the Italian pizza further in his article on HubPages, noting that in Italy, a pizza is a “relatively light dish… so that a person usually eats one entire pizza for [lunch] and one for dinner.” In theory, one could polish off an American-style pizza on one’s own (I have many times before), but the feeling is anything but light.
What’s the deciding factor? Should American-style pizza joints be considered Italian, or left in a category all on their own? For now, I’m choosing to separate them — though I will probably never say no to a good slice of cheese pizza (light on the sauce).
(Photo credit: Justine Ma, https://littlemisslocal.wordpress.com/tag/gusta-pizza/)