Italian pizza in Italy requires a knife and fork.

How do Italians Eat Pizza in Italy? With a fork! Here’s Why

Have you heard the rumor that Italians eat pizza with a knife and fork in Italy and want to know if it’s true? The answer is yes! Italians do eat pizza with a knife and fork in Italy. If you’ve never had pizza in Italy, you might wonder why. Here’s a quick video to give you a hint.

How Do Italians Eat Pizza?

How to Eat Pizza Like an Italian: Punch Neapolitan Pizza
Video: How do Italians Eat Pizza, With a Knife & Fork

Method aside, the video does a good job illustrating why Italians eat pizza with a knife and fork in Italy.

3 Reasons Italians Eat Pizza With a Knife & Fork in Italy

There are three main reasons Italians eat pizza with a knife and fork in Italy.

How do Italians Eat Pizza? In Italy pizza is eaten with a knife and fork.
Italians Eating Pizza With Knife and Forks in Italy

1. Pizza in Italy is Made and Served at High Temperatures

First, in Italy, the most common style of pizza is Neapolitan or Naples-style. Neapolitan pizza is famous for its airy, puffed-up, chewy crust. To make it, you need a screaming hot oven. We’re talking 800-1000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wood Burning Pizza Oven
Wood Burning Pizza Oven

Since most Italian home kitchens are too small for a pizza oven that can hit high temperatures, Italians typically eat pizza at a pizzeria. Pizzerias are restaurants in Italy that specialize in pizza. Hence, they are experts at turning out pies and serving pizza quickly. Thus Italians are used to eating scorching hot Neapolitan pizza in a pizzeria.

2. Neapolitan Pizza is Messy

The scorching temperatures of pizza ovens enable pizza to be cooked in under two minutes. Consequently, the type of cheese used in Italian pizza is critical. It must melt without burning under the scorching temperatures reached by Italian pizza ovens. So Italians make Neapolitan pizza with fresh mozzarella.

Since fresh mozzarella adds moisture, Neapolitan pizza can get messy when you cut into it. Can you imagine us trying to eat the pizzas shown below without a knife and fork?

3. Pizza in Italy is Individual & Served Unsliced

The final reason Italians eat pizza with a knife and fork is that pizza is served uncut in Italy. Now can you imagine trying to eat a hot, messy Neapolitan pizza without a knife and fork? Want to see it through our eyes? Take a look at the pizzas below.

  • Neapolitan pizza in Florence, Italy
  • Neapolitan pizza at Eataly in Italy

So the short answer is in Italy, Italians eat Neapolitan pizza with a knife and fork in Italy because it is not sliced when it’s served and it’s too hot, and messy to be eaten by hand.

In our experience writing about pizza in Italy, we have learned pizza is a hot topic. Hence we embrace the idea that opinions are like pizza dough. Meant to be tossed around a little! So please know comments (about Pizza) are welcome in the comment section at the end of the article.

How to Eat Pizza Like an Italian

For the most part, eating pizza like an Italian in Italy is as simple as these three things. Use a knife and fork with Neapolitan pizza. Drink beer instead of wine with pizza in Italy. Don’t expect to build a custom pizza. Typically, pizzas in Italy are ordered by name like Margherita, Bufalino, and Quatro Stagioni.

Tip: Don’t expect to see Pepperoni Pizza on the menu. Instead, look for Pizza Diavola which loosely translates to Pizza Hell in reference to the addition of hot or spicy salami.

  • Pizza Diavola in Torino, Italy
  • Italian Pizza Menu in Italy
  • How Italians Eat Pizza in Italy

So how do you know when it’s okay to eat pizza by hand in Italy?

When to Eat Pizza by Hand in Italy

The short answer is, if the pizza is cut and sold by the slice, it’s generally okay to eat it by hand in Italy. Plus, the pizza itself tells you! Neapolitan Pizza for example demands the use of a knife and fork for the reasons outlined above. It is however perfectly acceptable to move to using your hands to eat the crust portion of a Neapolitan pizza. Just don’t be surprised if you see Italians around you sticking to the knife and fork method to the very last bite.

There are however a few styles of pizza in Italy that are made to be eaten by hand including Sicilian, Pizza al Taglio, Pizza Romana, and Pizza Fritta to name a few. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of pizza you can eat by hand in Italy.

Types of Pizza to Eat by Hand in Italy

While Neapolitan pizza is the most famous Italian pizza, it’s not the only one! In fact, there are many different types of pizza in Italy including Sfincione or Sicilian pizza and Pizza al Padellino. A new favorite of mine out of Turin, Italy to name a few.

Pizza al Padellino at Bricks in Torino, Italy Shows. The Perfect demonstration of how Italians eat pizza with a knife and fork in Italy.
Pizza al Padellino at Bricks in Torino, Italy

Pizza al Taglio

Sliced with scissors (or cut) and sold by weight, Pizza al Taglio is a style of pizza in Italy. It’s okay to eat Pizza al Taglio by hand because it’s not nearly as hot or messy as Neapolitan pizza. Plus, it’s sold as a street-style pizza typically eaten on the go at lunch.

Pizza Romana or Pizza alla Pala

If you prefer a thinner, crunchier crust to the soft, chewy Neapolitano-style pizza, look for Pizza Romana. You can find it throughout central Italy and of course, Rome where it originated. With a sturdier crust, Pizza Romana is easier to eat by hand than Neapolitano-style pizza.

You can find Pizza Romana in both round and rectangular shapes. Typically the rectangular shapes are pre-cut to be eaten by hand. However similar to Neapolitano-style pizza, round Pizza Romana is sometimes served uncut. Hence, you’ll still need a knife and fork to eat it.

  • Pizza Romana at Eataly in Torino, Italy
  • Pizza alla Pala at Sestogusto in Torino, Italy
  • Brandy Eating Pizza in Venice, Italy

Sicilian Pizza or Sfincione

One of the most surprising pizzas in Italy is Sfincione in Sicily or Sicilian Pizza. I say surprising because while it looks simple it’s delicious. The tall, thick, focaccia-style crust rises for a second time after it’s been sauced. The result is a super savory and satisfying bite. Cut with scissors, this street food is sold by the slice in every town in Sicily.

Sfincione Sicilian Pizza
Sfincione Sicilian Pizza

Pizza Fritta

The fried brother of Neapolitan pizza, Pizza Fritta was a post-war invention in Italy. Pizzaioli (the name for pizza makers in Italian) prepared fried pizza at home on their day off to earn extra cash. They fried the dough in oil because they lacked a proper pizza oven at home.

This is one style of pizza I have yet to try in Italy. Everything else you see above we have eaten countless times on our travels through Italy. I guess that means Paolo and I need to plan our own trip to Napoli very soon!

If you’re as curious about Pizza Fritta as I am, take a look at the video below showing how it’s made and eaten by hand on the streets of Napoli.

Pizza Napoletana: Fritta vs. Montanara con Gino Sorbillo - Zia Esterina
Video: Showing How Italians Eat Pizza

Why Italians Eat Pizza With a Fork in Short

Nowhere else in the world is pizza more a part of the culture than in Italy. Why? Because pizza originated in Naples, Italy. Thus the original Italian pizza is Pizza Napoletana or Neapolitan pizza in English. This explains why the predominant style of pizza in Italy is Neapolitan. It also explains why so many people, myself included believe pizza in Italy is the best in the world.

So while Italians eat Neapolitan Pizza with a knife and fork, you will see them eat other styles of pizza by hand in Italy. The type of pizza (Neapolitan vs Pizza al Taglio) and the location (in a pizzeria vs on the go in the street) make the difference.

Since Neapolitan is the reigning king of pizza styles in Italy it’s consumed in every region of Italy. Thus it’s fair to say in general Italians eat pizza in Italy with a knife and fork because Neapolitan-style pizza is too hot and messy to be eaten by hand. Plus, since Neapolitan Pizza is served as an individual, unsliced pizza a fork, and a knife are a must for eating the most popular style of pizza in Italy.

We’re Brandy Shearer (Author) & Paolo Ferraris (Photographer), two budget-savvy Italian introverts, artists, and dual citizens living in the Italian Alps. We show you how to avoid crowds and save on travel by exploring Italy in the off-season. From popular destinations to hidden gems, get a taste of la dolce vita in your inbox by subscribing below.


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply


  1. I’ve been to Italy 9 times, and I’ve only seen Italians eat their pizza by folding each piece in half and eating it with their hands…..even in Naples. Why the discrepancy?

    1. Hi Shari, what type of pizza? I ask because Neapolitan pizza does not come sliced. Which at minimum a knife and fork would be needed to create the slices before eating them by hand. That said some pizzerias will slice pizza for tourists if they hear an accent or English. They also drop off salt in packets but that’s another story (LOL).

      Pizza Fritta is eaten by hand in Naples. Sfincione is also eaten by hand in Sicily. Pizza Romana near Roma and Pinsa can be as well because they have a firmer crust that’s easy to pick up.

      Regionality can also come into play. In Torino and most of the north, you would be hard pressed at a pizzeria to see an Italian eat Neapolitan (the most common type in Italy) pizza by hand. Also location matters. Where are you seeing this pizza being eaten? At a sit down pizzeria or sold by the slice at take out or Al taglio stands.

      This article covers the classic pizza experience in Italy. Which is sitting down to a Neapolitan pizza at a pizzeria. Which could explain some of the differences you’ve seen. Pizza does come in different types in Italy. You’ve given me a new idea for a post so thank you!

      Would love to know where you have been in Italy! Compliments on 9 trips. We love living here.

  2. We had pizza fritta in Bologna a couple of times. It was good but I prefer the other types. the Neapolitan in Naples was memorable! Here in NYC I make Neapolitan and Sicilian though our oven goes only to 500 F. Still yummy, and people like mine better than at the pizzerias. How are you feeling?

    1. Hi Lynn! I’m feeling like it’s been a long journey but overall pretty well. I’ve still have treatments that will go till October but they are far more manageable than Chemo (both rounds) surgery and radiation were! Slowly working on getting my strength back day by day. Life in the Alps certainly helps! Thank you for asking. Very kind! How are you?

  3. Excellent post on Pizza eating…and yes, the knife/fork solution is common everywhere we go. I will say as an American, I tend to use the knife/fork for the center bit, but then the “trapezoidal” crusty part I’ll fold and eat with my hands. I’ve also noticed that there isn’t a hard rule about eating pizza with knife/fork over hands and that it’s somewhat dependent on age/gender (more men use their hands, IMO).

    And I’m with you: The pizza here in Italy IS THE BEST IN THE WORLD (IL MIGLIORE DEL MONDO)! Plus, if you don’t want pizza…there’s always FOCACCIA!

    Keep up the great posts (loved your one about Marche). Ciao!

    1. Hi Michael! Thank you for reading and taking the time to leave such a kind comment. It’s truly appreciated! Working on a post about Sicily Cities and Towns plus a new Pictures of Italy post. So many places we’ve seen I have yet to get to. What areas of Italy would you like to see most next Trieste or Ferrara?