The Unique Characteristics of Pizza


All pizza is not created equal. Whilst everybody has their own idea of what constitutes the perfect pizza – preferred style, favourite toppings, and so on – pizza connoisseurs worldwide will agree that there are certain unique characteristics to a truly great pizza. 

Here, we explore our top seven characteristics of the perfect pizza – read on to find out more:

Super-fresh ingredients 

It may sound obvious, but the fresher the ingredients that go into making the pizza, the better it will be. Years-old artisanal recipes would have used organic, preservative-free ingredients for the dough, beautiful bright red ripe tomatoes for the sauce (authentic Neapolitan-style pizza is never topped with cooked sauce), fresh mozzarella for a pleasing stretch and creaminess, and the best available meats and vegetables for the toppings. 

Cracking crust 

The perfect crust is the foundation of a great pizza and should strike a balance between crispy and chewy. The bottom of the pizza needs to be cooked enough to offer a slight crunch, whilst the ideal crust should be golden brown with a hint of char. A crust that is lightly toasted on the outside yet mouth-wateringly soft and fluffy on the inside gives a good indication that the dough has been properly leavened.  

Superb sauce 

The sauce is essentially the soul of the pizza, adding a tangy burst of flavour to tantalise the taste buds, tying all the ingredients together, and generally elevating your slice to the next level by striking a harmonious, savoury/sweet balance. Top-quality produce like San Marzano or plum tomatoes have higher acidity levels, which pack a powerful flavour punch when blended with herbs such as basil, oregano, or thyme. You can also experiment with other accoutrements: paprika to add subtle heat, a dash of vinegar for tanginess, citrus to bring a touch of refreshing zest, or roasted vegetables for caramelised sweetness. Reducing the sauce over a low heat is a great way to intensify the flavour profile. 

Choice cheese 

Cheese is an integral component of most pizzas all over the world. The optimal cheese for pizza should have a low melting point to ensure that it spreads evenly over the crust without turning lumpy or thin, the all-important stretch factor – you should ideally be able to see the aesthetically pleasing ‘strands’ when the pizza is pulled apart – and has the capability of turning a light golden brown without burning in the high heat of the pizza oven. Mozzarella is the traditional choice; its versatility means it can be used alone or blended with other varieties. Provolone also falls into this category, whilst cheddar is best combined with other cheeses as it tends to have a lower elasticity. Parmesan makes for a tasty garnish to enhance the overall flavour, gouda will add natural smokiness, and gruyere is great for sweet nuttiness, whilst goat’s cheese dotted across the surface of the pizza brings a deliciously creamy, tart burst of flavour to every bite. 

Tantalising toppings and balanced flavours 

The right toppings can make or break a pizza, adding nuanced layers of flavour and texture, thus heightening the overall eating experience. Thoughtfully chosen toppings will complement each other, working well alongside the crust and sauce (and vice versa) to enhance the end product’s overall flavour profile and mouthfeel. Getting the ratios right is key so that no single component dominates the others, and each bite delivers a mouth-watering taste symphony. 

Cooking method 

In an ideal world, pizza should be baked for no more than 90 seconds in an authentic brick or stone wood-fired oven to evenly crisp up the crust, melt the cheese to perfection and infuse the whole thing with a unique smoky flavour. A carefully cooked pizza is a testament to the art of the pizzaiolo, a skill deservedly given World Heritage status by Unesco in 2017. 

Consistently crafted with care 

You can taste the difference when a pizza has been made with love, and the recipe and methodology passed down through generations and firmly rooted in tradition – it’s the killer secret ingredient!  

Next time you tuck into a slice of taste bud tempting pizza, spare a minute to recognise and appreciate its unique characteristics: it’s undoubtedly a delicious journey of culinary exploration.