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Over 90% of Americans eat pizza at least once a month, and pizzerias make up 20% of all restaurants in America. It is small wonder, then, that the humble Italian pizza pie is now a $38 billion industry in its adopted country of America.
New trends in the way pizza is made have only made it more popular. No longer mere fast food, pizza has gone gourmet. Here are six interesting, sometimes excessive, and often delectable pizza trends:
Seafood toppings such as lobster, crayfish, and oysters, game meat like venison and duck, and cured meats like porcini, prosciutto, or capocollo have brought a gourmet flair to pizza making. Some restaurants offer black truffles on pizza, or shavings of exotic cheeses. Even more over-the-top toppings include peanut butter and jelly and bacon and eggs. Pizza purists consider these trends flashy, even ridiculous, but some of these significantly pricier options are managing to take off with the elite crowd.
While grilling pizza is not a spanking new trend, it is definitely catching on in a big way. Avid grillers are familiar with the smokiness, crunchiness, and overall drool factor of a pizza made on a gas or a charcoal grill.
The key to a good grilled pizza lies in the dough; it has to be kneaded just right and be thin enough to achieve a delicious crunchy crust in no time. When made this way, this pizza pie veritably screams for fresh toppings, whether vegetables or meat. Despite requiring a little practice, this is one pizza that can be easily made at home, is healthy, and requires little to no time to cook.
The once cringe-worthy dessert pizza is finding receptive taste buds, and rapidly so. A pie that leans toward your sweet tooth can be a great use for leftover pizza dough. Many swear by Nutella and dried-fruit pizza, topped with a sweet cheese like mascarpone, while others opt for fresh fruits and cream. Either way, dessert pizzas are a scrumptious way to round off any meal.
Also known as traditional Sicilian pizza, square pizzas can either have thick or thin crusts and are topped with a strong cheese like toma and salty anchovies. The nicely crunchy base almost feels fried. Square pizzas are often lost in the barrage of new pizza trends and toppings, but are definitely one of the most interesting pizza forms yet.
Pizza Rustica is essentially a salty, meat-and-cheese filled quiche between two thin pizza crusts. It usually contains no fewer than six cheeses and three types of cured meat. Italians eat Pizza Rustica when it’s time to break their Lenten fast. It is also called Pizzachino, Pizza Piena or Torta Pasqualina depending on where you are in Italy. While it may not be the way we came to know and love pizza, it did provide the inspiration of what we know as pizza pockets.
Perhaps inevitable in America’s frying frenzy, deep-fried pizza is created by dipping pizza in fish-n-chips batter and deep frying it to a golden brown. Originating in Scotland, the deep-fried pizza has crossed the pond and can be found on many pizzeria menus around the country.
The debate over the most authentic pizzeria-style pizza is never-ending, especially as the options and add-ons proliferate. While pizza has had many incarnations and will have many more, the appeal of the classic pizza pie, with its soft bubbles of cheese, dripping tomato sauce, and the flavor of fresh basil and herbs, is undying.
Mandy Miller is the owner/operator at All American Johnny’s Pizza, a family oriented restaurant in Aurora, Colorado that offers a comprehensive menu including pasta, calzones, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. Prior to this, she served as a team developer at Romano’s Macaroni Grill.
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