Deep-fried foods are irresistible – from battered fish and chips to Scotland’s finest deep-fried Mars Bars. There’s practically nothing edible that won’t taste even better after a spell in boiling fat – except maybe ice-cream…
Super-healthy folks are often horrified at the things that are battered, deep fried and enjoyed by the rest of us, and if you think of deep-fried pizza, you can perhaps agree they may have a point here. You’d be wrong to dismiss deep-fried pizza simply because our conventional understanding of the beast is warped. If you ask for it almost anywhere, you’d be given a greasy, cheese and calorie laden slice of arterial doom – unless you happen to be in Italy.
The Italian idea of what they call ‘pizza fritta’ is a far cry from what we imagine it to be. It’s allegedly one of the oldest forms of fast food, and has been popular on the streets of Naples for centuries. Pizza fritta is simple but amazing, being made from a disk of pizza dough placed in hot oil until it is crisp and golden. It’s then removed and covered in a selection of traditional toppings. Sometimes a second layer of dough is added to the toppings, making the final result more of a calzone with crunch – this is known as a panzerotto.
It’s this difference in cooking technique that makes for a different flavor and nutrition from a traditional baked pizza. If you’re careful with the toppings on a normal pizza, you can keep the calories and fat down, but with a pizza fritta the oil, dough and cheese combine into an artery-clogging calorie and fat injection. Yes, it’s bad for you, but yes, it’s so worth it!
Pizza fritta has strangely never caught on as street food outside of Italy, and it’s a complete mystery why. Naples is still one of the few places you can get your hands on these deep-fried bad boys, so if you’re lucky enough to be planning an Italian trip sometime soon, be sure to be on the lookout for pizza fritta or panzerotto – you won’t regret it!