TikTok foodies have blessed us with pesto eggs, spicy pickled garlic, an iconic tortilla-folding hack and more riffs on ricotta toast than we could have ever imagined. Lately, one decadent food has been gracing our For You page: pizza fritta, or fried pizza. The ingenious dish has been around for decades, but it’s having a bit of a renaissance on the app. Here’s everything you need to know about it, including how to make it at home.
What Is Pizza Fritta?
Pizza fritta’s roots run much deeper than TikTok. While it’s speculated that Neapolitan wives have been frying leftover dough scraps for centuries, pizza fritta, which was dubbed “pizza of the people,” has been a popular street food in Naples since World War II. As Italy became increasingly impoverished as the war went on, traditional pizza ingredients weren’t readily available, and hundreds of airstrikes in Naples destroyed many brick ovens used to bake pizza. So, locals got creative by frying the dough instead and using affordable, lower-quality topping substitutes, like out-of-season produce and anchovies.
There are two main ways to make pizza fritta. One is to simply fry the dough in a pan until it’s golden on the outside. (It’s only fried for a minute or so on each side, so the dough stays pillowy and chewy on the inside.) It can be served with salami, cheese or sauce on the side, or it can be finished with toppings and baked to completion (that’s called montanara pizza fritta). The other method (and the O.G.) is sort of like a fried calzone: Fillings like crushed tomatoes, mozzarella, ricotta and pork scratchings are added to a disc of pizza dough, then another layer of dough is added to the top (or the original layer of dough is folded in half). Then, the whole stuffed pocket is fried until the fillings melt.
How to Make Pizza Fritta
Pizza dough: Most TikTokkers appear to use store-bought pizza dough. If you’d prefer to use your own, use pizza flour (if you can find it) and cut back on the leavening a bit to ensure that the pizza doesn’t turn out too spongey.
Toppings or fillings: Serve the fried dough charcuterie-style with cheese, cured meats and a bowl of tomato sauce or pesto on the side. Or, split the dough and stuff it with your favorite fillings for a calzone-style treat instead.
Step 1: Heat about one inch of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. (Use more if you’re making stuffed pizza fritta—it should be deep-fried and fully submerged in oil.) While it heats, prepare the dough. If you’re not stuffing the dough, just knead and roll it out to a size a bit smaller than the frying pan. If you are stuffing the dough, fill it with toppings and fold one side of the dough over to create a calzone-like pocket.
Step 2: When the oil is about 350°F (if you don’t have a thermometer, drop a grain of rice or hold a skewer in the pan—if the oil around it starts to bubble steadily, it’s ready for frying), carefully add the dough to the pan. For plain pizza fritta, each side should only take about 1 or 2 minutes to fry—be sure to flip the dough over halfway through, spooning hot oil onto it as it cooks, and poke a small hole in the top if it begins to bubble and expand too much. For stuffed dough, it should take about 5 or 6 minutes for the fillings to melt.
Step 3: For plain pizza fritta, remove the dough once it’s cooked and let it drain on a paper towel-lined plate or cooling rack. Serve immediately with a side of dipping sauce, or top the pizza fritta with sauce, cheese and other fixings, then bake it in the oven at 350°F until the cheese is melted. For stuffed pizza fritta, allow it to drain on a paper towel-lined plate or cooling rack, then slice and serve.