Jessica DeMay

Pizza Glossary

Gain the respect of your friends and family by learning the proper Pizza language. These are the words you must know in order to be a respected Pizzaiolo.


Autolysis is the breakdown of a substance by enzymes within itself (as opposed to breaking down caused by chemical or physical forces). The word is derived from autos meaning "self" and lysis meaning "to break up".

Simply put, autolyse in bread baking is a step before bulk fermentation where you're letting the dough rest with barely any flour and water for anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. It's the time when enzyme activity starts taking place, therefore promoting more flavor development. If it's too long, then there will be an excessive amount of weakening gluten strands that will produce a weaker final product.


When the pizza is fresh off the oven and the toppings can slide right off.


Biga is a type of pre-ferment that can be used to give the pizza more flavor and to make it easier for the yeast in the dough to work.

A biga is a heavy dough of flour, water, and sometimes salt. It's mixed until there is no visible flour left. It's left to ferment for 12 to 24 hours, then mixed into the pizza dough.

The word "biga" comes from Italian and translates as "preparation," from the Latin, "praeparatio.

Californian Pizza

The difference between California-style pizza and other types of pizzas is that it's baked to order, in an oil or gas heated oven with no preheating. The dough is hand tossed without any rolling pin. It can be topped with a variety of toppings such as vegetables, meats, cheeses, and sauces. A popular choice for vegetarians are veggie toppings like mushrooms or spinach on a White pizza (a cheese-less pizza made from white sauce).


A calzone is a roasted pizza folded over and sealed on one side so that the toppings cannot come out when it is eaten. The word “calzone” means “trouser leg” in Italian because while rolled up they resemble a trouser leg with a cuff at the top. A traditional Italian-style calzone has two layers of dough filled with tomato sauce and cheese baked together into a round loaf.


The dark parts of the pizza. You will typically find char on the bottom of the pizza if it’s made in a wood oven or any other oven that can reach very high temperatures.

Cheese Drag

When you bite the pizza and the cheese pulls up. This normally happens with mozzarella cheese.

Cheese Lock

Placing the cheese on the pizza so they won’t slide around.

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

Chicago-style deep dish pizza is created with a thicker layer of dough on the bottom, topped with tomato sauce and a lot of mozzarella cheese. The dish is then baked until the top and edges develop a crispy crust and the cheese gets a golden color.

Deep dish pizza was created in 1943 when Pizzeria Uno opened its doors for business, but it wasn't until 1974 that Patsy Grimaldi perfected his recipe for deep dish pizza by adding cornmeal to his dough. He did this because he saw how some restaurants were using deeper pans (to accommodate an extra inch) and decided to make the pizzas even deeper.


The outer crust of the pizza. It should be full of air and not dense dough.


A crust is the outer layer of a pizza, the part that has risen significantly from cooking in an oven. The crust is traditionally made with flour, salt and yeast. It is made using a range of different flours, but usually Double Zero flour (tipo 00)

D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta)

It means that food is made from ingredients sourced in a specific geographic region. There are strict quality-control measures in place to protect the brand of the food. It also makes sure the food is made as traditionally intended.

The history of the D.O.P designation can be traced back to 1963, when Italy enacted "Leggi No-3052" to protect its food heritage through the use of a special seal. By 1996, more than 200 food products were registered for protection under this seal. Fast-forward to 2006, Italy passed "Legge No118" which resulted in the creation of "Denominazione di Origine Protetta".

Detroit Style Pizza

Detroit style pizza is a rectangular pizza that usually has a thin crust and light topping. It is made with a higher hydration dough (around 70% hydration) to create the perfect ratio between a crusty and chewy dough. It uses Wisconsin brick cheese, tomato sauce and pepperoni.

Dough Hook

It is a utensil that has a hook or claw at the end, which is used to knead dough in a baking machine. A dough hook is preferred when baking high hydration pizza, as it normally too sticky to handle between your hands.

Dough Scraper

A dough scraper is a kitchen utensil with a flat, rectangular, metal blade which is used to "scrape" the work surface during certain tasks like kneading dough. The scraper's function is largely similar to that of a rubber spatula, but the edges of its blade are stiffer and sharper so it may be better suited for heavy doughs or doughs containing lumps.

A dough scraper is often preferred over a rubber spatula when working with a heavily-floured dough or cookie batter because the dough or batter does not stick to it as strongly, making it easier to lift and transfer the material. A dough scraper is also handy for de-lumping flour-and-water mixtures by "chopping" through them.


Fermentation is the process of converting sugar into alcohol through yeast. This is a natural process that, despite popular belief, does not require bacteria to convert sugars. The yeast will eat the sugar and create alcohol as a byproduct.

Fior di Latte

Fior di latte is a type of semi-hard cow's milk cheese from Italy with a milky, custard-like texture. It is salty in taste and can be sold either with or without a rind.

The name "fior di latte" means "flower of milk". 

The cheese takes its name from the appearance of the whey on the outside once it has begun to age, resembling faded pastel flowers.

Grandma Pizza

This type of pizza is typically made with homemade dough that's been rolled and stretched out, served with a thick tomato sauce base. The dough is cooked into a crust in a pan on the stove and then topped with cheese or shredded mozzarella.

The leftovers are then wrapped in foil to preserve them for later use, hence the name "Grandma Pizza".

Hole Structure

Pockets of air in the dough, also known as crumb. To achieve the perfect hole structure, knead the dough by hand for 20-25 minutes.

Leopard Spotting

The spots on the crust of the pizza that gives it a leopardy look. To get the leopard spotting on a pizza, you need an oven that can reach very high temperatures. Cold fermenting the pizza for 3-5 also helps to get the perfect leopard spots.


The Margherita is the original Neapolitan pizza. The ingredients to make a Margherita pizza are: dough, olive oil, salt, basil (fresh or dried), fresh mozzarella (or buffalo mozzarella), tomato sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Optional toppings may include olives and anchovies.


Marinara pizza is a type of Italian pizza. Marinara means "from the sea", and the sauce on this style of pizza generally contains both tomato sauce and olive oil. It is made with little to no cheese, but may contain toppings such as tomato slices, anchovies, shrimp, clams or mussels. This type of pizza is also known as red sauce or white pie.

The recipe for marinara pizza typically consists of canned crushed tomatoes mixed with garlic and herbs such as basil or oregano along with extra-virgin olive oil.

Mozzarella di Bufala

Mozzarella di Bufala is a high-class type of Mozzarella that's made only from Italian buffalo milk. It's considered to be one of Italy’s most prized export, and it’s so good that the EU has ranked it among their five "truly special food products" in Europe. It also beat out France’s Roquefort cheese as the world's best cheese at the World Cheese Awards in 2011, which should give you an idea of how this cheese is regarded.

Neapolitan Pizza

Neapolitan pizza is a pizza which has tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and a good quality olive oil. It is named for the region of Italy in which it originated, Naples. What’s characteristic for the Neapolitan Pizza is that it contains all the colors of the italian flag; white (from the dough), red (from the tomato sauce), green (from the basil).

The simplicity of neapolitan pizza makes it one of the most popular types in pizzerias and in Italian homes. This type of pizza should be cooked at high heat (around 900F / 482C ) for 60-90 seconds.

New York Style Pizza

New york style pizza is a pizza style of pizza that is traditionally prepared in a pan with a thick crust. The dough usually has sugar and oil in it to help with browning and tenderness. The sauce is typically tomato but sometimes crushed tomatoes are used which are less sweet.


A set of home-ovens designed for pizza enthusiasts that want to make restaurant-like pizza at home. Ooni offers both wood-fire pizza ovens and gas ovens for a quicker, more casual pizza. The patented heat system in the Ooni ovens circulates warm air through the chamber to cook your food quickly and evenly. The heat intensifies the flavor of your dish, all while maintaining moisture and preserving nutrients.

Pan Pizza

What is a pan pizza? A pan pizza is a style of pizza that originated in the US and is often cooked in a pan with butter. There are also Deep Dish Pan Pizzas, typically made in a deep-dish pan.

Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano is an Italian cheese, and Italy's most popular form of Parmesan cheese. It is designated as a PDO product (Protected designation of origin) by the European Union.

Parmigiano Reggiano was created in the 13th century in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy with cows milk from southern Germany or Switzerland mixed with cows milk from Parma and other parts of northern Italy during summer months when vegetation was low and cows grazed on pastures up in mountain areas such as Apennine range, along with some pork fat added to the mix.

Pecorino Romano

Pecorino Romano cheese is a sheep's milk cheese that is actually from Rome. It has very low moisture and high fat, and it has a salty taste. It can be aged for up to two years before consumption and it usually comes in 5kg blocks. Pecorino Romano can be served as table cheese and its rind is used as an ingredient in pasta sauces, soups, and stock cubes.


The Italian immigrants of the 1800s started calling Pizza for "Tomato Pie" mainly because it had similarities to a pie with its circular shape and its crust. The word "Pie" has stuck with the people ever since.

Pizza Bianca (White Pizza)

Pizza Bianca is the traditional Italian pizza from Emilia-Romagna, a region in Northern Italy. The dough can be either light and thin or crunchy and thick, and usually contains sourdough leavening. This type of dough will never rise as much as Neapolitan style pizza dough which results in a fluffy airy crust that's slightly chewy. The Bianca is said to be a thin crust, white pizza.

It has been claimed that the Bianca Pizza was invented in the town of Millesimo in Romagna but this is not supported by any evidence.

Today, a Bianca Pizza is made with equal parts of 00 flour and water and requires the toppings to be placed on top before baking. Traditionally, some form of tomatoes and mozzarella cheese were added after the dough was finished rising.

Pizza Peel

A pizza peel is a tool used for transferring pizzas to and from an oven or cooking surface.

For anyone who may not know, a pizza peel is a tool used for transferring pizzas to and from an oven or cooking surface. There are many different types of peels, but most commonly they are made of wood or aluminum.


A poolish is a type of pre-ferment. It is mixed with water and a very small amount of flour to form a paste that will ferment overnight before being used in bread recipes.

Poolish can be used as an alternative to yeast in bread baking, giving it more texture and flavour. Unlike yeast, the poolish doesn't need sugar or other ingredients for fermentation to take place.


Sleek-looking pizza ovens for the home pizzaiolo. The design of the Roccbox is superior to any other competitor, it looks absolutely stunning. The pizza oven can reach high temperatures up to 950F / 510C and cooks perfect pizzas. Read more about the Roccbox here.


Starter dough is a type of dough used to get the pizza baking started. It contains yeast, flour, and water. Starter dough is often left to rise over time and then refreshed with more flour and water before use. This type of dough can be used for pizza, bread as well as many other different types of baked goods.

Thin Crust Pizza

Thin crust pizza was invented by Giuseppe Panico, an Italian immigrant to America who opened a pizzeria in New York City in 1896. Thin crust pizza is made by using a very wet dough. As it cooks, most of the liquid cooks off and what's left is a crispy crust that can be foldable without breaking. It is usually topped with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce.

Tipo 00

Tipo 00 flour is typically considered the "Godfather of Italian flours". The double zero flour is protein, lower in gluten and has a much milder flavor than regular all-purpose flour. In comparison, it has less gluten than bread flour but more gluten than cake flour.

Tipo 00 can be used not only for bread doughs and pizza doughs but also in cake batters and pastries


Vpn stands for Verace Pizza Napoletana. The mission of AVPN is to protect the origin and quality of the neapolitan pizza. To be VPN certified, your pizzeria needs a special certificate.

Jessica DeMay
Jessica is the lead content creator of Dishcrawl. She has lived in Italy (Napoli) for 7 years and has since become absolutely obsessed with pizza.
More good stuff
© 2023 Dishcrawl. All rights reserved.
Dishcrawl participates in various affiliate programs, which means we may get paid commissions on certain products purchased through our links to retailer sites.