The most important etiquette rules on how to eat pizza like a proper Italian. Tips to be the perfect guest at the dining table.

pizza italian-style

What pizza etiquette is

Pizza etiquette is the set of rules to properly eat pizza. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are a guest, respect pizza etiquette rules to properly eat and enjoy it.

What you should know about pizza

Pizza is an Italian dish. It is a flat base of dough topped with various ingredients. Pizza is baked in an oven and served hot.

How To Eat Pizza: The Top 6 Italian Etiquette rules

Etiquette rules to eat pizza

1) When to eat

In general, pizza is most appropriate on informal occasions.

Pizza is usually the main course at lunch or dinner. A meal with pizza may include an appetizer and a dessert. It is uncommon to eat another course. Do not order pasta or other grains if you are having pizza.

Pizza “al taglio” (sliced) is street food. It is appropriate as a snack. It can be an appetizer for pre-dinner drinks. 

2) What to pair pizza with

The toppings vary by individual preference. The basic ones are mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil. 

Several other toppings are usually available. However, you should order only toppings that are common in the Italian tradition. Otherwise, you will look unsophisticated.  

Meat toppings can be cured meat. Ham, Prosciutto, Salame, wurstel, or sausage. Avoid chicken, poultry, or beef. Boiled eggs are not common but accepted.

Fish toppings can be cured or canned fish. Canned tuna or anchovies. Avoid fresh tuna, salmon, white meat fish such as cod, or seafood. 

Almost every vegetable or mushroom topping is appropriate. Avoid fruit as it is very uncommon. Pineapple is a major offense.  

Almost every Italian cheese is appropriate. Mozzarella, Provolone, Asiago, or Gorgonzola. Other types of cheese, such as Brie, are uncommon but acceptable. 

Pair pizza with beer or soft drinks. Avoid wine. Pizza is very savory and salty. So, in general, it does not match with wine.

3) Accompaniments for pizza

Eat pizza as it is. 

The only common condiments are olive oil and dried chili pepper. You should not add salt or spices.

Do not eat bread or other grains with pizza.

4) Which utensils to use

Eat pizza with a fork and knife

Pizza etiquette. How to slice and eat pizza with your hands.

5) How to eat pizza

In Italy or in Italian restaurants, a full pizza is served to each person. Individual pizza has a diameter of 33 cm (13 inches).

The most polite way to eat pizza is by cutting mouthful pieces with a fork and knife. Then bring them to your mouth individually. It is best to not cut the pizza into large slices in advance. 

On very informal occasions, it is widely accepted to cut the pizza into large slices in advance. You can bring a slice to your mouth with your hands. Eat it one bite at a time. 

It is best to eat the crust rather than discard it.

pizza etiquette mistakes

6) Pizza etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst pizza etiquette mistakes. 

  • 9/10. Folding the whole pizza.
  • 7/10. Blowing on pizza. If your pizza is too hot, wait a few moments.
  • 6/10. Adding inappropriate toppings.
  • 4/10. Cutting big slices. A normal slice should be ⅛ of pizza. Maximum ¼ of a small pizza.
  • 3/10. Discarding the crust.
  • 2/10. Pairing pizza with wine.

Additional information for properly eating pizza

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.

Pizza contains about 266 calories per 100 grams. A full 33 cm (13 inches) Italian pizza is around 300 grams. It contains around 800 calories.

The calories may vary depending on many factors. The toppings, the ingredients, the size, and the cooking methods. An American-style 35 cm (14 inches) pizza can contain up to 2,300 calories.