One might think the closest thing Italy gets to a pie is pizza, but in fact, there are a whole host of different regional varieties. The glorious ensemble of crust with sauce and cheese and any other possible combination of ingredients comes in many different guises. These pies are real gastronomic treats and are eaten as part of a rich antipasti platter on special occasions and festivities, savoury pies are also favourites for a quick lunch or substantial snack. Here are some of the country’s most famous and beloved.
Pissalandrea (Imperia, Liguria)
Pissalandrea is a flavorful savory pie from the northern region of Liguria which borders France. This delightful dish has a leavened and thick dough- similar to the traditional focaccia and is topped with tangy tomato and onion sauce, salted anchovies, oregano, and the exquisite local back olives.
Torta Pasqualina (Genoa, Liguria)
This lavish Easter pie is filled with ricotta cheese, eggs, and greens – usually chard, spinach, and sometimes artichokes and fresh peas –flavored with fresh marjoram leaves. The second layer is covered with unleavened dough. Post-baking the pie turns out to be tall, crumbly and filling which is perfect for a traditional Easter picnic.
Torta di Riso (Genoa, Liguria)
Torta di Riso is an enticing pie made of a thin unleavened crust filled with a mix of rice, beaten eggs, grated cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and nutmeg, although some other versions have no crust at all and are more like a cake.
Erbazzone (Reggio Emilia, Emilia-Romagna)
Also called Scarpazzone in the local dialect, the name refers to the herbs and wild greens that are foraged in local fields. Boiled and mixed with eggs, shallots, onions, garlic, and a generous amount of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, the greens fill a double layer of thin crust made of flour, water, and butter, which is then topped with bacon or lard. The mountainous version of this pie also includes rice in the filling, while other variations include ricotta.
Tiella di Gaeta (Gaeta, Lazio)
Two round layers of light, savoury crust baked in a round copper tray including various filling – usually fish such as octopus, sardines, anchovies, salt cod but sometimes onions and greens. This speciality is found in several southern Italian regions (particularly Puglia), yet in Gaeta – the historic harbour town not far from Rome. Tiella is a real symbol of local gastronomy and it’s also protected by a Denominazione Comunale d’Origine (DCO) designation.
Pizza di Scarola (Naples, Campania)
Pizza di Scarola is a very famous Christmas recipe. The winter leaves are sautéed with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, black olives, salted anchovies, and capers, sometimes with pine nuts and sultanas. The tasty filling is surrounded by two layers of dough, which can be either crumbly puff pastry or a soft bready dough made of flour, water, and yeast.
Casatiello (Naples, Campania)
Another rich Easter recipe, Casatiello is an opulent round pie with a pastry made from flour, water, salt, yeast, pepper, and lard. Chunks of cheese and salami can be added to the dough while kneading or used to fill the rolled dough. Whole boiled eggs still in their shell are then placed on top before baking to represent abundance and prosperity.
Calzone di cipolla (Bari, Puglia)
Calzone is a stuffed, crescent-shaped baked pizza, which is made by folding and sealing a round pizza-dough. The fillings can vary, yet in this awesome Puglian version it’s made of sponsali, stewed with peeled tomatoes, capers, olives, and salted anchovies. Traditionally a Christmas treat, it is now baked year-round.
Focaccia Barese (Bari, Puglia)
Focaccia barese is as quintessential to Bari’s cuisine as Neapolitan pizza is to Naples. A deep and round dough – quite soft due to the addition of potatoes, yet with a crispy upper crust – is topped with extra virgin olive oil, cherry tomatoes, and pitted olives. It’s usually sold in local bakeries by the slice.