Why Is Pizza Called Pie

Why Pizza Is Called Pie

Have you ever asked yourself why some people call pizza a Pie? Or have you come across a restaurant or pizzeria where the waiter calls pizza a pie, and you are not sure what to think of it? 

It is just plain confusing if you do not know where and how the term pie became linked to a pizza.

It could make sense to think that both a pie and a pizza have the same shape, they both come with a filling or topping, and they are both baked to perfection in an oven. But is this the reason for this food to be called pizza or pie interchangeably?

Italian pizza has become quite a popular food in many parts of the world since the first pizzeria was opened by Italian immigrants in New York, and it is now one of the most common types of food eaten all over the United States. 

The food is sold in several fast food outlets. The more popular ones to order pizza include Dominos, founded in 1960, and Pizza Hut, founded in 1958. There is an estimation that pizza consumption in America makes up about one third of the world’s consumption.

There are many types of pizza, and they can be made with a variety of different toppings. But the word pizza pie is simply pizza and does not specify a special pizza. The pizza is often devoured for lunch or dinner, but some people even like to eat pizza for breakfast.

Why Is Pizza Called Pie

Theories About Why Pizza Is Called A Pie

There are several theories about why pizza is called a tomato pie. Whether they are all true, that is another question. Some theories out there include : 

  • One theory is that the word “pie” is a corruption of the word “pizza.” 
  • Another theory is that the word “pie” comes from the Italian word “pizzeria,” which means “a place where pizzas are made.”

Whatever the origins of the word “pie,” there’s no doubt that pizza is delicious food that is enjoyed by people all over the world. So the next time you’re craving some pizza, just remember that it’s really just pie in disguise.

Continue on for some history on the pizza pie and why it is called as such.

Why Is Pizza Called Pie? A Brief History

Why Is Pizza Called Pizza Pie?

When Italian immigrants arrived in America, one of them, Mr Gennaro Lombardi, first introduced pizza and referred to the round flatbread as a pie. Back in the day, he was the owner of a small grocery store situated in little Italy. 

Apart from being a grocery store owner, he made and sold tomato pies — in Italian this is known as a pomidore pizza — around town from street corners all throughout New York City until they became popular among other cultures too.

As the popularity of this tomato pie started to pick up, the Italian decided to open a restaurant, which turned out to be the first pizzeria in the city of New York.

There are a lot of people out there who think that pizza pie is just an appetizing word, but they’re wrong! The use in this famous song proves otherwise.

The most famous phrase associated with pizza pies is probably “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.” This popular saying was coined in a 1953 song by Dean Martin and has been used countless times since then.

Take note that a slice of pizza will not be referred to as a tomato pie. This term is mostly used for a whole pizza circle.

When It Comes To Pizza, What Does The Word “Pie” Mean?

When we refer to pizza as a pie, the word “pie” or “pizza pie” is often used to describe a whole pizza. As opposed to slices which are more commonly called just a piece or slice of pizza.

Let us compare the use of pizza pie and a slice of pizza to when you want to order water in a restaurant. You will not simply just ask for some water, but you ask for a bottle or a glass of water to make the order more clear.

The same way you would order a slice of pizza or a pizza pie. The term is simply to differentiate between the two. 

You can use the term pie as an adjective to describe a whole pizza, such as “I baked a 14-inch pizza in my oven, and it was a wonderfully cooked pie.”

All types of pizza can be referred to as pizza pies or tomato pies just as long as they are served as whole pizzas and not slices. This is regardless of the type of crust, size or toppings.

Is Pizza The Same As Pie In Italian?

Why Is Pizza Called Pie? Contrary to popular belief, even though we sometimes call pizza a pie, it does not translate to “pie” in Italian. Pizza is a distinct entity and a distinct food; hence, you would not use the term pizza to describe an actual pie in Italy.

Pizza is a dish that can only be described by one word: pizza. There are other words, such as torta or crostata — but they’re not used to refer to this specific kind of food!

The term “pizza” refers specifically to, well, pizza! -the Italian style cooked dough topped off with tomato sauce and toppings like cheese which has been baked until golden brown on top.

Pizza vs Pie

Seeing as these words are used interchangeably, let us look at them individually.

For a better understanding of the two terms, let us try to understand what the difference is between an actual pie and a pizza.


So? What is a pie?

A pie — which was thought of as a Yankee dish back in the day — is an eight-inch circular dish which is typically around two inches thick (much like a deep dish pizza as a matter of fact).

The dough used is pastry based, and it can be filled with different ingredients that may be a sweet or savory filling. It is then baked to perfection in an oven. 

A pie usually comes with a bottom crust and a top crust depending on where you get it. In Europe, they are typically covered with a layer of pastry whereas in America they are often found without a top layer of pastry.

Please note, a pie cannot be called a pie unless it is baked in an oven of sorts. And do not confuse a pie with a tart. The difference lies in the thickness of the crust. Tarts generally have thicker crusts.

Ingredients of a Pie

The pastry base and top is typically made from a mixture of water, salt, flour and butter and the most popular fillings include pumpkin, cream, apple and chocolate — if you are making a sweet pie — and mushrooms, kidneys, steak, chicken, cheese and ale — if you are making a savory pie.

Different Types of Pies

Two of the most popular types of pies include :

  • Pumpkin pie
  • Apple pie


As you probably already know, the pizza dates back many years, to the 18th century to be exact. During those days, the main types were Marinara pizzas and the Margherita pizza. But it quickly grew in popularity across the world, to the point where there are so many varieties made in different cultures and countries.

The pizza was basically invented by Italian people. It all started with them having to figure out what to do to create substantial meals with the few ingredients at hand, so the Italian ladies of Naples started to prepare tomato pizzas and sell them to sea workers and at different street vendors across New York as well as to the veterans returning after World War II.

It is typically a flat bread which has a round shape and has a diameter of 14-16 inches as well as being about an inch thick. The base is made up of a bread-like dough with a thin crust which is then baked inside an oven. After the bread base bit is prepared, savory toppings are usually placed on top, and then it is baked again.

Fun Fact

There is a Latin text dating back to 997 AD which mentions pizza. This is believed to be the first record of the word. The text read that the bishop of Gaeta — which is an old Italian town — would receive duodecim pizze on Easter Sunday and Christmas day. The Latin word duodecim pizze translates to twelve pizzas.

Ingredients of a Pizza

The base of a pizza is commonly made by mixing wheat flour, water and yeast together after which a tomato based sauce — also known as marinara sauce — different toppings, olive oil and cheese are added, followed by being baked to perfection in a pizza oven.

Toppings apart from the tomato based sauce and the mozzarella cheese that are popularly seen on top of a pizza include fresh tomatoes — often spiced with powdered red pepper before baking — mushrooms, pineapples, olives, vegetables and meats such as old world pepperoni, chicken, ham, salami and other Italian sausages.

One example of a meaty pizza would be the salami pizza — also known as the bologna pie — it includes the ingredients red peppers, cheese and bologna. 

Who Uses the Word Pizza Pie?

As the years go by, the term pie gets used less and less to refer to pizza. You might, however, still hear this term being used in areas that lie north-east in America, probably primarily in New York, as this is where the first ever pizzeria opened in the country.

Many New Yorkers of an older generation and of course Italian people will also still refer to pizza as a pizza or tomato pie. 

Other Names For Pizza From Around The World

The iconic dish known as pizza, pizza pie, tomato pizza pie, cheese pie etc. has been spreading like wildfire across the world for centuries. There are, however, not many other names for pizza. The variations depend on the language spoken.

The original pronunciation of this word is thought to originate from Naples, Italy, where they used flour dough topped off with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, which became popular after being served at weddings or other celebrations during medieval times before expanding its reach through many cultures all over Europe including Russia where they refer it simply as “pitsa”.

Fun fact, in Vietnam, a pizza is called bánh pizza. If you translate the word bánh, you get cake or pie. Possibly another influence on the term pizza pie.

Where Does the Name Come From?

Before we find out where the name of a pizza comes from, let us make it clear that the word pizza does not translate to pie from the Italian language. This has many people confused.

There are different theories and beliefs as to where the name pizza comes from.

Some believe that it comes from the Greek word pitta, which stands for pie — which could possibly be another reason as to why the pizza is often referred to as a pie. Another word is pikte, which comes from the ancient Greek language. This ancient Greek word means fermented pastry.

Is Pizza a Tomato Pie, After All?

This brings us to the question, is pizza a pie after all? 

Pizzas aren’t considered pies by most people, however, the term Italian pie as described by the New York Tribune article all those years ago, has stuck due to its longevity and popularity in America.

Most sources claim it’s an old Italian-American tradition, though some say younger generations don’t use this name as much anymore because they objectify food instead of appreciating each dish for what it truly means (a meal).

If you’re on the east coast of America, then your pie is called a PIE!

A lot can happen between one slice of heaven and another. For example – if someone says they are going “to get some pizza,” it doesn’t sound quite as appetizing when said with an Australian accent (unless that person has spent time living there). 

The meaning behind these delicious dishes may also change depending on where we live; what’s good enough for our friends down under might not cut it over here.

Conclusion of The Big Pizza Pie Story

Whether pizza can be called pie or not is an ongoing discussion between American pizza lovers and as you can see there are many theories to look at.

The reason why pizzas are sometimes called pies could be simple, and have something to do with how they’re made.

The shape of the dough, for example, needs time in order not only to rise but also cook enough so that its internal temperature reaches cardboard-burnishing hot before you put on your toppings and baking powder (or yeast) goes into action by expanding gas molecules through elastic chemical bonds – turning liquid into crispy crusty goodness.

Try making your own style pizza pie at home. Making pizza is not rocket science. Simply prepare the dough, scatter tomatoes and sauce across, add any ingredient of your choice and bake in a piping hot oven. Use a pizza peel to move the pizza around in the pizza oven or on your pizza stone.

If you do not wish to make your own, you can find some of the best pizza recipes online. Have a look!

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