There are several variations of deep-fried pizza. In Naples, Italy where it was invented, it’s called “pizza fritta” and there are two types: The first, and older version is made by taking two dough discs with filling in between and deep-frying the whole thing, kind of like a deep-fried calzone. The second has a deep-fried crust, created by taking a stretched and flattened disc of dough and tossing it in a deep fryer for several minutes so it puffs up.
The fried dough base is crispy on the outside and light and pillowy on the inside. It is then topped with tomato sauce and cheese and then baked in a wood-burning oven. This second version has gained popularity in New York in the last few years and it’s called “pizza montanara.”
In Scotland, deep-fried pizza is a popular street food and it consists of an already baked or frozen slice or pie of pizza, toppings and all, tossed into the deep fryer. One variation is to dip the already baked or frozen slice or pie into a batter before frying, which is called “pizza crunch.”
History of Deep-Fried Pizza
The kind of deep-fried pizza that has the filling between two layers of dough has been a common street food in Naples for decades. Other cities in Italy have their own versions with different names as well.
Deep-fried pizza dough without toppings has been sold as street food in Naples since 1910, originally at the pizza shop Starita.
About 10 years ago, Antonio Starita, the pizzeria's third-generation pizzaiolo, began first frying the dough, topping it with sauce and cheese, and then baking it an oven, just like a regular pizza. This is now being served in several restaurants in New York, as well as in other cities in the United States.
Deep-fried pizza has been a popular street food in Scotland for at least forty years, continuing in that country’s traditional love of all things fried.
How Do You Make Deep-Fried Pizza?
To make the kind of deep-fried pizza that resembles a calzone, simply take a flattened ball of dough and cover with toppings. Top with another flattened ball of dough and put the whole thing in a deep fryer.
To make the kind of deep-fried pizza that has a deep-fried dough that is then topped and baked in an oven, simply take a ball of pizza dough and stretch it out as you normally would. Then, poke several holes into the dough to eliminate gas pockets that would usually expand in extreme heat. Next, toss the dough into a vat of hot oil, pressing down on the center of the dough with a large ladle so a crust puffs up around it. Remove the dough and let it drip-dry for several minutes. Finally, top the fried dough with sauce and cheese—or whatever you prefer—and bake in an oven.
For Scottish deep-fried pizza, leftover or cheap, frozen pizza is typically used and is simply tossed into a deep fryer for several minutes. To make pizza crunch, cover the pizza first with a batter made of flour, water or beer, and seasonings, and then deep-fry.