I've recently heard from a friend that the word "pizza" means "pie" in Italian. This sounds like an almost-too-obvious falsehood to me — but it seems to be corroborated by multiple sources online, including several online English dictionaries.

However, I also found a couple of sources that disagree. For example, Crust Kingdom states:

Contrary to what many believe, pizza does not mean pie in Italian. Pizza is its own thing and is its own dish, so you wouldn’t use pizza to describe an actual pie in Italy.

There are other words, such as torta or crostata, which are used to describe pies of sweet or savory filling – but pizza would never be used for these. The word pizza is used only to describe this one dish.

Additionally, any Italian-English dictionary I check, none of them give "pie" as a translation for "pizza".

So what am I to believe? Does the word "pizza" in Italian actually mean "pie"?

  • 3
    Welcome to Italian.SE!
    – Charo
    Aug 16, 2019 at 6:20
  • 4
    The entry "pizza" at Grande dizionario della lingua italiana, which is maybe the most complete dictionary of Italian language, doesn't give a definition corresponding to the English "pie".
    – Charo
    Aug 16, 2019 at 6:50
  • 6
    Part of the problem is that there's no Italian word corresponding to the English meaning of pie (torta is more generic, and only covers the sweet pies, tortino only talks about small items etc.)
    – Denis Nardin
    Aug 16, 2019 at 12:10
  • 3
    It's not that pizza means “pie”, of course. It's that there are some dishes which Italian speakers would call pizza and English speakers “pie”, but those are nota at all the main meaning of pizza. For a random example, see this “pizza di carciofi”, a kind of artichoke pie.
    – DaG
    Aug 16, 2019 at 12:41
  • 2
    @FedericoPolini I have multi, seemingly contradictory sources... As I don't speak Italian, I was less capable of checking an actual Italian dictionary myself. Charo and DaG gave very informative comments, and the selected answer is the type of response I was hoping for - what is the actual use, are there people to whom if I said "pizza" would actually think of some kind of pie.
    – Guy Passy
    Aug 18, 2019 at 9:47

3 Answers 3


I can say quite confidently that the overwhelming majority of Italians would not find any correspondence between what is generally considered a pizza and what is generally conceived to be a pie.

That being said, there is some regional variability. Something that remotely resembles a pie is the so called "pizza ripiena" (or stuffed pizza). The latter, when cooked in a pan, can take the shape of what is commonly intended as pie. "Pizza ripiena" can also be done on a backing tray, and in this case it is more reminiscent of a flat sandwich. In the latter case it is simply "white" pizza which has been stuffed after being baked. Nothing resembling a pie.

  • 2
    Actually there are regionally dishes called pizza that do resemble pies (see my comment under the question).
    – DaG
    Aug 17, 2019 at 15:35
  • 2
    I agree. My grandmother comes from the area around Caserta, and her "pizze" look pretty much like pie when she does them in a pan. I believe however that this is simply an omission of the word "ripiena".
    – Easymode44
    Aug 17, 2019 at 16:01
  • It is s usual to call 'pizza rustica' a sort of pie with cheese or ricotta or vegetables as scarola or carciofi, and in general with not sweet stuff. Mar 11 at 9:03

I agree with what was said in the other answer and in comments, "pizza" and "pie" are different words in Italian, and it's also difficult to translate "pie", because the meaning may vary according to the context.

If you know a bit of Italian, I think you'll find interesting this speech by prof. Barbero, among other things he talks about the origin of the word "pizza":


In the Mediterranean area, people used to cook a baked focaccia bread with oil, which was called "pita". The Longobards tended to transform the "t" into "z", so the "pita" became the "pizza".

On the other hand, a famous song talks about a "pizza pie", so maybe for English-speaking people the pizza is a kind of pie:


When a moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie
That's amore

Anyway, the most important thing is "never put pineapple on it"!



I have never seen a definitive answer regarding the origin of the name "pizza" but there are as many theories as there are pepperoni on a family-sized ... uh ... pie. Some of the simplest are that it's a corruption/adaptation of the Greek "pita," or that it comes from the Italian musical term, "pizzicato," meaning "plucked," supposedly because when the dish is done it is 'plucked' from the oven.

As to the "pie" part ...

Why Pizza is Called Pie ? The Story of American Tomato Pie

" ... Americans refer to pizza as ?pie? because early 20th century Italian immigrants to the United States made and sold a pizza called a ?pomidore pizza?. This unknown Italian food was translated to ?tomato pie? in English due to being round and cut into slices. As one of the first kinds of pizza sold in the US, the name ?pie? stuck and began to be used to refer to all types of pizza. Today, many New Yorkers still refer to pizza as ?pie?...."

I can't say I'm familiar with all European culinary traditions but all those I have come across that call a dish a "pie," it's a decidedly hearty food, like (Russian) pirogi, (English) shepherd's pie and Cornish pasty, or (Turkish) borek. Pizza, OTOH, was created as a street food for the cash-poor, a lot of bread with a little flavoring on it.

Tarts/tortes, OTOH, are more widespread in Europe and in Italian they're called a "torta" or "crostata," not a "pie." And if there is no concept of a "pie" in the Italian lexicon, that would explain why the word doesn't appear in any dictionaries.

As to the song, "That's Amore," "Dino Crocetti" was born and grew up in Steubenville, Ohio, and the song's lyricist, Jack Brooks, was Liverpudlian, so I wouldn't hang my hat on that as evidence of its authenticity.

EDIT: RE: the Dean Martin song, he also uses the phrase, "pasta fazool," which the songwriter used as a deliberate corruption of the Neapolitan word for beans, "fasuli," to make it rhyme with "drool." In the most of the rest of Italy it's called "pasta fagioli" (fah-jo-lee) and Dino's family were from Abruzzo, on the opposite coast from Naples. My guess is he used "like a big pizza pie" because that was the best he could do to rhyme with "when the moon hits your eye...."

  • Welcome to Italian.SE! It seems to me that your post is not really an answer to the OP question or, at least, it is an unclear answer. Please edit it to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked.
    – Charo
    Dec 3, 2021 at 14:29
  • In standard Italian it is "pasta e fagioli", not just "pasta fagioli". Grazie
    – Marzia
    17 hours ago

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.