Sicilian Style Pizza, The Rectangular Twist! Know Its History
Image Credit: Sicilian pizza slice,

If you wish to try a pizza which breaks the monotony of shape, thickness, texture and flavours, then the Sicilian pizza is meant for you. It is one of those few variants of this culinary fare which stands out with its appearance. Apart from this, it also features many interesting elements to it. But why the Sicilian pizza went for a square twist to its shape? Did a particular reason trigger it? Let's peep into its riveting history.

Sicilian pizza is also called Sfincione. This rectangular pizza is prepared similarly to focaccia, including the last proofing in the baking sheet prior to topping to achieve a high rise on the crust. This food gets its pizza identity as it includes pizza sauce and toppings.

Who and where was Sicilian pizza invented?

Sicilian pizza originated in Sicily, Italy. It is also known as sfincione (meaning thick sponge in Italian), sfinciuni, or focaccia with toppings in Sicily. By the middle of the 19th century, this version of pizza had gained prominence in western Sicily, and up until the 1860s, it was the most common pizza served there. It subsequently made its way to North America, albeit with a thicker crust and a rectangular shape. The term "Sicilian pizza" is used in the United States to describe a square-shaped cheese pizza with dough over an inch thick, a crispy foundation, and an airy core.

The thick-crust Sicilian-style pizza slice, Image Source: parsippanysbestpizza@Instagram

The first Italian (Sicilian) immigrants to the United States brought this dish, descended from the sfinciuni, to the country. The northeastern United States, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, are known for Sicilian-style pizza. This is how Sicilian pizza might have impacted Detroit-style pizza. Because of its popularity along the Route 1A corridor, it is also known as "beach pizza" in some parts of coastal Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Tomato pie is a similar dish, sometimes overlapping or confused with sfincione.

What is Sicilian style pizza?

The original Sicilian-style pizza is a unique and traditional pizza from Sicily that is thick, crusted, and rectangular. Thus, its name has become synonymous with thick-crust pizza. The dough can be up to one inch wide. This pizza is baked in an olive oil-oiled shallow baking dish. Deep-dish Chicago-style pizza is said to have been inspired by Sicilian-style pies. However, there is an exception, and it can be round too. 

Sicilian pizza slices baked in rectangular tray, Image Source: ouritaliantable@Instagram

What are the toppings of Sicilian pizza?

The toppings of Sicilian pizza are fascinating. They mostly contain onions, tomatoes, anchovies, and herbs. This pizza of Siciliy uses intense cheese like caciocavallo and toma. Surprisingly, there are a few versions that are devoid of any cheese. Sicily's traditions and local culture reflect in the way pizza is made there. As a result, the methodology that the Sicilian regions of Palermo, Catania, Siracusa, and Messina prepare pizza varies.

A freshly made Sicilian pizza, Image Source: howdini67@Insatgram

What makes Sicilian pizza different?

Unlike other pizzas, which are round in shape, Sicilian pizza is rectangular. With lavish use of olive oil, it is prepared on a square pan. Its dough is what sets it different from the rest of the pizzas. Pizzaiolos allow the dough an extended time to rise for Sicilian pizza. It produces a softer crust layer that is more akin to Focaccia bread. This is how a Sicilian-style pizza differs from a traditional New York-style pizza.

So, when are you going to try this historic Sicilian style pizza? Its rectangular shape is silhouetted twist to pizza! Isn't it?