What's Panuozzo? A Viral Pizza Sandwich Everyone’s Talking About
Image Credit: r1k1_food/Instagram

The culinary world today is full of innovation. Wild inventions stream forth from Michelin-star kitchens daily and often trickle down and find their way into the regular world via restaurants and experimental home cooks looking to recreate something unique. But trending recipes like cloud eggs or homemade boba often have a history that long predates the advent of social media, and this is definitely the case with a creation that’s currently found it’s way back into the spotlight - the Panuozzo. 

As with many great dishes, the Panuozzo was born of necessity. Back in 1983, Giuseppe Mascalo of Pizzeria Mascolo in Gragnano, in the Campania region of Italy realised that he had made too much pizza dough. Rather than let it go to waste, he shaped it into an oval loaf, baked it, loaded it up with cheese, meats and other fillings and then baked it again. Traditionally, these fillings were prosciutto or pancetta ham with mozzarella, or with mushrooms which makes it a ‘Tommaso’ Panuozzo. The sandwich quickly gained local attention and became a popular street food in the Campania region. The Mascalo family, sensing they had a hit on their hands, trademarked the name and it became an official dish.

Video Credits: Vico Iacopelli/YouTube

There are a few elements that distinguish the Panuozzo from a regular sandwich, the first being the bread itself. Pizza dough has a very different texture from regular bread, since it’s made with finely milled 00 flour and proofed overnight it ends up much more aerated and bouncy than a regular sandwich bun. A second factor is the wood fire oven in which it's baked. These ovens can get up to as hot as 450 C and gives the bread a slight char and texture that’s difficult to achieve in a regular oven. 

When it comes to fillings, the traditional flavours of the Neapolitan pizza (San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil) are the most popular but at the end of the day, it is a type of sandwich, so any fillings that you would put between regular bread is up for grabs. It’s even being used in sweet iterations with fillings like nuts, fruits, chocolate or even gelato. That’s the beauty of the Panuozzo, it’s a versatile beast that’s allowing people to experiment and experience a completely new sandwich phenomenon.