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Pizza toppings - over or under the cheese?

My son has developed the habit of putting all the toppings under the cheese. To me, it tastes like pizza mush, I can't tell what I'm eating.

Obviously my preference is to put toppings on TOP of the cheese.

Does it make any difference to any of you, and if so, why?

BTW, he says the reason he started doing this is because it keeps the toppings from flying off the pizza when he tries to slide it off the paddle and into the oven. I should have given him my superpeel I guess.

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  1. I'm of the cheese on top school, but then I grew up in STL (common practice there) so it just seems right. I think it also affects (magnifies) the flavor and texture of the cheese as opposed to the other things.

    1. Yes, it makes a difference. Pizza is a layered preparation; it is not goulash. Sauce, if used, is the first layer. It helps to maintain a moist tender texture for the pizza dough. Cheese, if used, is the next layer. It separates the sauces from the other toppings so that each bite of the finished product tantalizes the taste buds. Putting toppings onto the pizza first creates a mushy goulash covered dough that is unappetizing and unpleasant to eat.
      Toppings, as long as they go on top of the cheese, should represent a compliment to and with the cheese. A careless choice when mating toppings/cheese can ruin an otherwise well prepared pizza.

      42 Replies
      1. re: todao

        What todao said.

        Many people commit crimes against pizza that would make them almost unrecognisable to an Italian.

        1. re: Harters

          Yeah . . . not to offend your sensibilities . . . but I hope my pizza is unrecognizable to an Italian!

          Italian pizza is undoubtedly the original, but it's American style pizza I'm talking about.

          Mozzarella cheese. Pepperoni. Bell peppers. Onions. Lots and lots and lots of onions. No anchovies or mushrooms though.

          Sorry. I'm plebian that way.

          1. re: ZenSojourner

            "but it's American style pizza I'm talking about."


            You ask a question about toppings over, under or round the cheese. Surely the question is not nationality specific.

            But just to help out any pedants, isn't the answer here in the original question. A *topping* is a topping not an "undering"

            1. re: Harters

              They are topping the dough either way.

              1. re: Harters

                Second tommy: the viewpoints turn on whether cheese is itself a topping or if it is what you put toppings on. I call cheese a topping.

                1. re: Bada Bing

                  "I call cheese a topping"

                  I suspect you'll be in a minority. :-)

                  1. re: Harters

                    The definition of true pizza does not necessarily include cheese.

                    1. re: ospreycove

                      "The definition of true pizza does not necessarily include cheese."


                      I'm not necessarily doubting you, but I have yet to see or find a "definition of true pizza" ...

                      For whatever it's worth, wikipedia seems to suggest that cheese is in fact an ingredient in pizza. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pizza

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Well, the wikipedia link does say "typically" in regards to cheese, and then lists the pizza marinara (no cheese) under the three offical variants of pizza napoletana. So ospreycove's post is correct, it does not 'necessarily' include cheese.

                        In the NYC area I see pizzas without either cheese or sauce all of the time.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Wikipedia, is whatever anyone wants to post and certainly is NOT an authority.

                          As a native of New Haven, Mozzarella was/is an option on Apizza (Sally's, Pepe's etc.) Grated Romano would be the cheese of choice.

                          I have had hundreds of pies over the years that had no cheese, just dough, sauce and veg or meat toppings. Or Seafood pies made with dough, oil/garlic and seafood. I certainly wouldn't want cheese with shrimp or clams or lobster.

                          Just because the vast majority of pizza sold in the USA has cheese, doesn't make cheese a requirement of Pizza.

                          There are segments of the population who look for pizza made without cheese, my oldest daughter is lactose intolerant. Vegans don't usually eat dairy.

                          Years ago, I was taken to a kosher pizza restaurant that was meat, not dairy. NO cheese on their pies either.

                          1. re: bagelman01

                            Nevertheless. It's the "vast majority" type of pizza that I'm discussing here.

                            MY pizza certainly does require cheese. Mozzarella cheese in fact. A little provolone wouldn't be out of the question either. But cheese, nevertheless.

                            1. re: bagelman01

                              Hey Bagelman01........I am a native of Hamden and fondly remember Pepe's as well as another place, the name of which escapes me at the moment...I think it began with a "C" and was around Wooster St.. Cappy's??? It's been 50 + years since I've eaten it tho. There were a couple of other places, too; one on Dixwell near the Hamden line and the other in Hamden.

                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                The one on Dixwell at the New Haven Hamden line sounds like Venice Bakery(Bread)/Pizza/Italian Restaurant

                                1. re: bagelman01

                                  I'm racking my brain to remember the name; it took me a while to remember Cappy's. It wasn't a bakery, though. We'd go there for pizza and beer. For some reason the name Farrell's sticks out in my mind. Does that ring a bell? Don't forget, I'm talking about back in the late '50's.

                                  1. re: mucho gordo

                                    Farrells was a bar that did have Pizza.
                                    Venice was a pizza restaurant next door to a bakery owned by the same people with the same name. It was 2 blocks south of Arch Street.

                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                      How the hell did I remember that name after all those years????????? I guess I don't have 'mad cow' disease after all.

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              One of my favs in Puglia is fresh tomato with anchovies, oil herbs........no cheese

                          2. re: Harters

                            A minority in the USA, perhaps. But I've seen pizzas without sauce and also pizzas without cheese (though I admit I don't think I've had a pizza with neither sauce nor cheese, unless we count some delicious things I had in Wiesbaden Germany, a few times which were basically pizza crust topped only with a rub of garlic and then salt and olive oil and herbs).

                            1. re: Bada Bing

                              Ah - but that's not pizza - that's bread with tomato sauce (or bread with cheese).

                              My local pizza chain serves one with olive oil & garlic but without cheese or sauce. They call it "garlic bread". Pizza, it ain't.

                              1. re: Harters

                                I totally agree. Again, I'm talking about good old, peon-style, plebian, pizza as it is known and loved by the masses here in the USA. Where sauce is only left off for the sake of allergies, and a cheeseless pizza would be looked at with fear and disgust. LOL!

                              2. re: Harters


                                As you can see if you look at the menu from Frank Pepe's (established 1925 in New Haven, CT) Mozzarealla is a topping. The original tomato pie did not have any and it still costs extra.

                                1. re: bagelman01

                                  I would guess that when pizza first started to get popular here it was probably more like it's European forebears.

                                  So not having cheese included back then wouldn't have been so surprising.

                                  Now, however, most people would define Pizza as a crust varying from thin to deep-dish style, with tomato sauce and cheese and then any of several toppings, most common being sausage, pepperoni, hamburger, onion, bell pepper, banana pepper, anchovies, and mushrooms (not limited to those but those are the most common).

                                  Most often round, occassionally square. Rounds usually cut into wedges, but sometimes square. Sometimes using corn meal, sometimes flour, rarely (in my experience) coarse salt as a, I don't know, a "loosening agent"? LOL!

                                  Pizza when I was a kid was still somewhat "exotic" (I grew up in the era of chinese food defined as Chun King Chow Mein and Polynesian-themed restaurants that served food identifiable as no particular nationality but nominally "asian"). It was actually not quite the same as it is now, and there was probably a lot more regional variation (and more distinct regional variation) than there is now.

                                  In my area (midwest, SW Ohio), crusts were thinner than they are now. There was no "deep dish" pizza. It was nearly always round. Crusts were always thrown. It was almost always cut in squares. I was in college before we started seeing thicker (but not thick) crusts and pizza cut in wedges - at least where I lived. In the pizza place where I worked (when in college), it was in transition - the default was squares but customers could request wedges. By the time I quit that had reversed, and more people expected pizza cut in wedges than in squares.

                                  Although there's been a lot of homogenization, there are still strong regional preferences. A locally family owned pizza chain (dozens of restaurants scattered across the area) was bought by a chain. They had been very successful with their original thin, yeast-less salted crust cut in squares pizza.

                                  The national chain changed the recipe to be the more "typical" pizza, more like Pizza Hut and Domino's and all the other chains (thicker yeast crust, cornmeal, etc).

                                  They lost customers. Eventually the original family bought all the restaurants back and still own and run them today, using the original recipe, gradually building the business back up.

                                  I guess my point is that pizza is a wonderful thing. The fact that "American style" pizza is not much like "Italian style" really doesn't matter to me. At this point, they are two different things, regardless of their common roots.

                                  I don't see one as inherently "better" than the other. That's like deciding which is better, apples or oranges. They're both good. They're just different. And preferring one over the other is entirely a matter of taste, in the physical sense and having nothing to do with notions of propriety or aesthetics divorced from the physical sensation.

                                  So arguing about whether or not cheese is a topping, or whether a pizza is still a pizza if it has neither sauce nor cheese, is an exercise in futility.

                                  For the purposes of the original question, a piece of flat bread with no sauce and no cheese is NOT pizza. I didn't ask about European-style pizza. I asked about what the vast majority of people in this country consider to be pizza, and that means crust, sauce, cheese, and assorted other toppings.

                                  Also, does no one realize how silly it is to argue about whether or not "toppings" should go under or on top of the cheese on an item that HAS NO CHEESE?


                                    1. re: ZenSojourner

                                      Zen.....ah, but in Italy the questions posed here would keep the argument going for weeks, yes weeks, at the local coffee bar. Tradition is paramount to each house, street, town; and of course, "Ours is the best", is the standard answer. If one talks to a Italian about food and you ask "Where is the best (whatever) available"?; invariably, the answer is "At my Mother's" I have used this question over and over and almost always get the same answer. BTY, this applies to married men as well, they always give the honor to their Mother over their spouse.

                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                        Of course, not limited to Italy.

                                        The brother in law is from Mallorca and he will often see a local dish being cooked on TV and will say it's not authentic. What he means is that it's not how his mother would have cooked it.

                                        Now my mother was a lousy cook and you could definitely say that whatever she cooked wouldnt be authentic - more a wave in the vague direction of authenticity.

                                    2. re: bagelman01


                                      it is very hard for people outside CT to understand NH apizza in a similar manner to people outside of TX/KC/NC not understanding "Q", people outside of NOLA not understanding beignets and people outside the left coast not understanding, well understanding Cali-cuisine. Just a fact and a great reason to eat local when traveling to learn.

                                      jfood is a traditionalist with pizza, and cheese and sauce is a staple. the toppings go on top of the mozzy (if that is part of the toppings) and include traditional pep, sausage, meatball, bacon, plus some veggies icluding mushrooms, onions, peppers. What is does NOT include, whether on top or hidden by the mozzy is pineapple, thai stuff, mexican stuff, name-your country stuff. There is NO Thai Pizza, NO Mexican Pizza, NO Asian Pizza, NO South American pizza, NO African Pizza, NO Caribbean Pizza, all of those are flatbreads. Jfood apologizes if he missed a region, but you understand the point.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        Hear, hear.

                                        "On Chowhounds humor is verboten by ORDER!"

                                        1. re: jfood

                                          The finest pizza I have ever eaten was in a non-touristy place in Bardolino, on Lake Garda. Mushroom was the only topping - with a small handful of rocket placed on top and slightly wilted in the heat.

                                          The short pizza menu only had toppings that were rooted in Italy - and this makes for my "gold standard" of pizza toppings. If I can't imagine it on the menu of that restaurant, then I don't want to eat it. Chicken tikka pizza is an abomination as, like jfood finds, is pineapple.

                                          1. re: Harters

                                            Mushroom is my favorite topping, although I can only get on half the pie due to DHs deep rooted beliefs on pizza toppings (see below). Yours sounds so delicious, wish I could taste it.

                                            I myself can't tolerate meat toppings, especially the greasy ones everyone seems to love, just reminds me of chain pizza too much. And pineapple? ham? etc. Long ago, I heard rumors that's how they do it in California/Hawaii, like a rumor or a joke, is it really everywhere now?? The other thing I've heard about is salad pizza, people tell me "I know it sounds gross but it's really good". Never seen it in real life though. But maybe it's like your small handful of rocket, then you don't need a side dish!

                                            1. re: coll

                                              During my time in Japan there was a downtown Shakey's Pizza (Remember that chain, who tried to combine arm-banded piano players along the old-time saloon theme, to boost the sales of fresh hot pizza?).

                                              It felt somewhat quirky and weird to be in there, but the mid 80's was a time for lots of American emulation, including the arm-banded piano playing pizza pushers.

                                              Their fait accompli, their proudest and finest pizza, was topped with squid cut to calamari rings, with thin chunks of ham, lots of free kernels of canned corn, and liberal layers of chunk pineapple. Not at all greasy, but God I wished for something like arugula, or better yet some simple sliced 'shrooms. A few years later, it had become a plaintive wail of "My kingdom for a slice of pepperoni!", but that's another story. Such aged and air-dried sausages were at that time an impossbility in Japan.

                                              1. re: FoodFuser

                                                did the Japan version also have the silent Keystone Kops and Buster Keaton movies running? I never understood what compelled them to do that anachronistic mess of media and costume.

                                                1. re: hill food

                                                  They didn't do the Keystone Cops; instead they plugged into the early wave of MTV energy... Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was what I remember.

                                                  1. re: FoodFuser

                                                    that would be more Japanese I s'pose (although really it should have been Bowie's 'Ashes to Ashes'). in the midwest 70's it was oddball silent B+W film.

                                                2. re: FoodFuser

                                                  The calamari part sounds good to me.

                                                  1. re: FoodFuser

                                                    Shakey's "Mojos" (a type of fried potato round) were outta sight. Their pizza was great by Papa John's standards, but by everbody else's (including Totino's), only so-so.

                                      2. re: Harters

                                        I asked a question about toppings over or under the cheese on an AMERICAN STYLE pizza.

                                        Things may very well differ for a different style of pizza.

                                        1. re: ZenSojourner

                                          Oh goodness. You don't like stuff under your cheese. We get it.

                                          1. re: tommy

                                            Apparently not, since you're responding to an explanation of why cheese needs to be present at all, and not where (in relation to that cheese), other toppings ought to go.

                                              1. re: tommy

                                                Sorry. Don't think you're all that trustworthy. >:D

                                2. I usually put my toppings under the cheese - for the same reason. Of course, my toppings and cheese are fairly minimal - to me, the pizza is all about the crust!

                                  I seldom use sauce - just a light brushing of good olive oil, then toppings (currently, fresh herbs and sliced garden tomatoes, allowed to drain for a bit first) then the cheese. I use enough cheese so as to completely cover the toppings - just enough to keep everything together.

                                  1. I'm mainly a toppings over the cheese person, but often I'll add a fne layer of cheese over certain toppings, both to keep them in place coming off the peel and also to accomplish whatever flavoring effect I'm after. Also, of course, when cooking Naples-style with fresh mozzarella, it's really more like toppings and cheese side by side in a patchy network (there is not cheese everywhere, that is).

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Bada Bing

                                      I'm with Bada Bing on this one. Cheese on the sauce, toppings on the cheese and the fine layer over the top (you can still see all the toppings) just to hold on the toppings. Of course, I like Salami, Pepperoni, Canadian Bacon, Mushrooms & Olives on my pizza. So that's a lot of stuff.

                                    2. Traditional pepperoni pizza - toppings on top. Otherwise you miss out on those crispy pepperoni. Mmmm

                                      Fancy pizza - it all depends, no hard fast rules.

                                      But generally speaking, the toppings belong on top. Why do you think they call them "top"pings. Hello? :-)

                                      3 Replies
                                        1. re: lynnlato

                                          'cuz they're on "top" of the crust?

                                          Which is on "top" of my plate!


                                        2. Some go on top of the cheese, some go under. Depends on whether I want them to blend in or be drier and crispy.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Sooeygun

                                            Yeah- spinach is one that should go on the bottom. You don't want that to get dried out.

                                          2. "Does it make any difference to any of you, and if so, why?"

                                            It makes a difference to me only if a person is making a Chicago-style deep dish pizza.

                                            Otherwise, it's live and let live as far as whether cheese is above or below the ingredients.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              In Puglia, there is an interesting method of; fresh mozzarella first on a very well rolled out crust(thin). then sauce, then condimento, if any. The moisture in the fresh bufala evaporates quickly and floats to the top of the thin layer of sauce.
                                              No pizza in Italy would have so much in the way of cheese, sauce or "toppings" to make it ever approach "goulash". It is best described as flavored bread.

                                            2. Sauce, mozzarella cheese, toppings, then basil and parmesan after the pizza is finished.
                                              There is no other way for NY-style pizza.
                                              It also helps to preserve the individuality of the ingredients, instead of smothering them in cheese.

                                              1. Ugh, yes, this is one of my peeves, and why I won't order pizza in Chicago. Toppings are meant to be seen. They go on top of the cheese. The cheese will melt and the toppings will get crispy.

                                                1. I'm DEFINITELY a "toppings on top" person. Hiding them underneath the cheese would 1) just "steam" the toppings rather than cook/crisp them; & 2) I believe that food should look good as well as taste good, & a lumpy mass of cheese over toppings isn't nearly as attractive as a nice arrangement of toppings over cheese.

                                                  Oh, & in all the time I've enjoyed utilizing a large pizza stone & a large pizza paddle, I've yet to have a problem with any toppings flying off the paddle during transfer. And I love LOTS of toppings! Maybe it's your son's transfer technique that's the problem rather than where he puts the toppings. Maybe a little flour or cornmeal on the paddle?

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Breezychow

                                                    Yeah, we've tried the flour/cornmeal thing. I can't do it either. Practice may make perfect, but when you're cooking single pizzas you're not likely to get that much practice.

                                                    My suggestion is to make the pizza on foil and slide the paddle under the foil. I'm going to get him to try that next. Parchment paper is just too expensive to use this way on a regular basis.

                                                      1. re: grampart

                                                        I had a superpeel once, it got damaged beyond hope of repair. I'd like another, but we're 2 people living on a grad student's income so no chance of replacing it any time soon.

                                                  2. The inability to make good pizza has little to do with the order, and everything to do with the inability to make good pizza.

                                                    1. I put the sauce down, and then the cheeses, On top of that; meats, veggies and condiments.
                                                      Then before I shove it into the oven a mix of more cheeses, mind you not a whole lot, but deifinitely a good dusting (to hold the other toppings on).

                                                      1. For me it depends on the topping. One's that are gonna give off alot of moisture i'll put on top(mushrooms, green pepper's, etc.) i'll put on top of the cheese.

                                                        1. The other toppings go on top of the cheese. I find the cheese tends to burn if that's the top topping.

                                                          The dough sticking to the paddle implies there's too much topping. Not that I would complain about that.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: dave_c

                                                            Nah, he tops his pizzas much more lightly than I do. Using the peel is a skill we just don't seem to have.

                                                            Really I think part of the problem is that he is using boughten pizza dough, which is sticky and apparently fairly hard to handle. I'm not sure he lets it rest at room temp either. We'll see what happens when I can get some yeast and try a couple of from-scratch doughs.

                                                          2. I worked making pizza when I was in college about 40 years ago. The way I was taught, was that cooked or lean toppings could go under the cheese: ham, sweet peppers (Marinated), canned mushrooms, BUT raw or fatty ingredients went on top: sliced onions, raw mushrooms, bacon, pepperoni, sausage................

                                                            The raw items needed to be exposed to the direct heat to cook, and this gave fatty meats a chance to have some fat cook out and crisp up.

                                                            I would not want to bite into a slice and have slices of almost raw onion, or bacon that was warmed but uncooked under the cheese.

                                                            Delicate items, slice paper thin sliced red onions could go under the cheese, as they'd incinerate in a 700 degree oven if on the top.

                                                            17 Replies
                                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                                              Onion, bacon peperoni.....next you will tell me that pineapple and bbq chix is good on pizza!!( I've seen that)
                                                              If you ask for pepperoni in a non -tourist place in Italy.....you get peppers.......

                                                              1. re: ospreycove

                                                                Onions, bacon, pepperoni are all very common toppings in the northeast.

                                                                In Italy I would expect peppers if I ordered pepperoncini. I wouldn't order pepperoni in Italy, as it is a generic name in the USA for red Italian style salami, not a common name in Italy.

                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                  Righto......and there is no Nutella pizza either in Italia.

                                                                  Peperoni is an Italian word, in most regions it means sweet red peppers. Growing up in North N.J. my idea of a great pizza was a tomato pie slice; folded with the excess grease running down your arm to your elbow. When we were really flush sausage and mushroom was the sure fire way to assure a "productive date"......lol

                                                                  1. re: ospreycove

                                                                    Is there Nutella pizza HERE?

                                                                    /*SHUDDER*/ LOL!

                                                                    I'm still getting used to "Hawaiian pizza" with ham and pineapple, LOL!

                                                                    1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                      oh try the pineapple and ham with jalapenos (yes with cheese and tomato sauce)) as well. turns into a sort of cheap Chinese sweet and sour flavor (that admission should go over on one of those Foods I Eat in Private type threads)

                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                        aaaaaaaagh! /*cringing in terror*/ LOL!

                                                                        Pizza (as any other item) is constantly evolving. That's not for me, but clearly SOMEBODY likes it! I wonder what pizza will be like when my son is my age.

                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                            umm, did I offer to share? (I know I know, even loved ones who accept and forgive much recoil)

                                                                2. re: bagelman01

                                                                  the heat in a true wood fired oven comes from the bricks, not from above......With wood ovens that is the reason pizza is a night time offereing only. It takes a good 3-4 hours to get an oven up to temp and get the bricks, (stone) really hot.

                                                                  1. re: ospreycove

                                                                    Sorry you live in a culinary wasteland. I have no problem getting wood fired brick oven baked Apizza for lunch here in Connecticut. Just means the staff has to start the fire earlier in the Day.
                                                                    Julians in Monroe, makes great New Haven Style wood fired brick oven Apizza and it's available from 11:30 am. We often have lunch there.

                                                                    My favorite, Sally's in New Haven, and alternate-Pepe's are coal fired brick ovens. They don't let the fire go out overnight, just reduce in temp.

                                                                    Flo Consiglio, the owner (and widow) of Sally's explained in 'Pizza Paradise' on Travel channel, that after returning from the annual 2 week vacation, it takes TWO weeks to heat the oven to pizza ready temp. Any faster heating would cause the bricks to crack.

                                                                    Baking a pizza in a 700 degree bick oven only takes a few minutes which is why raw and fatty ingredients need to be on top of the cheese. The cheese will shield the toppings from some of the heat. Not all the heat comes from the bricks under the pizza, some radiates from the sides and top of the ovens.

                                                                    I spent too many nights working pizza nad bread ovens in the 1970s not to have learned the effects of heat cominng from all sides in the ovens.

                                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                                      Bagel....You missed the point, TRADITION, just like no cappucino after 11:00 AM. You know every casa, vico, citta, has "the best, and it is only done "The way it is done'" Eeh?
                                                                      Srart earlier in the day? Madonna!!!! "We have work rules"............

                                                                      By the way Pepe's; stood in that line many a day and night.

                                                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                                                        I draw the line at standing in line for Pepe's, ...
                                                                        Too many other acceptable places around New Haven.

                                                                        Sally's Im willing to wait for, but luckilly, I'm one of those with the private number <VBG>

                                                                        Pepe's and the Spot do lunch on certain days. Sally's di it years ago, when Sal Consiglio was alive.

                                                                        I do like wood fired, but prefer the coal ovens.

                                                                        Apizza wa a working man's lunch when I was growing up, and it even came wrapped in brown paper tied with string, not a white cardboard box.

                                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                                          It is a shame that what you described is now done for "Effect", I reveled in the taverns, with their sandwich, soup, hot plate, of the day; that really meant what they roasted that morning, now it is just another flavor of Boar'sHead! Where is Apizza, that does not ring a bell in my abused, withered brain.

                                                                          John's on Sullivan was my choice for coal oven pizza. Went there last year..... not the same feeling......damn "you can't go back home"

                                                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                                                            Interesting, Bagelman. Do they still call it "APIZZA" back there?

                                                                            1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                              If the sign and menu don't say Apizza (ah beatz), I'm not likely to eat there......

                                                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                I'll drink to that, Bagelman. Still pronounced the way I remember it. I thought I was the only one. I also remember when the slices were dripping grease from the pepperoni and 'real' Italian sausage; burned palates from the still bubbling cheese.

                                                                          2. re: ospreycove

                                                                            Re ospreycove's "TRADITION, just like no cappucino after 11:00", veering OT for a little story:

                                                                            SO jauntily approaches middle aged female staffer in tiny caffe somewhere in Sicily.

                                                                            "Uno capuccino, per favore," says he with perfect intonation and expression.

                                                                            "Coca Cola?" says the maven of the beverages (it was 2 pm).

                                                                            SO sheepishly accepts frosty glass of carbonated brown beverage.

                                                                            This is now a running joke in our family when anyone seeks out this morning only coffee drink later in the day.

                                                                            PS sauce then cheese then toppings (though I might make an exception for certain veggies, like zucchini, which I think benefits from a little time under the cheese, and mebbe artichokes, to avoid the wispy bits getting overcooked)

                                                                    2. I'm sort of with bagelman on this post. It entirely depends on 1. what kind of pizza you're creating (Chicago style, NY, etc), but also, more importantly, what are the ingredients you're layering?

                                                                      I've made many types of pizza, all different. For example I put proscuitto on both beneath and on top of the cheese. I llike it both ways, kind of chewy and crispy, where you layer it depends on how it will taste.

                                                                      You have to be careful with watery toppings. Personally, I've carmelized my onions sometimes and sauteed the mushrooms before I put them on, just experimenting with textures.

                                                                      I personally, do not like either watery pizzas nor dry ones. It's all rather subjective here.

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: natewrites

                                                                        It certainly is (subjective, that is). Which is why I was interested to see what other people thought about it.

                                                                        So far (ignoring all references to other than US style pizza) what I seem to see is that those of us who want our toppings on top have the same things to say about why that is - because putting them under the crust turns it into a "goulash", a sort of pizza stew or mush, makes things soggy. Putting them on top allows escape of moisture, development of a certain texture such as "crispiness", etc.

                                                                        People who like the cheese on top have their own reasons why they like it that way which seem to fall into a different set of categories, but still similar to each other. What I experience as mush, they experience as not drying out or tenderness.

                                                                        Then there are the handful who have rules about what can go on top and what can go under the cheese, about moisture content etc.

                                                                        I was interested to see these differences. It's not (to me) that one way is right and another wrong; it boils down to personal taste and what informs the development of that taste. Differences are interesting, but not qualitatively "correct" or "wrong".

                                                                        I haven't tried carmelized onions on pizza yet, but I probably will at some point. However, off the top of my head, it seems almost a waste to put something like that on a pizza. It seems to me that it would be overwhelmed by the Pizza-ness of the pizza, LOL!

                                                                        I can eat carmelized onions by the forkful. Literally. So bad of me! >:P

                                                                        1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                          Dang it, not under the crust, under the CHEESE, LOL!

                                                                          1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                            unless of course it's a Calzone, and then this whole debate is sorta moot.

                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                              Ah, but again that wouldn't be a pizza! ;D

                                                                          2. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                            You really didn't know this was purely about opinion and that there's no "right and wrong"?

                                                                        2. Underneath the cheese go the anchovies, and the pre-broiled garlic chunks and char-broiled slivered bite-sized onions. Guest fear these items if they are visually displayed, but savor them with that smiling second-bite "je ne sais quoi".

                                                                          Everything else goes on top, and some toppings are pre-broiled.

                                                                          1. If Tyler Florence says it, it must be true. - Cheese IS a topping - goes on first, sauce goes on LAST.... Unless of course, NYC Pizza isn't "typical" or "American" enough.

                                                                            If anyone is in a hurry, fast forward to the 3 min mark.


                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                              Excuse me? Sauce goes on last? That is an abomination worthy of a UN edict (which we all know is about as efficacious as a mono-tentacled squid grappling with a sperm whale).

                                                                              1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                According to my husband, who is old school I guess, pizza = crust, sauce and mozz. If you put anything else on top, it is a flat hero. He remembers when you used to get pizza in Brooklyn at an Italian bakery, though, and that is his gold standard. When he sees a commercial for Dominos with the five toppings and stuffed crust, he can't shut up about it! PS Brooklyn is in America, so I guess his opinion must count for something.

                                                                              2. I definitely like the carmelization and crisping of the topping as a result of being on top of the cheese. I had a brick oven pizza recently with pignoli nuts on it that were tremendous after they were browned. Under the cheese just makes for mush, Zen, I agree.

                                                                                1. Everyone is wrong! Cheese first, then sauce, then the meat, followed by vegetables, and finally the sauce. OK - that's not for every kind of pizza, just Chicago deep dish. :)

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                    That sounds more like a Tomato Pie (circa 1912 - long before Uno's 1955 version) to me.


                                                                                  2. This is a great question...endless debates and in the end, the answer is what ever it is we desire. No right or wrong answer. If I were to pose the question: "which style of pizza is better, New York or Chicago?" I don't think there is enough GB space on this website to hold all the answers. Thanks for posting the question. It gave me great ideas for future pies with my kids.

                                                                                    1. Either, but if you are using fresh basil, it has to go under, otherwise it turns into something you'd rake up in late October.

                                                                                      13 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: ChefBoyAreMe

                                                                                        Basil goes on top when making Neapolitan-style pizza, and on top of mine.

                                                                                        1. re: ChefBoyAreMe

                                                                                          Basil, on a true margharita, goes on AFTER it is removed from the oven, just like a fine dusting of parmigiano reggiano. That's how it is done in Parma, (not Parma, Ohio).

                                                                                          1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                            "Basil, on a true margharita, goes on AFTER it is removed from the oven,"

                                                                                            I think the folks at Pizzeria da Michele in Naples might disagree with that assertion. Naples is generally considered the birth place of pizza Margherita.

                                                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                                                              Tommy....as in all of Italy each casa, vico, citta, regione, all say "Ours is the Best!!!!!!!

                                                                                              1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                When you start throwing around phrases like "true margherita," it's not unreasonable to expect that it's based on some sort of history or fact. I may as well say "a true margherita" comes from my kitchen. Basil can and does go on before cooking on Margherita pizze in Napoli.

                                                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                                                  Tommy...You missed my "Toungue and cheek" comment on Italian Culture. When a person is asked where a certain dish is best; the answer is invariably, "At my Mother's". So " anything is a "True _________ " in the eyes of the Italian. This is not idle non-factual blather; I spend part of each year in the Abruzze, Sulmona. Where they make "Vero Vino", and "The Best" Salumi, on top of dry pasta "Second to none"......get my drift now? In food "History or fact usually takes a back seat to local/family pride. Oh, the "Confetti" is the best.....Fact originated in Sulmona in the 1800s.

                                                                                                  1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                    Not really. If you present something as fact, as you did, then it should be fact, not opinion.

                                                                                                    To suggest that comments like "true Margherita pizza has foie gras and braised short rib" are helpful, as you essentially have (what if I think this is "best"), borders absurd.

                                                                                                    1. re: tommy

                                                                                                      Tommy...reread above.....In the hearts of Italians.....it is Fact if it is their CULTURE trumps hard, cold, analytical, fact......Let's end this discussion of Italian Culture and its nuances. Spend some time in a small town and you will see what family/local pride means to the Italians.

                                                                                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                        I understand what you are saying. But you don't understand what I am saying.

                                                                                                        Why make a statement saying "true xxxxx is yyyy" if you're not speaking from a position of authority, but rather from your heart.

                                                                                                        It's one thing to say "I like to put basil on after the pizza comes out of the oven," or, "I've seen it put on the pizza after it comes out of the oven in Parma." But making claims of authenticity or "true"-ness without any fact or history to back it up is silly. I'll go back to my statement of "True Margherita has foie gras and braised short ribs". Do you find that comment helpful in the least? I would certainly hope not.

                                                                                                        1. re: tommy

                                                                                                          Tommy....O.K. I see your point, I guess my "Artistic" interpretation gets in the way of factual reporting.

                                                                                                          On another subject, what do you know about , in Westwood, the restaurant that moved to a biker bar It is a BBQ place? I am going to N.J. later this month and a friend willo not stop talking about it, any good/chowworthy?? Thanks

                                                                                                          1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                            Tommy..."Backwoods BBQ", Washington Township.

                                                                                                            Sorry for hijacking the topic folks!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                            1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                              He moved to http://doghouse-saloon.com/. I've been to the bar (not really a biker bar), heard mixed reviews on his BBQ, but it looks worth a shot.

                                                                                        2. One reply is conspicuously absent - BOTH!!

                                                                                          When I make pizza I do sauce, cheese, meat, mushrooms/veggies, cheese. Like ZS's son, I think the top cheese keeps everything together. The top cheese is usually cheddar or some combination thereof.

                                                                                          IMO, plain cheese pizza is a terrible waste of oven space. Pizza is about experiencing an array of flavors. Sure, you can have a salad with just iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers, but more ingredients makes it a better experience. The same holds true for pizza. More is better.

                                                                                          When visiting Italy many moons ago, I was surprised to see "pizza" being dispensed at many locations, including street vendors, cold with just crust and sauce, or crust, sauce, and mozzarella. Most places that made hot pizza had a very limited selection of topping, that always went on top of the cheese. The only place I recall having an "American style" selection was a shop in La Spezia, where the selection included peas as a topping. (It was pretty good with peas on it.)

                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                            I generally prefer my pie with no more than two toppings. In a pizza with a huge number of toppings, the crust tends to get overwhelmed, IMO. And I really like a nice, crispy crust.

                                                                                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                              gotta agree with Khan. 3 (besides sauce and cheese) are the absolute max. combo is just another way to spell mess.

                                                                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                I should ;have said, "The same holds true for pizza. More is better...up to a point." I usually have one meat, onions, green peppers, and mushrooms. Much more and it is hard to eat without losing stuff.

                                                                                              2. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                << One reply is conspicuously absent - BOTH!! >>

                                                                                                "Darned it, al", on other threads you always seem to read all the posts from top to bottom, but for this time, see the link to my Sept 4 tidbit above. My pizza, with the anchovy and allium elements hidden from view in sub-caseinian subterfuge, is pretty darned good. :) . I'm adding you to my reading list so that we may share the bifocals at those appropriate times.


                                                                                                1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                  I *did* read your entry. Your pizza sounds delicious,but looked to me like you have only one layer of cheese, with toppings both over and under. My pizza has two layers of cheese.

                                                                                                  1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                    (Foodfuser reaches for the bifocals, and re-reads Al's post)

                                                                                                    Well I'll be darned. I see that now. I too like a substantial pie.

                                                                                              3. I agree that the permutations are endless, and I prefer the cheese as the second layer above the sauce and below other toppings on my homemade wild yeast crusts.
                                                                                                The point should be that while topping choices are endless in the continuum between foccacia and pizza, a liberal layer of corn meal on the preparation surface helps prevent sticking, and a dry surface and a dry clean peel make all the difference in the ability to move the pie without dangerous adhesion. A good, elastic dough also allows one to "pull" the pie onto the peel like this guy does http://www.chow.com/videos/show/obses... .
                                                                                                I prefer a metal peel, and I have tapered the leading edge with my whetstone, allowing the peel to be slid underneath the pie.
                                                                                                Yes, I have lost some toppings and yes, I have had some misshapen pies, but practice makes perfect.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Phood

                                                                                                  Crust, sauce, cheese, toppings: in that order.

                                                                                                  I was taught that tossing the pizza shrugged of all the dusting flour: which would otherwise cause the "blackened" bottoms. Never had a problem getting the pizza off the stone with the peel: you had to get "behind" the handle!

                                                                                                2. Personally I don't see a big deal either way - especially when you consider things like double layered pizzas, calzones, or true "pies" like the "priazzo" that Pizza Hut used to make. Maybe those things aren't true pizzas, but they are good, and certainly some of the toppings in those cases is "under" the cheese. Heck, some people I know even fold pizza slices in half, down the middle, which would ruin the premise of this question too.

                                                                                                  I do agree in certain situations - like someone posted that if the pepperoni isn't on top of the cheese, it won't crisp (if that's how you like it) - that it does matter, but in the end the ingredients are getting mashed up in your mouth anyway.

                                                                                                  But really, its when I read some of the posts in threads like this, I am reminded why I often think of this site as "Chowsnob" rather than "Chowhound". I just can't see this mattering that much.

                                                                                                  1. I eat my pizza with sausage, extra sauce, and no cheese. Cheese ruins everything that has it. I'm not lactose intolerant or anything. I just really hate the taste of cheese—instant gag reflex.

                                                                                                    1. If I do not add the cheese half way through baking a pizza, it gets burnt brown long before the crust gets crusty. Stone or pan. So the toppings get a chance to roast first. When the little bits of garlic look perfectly golden, the cheese goes on.

                                                                                                      Deep-dish pie not a pizza. It is a casserole, pizza mush as you say, but my pizza is not like that.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: atheorist

                                                                                                        Millions of opinions.
                                                                                                        Here's my method.
                                                                                                        I make thin crusts which I've cooked on both sides on a very hot pizza stone. I'll make maybe twelve medium size at a time for a small 'pizza party'. Everyone gets their own personal 'doggy-bag'.
                                                                                                        I form the dough into balls and let rise in the fridge for about 24 hours before rolling out. TB had what he considered the best pizza maker in NY show him this method of a long rise. It on Youtube somewhere.

                                                                                                        They come out of the oven nice and thin and lightly golden and crispy but not brittle crispy. (I add some 'high gluten; flour to the all purpose)
                                                                                                        They can then sit on the counter all afternoon.
                                                                                                        My 'secret' when it comes time for my friends to 'build' their pizzas from a counter full of ingredients is I suggest, and demonstrate is to first smear on some good OO into the dry crust first. Then a light sprinkle of mozza grated cheese. Then they can put any toppings on in any order.
                                                                                                        The secret is to smear on the OO directly on the crust then the cheese. Somehow this combination insures the topping won't slide off the pizza when being baked/eaten. It acts like a 'glue' b/c the OO absorbs into the crust which helps the mozz cheese stick to the crust. Then whatever toppings stick to the mozza. Been doing this for too long to remember.
                                                                                                        Works every time. Never had any pizza topping slide off.

                                                                                                      2. Wow! Just reading the rebuttals is enough to render this topic lost! Who cares if cheese is considered a "topping" or not?! The question was simply- "Are toppings better underneath or on top of cheese?" Answer the question! Gah!!!

                                                                                                        Pizza's like sex--to each their own; and it's still good!

                                                                                                        1. As a teen I worked in one of those take and bake pizza places. This woman would come in every week and order 2 pizzas and asked whoever was making her pizza to put the cheese on top of her toppings. She said her family loved the crispy browned cheese. So I thought I like crispy brown cheese, so next time I made myself a pizza I tried it. It was alright, but I missed the crisp edges of pepperoni.
                                                                                                          So, after this pointless story, I like my toppings on top of cheese.
                                                                                                          2 toppings is best IMO.
                                                                                                          Pepperoni or Genoa salami
                                                                                                          And green olives or banana peppers.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: itsmejessica

                                                                                                            I'm on board with just about all you say, itsmejessica.

                                                                                                            I prefer a little browning on both my toppings and the cheese, two toppings is usually ideal for the type of pizza I'm making or eating, and pepperoni + banana pepper is possibly my favorite two-topping combo.

                                                                                                          2. oh it all depends on the crust - thin and crispy, thin and a bit soft, thick and chewy, thick and soft - your call and the layering depends on it as much as it does the viscosity of the cheese used and the amount of sauce.

                                                                                                            there ought to be a board called "The One True and Righteous Method to Prepare 'X' "

                                                                                                            1. I recently made 2 pizza with only tomato sauce and cheese. For the first pie I placed mozzarella directly on top of the crust, I then spread the tomatoes over the cheese. This layering is similar to the ones used in famous pizza chains. For the 2nd cheese pizza, I placed the sauce first, then sprinkled the cheese on top of it.

                                                                                                              It’s a amazing how simply changing the layering can create 2 pies with different flavors. I must admit, though, that the first pizza (tomato pie) turned out to have greater and deeper flavor.

                                                                                                              If you got the basic ingredients, why not try these pies? You may also season your tomato pie however you like and add other toppings you prefer. These pizzas are easy to prepare and are extremely yummy! Try them and let me know how it went!