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Jan 19, 2014 07:49 AM

are pistachios on pizza "traditional"?

I've been researching VPN pizzas places in my area only to find most of them have a pistachio pizza. I was ideally looking for a place like Mother Dough in Los Angeles. My problem is that my son and I are highly allergic to this nut and can't even be near it so I'm afraid we probably can't even share an oven due to possible cross contamination. I called around to all the pizza places and found this item on the menu. out of frustration I said. "when did pizza start having pistachios on them?" And I was told by one restaurant that pistachios on pizza is traditionally Italian in Italy. Really? I had no idea. I know there are pistachios in desserts but I was told in Italy, pizza is pretty basic with meat on it sometimes. is it traditional of was the person just making this up? I've never been to Italy so I can't speak to this.

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  1. They were just making it up. In 35 years of living in Italy and studying its food, I have never seen pistachio pizza. Gelato, yes. That is not to say someone couldn't start putting pistachios on pizza, but if your question is, is it normal in Italy? No, it isn't. What is VPN?

    4 Replies
    1. re: mbfant

      ok thanks. the girl who answered the phone sounded like she was no older than 16. I guess that's the problem with hiring young girls to host and answer phones. I wish places would hire someone at least old enough to vote to handle FOH duties. I'm sure she was old enough but barely. I emailed my sister who live in Florence for 4 yrs and she just replied with "what? I have no idea what you're talking about."

      there are gelatos and desserts. mortadella has pistachios in it too. I just never heard of it being traditional on pizza.

      1. re: mbfant

        Pardon my surprise, but after having lived in Italy for 35 years you did not know what VPN was? I think there is something I don't understand here.

        1. re: Tripeler

          So it must be Vera Pizza Napoletana. Who knew they called it VPN in California? Who knew they'd even ever heard of it? It's probably one of those things better known outside Italy than in. You expect to eat Neapolitan pizza in Naples, e basta. Yes, I knew there was an association and a so-called disciplinare (set of standards) for la vera pizza napoletana and have probably cited it here in connection with the endless discussions of San Marzano tomatoes. It's not on the radar in Rome except for an occasional little piece in a newspaper on a slow day.

          1. re: mbfant

            Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I have lived in Tokyo for 35 years, and I recognized VPN right away. I think being far away from it makes it more distinctly recognizable.

            Nevertheless, pistachios on pizza is entirely new to me, and far beyond my normal comprehension.

      2. Probably not.

        That said, the cuisine of Sicily (in particular) does draw on the cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean

        If you Google on pizza and pistachio, you only seem to get links to American websites, suggesting that the combination is probably not European in origin.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Harters

          There's no question Sicily uses lots of pistachios. The ones grown in Bronte, in eastern Sicily, have practically cult status, but pizza is not Sicilian (yes, there are Sicilian flat breads) and the association of pizza and pistachios cannot be called mainstream if it even exists, which I doubt.

        2. Maybe some kind of flatbread with a pistachio pesto, but pizza? I doubt it.

          1. This recipe was in Saveur magazine last year in an issue that focused on pizza and specifically in an article about pizza in Naples, so I don't think it is just "made up".

            Pizza Pistacchio e Mortadella

            Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix has had a pistachio topped pizza on their menu for at least 10 years.

            Sorry that this prevents you from enjoying some good local pizzas. I live in the SF Bay Area and we have a couple of VPN and some just Neopolitan style pizzerias and I don't think I have ever seen it on a menu here. I hope you find someplace that works out for you and your son.

            5 Replies
            1. re: pamf

              yeah, it stinks. as nuts are oily so it's hard to contain in an oven environment unless of course they're put on afterwards. but no such luck here. back in LA there were pizza places that had nuts but they seem to have control over the situation with different ovens and such. here, not so much. making my own is just not the same.

              1. re: pamf

                I don't know the context of that recipe, but, except for the basil leaves coming in from left field, it makes sense (and actually looks delicious), but is not traditional, which was the question. In Rome mortadella in a sandwich of pizza bianca is a classic.

                1. re: mbfant

                  Mortadella sandwiched between two pieces of pizza bianca?

                  1. re: Booklegger451

                    One piece. You cut the pizza bianca to the size you like then split it horizontally and make the sandwich. In summer we have prosciutto and ripe fresh figs on pizza bianca. It's like you died and went to heaven.

                    1. re: mbfant

                      This needs to find it's way to Seattle. Yum!

              2. VPN is a trade association founded in 1984, it's not some ancient Guild with uniforms designed by Leonardo da Vinci or whatever.
                According to a site called passion-4-pizza.com there are only 27 VPN-certified restaurants in the entire United States.
                VPN-ness aside, I have lived in NYC and in Chicago for 30 years or so and never until now have I heard of putting pistachios in, on, or near a pizza.
                If pistachio pizzas are the norm in your area, wherever that is, you must live in a very strange area.

                5 Replies
                1. re: chowyadoin99

                  Agreed. I could see adding pistachios to a pizza with mortadella, to sort of amp it up. But I can't remember ever seeing pistachio pizza in here in upstate NY, or in NJ when I lived down there (early 80s). It might be a California thing. I'm guessing from the moniker that trolley may be from SF.

                  1. re: eclecticsynergy

                    hi, well, i did live in SF but it came from nickname. so nothing to do with the trolley nor trolling as some has suggested. i'm originally from Tokyo but did time in NY/SF/LA. Now I am living in the sticks outside of Denver. sure mortadella, i get that. i was sort of "told off" or yelled down to as if i had no clue, by a young person who answered the phone at a particular restaurant. I thought maybe I had missed something bc most very authentic pizza places do have toppings but nothing like kale and pistachios.

                    I suppose I'm a purist by default when it comes to pizza. even with NY pizza i've never liked too many weird toppings.

                    1. re: trolley

                      I get your allergy situation is annoying and sad given you can't go for pizza in your area. But the minimum wage and yes young staff they get to do these often crappy jobs do not have years' worth of experience, reading, travel, etc. So when someone questions them on the authenticity or provenance of the items they sell thousands of miles from origin, what do you expect? Trust me, I had people ask me very snottily ask me if coacoa on cappuccino was "authentic like they do in the caf├ęs in Paris" - working at a chain cafe in Toronto. I offered cinnamon or cocoa per the instructions from head office. I wasn't entirely ignorant about real food but nor did I need to debate it with a snotty stranger twice my age.
                      I agree rudeness is unnecessary but since you have questions that need real answers (oven contamination), why don't you call and ask that a manager, chef or owner call you back at a convenient time?

                  2. re: chowyadoin99

                    thanks chowyadoin99. i just needed a vote of confidence. i feel like VPN pizza is become the next sushi. crazy combos with mayo kinda stuff. I thought we left this with California Pizza Kitchen but americans just can't seem to resist. at least the ingredients seem more wholesome.

                    1. re: chowyadoin99

                      Probably double that number, but still not a lot.


                      My favorite place on the list, Chicago's Spacca Napoli, has managed to sneak a pistachio special in every now and then but their basic "traditional" pizza menu has pretty much what you'd expect on a Neapolitan pizza, just a few ingredients, no nuts of any kind.