Pizzette fritte (Little Fried Pizzas)

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: is there anything more primally satisfying than fried dough? If there is, I haven’t come across it yet. The Neapolitans have come up with all sorts of tidbits made from fried dough, of which we’ve already seen two examples, zeppole and calzoncini, where the dough acts as a carrier for a savory or sweet stuffing. Today let’s look at pizzette fritte, fried dough with a topping like a pizza. 

All you need to do is to take some pizza dough, either homemade or store-bought, and form it into balls about the size of a golfball. You then flatten each ball out into small round, leaving a slight lip around its edges—or, as I mentioned in the post on calzoncini, you can use a tortilla press to do the job in much less time. In fact, I prefer the tortilla press as it will make the dough thinner than at least I can manage with my hands. 
As you form each round, fry it in hot oil until it is lightly browned on both sides, preferably olive oil but if that’s too rich for you, vegetable oil, or a combination of the two, will do fine. Don’t brown the dough too much, as it will brown further in the oven later on.


As they are done, place them on a rack (or paper towels) to drain.


Now it’s time to get creative. You place these little pizzas on a cookie sheet and top them with whatever strikes your fancy—basically anything you’d put on a pizza, you can put on a pizzetta. The big difference: while a real pizza uses puréed raw tomato, for a pizzetta you use a sauce: typically, a simple marinara with a pinch of oregano added about halfway through the simmering. You use a sauce because the pizzetta will go into the oven for only five minutes, not long enough to cook raw tomato. A pizzetta can also be made in bianco (without tomato) with cheese or other toppings. 
Here are a few of my favorite toppings for pizzette fritte
  • alla napoletana: marinara sauce, grated pecorino cheese
  • alla margherita: marinara sauce topped with shredded or chopped mozzarella. Add a bit of basil on top just before serving
  • mozzarella topped with bits of anchovy
  • marinara sauce with oregano, bits of anchovy
  • marinara sauce and little fried cubes of eggplant
  • marinara sauce, mozzarella and capers
  • mozzarella and little cubes of salame
You can mix and match these and other ingredients to your heart’s content…
Prepped and ready for the oven: From the upper lefthand corner, eggplant and marinara sauce, marinara and mozzarella, mozzarella and salame, marinara, mozzarella and capers, mozzarella and capers and finally, the classic pizzetta fritta alla napoletana, topped with marinara sauce and grated pecorino. 
Once you’ve assembled your pizzette, drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and season with salt, then pop them in a hot oven (200C/400C) for about 5 minutes or so, just until they warmed through and the cheese (if any) has melted. 
These little pizzas are best served right away, but are also good at room temperature. They make a wonderful antipasto, snack or, if you make enough of them, even a light dinner. They’re great with cocktails because they’re small enough to hold comfortably in one hand. So enjoy! 
NOTE: A curious factoid: pizzette fritte are also known as pizzette montanare, or ‘mountain (or mountain dweller’s) pizzas’. Beats me why—if anyone knows, leave a comment! 

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39 Responses to “Pizzette fritte (Little Fried Pizzas)”

  1. Isabella
    29 April 2014 at 17:19 #

    can you fry these pizzette the day before and reheat them in the oven the next day?

    • 30 April 2014 at 13:23 #

      I’ve never tried it, so I hesitate to give definite advice here. Personally, I would freeze the base (without any toppings) and then try topping and baking right before you want to serve. Seems to me that it should work that way. Do share the results with us if you try it out!

  2. Matthew Casamassima
    5 December 2013 at 16:12 #

    Frank ,
    Better late than never- just read the great Pizza Fritte Article ! I remember being offered Pizza fritte, as a child , with a topping of what was called in Barese Dialect, Riccota Squand (sp) ie., Riccotta that had been encouraged to “spoil ” or grow mold and the flavor was much like a Gorgonzola !
    Brings back memories ; thank you, Mat

    • 5 December 2013 at 21:23 #

      Thanks for your comment, Matt! Always happy to bring back fond memories. Cheers, Frank

  3. 17 September 2013 at 09:23 #

    Well, here I am a year late! I just saw this one, Frank. As I’ve mentioned before, if it is deep fried I am up for it. These look wonderful!

    • 5 December 2013 at 21:22 #

      And here I am, three months late, replying to your comment! Thanks, I completely agree, fried food are just irresistible…

  4. mac
    13 September 2013 at 10:11 #

    This method is very interesting , I have never tried it before. Would quality suffer if the dough was fried a few hours ahead of assembly ?

    thank you,

    • 5 December 2013 at 21:21 #

      I don’t think so, Mac. Or at least, not enough to be very noticeable. Some day, however, yes.

  5. 12 September 2013 at 22:45 #

    probably called montanari pizzette because it originated from the shepperds tending the sheep on the hills…….

    • 16 September 2013 at 07:17 #

      Sounds logical to me, Romana. Thanks for your comment!

  6. 3 September 2013 at 23:13 #

    Brings back memories of Naples! How delicious these are in the summertime! Have you ever had scugnizzielli?

  7. Theresa
    4 June 2013 at 10:41 #

    Re: Mozzarella in carrozza– Again, my mother made these – also again, mostly during Lent – she just dipped them in beaten egg and fried them (I use toothpicks to hold them together!!- what can I say, I’m not my mother!). We ate these just as soon as they cooled off enough for us to hold them. My one son has pan-fried them – not bad, but as I told him – NOT GRANDMA’S!. You take me back to all the old favorites – thanks, Frank.

  8. Theresa
    22 February 2013 at 14:12 #

    My mother made these for us (mostly during Lent) as a treat – very simple – just fried them, added marinara sauce and parmesan or romano cheese – we gobbled them up as fast as she made them – leftovers(?) were soggy, but still delicious – my sons make them for friends at home-gatherings – they all love them and NONE ever had them before. Funny part, my parents were from Calabria – my husband’s family from Naples – they had never had them before!!!Yet, they are Neapolitan?? I love all your recipes. Thanks

    • 28 February 2013 at 08:41 #

      Thanks, Theresa! It’s true. These treats really are hard to resist…

  9. 8 February 2013 at 11:11 #

    WOW! Pizza, and fried -what could be better than that?

  10. 30 September 2012 at 07:25 #

    Resistance is futile! :=)

  11. Sally
    30 September 2012 at 05:53 #

    I first saw these on David Rocco's Dolce Vita a few years ago and made them a couple of times. They are delicious!

  12. 25 September 2012 at 07:46 #

    I never fry meat. I never fry vegetables. But dough – ahh – you got me! I am printing this to take to the store for inspiration for the toppings. This is nagging me to come here.

  13. 25 September 2012 at 06:25 #

    I'm with you, Lori. Anchovies are my favorite.

  14. 25 September 2012 at 06:24 #

    Hehehe, è vero!

  15. 25 September 2012 at 06:21 #

    I like the bacon idea!

  16. 25 September 2012 at 06:21 #

    Your way sounds lovely, too. Will have to try it!

  17. 22 September 2012 at 19:40 #

    Who could resist? Little – check. Fried – check. Pizza – check. A winner for sure.
    I'll take the one with anchovies…

  18. 22 September 2012 at 13:55 #

    sono irresistibili , uno tira l'altro…. poi chi la segue più la dieta? Buon weekend Frank !

  19. 22 September 2012 at 09:02 #

    these are great, would do nicely with football games on the big screen… especially like the flavoring sound of the mozzarella with capers…. maybe a thin slice of tomato with bacon!!!

  20. 22 September 2012 at 08:22 #

    Thanks for stopping by, Beatriz! I'm a big de Sica fan but haven't yet seen that one. Will have to look for it.

  21. 22 September 2012 at 08:21 #

    They are great for a party! I'm not sure about the auto-fry part, though… being a lawyer the liability risk would freak me out.

  22. 22 September 2012 at 08:20 #


  23. 22 September 2012 at 08:19 #

    They do! I also try to keep fried foods down to a minimum, but I like to give myself a treat once and a while…

  24. 22 September 2012 at 08:17 #

    Interesting! I like it… makes sense to me!

  25. 22 September 2012 at 08:16 #

    Sure are!

  26. 22 September 2012 at 08:02 #

    We make pizzette with puff pastry and a good tomato paste, but these look so pretty and delicious that we'll give them a try!

  27. Anonymous
    22 September 2012 at 05:26 #

    The first time I saw fried pizzas was at Vittorio de Sica film “l'Oro di Napoli”. Sophia Loren plays the wife of a pizza-maker that sells fried pizzas…Thank you. I'll try this recipe.
    Beatriz Tavares

  28. 21 September 2012 at 04:28 #


  29. 20 September 2012 at 14:32 #

    I saw these in a programme the other day. Some street vendors in Naples were making them. Never had them but want to try it. Would make wonderful party food, maybe get the guests to fry their own lol

  30. 20 September 2012 at 07:10 #

    I've never tried these before but I'm sure they're delicious! I've never had anything fried I didn't like. I just try to avoid most fried foods now so I can keep my girlish figure. That said, I may have to try them at least once. I'm sure they taste amazing!

  31. 20 September 2012 at 00:46 #

    Could it be that when up in the mountains you would not have access to an oven so would have to fry on an open fire? I have no idea really but thought this might be a reason!!!

  32. 19 September 2012 at 11:00 #

    Frank – No, there's nothing as satisfying as fried dough. A friend of mine from Salerno used to make these occasionally and they are truly addictive.

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