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Creativity on a Crust: Best Pizza from Around the World

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Pizza may have been invented in Naples and perfected in New York (no offense, Chicago), but it never stops evolving. World travelers know that pizza means something different everywhere you go. If you’re a cheese freak, head south to Buenos Aires for some pizza de molde. If your second-favorite food is sushi, try pizza with nori and avocado in Tokyo. And if you’re willing to try anything, let Seoul’s pizza-makers surprise you. Here’s what you’ll discover when you sample the best pizza from around the world…

Argentineans are all about the cheese.

Deep dish? Thin crust? Who cares? In Buenos Aires, Argentina, the crust always comes second to the cheese. Perhaps the best-known variety is pizza de molde, which combines a spongy crust and way too much cheese. “When made right, the base has a sturdy crunch and the top overflows with a small amount of sauce and a lot of bubbling cheese that dreamily crisps at the bottom of the pan,” Saveur explains. Sometimes, the pizza’s crowned with a thin chickpea pancake called fainá, which adds extra crunch. To try it for yourself, visit Pizzería Güerrin, a local favorite since 1932.

The British put some weird things on their pizza.

Americans are bewildered to discover that the British — and other Europeans — consider sweet corn, tuna fish and fried eggs to be perfectly normal pizza toppings. British chefs have experimented with other, more daring twists on pizza, too: oxtail and bone marrow, lamb and mint pesto, cabbage and bacon.1 Popular gourmet pizza chain Pizza Express offers a pizza called “American Hottest” that’s topped with pepperoni, hot green and Roquito peppers, fresh red chilli, spicy sausage, tomato and buffalo mozzarella, finished with chili oil.2 That’s not exactly how we do things here in the states, guys, but hey! Party on!

Italians are pizza masters.

The best pizza I’ve ever had was a simple, 5-euro margherita from Pizzeria Fuori di Piazza, a little sidewalk café in a tree-lined plaza in Lucca, Italy. I’m not claiming this place should top any “world’s best pizza” lists; but, as I discovered, any pizza you taste in Italy will outshine what you’re accustomed to eating at home. The Italians have been perfecting the art for more than 125 years, after all.

If you’re seeking the very best pizza in Italy, you should make a special pilgrimage to Pepe in Grani, a restaurant in Caiazzo, Campania (about 30 miles north of Naples). Chef Franco Pepe has won over crowds with his lovingly made, hand-kneaded dough and local ingredients. “It is perfect,” famed food critic Jonathan Gold declared.3

Turkish pizza doesn’t need cheese.

Tourists call it “Turkish pizza,” but locals know it as lahmacun: a mixture of ground beef, onions, tomatoes and peppers spread on a thin and crunchy crust. Squeeze a little lemon on it, add some parsley, roll it up and you’re good to go. Culinary Backstreets describes lahmacun perfectly: “It’s like an artisanal pizza with a Middle Eastern topping wrapped around a side salad – for the cost of a shoeshine.”

Japanese pizza is ultra-traditional — with a few twists.

Many foodies say that outside of Italy, Japan’s the best place to find perfectly crispy, wood-grilled Naples-style pizza. Even the Italians agree. The Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana, which certifies authentic pizza according to very strict guidelines, has approved more than 50 restaurants in Japan.4 However, local pizza-lovers also enjoy putting a Japanese spin on the flavors. You’ll find pizza with toppings like garlic shrimp, avocado sauce, mayonnaise, teriyaki chicken, beef ribs and nori.

South Koreans are mad pizza scientists.

Pizza is hugely popular in South Korea, where chefs never stop experimenting with topping combinations. Pizza “can have figs and snails; sweet potato crusts; sausage, calamari, and cream cheese; and it certainly wouldn’t be entirely unthinkable to put all of these ingredients together,” observes Roads and Kingdoms. Strawberries? Shrimp? Smoked gouda? Why not? Pizza’s usually served with a pickle, which you might need to cleanse your palate.

Before you depart on your search for the best pizza in the world, protect yourself by buying travel insurance from Allianz Global Assistance. With must-have coverage like emergency medical benefits and trip cancellation, our plans fit every trip and every budget. Get a free quote now.

Richmond-based travel writer Muriel Barrett has a terrible sense of direction, and has spent many happy hours getting lost in Barcelona, Venice and Jerusalem. Her favorite travel memories all involve wildlife: watching sea turtles nest in Costa Rica, kayaking with seals in Vancouver and meeting a pink tarantula in Martinique.

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Oct 27, 2016