It could definitely be argued that New Zealand has some of the best pizza in the world and with these toppings, it’s a no-brainer.
New Zealand and pizza are two things that probably don’t sound as though they’d make a likely pair but over the last five decades or so, that statement has been woefully proven wrong. Pizza is very much part of New Zealand’s takeaway (takeout, for those in North America), and pizza is a well-loved favorite by locals and visitors alike. In fact, many local, small pizza restaurants are beginning to produce their own unique and delicious recipes for pizza, but one style is still overwhelmingly popular: Traditional Italian-style.
When we think of pizza, it’s not uncommon for many to first think of the loaded pizza that the US is known for. With nearly any topping imaginable from ham and pineapple to full-on meat lovers, there is no end to the combinations that can be had. With major pizza chains such as Pizza Hut and Dominos throwing in options such as a cheeseburger, taco, and stuffed-crust pizzas, it has become a world full of possibilities. While the US continues to expand and fuse options, New Zealand has its own take on traditional – and it’s unique but absolutely delicious.
The Origins Of New Zealand Pizza
While it’s very possible that pizza could have been floating around New Zealand prior to the 1970s, that’s when it became abundantly popular. That’s also when the country’s pizza styles began to evolve into something that resembled what was happening with pizza in the US at the time, but New Zealand managed to take a different approach: Rather than fusing cuisine styles together, its chefs drew inspiration from Italy to create combinations true to the Italian nature of pizza.
Naples-style pizza is very traditional throughout Italy and New Zealand definitely took a page from this book. A crispy, crunchy crust is what’s likely to be found with an addition of toppings that are packed with flavor yet simple. Some pizzas feature toppings that are procured locally from New Zealand while others speak to the true nature of Italy, featuring aged meats and cheeses that are imported rather than made domestically. In fact, the addition of imported ingredients is very popular – New Zealand holds true to the traditional idea of what pizza should be.
The fresh ingredients are a huge part of pizza in New Zealand as well and the pizza culture itself is still evolving year by year. There’s an appreciation for wholesome ingredients such as fruity olive oil, fresh mozzarella cheese, sweet basil leaves, a sprinkling of grana, and even garden herbs such as rosemary or thyme. The pizza below from Sette Bello Auckland features a stuffed crust but unlike in the US, the crust is stuffed with ricotta cheese – this is a local Italian favorite. This also adds a hint of sweetness and creaminess to the crust itself, while the fresh ingredients on the pizza cut through the richness with a flavor that’s unlike any other.
As time went on, more restaurants began using US-style pizza models, especially during the early days of pizza in New Zealand. With many pizzas featuring traditional ingredients and simple toppings, that’s not to say there aren’t some that pack a hefty punch in the cheese and sauce department. That’s also not to say there aren’t pizza chains that are specific to the country, such as Hell Pizza, which is just as popular there as Pizza Hut would be in some other countries. Hell Pizza prides itself on a wide range of deliciously devilish pizza toppings and this is where the unique and inventive slices come into play. The chain was first opened in 1996 and has only expanded since then, growing to several countries including Australia.
Rather than hamburgers, sausages, or meatball, it’s likely that those ordering pizza in New Zealand will come across meats such as salami, prosciutto, and other Italian aged delicacies. These won’t be weighed down with other ingredients and will likely be showcased on their own, with an accompaniment of fresh mozzarella and a slightly sweet tomato sauce. A fresh sprinkling of cheese over the top is all that’s needed to complete a pizza such as this since the ingredients themselves are left to shine through with their own flavor profile.
Hell Pizza, in particular, has come up with its own interesting names for pizza creations, some of which even caused mass controversy when it came time to advertise them. Aside from the chain’s bold topping titles, this is undoubtedly one of the most popular options for pizza in the country.
BY KATIE MACHADO