Pineapple Pizza Sparks Debate In Italy

A pizzeria in Naples is adding pineapple to Neapolitan pies, leaving Italians divided.

In the United States, we are happy to top our pizzas with everything from buffalo chicken to pickles, while in pizza's birthplace, those who uphold the tradition might deem our creative interpretations unworthy of the name. But when it comes to the most divisive topping of all, pineapple, CNN reports that one seasoned pizza professional is attempting to change preconceived notions in Italy.

Pizzaiolo Gino Sorbillo has added a pineapple pizza to his namesake restaurant's menu in Naples, Italy, in the hopes of combating food prejudice. Sorbillo's nontraditional creation is a pizza bianca, meaning it does not have tomato sauce. It features three types of cheese—smoked provola and two varieties of smoked cacioricotta—and twice-cooked pineapple, finished with extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil.

"I've noticed in the last few years that lots of people were condemning ingredients or ways of preparing food purely because in the past most people didn't know them," Sorbillo tells CNN. "So I wanted to put these disputed ingredients—that are treated like they're poison—onto a Neapolitan pizza, making them tasty."

When Sorbillo first posted the pizza to social media, it was immediately met with backlash and insults. The uproar over the pizza's break with tradition has led to mass media coverage, including spotlights from various television outlets in Italy. However, Sorbillo notes that the pizza was listed on the menu for a couple weeks before it hit social media and many customers ordered and enjoyed it, including Neapolitans.

Sorbillo also cited other ingredients commonly used on pizzas in Italy that only became widely accepted within the past decade. Ingredients such as Alto Adige speck, mortadella, chopped pistachios, powdered olives, and mozzarella foam weren't part of pizza making until recent years.

"Things should be tasted first, and then you express your view," Sorbillo said. "In the past, not even ham or arugula went on pizzas, now they're normal."

As exploratory as the pizzaiolo is, he also knows not every flavor combination is a winner from the start. Sorbillo tinkered with the concept of a typical Hawaiian pizza to create his version, intentionally eschewing a tomato base. The attention the pineapple pizza has garnered has also inspired Sorbillo to make another outside-the-box pizza: a ketchup pizza.

Once again, it's not quite what you're imagining. Sorbillo crafted a more palatable spin on the idea by using a homemade sauce made from red and yellow Italian datterini (plum) tomatoes, topped with smoked provola.

We know all too well how much Italy cares about its pizza. Global pizza chain Domino's tried its best for a number of years to push its American-style pizza on the Italian market, but after seven years of effort it closed all locations in the country. Yet while passionate arguments swirl around Italian pizza, innovation will continue unabated.

"I'm sure that soon pineapple pizza will appear on the menus of other pizzerias in Naples—and not only in Naples," Sorbillo said.