When is a pizza not a pizza?
When does a pizza stop being a pizza?
Quick: conjure an image of pizza in your mind. You’re probably envisioning a spice of cheesy pizza being pulled away from a pie, replaying a Pizza Hut commercial in your mind. But here’s something to chew on: If it doesn’t contain any cheese, can you still call it a pizza?
Now we’re not talking about a pizza topped with vegan cheese here; we’re talking about a crust that’s topped with sauce, maybe some pepperoni, just no cheese whatsoever. It still resembles a pizza, it still basically tastes like a pizza, it’s just missing one crucial ingredient.
In certain parts of the country, especially the areas in and around Utica, New York and Philadelphia there’s something called the tomato pie, which is essentially a cheeseless pizza: It’s similar to focaccia or a Sicilian pie, and it’s topped room temperature with a thick layer of tomato sauce and only a sprinkling of Romano cheese, certainly not enough to give it that stringy pull. Quite tellingly, you won’t hear anybody in Utica of Philly calling this (surprisingly delicious) creation a pizza; it’s tomato pie.
So what do you say, readers? Is a pizza without any cheese still a pizza?