Unlock the Secret of Anchovy Pizza: Tips & Recipes

Ever wondered about that audacious pizza topping that divides pizza lovers across the globe? Welcome to the intriguing world of anchovies on pizza!

Neapolitan Anchovy pizza on the white table

Regardless of whether you’re an avid supporter or a doubter, it’s undeniable that anchovies have carved a niche in the culinary scene.

Their reputation, be it celebrated or notorious, as a pizza topping sparks lively discussions from New York to Naples.

What is an Anchovy?

Let’s swim upstream for a moment. What exactly is this divisive ingredient we’re talking about?

Anchovies are small, oily fish found in various parts of the world’s oceans, known for their potent flavor that packs a punch.

A school of anchovies swimming in the sea

Imagine a blend of umami, salt, and an unmistakable fishiness that leaves a lingering richness on your palate.

But these little swimmers aren’t just flavor boosters. Anchovies are a powerhouse of nutrition too!

They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals – providing a tasty and healthy addition to your beloved pizza.

The History of Anchovies on Pizza

Anchovy pizza

The story began in Italy, the birthplace of pizza. Traditionally, Italians used various local ingredients as pizza toppings, and given Italy’s long coastline, seafood was a natural choice.

As a readily available and inexpensive ingredient, anchovies soon found their way onto the pizza.

Italian immigrants brought their pizza recipes to new lands, including the United States, where pizza quickly grew popular.

As pizza evolved in these new environments, so too did the toppings, and the salty, pungent anchovy held its ground.

Yet, anchovies on pizza aren’t universally loved. Their use tends to fluctuate based on regional and cultural preferences.

For instance, in some parts of Italy, a pizza isn’t complete without anchovies.

Conversely, in other areas, you might have to specifically ask for this robust topping.

When it comes to pizza toppings, anchovies certainly aren’t a middle-of-the-road choice.

They are the ingredient that people either absolutely love or absolutely detest.

But one thing is for sure – they have earned their place in the rich tapestry of pizza history and will continue to be a part of its flavorful future.

What Makes a Good Pizza with Anchovies?

Roman pinsa with anchovies

Creating an unforgettable pizza with anchovies isn’t just about slapping some fish on the dough. It’s about striking a perfect harmony of flavors and textures that allow the anchovy’s unique taste to shine.

Let’s break down the essential elements.

The Dough

A pizza’s foundation, its soul, lies in the dough. A well-made dough can make or break your pizza experience.

For an outstanding homemade dough, you’ll need flour, warm water, yeast, salt, and olive oil.

The end result should be a dough that’s soft yet firm, perfect for a thin, crispy crust that can hold up the toppings without becoming soggy.

Now, if you’re short on time or simply not in the mood to play around with yeast, there’s no shame in opting for a good-quality store-bought dough.

Just ensure it’s fresh and ready to roll!

The Sauce

The tomato sauce’s tangy sweetness pairs wonderfully with the salty richness of anchovies.

For a homemade marinara sauce, all you need are fresh tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and your choice of herbs.

Simmer it all together until it becomes a thick, flavorful concoction that screams ‘delizioso’!

Again, for those hustle-and-bustle days, a jar of your favorite store-bought marinara will do the trick just fine.

Toppings That Pair Well with Anchovies

Close-up view of Roman traditional pizzas

The true artistry in pizza making is in the balance of toppings. With anchovies, you need to be a bit strategic.

The robust flavor of anchovies pairs excellently with the mild, creamy taste of mozzarella cheese.

Other complementary ingredients include briny olives, sharp capers, or sweet caramelized onions.

Want to spice it up a bit? A sprinkle of red pepper flakes or a crack of black pepper can add a nice kick that goes surprisingly well with the saltiness of the anchovies.

But we’re not stopping there. To really elevate your anchovy pizza, consider toppings that amplify the umami factor.

Think of ingredients like roasted garlic or earthy mushrooms.

On the other hand, a handful of fresh basil or peppery arugula can add a vibrant freshness that cuts through the pizza’s richness.

For the seafood lovers out there, why not consider piling on more from the sea?

Shrimp or clams can join the anchovy party to create a delightful seafood medley on your pizza.

Fresh and raw mediterranean anchovy on white background

Making Your Own Pizza at Home with Anchovies

Here’s a simple guide to get you started!

Preparation and Equipment

Before diving into the dough, it’s crucial to preheat your oven and pizza stone (if you have it).

The secret to a perfect pizza lies in a scorching-hot stone that mimics the conditions of a traditional pizza oven.

Using a pizza peel, a flat, shovel-like tool, allows for a seamless transition of your pizza to and from the oven. It might take a bit of practice, but once mastered, you’ll feel like a true pizzaiolo!

When preparing your dough, remember: patience is key. Kneading and shaping your dough takes time, but the payoff is worth it.

A beautifully round, thin base is what you’re aiming for.

And if you’re craving a bit of outdoor cooking, you can consider using a pizza oven or a grill as alternative methods.

They add a delightful smoky flavor that goes exceptionally well with the anchovies.

Assembly and Baking

Evenly spread your chosen sauce, followed by a good helping of mozzarella cheese.

Now comes the star of the show: arrange the anchovy fillets across the pizza in a pattern that ensures each slice gets its fair share.

Transfer your pizza to the preheated oven and keep a watchful eye as it bakes.

The aim is for a crispy, golden-brown crust and beautifully melted cheese.

Typically, a high oven temperature (around 475°F or 240°C) for about 12-15 minutes should do the trick, but keep in mind that every oven varies.

Serving and Enjoyment

Your homemade anchovy pizza is hot out of the oven and ready to be enjoyed!

Consider garnishing with some basil or oregano or a drizzle of olive oil for added flavor.

When slicing, it’s a good idea to aim for a size that allows each piece to hold its shape, ensuring the toppings stay put.

Finally, remember that pizza is a playground. This guide serves as a starting point, but feel free to experiment and personalize your toppings.

From a simple mozzarella and anchovy combo to a fully loaded seafood special, the possibilities are endless.

The most important part is to enjoy the process and savor the result!


Anchovies impart a unique taste to pizza that no other topping can rival.

It’s a taste that may divide the crowds, but for those who embrace it, it offers an exciting twist on the traditional pizza.

We’ve talked, we’ve explored, and now it’s time for you to jump right in.

So, the next time you’re preparing a homemade pizza, why not invite anchovies to the party?

Whether you’re an anchovy enthusiast or a curious novice, the result might just surprise and delight your palate.

After all, pizza is all about adventure and discovery, right?

Give it a try, and who knows, you might find that the anchovy pizza is your new favorite!

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