I have a friend who says, “There’s no such thing as bad pizza.” He’s wrong. I can think of 12 reasons pizza can be awful. But what’s the use in being so negative? Pizza is amazing, and outside of the air conditioner, perhaps the greatest invention of all time. In an effort to make this fair, these toppings are considered as single topping orders. In other words, would you go to a pizza parlor and order a pizza with one of these topping, all by their lonesome? Some of these you might — but some you really shouldn’t.
If your favorite’s on the naughty list, don’t fret! Someone liked The Emoji Movie too, so wear your pizza pride as a badge of honor.
When you think mushroom pizza, you probably think of it as an add-on to pepperoni or onions, but you need to re-think your pizza strategy. This isn’t your father’s mushroom pizza anymore. Varieties of mushrooms — portobello, porcini, and wild — now top pizzas, and they bring a strong, fresh flavor that doesn’t need any accompaniment from the usual dance partners. Be on the lookout for a mushroom pizza, it’ll change your life.
If you like your pizza with no sauce, you can thank the city of New Haven, Connecticut, and specifically Pepe’s. Don’t shy away from it — clams on a pizza work. Traditionally served on “apizza” (which just means a thin crust from New Haven, not New York) the crispy crust and sweet, slightly salty clams work so well with the cheese and the dough.
Sometimes you hear a topping and just say, “Nah.” Don’t run from spinach, there’s so much here that’s perfect. Spinach is a rare topping that works on both traditional pizza and a white pizza. If you think spinach is bitter (and it kinda is) the dough and cheese will soften the blow. If there were an award for most underrated topping, spinach would hold the trophy high.
If you think you don’t like artichoke, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s a potato texture, with a slightly nutty, sweet taste. The creamy texture of an artichoke is made for pizza. If you’re big on the veggie pizza, you need to incorporate artichokes into your pizza rotation.
Best: Sun-dried tomatoes
You might think, “Why would I put tomatoes on a pizza with tomato sauce?” Truth is that all tomatoes work great on a pizza, but the sun-dried tomato just bursts with even more flavor when incorporated with a pizza. As you know, the sun-drying process sucks the moisture out of the tomato, intensifying the flavor. That leftover flavor packs so much sweetness into every bite, you can’t go wrong with sun-dried tomatoes.
Best: Barbecue chicken
There are people that insist it’s not pizza without marinara sauce. There are also people who are wrong. Likely invented in Memphis — although the kids out at Spago probably disagree — the barbecue pizza is now an accepted staple at every mom and pop pizza place around. Regardless of who invented it, chicken on a pizza works, and barbecue sauce makes it even better. Barbecue chicken is the most important addition to pizza since the invention of dough, as it opened the door for many popular “non-traditional” toppings.
“Hi, I’ll take a durian pizza please.” Said no one ever. Except that it’s a thing, but regardless, there isn’t a single fruit that works on pizzas — except for the humble pineapple. It got its start on a Hawaiian pizza, but pineapple is now a standalone topping, because cheese, sauce, and the sweet juicy flavor of pineapple are pizza’s PB&J. How no one thought of it sooner is beyond me.
Best: Black olives
A black olive pizza is just fantastic. That salty, earthy flavor melds with the sauce and cheese to make every bite just perfect. Truth be told, any olive will work on a pizza, but a black olive pizza is always a solid go-to.
What can’t bacon do? It works on burgers, chicken, even more bacon! You can make it into a taco shell (although I understand that’s difficult), and of course, it loves pizza. If you want to get broad, you can include Canadian bacon here too, because in my book, all bacon is bacon, and the salted magic food loves to sit atop a pizza. Bacon loves pizza, and we all love bacon, so let’s all have a bacon pizza.
It’s been around so long it’s often overlooked, but a sausage pizza is fantastic. As time evolves, different types of sausage are available in most locales, but a good, ole fashioned sausage pizza is still the tops. You can make the case that pizza as we know it today (sort of at least) originally contained sausage as the meat. It’s still a classic, and often overlooked because as a topping it’s older than dirt.
There are many things you can pluck directly from your garden and drop onto a plate, but the peppery, spicy, and slightly minty flavor of basil is tops. Basil and tomato go together almost too well, and marrying them onto a pizza is the most incredible thing ever. You don’t need anything else — just a pizza with basil.
It only makes sense that pepperoni, an Italian-American invention (more or less), is the best topping for a dish that became popular around the world because of the good old U.S.A. The pepperoni pizza is the staple, it’s the safety school of “I’m out of town and I want pizza.” It’s hard to mess it up — the cured meat goes well with high heat, and provides a salty, crunchy, and flavorful topping. Even the drippings incorporate onto the pizza to make the entire dish delectable. Just because you knew it was coming it doesn’t make it wrong. Pepperoni pizza is fantastic.