Classic and true Italian pizzas have become lost in a sea of pies that swirl around on modern menus. It has become so pervasive that when you ask a place for a real traditional classic, they really don’t know what you’re talking about. One such example is the Tartufo Pizza, or more correctly, Pizza Tartufo.
This specialty features truffles with a pastry-dough-like crust that fills with a blend of meat, seasonings and cheeses along with a drizzle of truffle oil. There are three kinds: black truffle, white truffle or both. These bake in a wood or brick oven to make it delectably crispy.
With truffles as the base, it makes for a richer pizza experience. Many restaurants throughout the US feature such a pie, but you can also make one for yourself at home. However, truffles are not cheap and you will have to keep your eye out for sales at gourmet food stores and your local grocery store.
Tartufo Pizza History
Tartufo Pizza is a Naples staple and began around the 1800s in the Campania region of Italy. At the time, mozzarella and truffles were not common pizza ingredients. But, once they released the Tartufo, it became an instant hit. Actually tartufo is Italian for “truffle,” hence the name.
After pizza traversed the world in the early 1900s, especially the United States, this style of pizza became less of a novelty. However, these days, it’s a specialty pizza with a cult following. Of course, you have to love truffles and garlic to appreciate the savory, gooey crunchiness this pie offers.
Typical Tartufo Pizza Ingredients
The following list of ingredients is typically what comprises a traditional Tartufo pizza. Understand this is not for those who don’t like much garlic or are squeamish about it. Truly, it’s a garlic-lovers only kind of pie.
Unlike typical tomato-based sauces, a Tartufo pizza requires an olive oil base, usually macerated in garlic. But, which sauce you use will depend on if you’re going with white or black truffles. For black truffles, simply warm about a tablespoon per clove of garlic in a frying pan until the aromatics release.
How much you make will depend on the size of your pizza, but the average is about ½ cup. Removing the garlic is optional, but some people put it in a blender or food processor so it becomes a little more like a paste than a drippy oil.
For white truffles, either you will need a béchamel sauce or you can make a cream sauce. Parmesan, white truffles and heavy cream combine to create a flavorful and rich sauce that pairs well with just about any cheese. To stay within tradition, make the sauce from white truffles and allow the toppings to be black truffles.
Truffles are not like other mushrooms in the realm of fungus. Delicious doesn’t begin to describe them and they provide a meaty, earthy flavor that’s absolutely out of this world! But, due to their expense, you will have to shave or thinly slice the truffles to ensure even coverage over the pizza.
If you want to use black truffles, then you’re going to have a Pizza al Tartufo Nero. For pizzas with white truffles, they call it Tartufo Bianco. But, if you’re combining both black and white truffles, then Pizza Tartufo it is!
You can use whatever kind of cheese you like if you’re making a Tartufo at home. However, mozzarella and burrata seem to be the most common. Yet, you can use asiago, mascarpone, ricotta, fontina, rochetta, gruyere or parmesan too. The idea is to select two types of cheese that will not only complement each other but also the truffles and other toppings.
If you can’t afford to put truffles on your Tartufo pizza, that’s absolutely acceptable. But, the one ingredient you’ll need is truffle oil. It should be authentic and all natural. This will add the truffle’s signature nutty flavor without costing a fortune.
While it’s advisable to drizzle some onto your pie before putting it in the oven, you should also drizzle a little more after it finishes cooking. This will give the best taste with a burst of flavor from it being both baked and cold.
Aside from the garlic you use for the sauce, top your Tartufo Pizza with fresh roasted garlic. You can make this into a paste that you slather over the sauce or you can slice it up once it cools. To help control all the garlicky taste, place a few thinly sliced potatoes over it. This will actually make it closer to the Italian classic.
Truffles and truffle oil are excellent with a host of seasonings, spices and garnishes. However, toppings should be minimal, with a focus on the truffles and their umami.
- Sage: Fresh or dried sage is perfect for white truffles. It brings out the flavor in the fungus and helps distribute it evenly amid the olive oil and garlic.
- Basil: Fresh basil is always an excellent choice for any pizza and Tartufo is no exception. The robust pungency of basil is a wonderful accompaniment to the dough supporting the truffles.
- Artichokes: Adding artichokes to a Tartufo Pizza makes it as close to what you can find in Italy as possible. They help absorb some of the overwhelming garlic flavor while complementing the truffles in a lovely way that sits well on the palette.
- Onions: Caramelized onions are great for a Tartufo Pizza. They bake beautifully in the oven and add a special zing with the mushrooms and garlic. You can use a little or a lot depending on your preference.
- Meat: Ham, prosciutto, pork belly, uncured bacon or some other pork-based meat is the best way to stay traditional. You can use beef or chicken too, but pork pares well with truffles.
Where to Buy Tartufo Pizza
Every major city has at least one Italian eatery with a truffle pizza. Do an online search via your location. Just type in your city and state and then “Tartufo Pizza” (keep the quotes). Alternatively, Slice.com, Grub Hub or Door Dash have lists of pizzerias closest to you.
The places mentioned below are some of the most popular and widely accessible. This is a great way to taste a Tartufo Pizza before you spend the money to make it from scratch at home.
- Pizza Bien: They have real-deal authentic pizzas handmade in Italy and delivered right to your door! You cook them in the oven yourself. This company prides itself on offering a Tartufo Pizza and many fans rave about it.
- Talia di Napoli: This restaurant makes frozen pizzas and ships nationwide. They offer a six or eight pack of Tartufina pizzas that you defrost and cook at home. These have summer truffles and porcini mushrooms, with a price tag ranging $120 to $144 for the packs.
- Bar Cargo: Even though this restaurant is in Chicago and they don’t ship pizzas to your door, it’s an absolute must-try if you ever get to the Windy City in December. That is, of course, if you can afford it since their Tartufo pizza costs $500.
- Chazz Palminteri Italian Restaurant: This high-class pizzeria has two locations in New York, which are in White Plains and the Big Apple. But the White Plains location is famous for its Tartufo pizza. They use plain button mushrooms with truffle oil, so it’s much more affordable and yet still incredibly delicious.
Tartufo pizza is a must-try for any serious pizza lover with a penchant for mushrooms. It’s unlike any other kind since the sauce and toppings aren’t the typical fare we’re used to, comprising tomatoes and mozzarella. The best way to understand the flavor of a Tartufo Pizza is to try it yourself.