“Pizza culture is among the nerdiest the food cultures,” claims author Scott Wiener. (He would certainly know. After all, Wiener possesses the world’s biggest collection of pizza boxes.)

The foodstuff’s long-time association with late-night fuel for programmers and also engineers glued to their computer system screens definitely supports the idea. But watching modern masters choose Anthony Mangieri of Una Pizza Napoletana elevate the craft into an nearly solemn arts form speaks come something even an ext relevant—that pizza breeds fanaticism, plain and also simple. That kind of singular, monomaniacal obsession is supported by insider’s-only jargon, together a method to distinguish the true pizzabois from the just pretenders.

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The reality that pizza arrived to America together an immigrant food probably created the need for its own vernacular, states NYC-based pizza tour guide Alexis Guerreros. “The furious competition, back-stabbing, family members feuds added to it too.”


But as much as us love emotion a component of this ritualized language, the reason for slang, part believe, is yes, really to sustain the folks grind it the end in front of the oven, churning the end pie after ~ pie, 7 days a week.

“Having a handful of password words and also cherished symbols you use among your fellow comrades is other that’s no for the customers, or also the owners,” states Brian Dwyer, that heads marketing for the Pizza mind pizza museum. “It’s for the human being in the shit, doing that every cursed night.”

To salute the tireless job-related of this pizza-makers (and attempt to gain deeper access into your world), we called upon number of pizzeria owners, historians, and writers to attract up a comprehensive vocabulary sheet. Our dashboard includes:

Brian Hernandez, PMQ‘s check chefKenji López-Alt, controlling Culinary Director at Serious Eats and creator that The Food LabJamie Slater, GM at huge Daddy’s Pizzeria


The an outcome of someone picking up a part of pizza fresh the end of the oven and also all the toppings sliding ideal off the the crust.


The leftover piece of crust that are discarded ~ above a plate.

Cheese pull

That stringy connection of cheese indigenous a part to the pizza, or mouth that pizza eater. Commonly used in TV ads because that extra-cheesy pizzas.

Prince St. Pizza, Sicilian slice. Photograph courtesy Adam Kuban

Cheese drag

When cheese pulls of the peak of a slice.

Cheese lock

The placement of cheese on top of the toppings so lock won’t slide around.


Exposed sauce between end the cheese and also beginning of crust.


A elevated lip top top the one of a pizza’s crust. Typically offered in reference to the in salt of a Neapolitan-style pizza. A method of differentiating the crust around the perimeter from the crust on the bottom of a pie.

Dom DeMarco of Di Fara. Picture by chris Schonberger


What a part is referred to in Old Forge, PA. Ideal exemplified by Salerno’s Café.


A feet in the dough (typically panic moment, together you don’t desire the sauce and cheese come leak ~ above the oven).


Used as soon as portioning balls of dough for service. It’s the action of taking dough indigenous one’s key mix and also working it into a undersized ball to make it the correct weight/size because that a single pie.

Fly pie

This phrase signals the you require a pizza fast due to the fact that of some sort of error through the first attempt.

Front door

The main opening that a coal-fired brick oven

Colony Grill in Stamford, CT. Photo by Liz Barclay

Frosty Governor

A client who wants a drink.


The sort of pizza do at residence in a paper pan prior to the work of the pizza stone. The dough is moved out to the edge, and then topped and baked. The significant characteristic is that the crust has not had time come proof, uneven the Sicilian slice, i m sorry has much more air in the crust. Grandma slices space thinner and an ext dense, conversely, Sicilian slices space thicker and also puffier.

Hole structure, or crumb

The network of gluten fibers in a tardy that create a lattice-like network in the internal of the crust. This hatchet is mutual with the larger bread-baking world.


A slice from a perfectly cut pizza.

Leopard spotting

The phenomenon whereby tiny bubbles along the pickled in salt of a pizza puff up and also are burned black. Largely happens in the intense heat of a wood-fired stove (but sometimes in coal-ovens or various other blazing-hot ovens). If done right, the clues aren’t acrid or bitter, and they are actually a preferable trait among many pizza fans and pizza-makers.

Photo by Liz Barclay


Term offered to describe low-moisture mozzarella cheese.



On deck

Pizzas all set to be loaded right into the oven.

Party cut

A circular pizza reduced into squares. Mostly uncovered in St. Louis.


Word frequently used to describe whole pizza; the term tends to be used an ext on the eastern coast

Pie in the sky

Passing stretched dough come the other side the the heat (applies to spaces through a bigger kitchens).

Dani’s in Kew Gardens, NY. Photograph by Liz Barclay

Pie walking

When an stimulate is up and ready come be required to a table.

Pizza palate

A.k.a., pizza burn or roof burn—a burn on the roof of her mouth from pizza that’s also hot.

Pizzaiolo/pizzaioli (masculine) & pizzaiola/pizzaiole (feminine)

Italian because that pizza maker. Keep in mind the masculine and also feminine forms; a many of world mess this up. Also, like cornicione, it’ll make you sound favor an ass if you’re making use of it external the Neapolitan context.


If friend order a “plain” in new Haven, it means no cheese. In NYC, girlfriend say slice because that a consistent cheese, no “can I have a cheese slice.” relying on where you space in the country, the word takes on various meanings.

Pot cheese

Another surname for ricotta, often used in Newark. “Let me acquire a slice through pot cheese on top.”

Reggie alert

A warning that lots of tourist types just walked in. It is in advised: negative tips, clueless ordering, messy tables, many questions about ‘how the menu works.’

Photo by Liz Barclay


Slice taken because that the road.


A mezzaluna or bent blade because that cutting Chicago deep-dish pizzas.


A pizza-slicing wheel.


When the crust it s okay damp from too much liquid on top, or native enclosure in the pizza box.

Sauce ’em all, cheese ’em all

An circumstances where a bunch of plain pies have just been ordered. Way treat whatever on the heat the same way.


Newark parlance. Once a pie comes the end perfectly (i.e.. Gold color top top the sheet of the crust, sauce peeking the end from the edge of the cheese, cheese is same toasty, orange oil glistening), it’s referred to as a Sinatra.

Slap out some skins

The action of extending out dough balls.

Photo through Liz Barclay

Snag ‘n’ drag

The activity of acquisition a part of pizza indigenous the tray—you should snag, climate drag, horizontally come ensure nothing slips turn off the crust

Sunday pie

Usually offered in link with an inexperienced dough thrower. Periodically the skin is uneven, and also the dough has tendency to have actually thin point out in the facility of the pie from delivering a heavy load of toppings. When it’s loaded in the oven it may build a tiny hole, which need to be reduced so the the hole doesn’t sit in the middle of a slice. Sometimes called a holey (holy) pie, this form of amateur-hour pizza is commonly referred to as a Sunday pie.

Swingin’ hot

When the man running the cooktop is swinging a warm pie out of the heat and doesn’t desire to struggle someone. So if a person calls “swingin’ hot,” everyone freezes till the pie touches under on the “LZ” (landing zone).

Three Bears-style

Pie is reduced in unequal dimension slices. (Momma Bear, Papa Bear, and also Baby bear slices—too large, as well small, just right)



“Tip jar Time,” meaning, a bunch that customers just walked in—figure out just how to free up some of their loosened cash.

Upskirt, or under the hood

Checking the end the bottom of the tardy to examine char marks.

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Wet mutz

Refers to fresh mozzarella.

White residence (a.k.a., The Obama)

Used to describe whether a pizza is to-go or because that the house. The best selling pie at finest Pizza is the white pizza. So if they’re food preparation white pizza because that the house, they contact it a white house, i m sorry then became the Obama. “I need an Obama!”