Is Pizza an Open Faced Sandwich?

When it comes to food classifications, there’s often a thin crust of difference between categories. One of the most deliciously controversial debates in the culinary world is the question: Is pizza an open faced sandwich?

In this comprehensive look, we’ll slice into the history, definitions, and differing opinions to shed light on this mouthwatering mystery.

The Origin of Pizza and Sandwiches

The tale of pizza begins in the streets of Naples, Italy, during the 18th century. It was a simple street food for the poor, featuring a flatbread topped with ingredients like tomatoes, cheese, and basil.

Meanwhile, the modern sandwich traces back to 18th-century Europe, named after John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, known for eating meat tucked between slices of bread to avoid interrupting his gambling.

Historic Timeline Comparison
Year Pizza Sandwich
18th Century Neapolitan street food emerges Earl of Sandwich popularizes meat between bread
19th Century Italian immigrants introduced pizza to America Industrialization popularizes the sandwich as a portable lunch

Defining a Sandwich

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a sandwich is “two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between.”

This seemingly simple definition leaves room for interpretation, leading to the inclusion of open-faced sandwiches, which feature a single slice of bread topped with various ingredients.


Pizza vs. Open Faced Sandwich

  • Bread Base: Both pizza and open faced sandwiches begin with a bread base, be it dough or a slice of bread.
  • Toppings: Toppings are where both dishes shine, with nearly endless possibilities, from classic marinara and mozzarella to avant-garde culinary creations.
  • Cooking Method: Pizzas are typically baked in ovens, a trait shared with many open faced sandwiches.
  • Eating Style: Open faced sandwiches and pizzas can both be eaten with utensils or hands, depending on the diner’s preference and the dish’s structural integrity.

Despite these similarities, many purists would argue that the intention behind pizza—as an independent dish rather than a bread vessel for other ingredients—makes it distinct from the sandwich family.

Cultural Perspectives

What’s in a name? That which we call a pizza, by any other name would taste as delicious. Yet, globally, cultural perspectives weigh in on this debate:

  • In Italy, the concept of a sandwich as an open faced construction like pizza is virtually non-existent; pizza is a distinct entity unto itself.
  • In America, the USDA’s school lunch guidelines have in the past considered pizza as a vegetable serving due to its tomato paste, further distancing it from sandwich territory.
  • In other parts of the world, the lines are more blurred, with dishes such as Turkish Pide often referred to as “Turkish pizza” despite being similar to an open faced sandwich.

Frequently Asked Questions Of Is Pizza An Open Faced Sandwich

What Defines An Open-faced Sandwich?

An open-faced sandwich typically consists of a single slice of bread topped with various ingredients, eaten with utensils.

Is Pizza Considered A Sandwich?

Pizza is generally not considered a sandwich because it lacks a top layer of bread, which is a key characteristic of traditional sandwiches.

What Categorizes Food As A Sandwich?

A sandwich is usually two pieces of bread with fillings such as meat, cheese, or vegetables in between.

Can Pizza Be Called A Pie?

Pizza is often called a “pie” due to its round shape and pie-like layers of dough, sauce, and toppings.


While the question of whether pizza is an open faced sandwich may not have a definitive answer, it is clear that both culinary creations bring people together and continue to inspire creativity in kitchens around the world.

Whether you consider pizza a relative of the sandwich or a standalone marvel, one thing is undeniable: it’s a dish best served shared.


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