Pepperoni is America’s most popular pizza topping and for good reason. When meat is blessed with paprika, garlic, mustard seed, fennel seed, and peppers of all sorts, magic happens. Then, in the oven, the melt-in-your-mouth fat is rendered to jibe perfectly with your umami bomb of a slice.
Yup, meat makers and your local pizzaiolos have it all down to a science. And, statistically speaking, you love pepperoni just as much as we do. With all due respect to ‘roni, we have something important to tell you: There’s a wide world of pepperoniesque toppings out there, and they’re arguably even more delicious. Today, we’re going to start with two of our fave facsimiles for pepperoni – soppressata and ‘nduja.
Are you ready to have your mind blown? Are you ready to increase your pizza’s deliciousness tenfold? Are you sitting down, preferably in elastic waist pants? Good. Because you’re going to want lots and lots of pizza topped with these close cousins of pepperoni.
What is soppressata?
Soppressata (also spelled “soprassata” or “sopressata;” pronounced: “soh-press-sah-tuh” or “I’ll take three pounds of that over there”) hails from the same salami family as pepperoni. More specifically, it originates from southern Italian regions like Apulia and Calabria.
Like pepperoni, it’s made with ground meat and a garlicky and fennel-forward spice blend. Unlike pepperoni, it’s natively to pizza’s motherland (pepperoni is an Italian-American invention) and, usually, it’s purely pork, rather than ‘roni’s pork/beef blend.
There’s a lot of diversity in the soppressata world. You’ll find types punctuated with everything from red wine to fresh basil. If you’re new to soppressata, there’s no need to get into the nitty gritty just yet. Just know that there are two main types – hot and sweet. If you’re the type to empty out the crushed red pepper shaker on the counter, hot is the move. If you don’t want to spice up your slice, you already know what the move is. (FYI – “Sweet” pretty much means “not hot” in the context of sausage. Never cloying, sweet soppressata just delivers the meaty goodness you crave.)
You won’t see soppressata pizza at every slice shop, but you’ll find it on the menu at lots of local pizzerias near you.
What is ‘nduja?
‘Nduja has been around for centuries. Even before it emerged in and around Naples, spicy spreadable sausage was the jam in Spain and France, dating back to the 13th century. Somehow, ‘nduja didn’t have its moment in the U.S. until ~2015. Oh well, better late than never. And, thankfully, ‘nduja is not a fad like fondue, $24 unicorn-colored milkshakes, or fidget spinners – it’s here to stay and make your pizza more delicious than ever.
Pepperoni tends to include all sorts cuts, but ‘nduja makers trim it down to specific pork selections to ensure the perfect meat/fat ratio and mouthfeel. It’s also packed with exceptionally high-quality peppers from the Calabrian region. Some ‘ndujas register high on the scoville scale and, occasionally, flirt with the Richter scale. At any spice level, it’s divine and it belongs on your pie. And, speaking of flirting, hot chili peppers are a known aphrodisiac, so ‘nduja pizza is a good call for date night. Besides, you’ll sound more sophisticated when you order nduja instead of pepperoni on your pizza.
The most important question of all: Where can I get soppressata and ‘nduja pizza near me?
We’ve got your ‘nduja and soppressata pizza covered and topped. Find and order the best local pizza for delivery or pickup with the Slice app.