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What is scachatta?

Here at The Sauce, we’ve got a lot of love for cold or room temperature pizza, and that’s not because we’re too lazy to reheat it. Okay, well, sometimes we skip the stove out of convenience, but today’s cold pizza can be just as tasty as last night’s fresh pie. College frosh aren’t always known for their taste, but we like their style when it comes to breakfast. If you’re enjoying a cold slice in bed next to your Bob Marley poster, you’re doing something right.

If you’re into not-hot pizza as much as we are, you’ll want to get familiar with scachatta, Tampa’s signature room temperature pizza with a Cuban twist. Let’s dig in.

What is scachatta?

Alessi Bakery Tampa
Might as well get some dessert while we’re here

Scachatta is a pizza – or, perhaps, a pizzaesque delicacy – most commonly found in and around Tampa, Florida. It’s made with a thick, soft, and certifiably addictive egg dough and topped off with a beef-laden tomato sauce and sprinkled with grated cheese.

Scachatta is awfully similar to sfincione, a southern Italian variation of pizza with a base reminiscent of focaccia and no more than a gentle sprinkling of cheese (Sometimes, there’s no cheese at all.) And, if you contrasted scachatta with Philadelphia’s beloved tomato pie, the middle part of the Venn diagram would be a whopper. However, they all come to a fork on the table thanks to scachatta’s yolked-dough and meat-anchored sauce. 

In Tampa, you can order your scachatta to-go and heat it up at home if you want, but why would you mess with perfection? Room temp is how they serve tomato pies in Philly; ditto for Italy and sfincione during the warmer months. When you’re in Tampa, do as the Tampanians and eat your scachatta at ~70°F.

Where did scachatta come from?

Scachatta pizza
Slices Strips of scachatta

The exact history of scachatta has gotten lost in the sauce, to an extent. No one knows who baked or sold the first scachatta, but some of its early purveyors are still dishing out slices of it to this day. That includes Alessi, Angelito’s, and La Segunda Bakery, an Ybor City mainstay since 1915. 

Do pizzerias sell scachatta?

For the most part, scachatta is served at bakeries in and around Tampa, Florida. These old-school shops – some Italian, some Cuban, and some a blend of both – offer savory dishes of all sorts to go with their sweets.

How is scachatta made?

Scachatta all starts with an egg-based dough, which makes it an oddity in the pizza world, but a natural fit for bakeries. After that, the order of operations is pretty simple – the not-quite-bolognese sauce is ladled on, followed by the finishing touch of a grated cheese like parmesan. Again, there’s only a little bit of cheese; a light dusting a la Salt Bae, but with a little less pomp.

Wait, isn’t there an Italian dish called scachatta? Is that the same thing?

Yes and no, respectively.

Italian scachatta or sciachiatta is a Sicilian meat pie filled with ground pork or Italian sausage, served sauceless and often cheeseless. Italian sciachiatta is different from the scachatta you’ll find in Florida and it’s not quite a pizza, but it’s also pretty darn tasty. Order sciachiatta if you’re lucky enough to stumble across it, just know that it’s not the same as Tampa’s.  

Can I get something like scachatta near me?

Philly Tomato Pie
One heck of a consolation prize

Yes!  Close cousins of scachatta can be found at mom & pop shops all across the United States. If you’re not in Tampa, try:

Sfincione: Thick dough, well-seasoned sauce, light on cheese, and pretty darn close to scachatta. If you’re in New York, you can order world-class sfincione from pizzerias like Salvatore’s of Elmont, Bklyn Pizza, and Papa Sal’s.

Philly Tomato Pie: The Philly Tomato Pie is also a lot like scachatta, just without eggs in the dough, or meat in the sauce, which is on the smoother side. Scachatta isn’t exactly the same as PTP, but that’s NBD because it’s equally delicious.

Sicilian: With ample cheese and a crunchier crust, Sicilian pizza is much further removed from scachatta, but it’s still square-shaped and spectacular. It’s also available at lots of local shops, especially in the Northeast. 

Detroit-style pizza: It’s got a crunchy fried exterior, but the inside of the right-angled crust is soft and buttery. We like to pile our Detroit-style pizza high with pepperoni and lots of cheese, but you can sort of replicate scachatta by ordering yours with a ground meat topping and grated romano.   

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