Nonna's Pizzagaina Recipe

Explore the authentic Nonna's Pizzagaina recipe, a cherished Italian tradition. Learn how to make this savory pie at home with our guide.

Nonna's Pizzagaina

    Nonna's Pizzagaina

  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Category: Main Dish, Savory Pie
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Servings: 8
  • Calories: 250 calories

Nonna's Pizzagaina, also known as Pizza Rustica, is a cherished and traditional Italian dish that holds a special place in many Italian-American families' hearts. This savory pie is a testament to the rich culinary heritage passed down through generations. What sets it apart is not just its delightful taste but the warm memories associated with it.

The recipe typically features a delectable combination of high-quality ingredients like ricotta, mozzarella, and Pecorino Romano cheeses, blended with eggs, fresh herbs, and sometimes cured meats. These ingredients are nestled between two layers of a tender, flaky crust. The dough is a crucial element of the dish, providing a perfect balance of crispness and tenderness.

Prepared in a rectangular or round pan, it's a dish that's as diverse as the families who make it. Some variations include prosciutto, salami, or even sausage, adding distinct flavors to the filling. It's often served during special occasions and family gatherings, such as Easter or other holidays, making it a symbol of togetherness and celebration.

Nonna's Pizzagaina represents a beautiful fusion of culinary tradition and personal history, encapsulating the love and care that grandmothers pour into their cooking. It's not just a dish; it's a piece of family heritage, a taste of Italy, and a slice of heartwarming nostalgia.


Discover the delectable world of Nonna's Pizzagaina - a taste of tradition and family, with a twist of culinary innovation. Dive in!


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1/2 pound ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup diced salami or prosciutto (optional)

Method Instructions

  1. Start with the crust: In a food processor, combine the flour, cold butter, cold shortening, and Pecorino Romano cheese. Pulse until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat 2 eggs and add ice water. Pour this mixture into the food processor and pulse until the dough comes together. If it's too dry, add a little more ice water.
  3. Divide the dough into two portions, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  5. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, 4 eggs, parsley, black pepper, salt, and salami or prosciutto if using.
  6. Take the larger dough portion and roll it out to line the bottom of a greased 9-inch pie dish.
  7. Add the filling on top of the dough.
  8. Roll out the smaller dough portion and place it over the filling, sealing the edges with the bottom crust.
  9. Brush the top with a beaten egg for a golden finish.
  10. Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is set.
  11. Allow it to cool for a bit before slicing and serving.

Recipe Video

Nonna's Pizzagaina

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Recipe Tags: Nonna's Pizzagaina, Nonna's Pizzagaina Recipe, Recipe


Serving Nonna's Pizzagaina is a delightful experience that's often shared with family and friends. Here's how to serve it:

  • Slice it: After letting the Pizzagaina cool for a bit, carefully slice it into individual portions. A pizza cutter or a sharp knife works well.
  • Serve Warm or at Room Temperature: Nonna's Pizzagaina can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature, depending on your preference. It's often served as part of a larger meal or as the main course.
  • Accompaniments: It's delicious on its own, but you can enhance the experience with some accompaniments. A simple green salad, pickles, or olives make for great side dishes.
  • Garnish: If desired, you can garnish each serving with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, such as basil or parsley, to add a pop of color and flavor.
  • Pair with Wine: In true Italian fashion, consider serving a nice red wine alongside your Pizzagaina. A Chianti or a Sangiovese pairs well with the flavors of the dish.
  • Share the Tradition: Part of the charm of Nonna's Pizzagaina is the tradition it carries. Share stories about its history and significance as you enjoy it with loved ones. It's a dish that often brings generations together.

Note: Pizzagaina is quite filling, so smaller portions are often sufficient. Enjoy your Nonna's Pizzagaina in good company, and savor the blend of flavors and memories it represents.


  1. Use Quality Ingredients: Since this dish relies on a handful of key ingredients, invest in high-quality cheeses, fresh herbs, and, if you choose to include cured meats, select premium options. The better the ingredients, the better the flavor.
  2. Customize to Your Taste: While the traditional recipe is wonderful, feel free to personalize it. Add your favorite ingredients like sautéed vegetables, different cheeses, or herbs to make it your own.
  3. Prepare the Dough in Advance: Making the dough can be time-consuming, so consider preparing it in advance or even using a store-bought pie crust to save time.
  4. Avoid a Soggy Bottom: To prevent a soggy crust, consider brushing the bottom layer of dough with a beaten egg before adding the filling. This creates a protective barrier between the crust and the wet ingredients.
  5. Properly Seal the Edges: Ensure the top layer of dough is securely sealed to the bottom layer to prevent any filling from leaking during baking.
  6. Egg Wash for a Golden Finish: Brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg to achieve a beautiful golden crust.
  7. Cool Before Slicing: Let the Pizzagaina cool for a little while after baking before slicing. This helps the filling set, making it easier to cut into clean portions.
  8. Plan Ahead for Special Occasions: Nonna's Pizzagaina is often associated with holidays and celebrations. Plan to make it ahead of time, as the flavors can deepen and meld together when it's allowed to sit for a day or two.
  9. Share the Tradition: This dish is as much about the tradition and the stories as it is about the taste. Share the history and significance of Nonna's Pizzagaina with those you serve it to. It's a beautiful way to connect with your culinary heritage.

Ingredient Substitutes

  1. Dough:
    • If you're short on time, you can use store-bought pie crust or puff pastry.
    • For a gluten-free version, use a gluten-free pie crust or a homemade gluten-free dough.
  2. Cheeses:
    • Substitute Pecorino Romano with Parmesan or Grana Padano.
    • Replace mozzarella with provolone, cheddar, or another melting cheese.
  3. Cured Meats (optional):
    • Omit the salami or prosciutto for a vegetarian version.
    • Substitute with your favorite vegetarian or vegan alternatives, like plant-based sausage or tempeh for a meatless option.
  4. Ricotta:
    • If you're dairy-free, you can use tofu or a dairy-free ricotta alternative.
    • Cottage cheese can also be used as a substitute for ricotta.
  5. Herbs:
    • Adjust the herbs to your preference. Basil and parsley are commonly used, but you can experiment with herbs like oregano or thyme.
  6. Eggs:
    • For an egg-free version, you can try egg substitutes like flax or chia eggs, or commercial egg replacers.
  7. Vegetables:
    • Feel free to add sauteed or roasted vegetables like spinach, bell peppers, or mushrooms for a different flavor profile.
  8. Salt:
    • Adjust the salt to your taste or use a salt substitute if you have dietary restrictions.


Nonna's Pizzagaina is more than a recipe; it's a slice of family history. Share the love, tradition, and flavors. Buon appetito!

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