(quote) Jerry-74383 said: How does authentic Italian pizza differ from American pizza? I have never had any exposure to authentic Italian food, so I ask this out of curiosity not to challenge...
Essentially, there are only two variations of authentic Italian pizza.
First of all the crust is neither thin, like the New York kind nor thick like Chicago Deep Dish.
Then you have either the basic pizza, which is usually labeled Cheese pizza here. The crust has just a marinara sauce with mozzarella cheese on top. Sometimes grated Parmesan cheese is also sprinkled on top.
The alternative is the meat pizza which has the marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and either sausage or pepperoni on top.
Al the other toppings we can get here are strictly American invented variations.
I don't know if it is still the law in Italy, but at one time what could be called pizza was controlled by law which specified as noted above. This was similar to the wine laws which specify what a specific named variety of wine is. What variety of grapes are used, grown in specific geographic areas, etc
Strictly speaking, the classic pizzas were from the Naples region. Although, all regions had adopted some form.
Related to pizza is Foccocia (sic). The crust is basically the same, just a flat bread, solely topped with olive oil and herbs, possible just a wash of tomato sauce on it. After the crust is rolled out flat and allowed to rise, the fingers are used to make indentations on the top of the crust to hold small pockets of the olive oil. It is not drenched with olive oil.
Chicago deep dish originates with a different dish. Essentially one where pizza dough is used to make a pie which is stuffed with various ingredients of choice. My dad would make an onion pie for example.
I know people like all the various toppings that we see, like the Hawaiian, ugh. But to me, the results are not pizza. On the question of pizza, I am a purist at heart and disdain all these variations.