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Pizzagaina {Pizza Chiena, Pizza Rustica, Pizza Piena}

Pizzagaina is an Italian-American name for the Italian Pizza Piena also widely known as Pizza Rustica.

Pizza Chiena is a typical Neapolitan rustic ham, salami and cheese pie prepared during Easter, specifically on Good Friday.

Just like Crescia {Pizza Di Pasqua} it’s usually baked on Friday to be eaten the next day. Remember? According to Christian tradition you don’t eat meat on Good Friday.

This rich, tall, full of flavors pie is a true celebration of the end of lent season and Easter Holiday.

In Neapolitan dialect it’s called Pizza Chiena, in Italian – Pizza Piena which all literally means  – stuffed pizza or full pizza.

Even though it doesn’t look like pizza at all, it’s baked in apizza crust, hence the name.

Cheese, salami and ham can be cut in cubes and mixed all together (which is my preferred version) or can be sliced in thin slices and done in layers, a savory millefoglie if you will.

You can try it in one variation this time and do a different variation the next time around.

Depending on the region and on the family where you’re tasting Pizza Rustica it will differ in taste. In fact, even your own Pizzagaina might not taste the same every time you make it.

And that’s the beauty of it.

You can do slight variation to the ingredients depending on your mood, on what you have available at the grocery store and in your own fridge.

Another amazing thing about this pie is that it can be taste warm or completely cold. Just as panino, but 10x more delicious!

Imagine a large piece of a pie packed with flavor and nutrients.

A perfect lunch for after-the-holiday lazy times. 

Pizzagaina / Pizza Chiena Ingredients


Use traditional pizza crust from the recipe.

Store bought pizza dough will work as well.

If you prefer a thinner crust you can even make it with your favorite shortbread pie crust.


Nothing special here, just to clarify the egg count, use 4 large eggs or 5 medium eggs.


A traditional selection of cheese is Provolone, Parmesan, Pecorino and Ricotta.

Some recipes call for Primo Sale Cheese (fresh sheep’s milk cheese) together with ricotta. If you can find it in your area definitely give it a try. Use 250g ricotta and 250g Primo Sale cheese.

Ham & Salami

A mix of different cured meats is a must.

As a rule of a thumb go with salami and ham (prosciutto cotto) combo. But you can also use mortadella, capicollo, sopressata and even just salami.

More Italian Easter Recipes To Try

  • Italian Easter Cheese Bread {Pizza Di Pasqua} – a brioche-like savory bread, enriched with grated Pecorino, Parmesan cheese and stuffed with large piecex of hard cheese that melt inside the bread when its baked.
  • Lasagna Al Forno – no boil recipe, perfect for the big crowd!
  • Italian Lamb With Artichokes – easy and delicious recipe with lamb. Artichokes can be mixed or substituted with potatoes and peas.
  • Asparagus Risotto – one of the Easter classics that goes with with any main course.
  • Garmugia Soup – Tuscan spring soup with ground meat, asparagus, artichokes, fresh fava beans and sweet peas.
  • Italian Easter Cookies {Taralli Di Pasqua} – traditional Italian Easter Cookie Cakes from Puglia decorated with a hard boiled egg. Yeast free and easy to make.
  • Sfogliatellestep by step recipe with picture on how to make authentic layered Sfogliatelle Pastry filled with delicious ricotta filling (can be made in advance!)
  • Lazy Sfogliatelle – perfect for using any leftover filling from the authentic Soflgiatelle.
  • Scarcelle Pugliesi – Italian Easter Cookie Cakes.

Full Recipe

Whole Pizza Rustica on a serving plate

Pizzagaina {Pizza Chiena, Pizza Rustica, Pizza Piena}

Pizzagaina or Pizza Rustica is a tall, rich Italian rustic ham, salami and cheese pie with pizza crust traditional for Easter time.
Print Pin Rate / Comment
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Resting Time (waiting for the dough to rise)3 hours
Course: Bread, Pizza
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8


  • 500 g flour (17.5 oz)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + more to grease the pan
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp salt

For the filling:

  • 500 g ricotta (17.5 oz)
  • 5 oz Provolone cheese
  • 5 oz Salami
  • 5 oz Ham
  • 5 oz Parmesan
  • 2 oz Pecorino
  • 4-5 eggs
  • Salt , pepper to taste


Prepare the dough:

  • Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Egg flour, extra virgin olive. Knead well by hand or using a mixer. Lastly add salt.
  • Let rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours.

Prepare the filling:

  • Cut all the meats and the cheese into cubes. In a bowl beat the eggs with a bit of salt and pepper. Remember cold cuts already contain salt. Add salami and cheese to the egg mix.
  • Grease and flour a round baking pan with high edges.
  • Divide the dough in 2 pieces (one slightly larger than the other).
  • Roll a larger piece approx 1/4 inch thick. Arrange in the pan.
  • Now pour the filling and cover with another layer of dough. Make sure to close the edges perfectly, in order to prevent the egg mixture from spilling. With a sharp knife, cut the excess dough from around the brim of the pan. Fold the edges inside.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 350 °F for at least 50-70 minutes. Let cool completely.
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Happy Easter and Buona Pasqua!

Recipe Rating

Vincent Pace

Saturday 8th of April 2023

Looking for Pizzagaina recipe without ricotta cheese.

Ann Lauro

Monday 4th of January 2021

great recipes