The Nostalgia of Pizza Toast — And Why I Still Love It As an Adult
Pizza toast is the epitome of the quick bite fix made with any type of bread and toppings. And lately it's transformed into a viral trend with a more sophisticated spin. Here’s what pizza toast meant for me as a child and how I enjoy it now with an adult palate.
Pizza toast and pizza bagels are essentially the same idea — you take a slice of bread or bagel, slathering it with pizza sauce, cheese and a couple toppings. It’s a single serve snack idea that can be made in as little as 5 minutes and satisfies a craving without having to wait for pizza delivery.
Eating pizza in this snacky way has been around for many years but became popular again earlier this year when Hailey Bieber shared her version of it on TikTok. It grabbed the attention of millions because it started with a couple slices of bread and the word "pizza," so it was very approachable. But then Hailey elevated the classic by slathering sourdough bread with truffle oil (not just olive oil), adding burrata (not just shredded mozzarella cheese) and marinated fresh tomato slices (not just pizza sauce). Her video took something as simple as pizza toast and made it more sophisticated and interesting.
And that spurred a fun trend on social media; everyone was trying Bieber’s viral pizza toast with the layers of goodness and giving their own take on the recipe. It also got me thinking about what I love most about pizza and what toppings I would add to it.
The Nostalgia of Pizza Toast
I think the idea of pizza toast brings back memories for many kids growing up in the US. It’s one of those quick snacks I knew I could make on my own without my mom’s help after school. I would take a bagel, slice it in half, spread pizza sauce on it, sprinkle mozzarella cheese and add either olives or banana peppers. Those were my favorite toppings probably because of my Mediterranean roots.
While I make a version of that for my kids’ lunchboxes from time to time, I hadn’t enjoyed pizza toast of my own since my teenage years. I remember how comforting the aroma of the pizza sauce and cheese was when I was hungry and dinner wasn’t quite ready yet. And I remember how my other siblings would rush into the kitchen to see if I would share a slice with them. But I had "cooked this myself" I would tell them, and proceed to show them how easy it was to make their own. The nostalgia of pizza toast quickly rushed back to me watching the reimagination of pizza toast on social media.
In the version that I’m sharing here, I use sourdough bread from a local bakery and I drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil that infuses the bread while browning slightly in the oven. I then layer it with whole milk burrata, which easily spreads onto the sourdough bread when I cut into it and lends a rich, milky and even buttery taste to the pizza toast. I top it off with some sliced tomatoes that have softened from sitting in a marinade of olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and bake it once again. When it comes out of the oven, I top it with my childhood favorites: warm pizza sauce, grated Parmesan cheese, oregano and sliced banana peppers. It’s saucy, tangy, bright and beautiful with the most satisfying crunch and flashback to my childhood pizza bagel days.
Pizza Toast Variations
Pizza toast is essentially an open canvas to mix-and-match any type of bread toasted in the oven with any ingredients you love or remind you of your childhood. What I love about this modern version is that it builds upon the layers of the toast for something that feels just as approachable as it is decadent.
Think about doing a veggie-lover’s version filled with mushrooms and green peppers. Or you can try a meat-lover's version with sausage and pepperoni. I also love the idea of a four-cheese pizza toast filled with mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, goat cheese and gorgonzola. Or maybe you prefer just a single topping pizza toast with just cheese and garlic, or cheese and olives. Whatever the combination, the variations are endless and the toppings extend as far as your nostalgia of pizza days takes you.