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Best Pizza & Pasta Combinations

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Few entrees are as beloved by everyone as pasta and pizza. They’re both incredibly versatile, coming in a wide range of styles. There are so many different types of each dish, in fact, that everyone has at least one style they like. Maybe you don’t like Hawaiian pizza, but you love meat-lovers pizza. And perhaps you don’t like spaghetti and meatballs, but you love penne alla vodka.

Though these two dishes demonstrate a great deal of flexibility, we often fall into the trap of thinking quite rigidly about the side dishes that go with them. For example, we might think you can only enjoy pizza with a side of wings, and we might find it difficult to imagine pasta served without bread or a salad. But what if you mixed that up?

What if one of the tastiest dinner combinations was to pair these two already-amazing foods with one another, creating an even more delicious dinner with both a pizza and a pasta dish? This can make for a great meal where everyone can find something they enjoy.

When choosing pasta and pizza combos, you’ll want to be careful to avoid clashing the flavors. As with any meal, certain tastes and ingredients go better together than others. That’s why we want to help you choose the perfect pizza toppings and pastas that will complement each other and make the most delicious meal possible. To help you with your choice, here are some of our favorite combinations of pasta sauces and pizza toppings.

Things to Consider When Pairing Pasta and Pizza

Before we get into the actual pairings, it’s important to take a moment to talk about why some dishes and flavors pair better with each other than with another. With that in mind, here are some things to consider as you construct your pizza and pasta combination.

  1. 1. Think About Heavy Vs. Light

Light and heavy are two words we use to describe food all the time. We might say a dish is heavy if it is extremely rich and leaves you feeling full afterward. For example, we might say that mashed potatoes are a heavy food. Light, on the other hand, is how we describe food that is thinner and doesn’t feel as though it sits in your stomach afterward. A prime example of a light dish might be a salad.

When you pair your pasta and pizza, you’ll want to think about matching heavy to heavy and light to light. This way, your meal will match well. If one is heavier while the other is lighter, the first dish will quickly overshadow the second.

  1. 2. Think About Sweet Vs. Spicy

We all know what sweetness tastes like. If you flavor a dish with sugar, it will usually have a sweet taste. The first foods that might come to mind are candies, cookies and cakes, but plenty of other foods can be sweet as well. Tomato sauce, for example, can often have a sweet taste. Any number of spices and herbs flavor spicy foods, by contrast, and will leave the mouth feeling tingly and may even raise your body temperature.

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For the best results, try to match sweet to sweet and spicy to spicy. If you mix and match these pairings, you run the risk of the spicy overpowering the sweet, and you may even lose the delicious flavor of the sweet dish altogether.

  1. 3. Emphasize the Matching Instead of the Mixing

When it comes to pairing different foods, the underlying principle is the idea of complementing flavors. Ideally, you will want to choose ones that come from similar families and that work to create a delicious flavor palate. If you select flavors that do not match, the odds are you will sour your palate, and you will not enjoy either food.

By picking flavors that do not complement one another, there are two likely possibilities:

  1. The first taste will entirely overpower the second, and you will barely taste the second food. Even if you do taste it, you may not be able to appreciate its subtleties.
  2. It will ruin both flavors, and neither food will taste as it should.
  1. 4. But Don’t Be Afraid to Try Daring Combinations

While complementing one flavor with another is an integral part of combining dishes, there’s also something to be said for taking a walk on the wild side. After all, even though one person finds a particular flavor combination to be less than delicious, another person might genuinely enjoy it. Think of people who like dipping their pizza into ranch dressing compared to people who can’t fathom how such a combination could be tasty.

Everyone enjoys different flavors, and you never know what combination you’ll love. So don’t be afraid to make bold choices, and mix the unexpected with the unexpected. Who knows what hidden gems you’ll uncover this way.

The Best Sauces to Add to Your Pasta

As we think about how to combine pizza toppings and pasta sauce flavors, let’s begin by looking at a few of the common pasta sauces you’ll encounter, and what their primary characteristics are.

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Marinara Sauce

Unless otherwise specified, this is your basic tomato sauce found on most pasta. Just because it is a restaurant standard, however, does not mean it is boring. This is a delicious tomato sauce that pairs perfectly with just about any type of pasta you can imagine.

In most cases, marinara sauce is a delightful blend of both heavy and light, without straying too far in either direction. The sauce will have a bit of acidity to it because it is made from tomatoes, but it also contains sugar and will usually have a sweet flavor. Because this sauce combines a near-perfect balance of light and heavy, and acidic and sweet, it can pair well with many different other foods. Spaghetti with marinara sauce is a classic addition to any meal.

Meat-Based Sauce

With a meat-based sauce, you’ll often find yourself getting into spicier territory. While some meat sauces purely include meat such as ground beef, other meat sauces may involve sausage, pepperoni or even more savory meats. For this reason, a meat sauce is often more flavorful than a standard marinara sauce.

You’ll want to be aware of these spicy flavors, but you’ll also need to remember this sauce is a bit heavier than a basic tomato sauce. This is because meat has been added, and the sauce now has more substance. When you eat it, you’re getting more calories, and you’ll feel fuller faster than with a plain sauce. Our yummy spaghetti with meat sauce dish is one great sample of a meat-based sauce.

Pesto Sauce

With a pesto, you get away from the traditional tomato-based concoction. This sauce has been heavily flavored with basil as well as other herbs, cheese and nuts. You can find many variations of it, depending on what types of cheese and nuts you add.

Unlike a meat sauce, which can be both heavy and spicy, a pesto sauce tends to be tangy. The herbs, vegetables and absence of meat lead to a much more delicate and also more flavorful taste. Some pesto sauces have less bite, while others can be quite strong and flavored with many different herbs and spices.

Alfredo Sauce

This sauce is easy to recognize from a glance. It isn’t a red tomato-based sauce at all. Instead, this sauce typically is made from ingredients like cream, butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese.

Because it includes so many dairy products, this sauce has a creamy, rich texture and would usually be classified as a heavier sauce. Depending on how heavily garlic flavored your Alfredo sauce is, you may find it falls more into the spicy or sweet category. And of course, we’ve got a delicious fettucini Alfredo dish to complement your next meal.

Ready to Pair Pizza and Pasta? Start With Three Popular Types of Pizza

Just as we have examined some of the common types of pasta sauce, let’s take a moment to look at a few of the pizzas you’ll most likely encounter at a restaurant or pizzeria, as well as their defining attributes.

Margherita Pizza

This is a classic style of pizza that puts an emphasis on delicate flavors. Although this type of pizza may look plain, it’s carefully styled to combine the perfect mixture of flavors and ingredients. It often incorporates a plain sauce of fresh tomatoes, a thin crust and toppings of fresh mozzarella cheese, basil and olive oil.

Because the Margherita pizza is so simple, it’s crucial to pair it with a similarly light pasta. Anything heavier will overshadow the fine ingredients and spoil both dishes.

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Pepperoni Pizza

Pepperoni is one of the most popular styles of pizza you’ll encounter. What makes this type of pizza distinct are the pepperoni slices and mozzarella cheese that coat it.

It might have a thin or thick crust or even be a deep dish. Pepperoni pizza can be embellished with other toppings too, like a Chicago Classic pizza with mushrooms, onions and green peppers.

Because it involves meat, a pepperoni pizza will be heavier than a Margherita pizza. Pepperonis are sometimes quite spicy and sometimes milder, but they will always have a bit of spice. For this reason, these pizzas fall more into the spicy category.

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Hawaiian Pizza

Perhaps one of the most controversial pizzas you’ll find widely available today, this type of pizza features pineapple as a topping and often includes bacon as well. Some people love it, others hate it, but no matter which camp you fall into, it’s wildly popular and available at most pizzerias.

Because of the bacon and pineapple toppings, this pizza leans further toward the heavy side. Furthermore, the pineapple and the tomato sauce combine for a highly acidic experience. The pineapple also has a sweet flavor, while bacon is salty. They balance each other nicely.

Putting the Best Pizza-Pasta Combinations Together

Now that we have a basic introduction to some of the traditional pasta sauces and pizza toppings you’re likely to encounter, it’s time to talk about the best ways you can pair these to make a delicious meal you’ll remember for a long time to come. Here are four can’t-miss options.

  1. 1. Margherita Pizza and Pasta With a Traditional Marinara Sauce

This one might be a little bit of a no-brainer, but you might be surprised by how tasty these two dishes can be when combined. Both focus on simple ingredients and flavors. By pairing these two, both flavors shine, and neither is strong enough to overpower the other. If you enjoy good, low-spice food and aren’t the most adventurous eater, this is a combination for you to try.

  1. 2. Pepperoni Pizza and Pasta With a Meat-Based Sauce

Pepperoni pizza is versatile and can be paired with a few different sauces. If you love meat and a little bit of spice, however, give this combination a try. The pepperoni on the pizza will make a yummy complement to the meat in the sauce, and the tomatoes in both will work well with one another.

  1. 3. Pepperoni Pizza and Pasta With a Pesto Sauce

The flavor of pesto sauce also will blend wonderfully with a pepperoni pizza. Even though a pesto sauce might not have meat in it, it still has plenty of spices and herbs mixed in. When you combine these herbs with the spices in the pepperoni, you create a flavor extravaganza that makes an absolute feast for adventurous eaters and lovers of spicy, flavorful food.

  1. 4. Hawaiian Pizza and Pasta With an Alfredo Sauce

These two pair well because of the strong flavors they both contain. If either an Alfredo sauce or a Hawaiian pizza were combined with anything else, they would overpower it. When the two are mixed, however, both flavors can hold their own. In addition to this, both have sweet flavors that will complement one another and blend nicely. If you desire a bold flavor experience, try this combination.

Dig Into One of These Pasta and Pizza Combinations Today

Do these combinations of pasta and pizza sound like something you’d like to try? Maybe you’re craving the simplicity and delicacy of a Margherita pizza and pasta with tomato sauce. Or maybe you’re ready for the flavor explosion of pepperoni pizza and pesto sauce. Maybe you want to pick a combination of your own. However you want to mix and match your pizza and pasta, you can do it all at Giordano’s.

Here at Giordano’s, we specialize in Chicago-style deep dish pizza, and we serve everything from meat lovers to veggie lovers, bacon barbecue chicken to bratwurst, and so much more. Pizza isn’t the only food we serve, either. Our menu also includes a variety of pasta, sandwiches, salads and more. We’ve even got a kids menu so you can feel free to bring your whole family along on your pasta and pizza adventure.

Our dine-in restaurant offers a fun and delicious experience for everyone, but our services don’t stop there. We also provide delivery, pick-up and catering. No matter what your event is, we’d love to help you make it the best it can be.

Browse our locations today to find the Giordano’s location nearest to you, and don’t forget to check out our menu so you can start planning your pizza and pasta combinations today.