Pizza Rustica alla Grottese

Savory Carnival Pastry with Pecorino, Mozzarella, and Dried Sausage

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Preparation info

  • Makes

    10 to 12

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Great Italian Desserts

By Nick Malgieri

Published 1990

  • About

This most typical savory pie is served at carnevale (the day before Ash Wednesday) and then again at Easter. The name derives from the village of Grottaminarda. The dough is sweet — this is the traditional way of preparing it. If the combination is not appealing, leave out the sugar; but note that the dough may be slightly dry and may need a bit more water to moisten it.

Pizza rustica makes an excellent appetizer or a main course for a light meal, as well as a convenient picnic food.


    Pasta Frolla

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 10 tablespoons ( sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup milk or water


  • 1 pound whole-milk ricotta, commercial or homemade
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
  • ½ pound mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • ½ pound dried sausage, such as cacciatorino or soppresatta, peeled and sliced

    Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch salt


For the pasta frolla, combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Rub in the butter until it is absorbed, making sure the mixture remains cool and powdery and does not become pasty. Beat the egg with the milk or water and stir in with a fork. Continue stirring until the dough holds together, then briefly knead it, just until smooth. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or until firm.

For the filling, press the ricotta through a fine sieve or strainer into a bowl. Beat together the ricotta, eggs, salt, and pepper. Beat in the grated cheese.

Butter a 9-inch cake pan that is 2 inches deep. To assemble, cut off one-third of the pasta frolla and reserve it. Roll out the rest of the dough into a 14-inch disk and line the prepared pan with it. Allow the dough to hang over the edge of the pan.

Spread one-third of the filling on the dough in the bottom of the pan. Strew with half of the mozzarella and half the sausage. Cover with another third of the filling. Strew with the remaining mozzarella and sausage. Spread with the remaining filling.

Roll out the reserved dough into a 10-inch square. Cut it into ten 1-inch-wide strips. For the egg wash, beat the egg with the salt, and paint the strips with it. Moisten the rim of the dough on the pan with the egg wash and attach 5 strips in each direction, pressing the edges of the strips lightly onto the rim and forming a diagonal lattice. Trim the edges of the dough so they are even with the top of the pan and push the dough off the top rim of the pan so that it rests completely within the pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until the filling is set and the pastry is a light gold. Cool in the pan before unmolding. To unmold, invert onto a flat plate, lift off the pan, replace the pan with another plate or platter, then reinvert so that the pizza is right side up. Serve the pizza at room temperature.

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