Recipes ยป Pizza

Pizza Chena

Pizza Chena
, or Pizza Chiena, sometimes pronounced “Pizza Gaina,” is a southern Italian savory “pie” made with a variety of cheese, cold cuts, and eggs baked within a bread crust. There are many different recipes for this traditional Italian specialty, but this is the one I prefer. You can play around with the fillings as you see fit and use your own favorite cold cuts or cheeses, or even add some grilled vegetables if you like, though vegetables are not traditionally used.

This tasty pie is traditionally made on Good Friday to be eaten on Easter Sunday or to be taken on the traditional Pasquetta, or Easter Monday picnic and is made to celebrate the end of lent. The pie can be made in a 15 x 13-inch rectangular baking dish or in a 10-inch springform pan, and though I prefer it served at room temperature on it’s own, you could offer some tomato sauce on the side for dipping if you prefer.

I used sliced meat and cheese, but you could also use cubes of meat and cheese instead of the slices. If you want to simplify things even more, you could even buy pre-made pizza dough in place of making your own. I hadn’t made this Easter specialty for years, and after making it this year I remembered how delicious it really is and I plan on making it through the summer to pack for picnics. Pizza Chena travels great, and a good sized slice is a complete meal!

Buon Appetito
Deborah Mele

Pizza Chena

Pizza Chena

Yield: Serves 6 - 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

A Neapolitan dish often made for Easter.



  • 1 Tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 1/2 Cups Warm Water
  • 5 to 6 Cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons Olive Oil


  • 3/4 Pound Sliced Fresh Mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 Pounds Sliced Cold Cuts Of Choice - Choose Three Varieties (I used Soppressata, pepperoni, and ham)
  • 1/2 Pound Sliced Cheese (I used Provolone, but Swiss, Gruyere, or Asiago all work well)
  • 2 Roasted Red Peppers Cut Into Strips
  • 6 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • Salt & Pepper

Egg Wash:

  • 1 Egg Beaten With 1 Teaspoon Water


  1. In a large bowl mix the yeast and1 cup of water and let sit until bubbly.
  2. Add the remaining water and mix.
  3. Place 5 cups of the flour into a mound on a counter with the salt, and make a well in the center.
  4. Add the water and yeast mixture into the well along with 1 teaspoon of oil and mix with a fork until a sticky dough forms.
  5. Knead by hand until the dough is smooth, adding additional flour as needed.
  6. Lightly oil a large bowl with the remaining oil and place the dough in the bowl turning it to lightly cover with oil to prevent sticking.
  7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot in your kitchen until the dough has doubled in size.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and lightly oil a 10 inch tart pan with removable bottom, or a 10 inch spring-form pan.
  9. Divide the dough in half, and roll out one ball to a circle at least two inches wider than your pan.
  10. Fit the dough into the pan, pulling up along the sides.
  11. Layer the sliced meats, cheeses, and red pepper in the pan.
  12. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt & pepper, then pour this over the meats and cheeses.
  13. Roll out the other half of the dough, then use it to cover the pie, sealing the edges by pinching the bottom and top pieces together, cutting off any excess.
  14. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash, then bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
  15. Cool, remove from the baking pan and serve in slices.

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One Comment

  1. Buona Pasqua to you and your family!!! We love both this recipe and your presentation of it. Our late Grandmother used the Pizza Gaina pronunciation and it’s a pleasure to see it treated with respect. I acknowledge the altitalia, but like cucina povera, I embrace her dialect. We had a choice as children: pizza gaina or the Pizza di Ricotta Dolce that we called “pizza grana” — probably a further corruption of the blended languages. We assisted our Grandmother and one of my jobs was dicing the salumi and cheese until they noticed that Good Friday lost the battle with good tasting, then I was reassigned :-)) It was the time of the year when my Grandmother baked the most and though she’s been gone some four decades, it’s the time of the year when her spirit guides our hands just a little more. My sister is particularly skilled at our Grandmother’s recipes.

    I would welcome, given how adept you are with our language, any insight into how the fatback paste (saltpork, garlic and parsley pesto) that she used in bracciale and referred to as “la de la chaad?” Lardellato is the closest word that I can find, but I am uncertain whether it was dialectic, her “protecting” us from the language, protecting the language from us, or some other explanation. I tried for years to understand “rigobhaad” which was her word for the triage of vegetables where small spoiled sections would be excised from the whole; it turns out to have been recuperato, “recovery,” waste was limited and the remainder cooked.

    Again, thank you for all the effort you put into this site — it is a cultural treasure.

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