Copycat O'scugnizzo Pizza

Tuesday, April 5, 2016
I grew up in a town called Utica, New York, this is a copycat favorite upside-down pizza that has been around since 1914 called O'scugnizzo.

The pizzeria remains open, and ships their famous style all of the U.S still open to date, and that's many Uticans first stop when visiting home.

This was my favorite place to hang out with friends any night of the week and a family favorite so I decided since moving away to try and recreate it.

Although nothing will take the place of the real deal, upside-down pizza is assembled the same and a delicious copycat or a miles away memory.

The sauce is delicious and full of flavor, but the secret is using a great whole milk cheese and the layering of the pizza.

I can only savor the moments of getting a slice of #8 when I visit again which is my favorite loose sausage-style pizza.

When making a copycat recipe, you really want it to come together as the original and our pizza will be a pleasant surprise.

If you're familiar with Utica, New York, check out the links below for other foods our town is famous for.

Utica is famous for Tomato Pie, Italian Greens, Italian Lemon Ice, Pizza Fritta, Chicken Riggies, Manny's Cheesecake, Oscugnizzo Pizza, Pusties and Rosato Chocolate Cookies.

Scroll down and get my printable directions and recipe.

pizza made with cheese on the dough then the raw meat topping sauce and baked unique to Utica, New York area

Upside Pizza

The sauce and grated cheese are on the top of the cheese, so that makes the difference of calling it an upside pizza, check out the photos below.

This pizza made by O'scugnizzo Pizzeria is one of the best pizzas around if you love this style.

Of course, nothing can compare to the original, but being 1900 miles away it's the next best pizza available making our copycat recipe.

This pizzeria was founded in 1914 by Eugeno Burlino, who came to Utica from Naples in the late 1800s. They were officially declared the 2nd oldest pizzeria in the country..

If you go to their website you can try the original shipped from Utica, N.Y., and order online!

Some Of The Differences

  • steps for upside-down pizza
  • the dough is pre-baked since we don't have a pizza oven 
  • meat goes first on top of dough IE sausage etc.
  • the cheese goes on next
  • the sauce goes on when the pizza is cooked all the way through
  • last, the pizza is loaded with Pecorino Romano cheese last

All I could do is try and make the best Copycat O'scugnizzo Pizza as possible until I visit home again.

This will certainly take care of that craving until you can get there to eat the best upsidedown pizza around in Utica, New York.

this is a famous copycat pizza in a local restaurant in Utica New York this one has sausage, sauce and mozzarella on it

Tomato Sauce and Tips

  1. use a good quality tomato from Italy/European brands only(if using local brands, it won't have the same fresh-tasting tomato sauce)
  2. crushed tomatoes have a little more pulp in them and work perfectly
  3. use the heated sauce to the finished pizza cooked
  4. my sources tell me the loose sausage goes on raw and cooks in a hot 800-degree pizza oven, I cook mine first and drain the grease

this is a pizza that is famous in Utica New York at Oscugnizzo and is considered an upside down pizza

Tools Needed

  1. This pizza requires a rectangular baking sheet and cut into squares or a round pan for a smaller sized pizza
  2. pizza cutter round or scissors style
  3. fry pan
  4. saucepan
  5. wooden
  6. spoon
  7. Note: for pizza dough homemade is best or you can use store-bought from a bakery

this is a pan of loose sausage frying for a topping on a pizza

Delicious Pizza Styles

  • pepperoni
  • sausage
  • sausage, mushroom, pepper
  • sausage and broccoli rabe
  • meatballs crushed
  • everything pizza including anchovies

this is a famous copycat pizza in a local restaurant in Utica New York this one has sausage, sauce and mozzarella on it


Chicken Riggies

Utica Greens

Lemon Ice

Manny's Cheese Cake

Tomato Pie

Pin for later

this is called an upside down pizza because the mozzarella goes on the dough first and sauce last after cooked

Upside Down Pizza

The nickname for this style pizza was called upside down because of the layering and unique pie it is.

Living so far from my hometown I have spent many days and nights in the kitchen trying to recreate my favorites until I can get back home for a visit and this is one of them.

The best of the best still remains in Utica, New York and of course and it's originality, this is just a knockoff and it's pretty darn good to us for now.

Copycat O'scugnizzo Pizza

Yield: 10
prep time: 25 Mcook time: 45 Mtotal time: 70 M
This is a copycat recipe from my hometown Utica New York famous pizzeria called O'scugnizzo. Living so far away from home and in Florida, nothing came close. This is not exact but it sure is similar in flavor and certainly their secret method of cooking.


  • My pizza dough recipe or if you choose to buy it then 1 1/2 pounds of store-bought dough. I use a cookie sheet which is in a rectangular style and the sides are around 2 inches high on the sides of my pan.
  • For a sausage pizza around 1 pound ( I hear they put it on raw and that will give the middles of the pizza much soggier)but the authentic way is raw sausage.
  • I prefer to cook the sausage first and drain it.
  • For the sauce: 28 - ounce can of crushed tomatoes ( I prefer only European-style tomatoes from Italy).
  • Toppings choice suggestions:
  •  Sliced peppers, olives, pepperoni, eggplant, spinach, ricotta, mushrooms, anchovies, hot peppers, zucchini slices, shrimp, and all kinds of cheeses you prefer like provolone and shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese. You can do a greek style if you like with feta cheese as well, or whatever your family likes. 
  • Make the combinations your family loves.


How to cook Copycat O'scugnizzo Pizza

  1. First, stretch the dough out with floured fingers on a rectangular style cookie sheet pan (the dough should rise to around 1/2 inch to 1 inch high).
  2. Pre-cook the dough at 430 degrees until its light brown on top around 15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime cook the sausage and drain it (or leave it raw if you want the original style way they add it to the dough raw.
  4. Note: since we don't have 800 to 900-degree pizza ovens in our homes, I always fry the sausage first and set it aside. Again the original recipe was said to add the sausage to the raw dough. I always want to ensure the pork is cooked.
  5. After the dough is partially cooked, add a little olive oil under the dough onto the pan. Put the dough back in the sheet pan.
  6. Add the toppings of choice first then 1/4 inch slices of mozzarella cheese on top evenly over the whole pizza pie.
  7. The sauce doesn't go on until after the dough is cooked, crispy, and the cheese is melted.
  8. Bake until the cheese melts and desired how dark the crust is browned.
  9. As soon as the pizza is cooked, take out the pizza and spread it with sauce, and load it up with romano and parmesan cheese.
  10. No, it's not exactly like the best pizza in town but sure is close very close, and will hold you over till you get to the best pizza in town!
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pizzeria style pizza, copycat o'scugnizzo pizza, Utica, n.y. foods. foods from Utica, pizza recipes, pizza pie, homemade pizza
Italian food, copycat, pizza recipes, copycat pizza
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this is a homemade dough and pizza with sauce and cheese on top with sausage

Utica is also noted for its "Famous Tomato Pie Click Here"

this is a pizza with sauce on top lots of grated cheese and cooked sausage all homemade


  1. Hai Claudia.... nice to visit U again. I fall in love instantly to your pizza here.. really appreciate step by step picture. thank U for sharing, pinning it!

  2. That's not upside down! The toppings always go on first, they use pizza shells instead of raw dough. I use only Spano's (I'm From Utica, still in area) which makes both round, and rectangle shells that are amazing! First the toppings-pepperoni, mushrooms, cooked peppers or onions etc, if you want sausage, you spread it across the uncooked crust evenly first, then simply pop it in a 400 degree preheated oven for about 5-7 mins on a high rack. This will partially cook the sausage which will finish cooking beneath the cheese afterwards. Then add any other desired toppings, finally, like you said ONLY WHOLE MILK MOZZARELLA!! So important for capturing the times when WHOLE MILK MOZZERELLA was all there was!!! Put back in 400 degree oven on middle rack for 15-20 mins depending on how you like. Finally you get a can of HUNTS ORIGINAL TOMATO SAUCE, and spread evenly over hot, cooked pizza. It is so simple it's insane!! My entire family is addicted to this pizza that tastes absolutely amazing!! P.S. Sprinkle Parmesan Cheese generously over entire pizza! Try it!!!! Just like O'scugnizzo's famous upside down pizza!!

  3. Oh this looks absolutely delicious! I loved the "upside down" deep dish pizza in Chicago, and this looks amazing too. With so much parmesan on top it's like the sauce is sandwiched in cheese. Amaaaazing!

  4. Love this! Homemade pizza is always the best, this one looks perfect!

  5. I make pizza with the cheese on first quite a bit too! This sounds great.

  6. How lovely to have a restaurant that's so sentimental to you (and many others!). Lovely copycat recipe that must bring back lots of memories.

  7. I've never been to this restaurant before but your version of their pizza looks AMAZING! I loved reading your story too about the history of the restaurant and how you used to hang out there. Brings back some of my own childhood memories of hanging out at the local pizzeria. :)

  8. I was very happy to find another O'scunizzo's fan on the web. I grew up in small towns around Utica and almost every Sunday after church our family would co to O'scugnizzo's for a large number 7. Dad would get the middle pieces as he had the "skill" needed for the soggier slices. I moved away from upstate NY when I was 18 for college and have only been back a few times since, but every time I made sure to get a large number 7 at the best pizzeria in the country.

    Since I rarely get back there, I spent many years trying to reproduce that pizza that I grew up loving. I have my recipe/technique over on if you are interested. I will say with pride that I have gotten close. I would love to know exactly what their sauce recipe is...what canned product they use and what, if anything, they add to it.

    Anyway, loved checking out your site!

    1. thank you for your visit and comments I did go to your site and went through every tab and never found this pizza your style what's the name it's under?


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