The beloved pizza needs to be handled with respect and not just shoved into your mouth.

The proper way of eating the Italian staple has been long-debated — do you fold it in half or eat it flat?

While different regions in Italy make different styles of pizza — one rule is for certain, the true Neapolitan pizza must be folded before consumed — that's right, not flat and definitely not with a knife and fork.

Read more: • Trial and Error: We find the best pizza in Auckland


Neapolitan-style pizza typically consists of a thin and soft crust which must adhere to strict rules, including size and dough.

One expert claims you can even go a step further and fold the whole pizza in four, like a wallet.

Stefano Cirene, who is the owner and executive chef of Verace Pizzera in Sydney -who only serves this style - said the specific handling comes down to how soft and thin it is.

Steps to eating a Neapolitan-style pizza. Photo / Instagram
Steps to eating a Neapolitan-style pizza. Photo / Instagram

"Basically you need to pinch the edge of the pizza, the left and right sides should touch - and it must be soft — that is the rule of the pizza Napoletana — it must never be crunchy," Mr Cirene said.

Once you're satisfied with the degree to which your pizza is folded, begin eating.

Mr Cirene should know given his restaurant was crowned Australia's Best Pizza in the 2017 Pizza World Championships in Parma, Italy.

The art of eating this style dates back to its roots — Naples.

"It was a street food to be eaten on the go, almost like a sandwich or portafoglio (meaning wallet)," he said.

"The would fold it, then fold it in half again, like a crepe."

In New York this is a touchy subject given the wondrous pizza scene. Almost every time you will hear about some celebrity or politician in hot water for making the unfortunate decision to eat a slice with a knife and fork.

Back in 2011, long before the 2016 Presidential race, Donald Trump and then-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin were criticised for eating pizzas with a fork.

"It's not New York style," Adama Tourray, 25, a clothing store employee from the Bronx, told the New York Daily News at the time, adding he had never seen someone eat pizza with a fork in the Big Apple before.

But it's not the fact that people slice it up which upsets Mr Cirene.

"It's when people slag a product without understanding what it's supposed to be — 'Oh it's rubbish because it's soft' — it is supposed to be soft," he said.

He did say it should be topped with minimal ingredients to assist with the handling.

There you go — now you know what to do the next time you indulge in a Neapolitan pizza.