Recipe: Fragoni, a light version of pizza rustica

Il Sorriso Cafe & Pizzeria
April 18, 2019
By Il Sorriso Cafe & Pizzeria
Sofia Butera, owner of Il Sorriso Cafe & Pizzeria in Niagara Falls, Ont., has a pizza on her menu called Fragoni (also sometimes pronounced Fraguni). It’s a version of the pizza rustica loved by many of Italian heritage and traditionally enjoyed – hot or cold – by so many at Easter and other family occasions.

It’s a dish that is made in many regions of Italy using specialty ingredients from different areas. In the north, for example, in Venice, they serve it with radicchio (purple leaf chicory).

Butera’s recipe is handed down from her parents, Aldo and Rosa Butera, who hail from Lamezia in Italy's Calabria region.

This version of pizza rustica is different from a deeper-dish version made popular in other areas of Italy. That one is topped by a crust, like a pie. Some do it Neapolitan with everything in the middle and a lot of crust showing, she says.

Il Sorriso’s rendition is made with a thin crust with a bit of a border.

Other toppings she has tried include anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes, grated cheese such as Parmigiano Reggiano and roasted black olives.

Although the Fragoni is not officially on Il Sorriso’s menu, they sell it as a take ’n’ bake dish. Many customers eat it on Good Friday, hot or cold, with the eggs providing protein in place of meat.

When they make it at other times of the year they add soppressata (dry salami) to it. We eat it all year long, says Butera, who likes it best straight out of the oven but sometimes craves it out of the fridge the next morning.

“My parents’ generation are happy we’re carrying on their traditions,” she says. “Hopefully it will never be lost but can be made any time of the year,” Butera says.


  • 500 g flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 250 ml container ricotta
  • Chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Add anything else you like in filling to create a savoury taste: hot salami, anchovies, sundried tomatoes, etc.

Alternatively, make it sweet. Add sugar to taste, raisins, etc.

In a food processor or by hand mix liquids into dry ingredients. Add a little bit of water if dough is too dry. Knead it in to a nice soft ball. Wrap it in plastic. Let it rise in a warm place for at least one hour. Then knead and open it with a rolling pin to desired size and filling.

Place filling in the middle of the opened dough and pinch the edges to form a little enclosure. Some people make mini closed-up versions like calzones (baked, not fried).

Cook at 350 F until the egg and crust is golden (about 15 to 20 minutes).  

Two eight-inch pizzas        

Sofia Butera is the owner of Il Sorriso Pizzeria & Cafe, a 44-seat restaurant located near the tourist mecca of Niagara Falls, Ont. Butera opened Il Sorriso (the smile) in 2010 five minutes’ walk from the Falls.

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