Puff Pastry Pizza Recipe (Rustici of Southern Italy)

The region of Apuglia (Puglia) in the south of Italy is famous for many unique dishes. One tasty treat you can find throughout the region are the Rustici Leccesi of Salento. Considered an Italian street food, rustici are a type of simple puff pastry pizza recipe filled with mozzarella cheese, tomato and often a bit of besciamella sauce.

Rustici Leccesi
Rustici Leccesi

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Puff Pastry Pizza Recipe: Ingredients

This recipe for Rustici Leccesi makes about 6 puff pastry pizzas.

Puff Pastry

You’ll need enough puff pastry for cutting out the following:

  • 12 rounds of 10 cm (4 inches)
  • 6 rounds of 8 cm (3 inches)

For each puff pastry pizza (rustici), this will give you two bottoms (stacked) of and one top of the smaller size. You can also make smaller rustici by cutting 12 rounds of 8 cm (3 inches) and 6 rounds of 6 cm (2 inches).

If you are purchasing puff pastry, you’ll need to calculate how many packages you need based on the amount of pastry in each package. It’s about 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of puff pastry, by our calculations.

The larger round (4 inch) for the bottoms of the pizzas and the smaller round (3 inch) for the top.


Traditionally for this recipe, it’s a bit more common to use fresh whole tomatoes crushed into pulp. When fresh tomatoes aren’t available, whole canned tomatoes (liquid and seeds removed) can be used. Just chop the pulp from the tomatoes and remove as much water as possible.

In this recipe, we are using another option: a bit of tomato passata. Passata is called tomato purée in the United States. We season ours with a pinch of salt, drizzle of olive oil and a few teaspoons of dry oregano! Sicilian oregano is the best (and strongest). When you can’t find it, look for greek oregano.


Chopping Mozzarella for our Puff Pastry Pizzas

There are two types of mozzarella that you can use in this puff pastry pizza recipe:

  • Dry Mozzarella that can be shredded (so-called ‘pizza cheese’ in Italy)
  • Fresh Mozzarella with the liquid squeezed out

Unlike most Italian food recipes, these puff pastry pizzas are usually filled with a drier mozzarella—sometimes referred to as ‘pizza cheese’ in Italian groceries. In general, this kind of mozzarella is not as popular in Italy. There are a dozen products for fresh mozzarella for every one dry product you find on the shelves at Italian supermarkets.

However, this is one of the few instances in which dry (shreddable) mozzarella is used in Italian cooking. Even on pizzas, many Italians actually do use fresh mozzarella and just squeeze some of the water out (depending on the recipe).

If you love gooey, stringy cheese fillings, then you’ll want to choose a dry mozzarella for this puff pastry pizza and not a fresh water-packed one.

For a gooey cheese filling like this, choose a dry mozzarella cheese.

Personally, we still prefer fresh mozzarella for the rustici—and we make sure to squeeze the water out to make the mozzarella as dry as possible. If there is too much liquid coming from your mozzarella, then bad things happen during the bake! The liquid may leak out, causing a soggy puff pastry. Or, you may fill your rustici, only to be left with a large empty pocket once the water from the cheese is gone.

How to Make Puff Pastry Pizza

If you are buying puff pastry rather than making it from scratch, this is an extremely easy recipe. Here are the basic steps, then you’ll want to check out our recipe card (below) or video recipe (above) for step-by-step instructions.

Make the Besciamella Sauce

You can buy besciamella sauce in some groceries. It’s easy to whip up, but obviously buying it makes this puff pastry pizza recipe even easier. Check out our guide to learn to make besciamella sauce at home.

Combining melted butter with flour to make the besciamella sauce.
Finished Besciamella Sauce!

Cut 12 Puff Pastry Rounds (Pizza Bottom)

Lightly dust the puff pastry with flour. Using a round biscuit or cookie cutter that is 10 cm (4 inches) in diameter, cut out 12 rounds.

We will layer two of these rounds on top of each other for the base of each of our six puff pastry pizzas.

Cutting out the bottoms for our puff pastry pizza.

Cut 6 Puff Pastry Rounds (Pizza Top)

Using a round cutter that is 8 cm (3 inches), cut out 6 rounds of puff pastry. These will top our filling.

Cutting out the tops for our puff pastry pizzas

Assemble the Puff Pastry Pizzas

Lay out 6 of the larger rounds on a non-stick baking tray. Brush a thin layer of egg wash over the top of each round (edge to edge).

Cover each round with another of equal size. Brush egg wash along the borders of of the top rounds, leaving space in the middle to add the filling. Be sure the egg wash extends inward enough to seal the top smaller round when it is added.

Covering second bottom round with a border of egg wash— to eventually help seal our top round!

Fill the center of each puff pastry pizza with a teaspoon or so of besciamella sauce and a small spoon of tomato purée or pulp.

Besciamella sauce and tomato.

Finally, top the sauce with a large pinch of mozzarella cheese.

Cover the filling with the smaller round, pressing around the edges to seal it against the egg wash.

Cover the top puff pastry round with egg wash as well.

Bake the Puff Pastry Pizzas

Bake the rustici in a pre-heated (static) oven at 400 ° F (200° C) for 20 minutes. Or, bake until golden. Buon appetito!

Perfect golden and crispy!

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Puff Pastry Pizza Recipe (Rustici of Southern Italy)

A traditional Puff Pastry Pizza recipe from Puglia known as 'Rustici Leccasi' in Italian. This Italian street food is perfect as an appetizer or snack!
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Diet Vegetarian
Keyword baking, pizza
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 12 people


  • 1 cookie or biscuit cutter 4 inches (10 cm)
  • 1 cookie or biscuit cutter 3 inches (8 cm)


  • 2 ¾ lbs puff pastry prep time assumes that you are buying the puff pastry
  • 2 oz mozzarella dry (for gooey filling) or fresh mozzarella; diced

Besciamella Sauce

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • nutmeg to taste
  • 1 pinch fine salt or to taste

Tomato Filling

  • 3 ½ oz whole canned tomato or tomato purèe Using whole canned tomato? Use just the pulp (not the liquid)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pinch fine salt to taste
  • 1 tsp dry oregano or to taste

Egg Wash

  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 yolks egg
  • 1 ½ tbsp heavy cream


Make the Besciamella Sauce

  • Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour to the melted butter and mix to a smooth paste consistency.
    1 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp flour
  • Add the milk (warm) a little at a time, whisking continuously. When all of the milk has been added, keep whisking until the sauce is smooth and dense. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground nutmeg to taste.
    Reduce the heat if you need to in order to control the thickening process.
    Set the finished Besciamella Sauce aside to cool.
    ¾ cup whole milk, nutmeg, 1 pinch fine salt

Prepare the Tomato and Cheese

  • Prepare the tomato. If using fresh (peeled) or whole canned tomato: Remove all seeds and liquid. Chop the pulp. Alternatively, use tomato purée.
    To the tomatoes, mix in: A pinch of salt, olive oil and oregano to taste.
    3 ½ oz whole canned tomato or tomato purèe, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 pinch fine salt, 1 tsp dry oregano
  • Cut the cheese into small cubes. If using fresh mozzarella, be sure to squeeze out any excess water—we need dry cheese for our filling!
    2 oz mozzarella

Cut the Puff Pastry

  • Cut out 24 'large' rounds —using a 4 inch (10 cm) cookie or biscuit cutter. Two of the 'large' rounds will be stacked to make the bottom of one puff pastry pizza!
    2 ¾ lbs puff pastry
  • Cut out 12 'smaller' rounds — using a 3 inch (8 cm) cookie or biscuit cutter. One of these form the top of each puff pastry pizza!

Make the Egg Wash

  • Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and heavy cream until smooth.
    This egg wash is important for helping the puff pastry to turn golden. It also acts as a seal between the top and bottom puff pastry. Finally, the egg wash on top helps to seal in the filling to avoid leaking.
    1 whole egg, 2 yolks egg, 1 ½ tbsp heavy cream

Assemble the Puff Pastry Pizzas

  • Lay one layer of the 'large' rounds on a non-stick baking tray (or a baking tray covered with parchment paper).
    Brush a thin layer of egg wash over the tops.
  • Cover the 'large' rounds with a second layer of 'large' rounds. We need 2 layers for the bottom of each of our pizzas!
  • Brush egg wash around the border of each 'large' round, leaving space in the center for the filling.
  • Add the following to the center of each pastry: 1 tsp (or less) of besciamella sauce, 1 tsp (or less) of tomato, several cubes of mozzarella.
  • Lay one 'smaller' round over the top of the filling, and press gently to seal the edges of that round against the bottom pastry.
  • Brush another thin layer of egg wash over the entire top of each puff pastry pizza.

Bake the Pizzas

  • Bake the puff pastry pizzas in a pre-heated (static) oven at 400° F (200° C) for 20 minutes. Bake until golden! Buon appetito.



Use Dry Mozzarella
To avoid leaks, be sure to use dry (shreddable) mozzarella. If using fresh mozzarella, be sure to squeeze out any excess water. 
Want Gooey Filling?
For gooey, stringy cheesy filling, choose dry (not fresh) mozzarella. 
How to Avoid Leaks
  • Remove as much water as possible to avoid filling leaks. Also, be sure there is a good seal between the edges of the top pastry and the bottom pastry—this is why we add the egg wash first!
  • The egg wash acts as a seal that prevents filling from escaping, so be sure to cover the entire puff pastry pizza with egg wash!
  • Perforate the puff pastry before using it. We are referring here to the tiny holes you see in the pastry. On the package instructions, most commercial pastry sheets recommend perforating (with a fork or tool). However, many people miss this. Perforations allow the steam to escape during the bake. This means the puff pastry will ‘puff’ less and be less likely to puff so much that it breaks the egg wash seal. If the seal breaks, the filling will leak out just as ravioli filling can leak.
Other Fillings?
Sure! Get creative. Here, we’ve shown you a simple traditional version of this Puff Pastry Pizza from Puglia. But, you can fill these rustici with anything you like. Let us know in the comments what delicious filling ideas you have!

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