The True Story of Pizza (and How It Became America’s Favorite Treat)
Today, pizza is one of the most popular and casual meals for Americans. But in fact, this food has a rich and storied history that even includes a royal seal of approval.
Where Did Pizza Come From?
The history of pizza begins with the ancient Greeks. Back then, flatbreads with toppings were a popular food in the Mediterranean. The flat bread acted as a plate, so people could eat without dishes or on the go.
The true history of pizza in Italy starts with focaccia, a savory flatbread with toppings that is still eaten today and dates back to Roman times. By 1000 AD, “pizza” — a word meaning “pie” — was used in Italy to describe what closely resembles the food we enjoy today. However, that pizza was largely bread with oil and a few toppings. It was mostly associated with the poor and was ignored by serious chefs.
When tomatoes were first brought to Italy in the late 1500s and 1600s, another potential topping was added to pizzas, especially since tomatoes were not popular at first and were therefore inexpensive. In Naples, pizza was sold in the streets. The first pizza restaurant in Italy, Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, started serving the dish in 1738.
Who Invented Pizza?
The history of pizza changed forever in 1889 in Naples, when Raffaele Esposito created the first pizza with cheese, sauce and toppings. King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Italy requested a pizza from the pizzamaker, since they were tired of fine French foods.
Esposito created three pizzas, including one that came to be named “Pizza Margherita” after the queen. Esposito used basil, mozzarella and tomatoes to represent the Italian flag. The queen adored the dish, and her approval made pizza popular with upper classes as well as a patriotic, national food in Italy.
How Did Pizza Become So Popular?
Esposito’s pizza creation was very popular in Italy. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Italians began emigrating to the United States. They brought their most treasured foods and recipes with them. Of course, pizza was one of those favorites.
In New York, there were many people from Italy, and it was in that city that Gennaro Lombardi opened a pizzeria in 1905, considered the first in the United States. Soon, generations of pizza makers began to flourish. After World War II, a new wave of immigrants from Europe settled in Chicago and other cities, bringing unique styles of pizza to cities across the country. By the 1980s, California changed pizza again with “healthy” toppings like goat cheese, which were not traditional in Italy.
Book Your Reservation at Bricco
Founded in 2006, Bricco is proud to carry on the rich tradition of pizza in Harrisburg. Our wood-fired pizzas are based on traditional, artisan methods. Be sure to make a reservation today to re-discover classic pizza and fall in love with this Italian dish all over again.
Category: Food Stories