Pizza, a beloved culinary creation that has captured the hearts and taste buds of people worldwide, has a history as rich and diverse as its toppings. From its humble beginnings as a simple flatbread to its status as a global comfort food, the journey of pizza is a tale worth savoring. In this article, we’ll take a trip through time to explore the delicious and storied history of pizza. If you want to try pizza in real life, join our Naples street food tour. We will walk you to our favorite friggitoria to devour the inimitable pizza fritta!
The story of pizza dates back thousands of years to ancient civilizations. While it may not have resembled the modern pizza we know and love, the concept of a flatbread topped with various ingredients has deep historical roots.
Egyptian Origins: The origins of pizza can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where people would bake a flatbread and top it with olive oil and local spices. This early version of pizza was simple but laid the foundation for the future of this delectable dish.
Greek Pita: The Greeks also had their version of a flatbread called “pita,” which they would top with olive oil, local herbs, and other ingredients. These early iterations of flatbreads paved the way for the pizza’s evolution.
The Birth of Modern Pizza
The real transformation of pizza from a basic flatbread to something resembling the modern pizza pie took place in Naples, Italy during the 18th century.
Naples, Italy: Pizza as we know it today was born in the bustling streets of Naples. During the 18th century, the city’s working-class residents began topping their flatbreads with tomatoes, cheese, and other locally sourced ingredients. This humble creation quickly gained popularity due to its affordability and delicious taste.
The Margherita Legend: One of the most famous stories in pizza history revolves around Queen Margherita of Italy. In 1889, pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito created a pizza with the colors of the Italian flag—red tomatoes, white mozzarella cheese, and green basil—in honor of the queen’s visit to Naples. This pizza, known as the Margherita, remains a classic and a symbol of Italian culinary heritage.
Pizza Goes Global
Immigration to America: The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw a wave of Italian immigration to the United States, bringing pizza along with it. The first pizzerias opened in cities like New York and Chicago, where they served the local Italian communities.
Popularity Soars: Pizza’s popularity soared in the post-World War II era as American GIs returning from Italy craved the familiar tastes of the pizza they had enjoyed overseas. The 1950s saw the emergence of pizza chains like Domino’s and Pizza Hut, making pizza accessible to a wider audience. So yes! the concept of a “pizzeria”, the pizza restaurant, was invented in the US.
Innovation and Diverse Flavors
- Pizza Evolution: Over time, pizza has continued to evolve and adapt to different cultures and tastes. Today, you can find a wide variety of pizza styles, including deep-dish, thin-crust, stuffed crust, and gluten-free options. Toppings have also become incredibly diverse, ranging from traditional pepperoni to gourmet combinations like barbecue chicken and pineapple.
Not everybody knows that the Neapolitan pizza is prepared in two different ways: baked or fried. Explore the streets of Naples with us. We won’t make you miss a bite. The fried pizza is folded like a calzone and stuffed with pork, ricotta cheese and tomato…forget about it!
The history of pizza is a remarkable journey through time, tracing its origins from simple flatbreads to the global phenomenon we know today. From the streets of Naples to pizzerias worldwide, pizza has transcended borders and cultures to become a universally loved dish. Whether you prefer a classic Margherita or a quirky artisan creation, there’s no denying the enduring appeal of this iconic food. So, the next time you enjoy a slice of pizza, remember that you’re savoring a slice of history too.