Pizza

Italian Pizza has been an elemental part of Italy’s diet since the Stone Age, when it was baked under the rocks of a fire. Given the limited resources of the time, pizza was far more basic.

Seasonings evolved slowly, so these primitive pizzas were often eaten as plain flatbreads. In addition, they had not yet been given the term “pizza.” The evolution from these simple flatbreads to pizza as we know it today is missing a few links. What helped pizza bridge the time-gap and evolve into one of today’s most popular foods? Tomatoes! The tomato was an item of speculation and mystery up until the 16th Century. In fact, many Europeans thought the tomato to be poisonous. Poor citizens in the ghettos of Naples began adding tomatoes to their flatbreads in the mid 16th Century, sparking the birth of modern Italian Pizza. This Neapolitan pizza (pizza napoletana) was generally flavored with a combination of oil, cheese, lard, tallow, tomato, or anchovies. Despite these metamorphoses, purists recognized only two true pizzas: “marinara” and “margherita”. The marinara has toppings of tomato, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, oregano, and basil. The margherita is a creation of chef Rafaele Esposito who, in 1889, baked three pizzas for King Umberto I and Queen Margherita di Savoia. One Italian Pizza was topped with pork fat, cheese and basil; another was topped with garlic, oil, and tomatoes. The pizza containing Italy’s national colors was the Queen’s favorite: green basil leaves, white mozzarella, and red tomatoes. This creation was named in her honor. From this point in time, pizza exploded in popularity.

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La Vera Pizza Napoletana

Italians take pride in their Italian Pizza and have taken steps to preserve its integrity. Specific rules and procedures have been installed to protect the authenticity of Neapolitan pizza. L’Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (“The Real Neapolitan Pizza Association”) was founded in 1984. L’AVPN recognizes the Margherita and the Marinara as the ONLY authentic Neapolitan pizzas.

Hand selected Neapolitan pizzerias such as Da Michele, Port’Alba, Sorbillo, Di Matteo, Brandi, Trianon, and Umberto are encouraged to spread the AVPN philosophy. These pizzerias intend to go the extra mile by only using San Marzano tomatoes (from the slopes of Mount Vesuvius), and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana (made from the milk of water buffalo raised in Campania). Furthermore, olive oil and tomato sauce must only be applied in a clockwise direction. Making an authentic Neapolitan pizza is no easy task.

Typical Pizza Types and Toppings

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Margherita

Tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive, salt

Marinara

Tomato, garlic, oregano

Funghi

tomato, fresh mozzarella, mushrooms, basil, extra virgin olive oil Salsiccia: tomato, fresh mozzarella, italian sausage, basil, extra virgin olive oil

Prosciutto E Arugola

mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula, extra virgin olive

Melanzane

with eggplant

Carciofi

with artichokes

Bianca

mozzarella, garlic, olive oil. In Rome, the term pizza bianca refers to a type of bread topped with olive oil, salt and, occasionally, rosemary leaves. Pizza e fichi is a Roman version that has figs on the bottom.

Capricciosa

tomato, artichokes, mushroom, prosciutto cotto, mozzarella, olive oil, olives. (In Rome, prosciutto is used and half a hard-boiled egg is added).

Quatro Stagioni

same ingredients for the capricciosa, but the ingredients are not mixed, but rather are in different parts of the pizza

Margherita con filetti

with cherry tomatoes

Pizza Romana

tomato, mozzarella, anchovies, oregano, and oil.

Quattro Formaggi

tomatoes, mozzarella, stracchino, fontina, and gorgonzola. (Sometimes ricotta can be substituted for one of the last three).

Sicilian

Its toppings are baked directly into the crust. An authentic recipe uses neither cheese nor anchovies. Sicilian pizza in the United States is not the same as the authentic Italian version.

Lazio

Available in Rome and many other parts of Italy, Lazio-style pizza has multiple forms. Pizza al taglio is baked in long, rectangular pans that are 1-2 centimeters thick. This pizza is cooked in an electric oven and sold by weight.

Ripieno or calzone

is a half-moon shaped pizza in the form of a pocket. It is usually filled with ricotta, salame, and mozzarella. This pizza is most often oven-baked but can also be fried.

5 thoughts on “Pizza”

  1. I didn’t realize that tomatoes were the defining change in pizza over the years! Pizza truly is one of the most versatile foods out there that you can customize to have almost anything that you want on it. I think that what makes it so great is that it provides a balanced meal that you can have made to fit all of your personal tastes, whatever they may be.

    Reply
    • I agree. Like pasta! Pizza is a wonder food. It can be as healthy as anything you can imagine. Thanks for reading!
      ed

      Reply
  2. It was good to know that back then, pizza was eaten as a source of nourishment in impoverished neighborhoods during winter times. It’s simply amazing to know how much the pizza world has evolved so much since then. Anyway, this is a good history to share with the rest of the family as I am planning to buy pizza for dinner tomorrow night. Thank you for sharing. It was awe inspiring.

    Reply
  3. It’s awesome that this article talked about pizza. I never knew that pizza has been already a long time favorite. Oh my, I am now starving and what I like to try is that pizza which named after the queen!

    Reply

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