Pizza as a food has its roots in some Greek flatbread dishes, as
later developed primarily in Naples (now Italy). The addition of
tomato sauce came about a century after the first tomatoes were
brought back from Central America by Spanish explorers.
The precise history of the pizza and its origin will never be
known, but here is what we know about the Italian pizza
The history of pizza goes back to the time of Virgil,
who died in the first Century BC, but not before writing
down a pizza recipe for posterity.
Around 1000 AD the word "picea" started to appear
in historical records in Italy , it was a circle of dough and the
topped with a variety of fillings then baked. The word pizza came
into common usage at about the same time.
It was some time later before pizza became to be made from
leavened dough, as we know it today. At the same time the
pita type bread schiacciata was made.
Towards the end of the eighteenth Century historical records
show an early record of the "Calzone" it was rolled with the
stuffing completely encased inside it, and it was then shaped like
a crescent, and baked.
The pizza as we know it today began to originate in
Naples; they were flavored with oil and garlic, cinciielli
(a small fish), or anchovies, and mozzarella cheese.
Up to 1830 the pizzas were sold from Neapolitan market stalls.
The first pizza restaurant was called Port' Alba. It had
installed an oven fired by volcanic rock from Mount Vesuvius as
these reach the high temperatures that help to make the best
Salvatore di Giacomo, the Naples poet and dramatist,
dedicated several poems to pizza.
Alexander Dumas, the author of the three
musketeers was inspired to write about pizza. Dumas referred to
a pizza that was not eaten for eight days. However he had obviously
never tried one. He mentions that it was called an "Otto", the
Italian word for eight, but in this he got it wrong, it was eaten
immediately but the baker got paid eight days later. There were
still a few bakers in Naples that carried this tradition until the
seventies and it is possible this tradition exits even today.
" The pizza is a kind of stiacciati which is round in shape
and made with bread dough, at first glance it looks like a simple
food, but when examined more closely it looks more complicated
By the nineteenth century the pizzas in Naples were
garnished with pork fat, oil lard cheese, tomatoes and tiny fish,
surprisingly enough not the recipe for a winning pizza!
The sixteenth century Bourbon Queen Maria Carolina loved
the tri-colored green red and white pizza (the forerunner of the
Margherita pizza) so much that she convinced her husband King
Ferdinand IV to allow the pizzas to be made in the royal ovens. She
had a problem because pizza as a food was associated very much with
No history of pizza would be complete without the classic story
of the pizza Margherita. Modern pizza history was made in
1889 when Queen Margherita Teresa Giovanni, the consort of
Umberto I, visited Naples with her king. Don Raffaele Esposito, who
owned Pietro Il Pizzaiolo, was asked to prepare a special dish in
honour of the Queen's visit. Esposito consulted his wife who was
the real pizza expert and together they developed a pizza featuring
tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil. He named it the Margherita
Pizza, after the city's guest of honor.
Mozzarella is made from buffalo's milk and had never
before been used to make a pizza. Ironically a cheese, basil and
tomato pizza was already popular in Naples, but it did not have
quite the same impact in the annals of pizza history .
Baker's shops in Pompeii show evidence of flat breads
that could have been amongst the world's first pizzas. If they are,
they must qualify to be the world's most preserved pizza, enshrined
in lava forever.