Pizza has been an elemental part of Italy's diet since the Stone Age, when it was baked under the rocks of a fire. Seasonings evolved slowly, so the primitive pizzas were often eaten as plain flatbreads. In addition, they had not yet been given the term "pizza". What helped pizza bridge the time-gap and evolve into one of today’s most popular food? 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 pizza.
Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba, the city's first pizzeria opened in 1738. And yes, you can still enjoy this delicious dish on the very same premises today. As with almost every other food, pizza underwent a process of regional variation. The original pizza based in Naples was soft and pliable, but the Romans began using thin, crispy crusts.
Artifacts such as marble slabs and culinary tools resembling those commonly found in today's pizzerias were discovered in ashes smothering Pompeii after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 24, 79 A.D.
Tomatoes were brought back to Italy from the New World. The citizens of Naples began adding tomatoes to their flatbreads to form the modern version of pizza.
Tourists flocked to the poor neighborhoods of Naples, where men called “pizzaiuoli” cooked pizza.
Queen Maria Carolina d'Asburgo Lorena (1752-1814), wife of Kind Ferdinando IV had a pizza oven built in their summer palace of Capodimonte. The chef could now serve pizza to their guests.
King Umberto and Queen Margherita di Savoia (1851-1926) met with chef Rafaele Esposito who baked three pizzas for them. The pizza resembling Italy's flag won the Queen over. It was topped with green basil, white mozzarella and red tomatoes. Esposito honored the Queen naming the pizza "Margherita".
20th Century - 1905
Gennaro Lombardi opened the first pizzeria in the United States. The pizzeria was located in New York on 53 ½ Spring Street.
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