History of Italian pizza

History of Italian pizza

Italy boasts two internationally recognised products – pasta and pizza which have made the history of Italian food.

The first ever pizza

The first and the most basic form of pizza as a seasoned flatbread has a long history. Greeks and Phoenicians ate a flatbread made from flour and water and cooked it by placing on a hot stone and then seasoned with herbs. This type of food was called ‘plankuntos’ and was used as an edible plate when eating stews or thick broth. These pizzas were eaten throughout Rome, Egypt and Babylon and were praised by the ancient historians Herodotus and Cato the Elder.


It is known that the word ‘pizza’ come from the Latin word ‘pinsa’ meaning flatbread. There is a legend that Roman soldiers gained a taste of Jewish Matzoth while stationed in Palestine and created a similar dish after returning home. But recent archeological discovery has found a preserved Bronze Age pizza in the Italian Veneto region. The peasantry of the time used the ingredients they could get to produce the modern pizza dough and topped it with olive oil and herbs. Production of mozzarella cheese gave pizza another level of popularity and it is still used nowadays and cannot be substituted.

History of Italian pizzaIntroduction of tomatoes

In the 18th and early 19th centuries the tomatoes were introduced to Italian cuisine which gave a modern Italian pizza. The vegetable itself reached Italy by 1530s but at that time it was widely thought that tomatoes are poisonous. However peasants of Naples started using it in many of their foods including pizzas. With the increasing popularity of pizza, street vendors opened actual shops where people could order a custom pizza with different toppings. However, the first true pizzeria was opened in 1830 in Naples.

Pizza Margherita

The most popular Italian pizza Margherita is named after Italian Queen Margherita who visited the Pizzeria Brandi in Naples in 1889. Special pizza was created for the visitor which contained the three colours of the new Italian flag. The red of tomato, white of the mozzarella and fresh green basil, was a hit with the Queen and the rest of the world. Neapolitan style pizza is now famous throughout Italy and each region started designing their own variations based on the Italian culinary rule of fresh, local ingredients.

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