Why Pizza is called Pizza ?

Why Pizza is called Pizza ?

History of Pizza——The soul of Eately

There are not too many nations that can say their national dish has become an international phenomenon. Italy has two such dishes, pasta and of course pizza. In America pizza usually falls into two categories: thick and cheesy Chicago style or thin and more traditional New York pizza. In Italy pizza also falls into two distinct categories: Italian pizza and the rest of the world. It might seem silly considering the basic ingredients, but one taste of a true Italian pizza and that’s it. You will never feel the same about this simple and delicious food again.

Considered a peasant’s meal in Italy for centuries we cannot say who invented the very first pizza pie. Food historians agree that pizza like dishes were eaten by many peoples in the Mediterranean including the Greeks and Egyptians. Pizza – the fast food that has today become one of the most popular snacks of youngsters! You will find pizza parlors or ‘pizzerias’ in almost each and every market, including the local ones. I’m sure even you like to eat pizza, if not on a daily, then on an occasional basis. But have you ever  thought  how the pizza came into being i.e. what is the history and origin of the delicious snack? Pizza has a very colorful and interesting history attached to it .

It is believed by almost every person in the world that pizza was invented by the Italians, making it an Italian recipe. However, one can trace the origin of the snack back to the ancient times. As per the earlier records, Babylonians, Israelites, Egyptians and other ancient Middle Eastern people used to eat a flat, un-leaven bread, which was cooked in mud ovens and had an appearance somewhat similar to the pizzas we eat today. There are also evidences to suggest that the ancient Mediterranean people, like Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, used to eat their flat bread, after topping it with seasonings like olive oil and native spices. Pizza is believed to have pervaded the lower class of the Naples (Italy) in a similar fashion. The lower class of the Naples, Italy is believed to have created pizza in a more familiar fashion.

 Pizza Origins

The word “pizza” is thought to have come from the Latin word pinsa, meaning flatbread (although there is much debate about the origin of the word). A legend suggests that Roman soldiers gained a taste for Jewish Matzoth while stationed in Roman occupied Palestine and developed a similar food after returning home. However a recent archeological discovery has found a preserved Bronze Age pizza in the Veneto region. By the Middle Ages these early pizzas started to take on a more modern look and taste. The peasantry of the time used what few ingredients they could get their hands on to produce the modern pizza dough and topped it with olive oil and herbs. The introduction of the Indian Water Buffalo gave pizza another dimension with the production of mozzarella cheese. Even today, the use of fresh mozzarella di buffalo in Italian pizza cannot be substituted. While other cheeses have made their way onto pizza (usually in conjunction with fresh mozzarella), no Italian Pizzeria would ever use the dried shredded type used on so many American pizzas.

The introduction of tomatoes to Italian cuisine in the 18th and early 19th centuries finally gave us the true modern Italian pizza. Even though tomatoes reached Italy by the 1530’s it was widely thought that they were poisonous and were grown only for decoration. However the innovative (and probably starving) peasants of Naples started using the supposedly deadly fruit in many of their foods, including their early pizzas. Since that fateful day the world of Italian cuisine would never be the same, however it took some time for the rest of society to accept this crude peasant food. Once members of the local aristocracy tried pizza they couldn’t get enough of it, which by this time was being sold on the streets of Naples for every meal. As pizza popularity increased, street vendors gave way to actual shops where people could order a custom pizza with many different toppings. By 1830 the “Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba” of Naples had become the first true pizzeria and this venerable institution is still producing masterpieces.

Neapolitan style pizza had now spread throughout Italy and each region started designing their own versions based on the Italian culinary rule of fresh, local ingredients.

Italian Traditional Pizza

The Pizza Margherita may have set the standard, but there are numerous popular varieties of pizza made in Italy today. Pizza from a Pizzeria is the recognized round shape, made to order and always cooked in a wood fired oven. Regional varieties are always worth trying such as Pizza Marinara, a traditional Neapolitan pizza that has oregano, anchovies and lots of garlic. Pizza Napoli Tomato mozzarella and anchovies. Capricciosa: a topping of mushrooms, prosciutto, artichoke hearts, olives and ½ a boiled egg! Pizza Pugliese makes use of the local capers and olives of the area while Pizza Veronese has mushrooms and tender Prosciutto crudo. Pizzas from Sicily can have numerous toppings ranging from green olives, seafood, hard-boiled eggs and peas.

Pizza Capricciosa

Besides regional styles there are several varieties that are popular throughout Italy. Quattro Formagi uses a four cheese combination using fresh mozzarella and three local cheeses such as Gorgonzola, ricotta and parmigiano-reggiano. Italian tuna packed in olive oil is also a popular topping along with other marine products like anchovies, shellfish and shrimp. Quattro Stagioni is a pizza (similar to the Capricciosa) that represents the four seasons and makes a good sampler pizza with sections of artichokes, salami or Prosciutto cotto, mushrooms, and tomatoes. In Liguria you may find pizza topped with basil pesto and no tomato sauce. Of course there are hundreds more to discover and all of them are delicious, not to mention the other members of the pizza family.


Italian pizza history

The precise history of the pizza and its origin will never be known, but here is what we know about the Italian pizza history:

  • 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 pizza.
  • 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 ”. Dumas

  • 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 the peasants.
  • 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.While touring the streets of Naples she enquired about the white flat bread eaten by the peasants .It is believed that her Royal cook ,  Don Raffaele Esposito, who also  owned Pietro Il Pizzaiolo, was asked to brief the queen ,not only collected the details of the flat white bread but also   prepared a special dish in honour of the Queen.. Esposito consulted his wife who was the real pizza expert and together they developed a pizza featuring tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil and garnished the white flat bread with three colors white, Green & red representing Italian flag. In order to translate his thought he used Mozzarella cheese ( White) Basil Leaves ( Green) and  red tomatoes ( Red ) for representing Italian colour flag.The queen Margherita was really impressed by this gesture .The margheria Pizza, what we eat today had been named after Queen Margheriat
  • 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.

History of pizza in the US

Italian immigrants brought pizza to America. Gennaro Lombardi made the first pizza In the US , when he opened the first pizzeria in New York City , in 1905. The restaurant was named Lombardi’s Pizzeria Napoletana, located at 53-1/2 Spring Street in New York City . It was not to be a commercial success, as the roots of the history of pizza in the US had not yet been established. The demand in the USA was not there at the start of the twentieth Century.The Second World War changed American pizza eating habits forever. The first pizza restaurant in Chicago was called Pizzeria Uno and was run by Ike Sewell. Pizza history was made when he made the first deep dish pizza. As contentious as the history of pizza is, no one can argue that it is not one of the most popular cuisines that the world has ever seen.


By the beginning of the 1900’s pizza made it’s way to the inner cities United States, thanks to Italian immigrants, most notably New York and Chicago, due to those cities having large Italian populations. Small cafes began offering the Italian favorite. American soldiers further prompted the dish to become very popular at the end of World War II, having been exposed to it while serving on the Italian front.

Today pizza has become just as American as baseball and apple pie. Only because of its most recent origins is it considered an Italian dish. Huge U.S. based multi-billion dollar corporations should be thankful for the development along with poor college students who can appreciate the fine dining experience pizza has given them.

New Trends in Pizza

Pizza pomodoro pachino e rughetta

In the past few years a pizza with pomodoro pachino and rughetta ( cherry Tomato and arugola ) became extremely popular. Also mozzarella di bufala is becoming the ‘choice’ for better pizza.

Other Types of Pizza: Pizza al taglio also known as Pizza rustica is sold everywhere in Italy, usually by weight and often piled with marinated mushrooms, onions or artichokes. This style of pizza is cooked on a sheet pan at street stalls and makes a good quick lunch. Focaccia resembles the earliest pizzas being without tomatoes or cheese but covered in olive oil, caramelized onions and other savory toppings. Sfincione is a thick Sicilian sheet pizza that uses tomato sauce, anchovies (usually anchovy paste) breadcrumbs and caciocavallo (or another local variety) cheese. Italian calzones are ( no surprise here !) smaller than their American cousins and are often filled with either meats or fresh vegetables (a favorite is spinach) and mozzarella. A newer trend that is gaining popularity is the emergence of sweet pizzas and traditional Italian pizzerias are trying to accommodate this trend by using unique ingredients. These dessert pizzas often have flavor combinations such as Nutella, honey, fruit jam, yogurt, even mustard and liquor.

One thing to keep in mind when ordering pizza in an Italian pizzeria is that the product is personal size. Each person at a table should order their own individual pizza – one bite will explain why. In certain areas outside Italy, there are a few piazzioli who keep to their homeland traditions as best they can with the ingredients they have, but it really isn’t the same. In the end there is no going back once you try a real Italian pizza, no delivery or frozen product will ever stimulate your taste buds the way a real pizza will.



  • diversity in the history of pizza = variations in ordering a pizza

  • yes your comment make some sense. thats IS WHY we have so many types of Pizzas.. do u know how Margreeta Pizza has been named ?

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  • Bawa

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  • Navpreet

    This is something very interesting stuff
    I think foodalcohlics will surely like it
    If some one doesn’t likes it
    Then I am sure something is wrong with the person