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read is one of humankinds oldest prepared foods and dates back at least to the neolithic. Records of people adding other ingredients to bread in order to make it more flavoursome can be found throughout ancient history. The Ancient Greeks, for example, had a flat bread called "plakuntos" which was flavoured with various toppings like herbs, onion and garlic. It is also said that soldiers of the Persian King, Darius the Great (521-486 B.C.) baked a kind of bread flat upon their shields and then covered it with cheese and dates and in the 1st century BC,[citation needed] Virgil refers to the ancient idea of bread as an edible plate or trencher for other foods in this extract from the


Their homely fare dispatchd, the hungry band
Invade their trenchers next, and soon devour,
To mend the scanty meal, their cakes of flour.
Ascanius this observd, and smiling said:

See, we devour the plates on which we fed.

These flatbreads, like pizza, are from the Mediterranean area and other examples of flat breads that survive to this day from the ancient Mediterranean world are "focaccia" which may date back as far as the Ancient Etruscans, coca (which has sweet and savory varieties) from Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, the Greek "Pita" or "Pide" in Turkish [1]. Similar flat breads in other parts of the world include the Indian "Paratha" , the Pakistani "Naan" and the German "Flammkuchen".

Bartolomeo Scappi the great Italian renaissance chef published several recipes for "pizza" in his famous cookbook Opera dell'arte del cucinare (published in 1570). However, these are quite different to modern pizza and are generally sweet dishes made with flaky pastry. He does include a recipe for a Neapolitan Pizza which consists of a pastry base topped with almonds, dried fruits and flavoured with rosewater.

For much of the 20th century, many Chinese erroneously believed that pizza was an evolution of Chinese green onion pancake, brought back to Italy by Marco Polo. Chinese opinions on pizza's invention often run along lines like this:

Marco Polo missed green onion pancakes so much that when he was back in Italy, he tried to find chefs willing to make the pancake for him. One day, he managed to meet a chef from Naples at a friend's dinner party and persuaded him to try recreating the dish. After half a day without success, Marco Polo suggested the filling be put at the top rather than inside the dough. The change, by chance, created a dish praised by everyone at the party. The chefs returned to Naples and improvised by adding cheese and other ingredients and formed today's pizza.

The belief has since been dissipated in places like Hong Kong where people have gained awareness of the existence of focaccia, but is still extremely prevalent in some Chinese settlements such as mainland China. The belief that pizza was invented in the USA is also still quite prevalent.

Antica Pizzeria Port 'Alba in Naples

The innovation which gave us the particular flat bread we call pizza was the use of tomato as a topping. For some time after the tomato was brought to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century, it was believed by many Europeans to be poisonous (as are some other fruits of the nightshade family). However, by the late 18th century it was common for the poor of the area around Naples to add tomato to their yeast-based flat bread, and so the pizza was born. The dish gained in popularity, and soon Pizza became a tourist attraction as visitors to Naples ventured into the poorer areas of the city in order to try the local specialty.

Until about 1830, pizza was sold from open-air stands and street vendors out of pizza bakeries. Antica Pizzeria PortAlba in Naples is widely regarded as the world's first pizzeria.[citation needed] They started producing pizzas for peddlers in 1738 but expanded to a pizza restaurant with chairs and tables in 1830, and still serve pizza from the same premises today. A description of pizza in Naples around 1830 is given by the French writer and food expert Alexandre Dumas, pre in his work Le Corricolo, Chapter VIII. He writes that pizza was the only food of the humble people in Naples during winter, and that "in Naples pizza is flavored with oil, lard, tallow, cheese, tomato, or anchovies".

Authentic Neapolitan Pizza Marinara.

The Neapolitans take their pizza very seriously. Purists, like the famous pizzeria Da Michele in Via C.Sersale (founded: 1870) consider there to be only two true pizzas the Marinara and the Margherita and that is all they serve. The Marinara is the oldest and has a topping of tomato, oregano, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and usually basil. It was named Marinara not, as many believe, because it has seafood on it (it doesn't) but because it was the food the fishermen ate when they returned home from fishing trips in the Bay of Naples. The Margherita is attributed to baker Raffaele Esposito. Esposito worked at the pizzeria "Pietro... e basta cos" (literally "Peter... and that's enough" which was established in 1780 and is still operating under the name "Pizzeria Brandi". In 1889, he baked three different pizzas for the visit of King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy. The Queen's favorite was a pizza evoking the colors of the Italian flag green (basil leaves), white (mozzarella), and red (tomatoes). This combination was named Pizza Margherita in her honor.

"Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana" ("True Neapolitan Pizza Association"), which was founded in 1984 and only recognises the Marinara and Margherita verace, has set the very specific rules that must be followed for an authentic Neapolitan pizza. These include that the pizza must be baked in a wood-fired, domed oven at 485C for no more than 60 to 90 seconds; that the base must be hand-kneaded and must not be rolled with a pin or prepared by any mechanical means and that the pizza must not exceed 35 centimetres in diameter or be more than a third of a centimetre thick at the centre. The association also select Pizzerias all around the world to produce and spread the verace pizza napoletana philosophy and method. There are many famous pizzerias in Naples where these traditional pizzas can be found like Da Michele, Port'Alba, Brandi, Di Matteo, Sorbillo, Trianon and Umberto (founded: 1916) [13]. Most of them are centred on the ancient historical centre of Naples. These pizzerias will go even further than the specified rules by, for example, only using "San Marzano" tomatoes grown on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius and only drizzling the olive oil in a clockwise direction. Another addition to the rules is the use of basil on the pizza marinara - it's not in the "official" recipe but it is added by most Neapolitan pizzerias.

The pizza bases in Naples are soft and pliable but in Rome they prefer a thin and crispy base. Another popular form of pizza in Italy is "pizza al taglio" which is pizza baked in rectangular trays with a wide variety of toppings and sold by weight.

Pizza in the United States
Lombardi's Pizza at 32 Spring Street in Little Italy, Manhattan

Pizza first made its appearance in the United States with the arrival of Italian immigrants in the late 19th century. This was certainly the case in cities with large Italian populations, such as San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia where pizza was first sold on the streets of Italian neighborhoods. In late 19th century Chicago for example, pizza was introduced by a peddler who walked up and down Taylor Street with a metal washtub of pizzas on his head, crying his wares at two cents a chew. This was the traditional way pizza used to be sold in Naples, in copper cylindrical drums with false bottoms that were packed with charcoal from the oven to keep the pizzas hot. It wasn't long until small cafes and groceries began offering pizzas to their Italian-American communities.

The first "official" pizzeria in America is disputable, but it is generally believed to have been founded by Gennaro Lombardi in Little Italy, Manhattan. Gennaro Lombardi opened a grocery store in 1897 which later was established as the first pizzeria in America in 1905 with New York's issuance of the mercantile license. An employee of his, Antonio Totonno Pero, began making pizza for the store to sell that same year. The price for an entire pizza was five cents, but since many people couldn't afford the cost of a whole pie, they could instead say how much they could pay and they were given a slice corresponding to the amount offered. In 1924, Totonno left Lombardi's to open his own pizzeria on Coney Island called Totonno's. While the original Lombardi's closed its doors in 1984, it was reopened in 1994 just down the street and is run by Lombardi's grandson.

Pizza was brought to the Trenton area of New Jersey very early as well with Joe's Tomato Pies opening in 1910 followed soon by Papa's Tomato Pies in 1912. [15] In 1936, Delorenzo's Tomato Pies was opened. While Joe's Tomato Pies has closed, both Papa's and Delorenzo's have been run by the same families since their openings and remain among the most popular pizza's in the area. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, Connecticut, was another early pizzeria which opened in 1925 which is famous for its New Haven style Clam Pie. Frank Pepe's nephew Sal Consiglio opened a competing store, Sally's, across the street in 1938. Both establishments are still run by descendants of the original family. When Sal died, over 2000 people attended his wake, and the New York Times ran a half-page memoriam. The D'Amore family introduced pizza to Los Angeles in 1939. [16] [17]

Prior to the 1940s pizza consumption was limited mostly to Italian Immigrants and their descendants. The international breakthrough came after World War II. Allied troops occupying Italy, weary of their rations, were constantly on the lookout for good food. They discovered the pizzeria, and local bakers were hard pressed to satisfy the demand from the soldiers. The American troops involved in the Italian campaign took their appreciation for the dish back home, touted by "veterans ranging from the lowliest private to Dwight D. Eisenhower".

According to an article in American Heritage[11], the modern pizza industry was born in the Midwestern United States. Ric Riccardo pioneered what became known as the deep dish pizza when, in 1943, he and Ike Sewell opened Pizzeria Uno in Chicago, and a generation later, Tom Monaghan launched what soon became known as Domino's Pizza, credited by some for popularizing free home delivery.

In 1948, the first commercial pizza-pie mix Roman Pizza Mix was produced in Worcester, Mass., by Frank A. Fiorillo.

With its rising popularity, chain restaurants moved in. Leading early pizza chains were Shakey's Pizza, founded in 1954 in Sacramento, California, and Pizza Hut, founded in 1958 in Wichita, Kansas. Later entrant restaurant chains to the dine-in pizza market were Bertucci's, Happy Joe's, California Pizza Kitchen, Godfather's Pizza, and Round Table Pizza.

Today, the American pizza business is dominated by companies that specialize in pizza delivery. Besides Domino's, this includes Little Caesar's, Papa John's Pizza, Giordano's Pizza, Pizza Ranch, Mazzio's and Godfather's Pizza. Pizza Hut has also shifted its emphasis away from pizza parlors and toward home delivery. Another recent development is the take and bake pizzeria, such as Papa Murphy's, at which raw pizzas are made from fresh ingredients and taken home to be baked in the customers' own ovens.


The first recorded use of the word "pizza" dates from 997 AD and comes from a Latin text from the town of Gaeta in Southern Italy [18]. The origins of the word are uncertain and disputed but there are 7 main theories:

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