Many believe pizza originated in Naples, a Greek settlement founded around 600 B.C. known for its working poor. Neapolitans needed an inexpensive food which was fast to make, and consumed. Flatbreads, topped with tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies, and garlic were sold on the streets. After the Italian Unification, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita enjoyed the pizza so much it spread as a simple food for the poor to all levels of society.
The issue is, pizza has been with us for far longer, dating back to ancient times. In the 6th century, Persian soldiers were said to have baked rudimentary bread on their shields and top it with cheese and dates. Romans described pizza in 1st century B.C. poetry. It was not until 1522 when tomatoes came to Europe from Peru that the first pizza, with flour, olive oil, lard, cheese, tomatoes and herbs, was made. The best pizza, it was said, was that of the Neapolitans and the rest is modern history. Oh, and Chicago-deep-dish pizza? 1943 at Pizzeria Uno which still exists today.
There are three traditional variants of pizza.
tomato, garlic, oregano, extra virgin olive oil
tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil
pizza Margherita extra
tomato, mozzarella from Campania in fillets, basil and extra virgin olive oil
Preparing food on a hot stone was one of the first methods of cooking: baking on a pizza stone is key to authenticity. Pizza stones are porous, so excess moisture is absorbed resulting in a crisp crust. A pizza stone will gain character over time. To clean, scrape off any residual masses with a blunt knife or spatula. Never use soaps as the porous stone will absorb them.
Of course ordering delivery is satisfying, but so is baking your own dough, rolling it out with your hands, and topping it with your own ingredients. The flavour is simply unmatched. The key is to be authentic to the history of the pizza; changing up the ingredients is fine, but a proper foundation is necessary.
Recipe choice is judged on authenticity, time consumption, ingredient availability, clarity, and timelessness.
Roberta’s Pizza Dough