The Beginning of Pizza
Pizza is undoubtedly one of the world’s most favorite foods, so it comes as no surprise that many claim to have been the first to have created this culinary masterpiece. There have been many versions of flatbreads in different cultures that are similar to pizza. Nevertheless, history shows that Naples is the originator of the first version of pizza in the 1600’s. It was considered to be a street food sold to the poor Neapolitans. It is said that many lived in one room homes and would go outside and purchase these flatbread pizzas with whatever toppings were on hand at the time and would eat outside while they were walking to their destinations.
Royals Who Consumed Pizza
It is said that King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Italy in 1889 and were curious about trying varieties of pizza from baker Raffaele Esposito of Da Pietro Pizzeria. He had come up with his own version that had a red tomato sauce with white mozzarella and green basil. It was unique in that it also reflected the colors of the flag of Italy. Apparently, Queen Margherita was very fond of this pizza, and it was thus termed the name Pizza Margherita. It was not until the late 1800’s that pizza became more popular outside of Naples, when Italians began traveling to the Americas and sharing their recipes.
First Known Pizzeria
The first pizzeria known to open in the United States was in Manhattan, in a popular Italian-American neighborhood. The year was 1905, and the vendor went by the name of Gennaro Lombardi. Amazingly enough, Lombardi’s is still open to this day, but not at its original location. However, it does still have the same oven as it did in 1905.
By the 1930’s pizzerias were opening up all over Manhattan, Boston, and New Jersey. Business was at an all time high. In 1943 a man named Ike Sewell had opened up the first Uno’s in Chicago, with the first Chicago-style pizza. After World War II, a returning soldier named Ira Nevin invented the Baker’s Pride gas-fired pizza oven. It was sold to retailers for the purpose of being able to bake pizzas in a more inexpensive way without the use of wood or charcoal. Many restaurants and taverns were able to sell more pizzas that way.
The real rise in sales of pizza came with the realization of the pizza chain. The first pizza chain to stake its claim was Pizza Hut in 1958. The next was Little Caesar’s in 1959, and Domino’s in 1960. Papa John’s opened in 1989 all with the idea of selling mass amounts of pizza to hungry customers in the shortest amount of time possible. Currently, over 3 billion pizzas are sold each year in the United States, bringing in at least 32 billion dollars in revenue. Now that’s a lot of pizza!
Want to try a taste of this popular Italian dish for yourself? Visit Italian Garden, a San Marcos restaurant, to enjoy a slice for yourself!