History of Pizza Margherita

Pizza is a type of bread and tomato dish, often served with cheese, that has existed since time immemorial in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. A dish of the poor people, it was sold in the street and was not considered a kitchen recipe for a long time, as well as the kebab for the Arabic people. In June 1889, to honor the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, the Neapolitan chef Raffaele Esposito baked three different pizzas with different toppings; one of them was a pizza garnished with tomatoes (red), mozzarella cheese (white), and basil (green), to represent the colors of the Italian flag.
The Queen Margherita liked this idea, so Raffaele Esposito named this recipe “pizza Margherita” in her honor.

Raffaele Esposito worked at the pizzeria “Pietro… e basta così” (literally “Peter… and that’s enough”) which was established in 1880 and is still operating under the name “Pizzeria Brandi.”

The lyrics “Napule” (“Naples” in Neapolitan slang) by Gigi D’Alessio, Gigi Finizio, Sal da Vinci, Lucio Dalla mentioned four historical events related to the history of Naples and its culture; one of these is just the invention of the pizza Margherita by the Neapolitan chef, Raffaele Esposito. The whole lyrics is in Neapolitan slang.

“Napule” lyrics text & translation:

Chillu jorno nu rre e na reggina
That day, a king and a queen
–>partirono da fuori vennero qua
Fuie na festa e pe for’e balcone
There was a big party and out on the balconies
–>un sacco di bandiere per tutta la citta
Masaniello purtaie nu baba
Masaniello brought a baba (Naples traditional pastry)
–>ma la regina voleva mangiare
Fuje accussi ca cu ll’acqu’e a farina
that’s how, with water and flour,
–>un bel ragazzo la fece incantare (I suppose that “un bel ragazzo la incanto” is more grammatical correct)
Po guardaie na bandiera e culure
Then he looked at a colourful falg
–>penso un momento, disse Maesta
Mo ce metto ddoje pummerulelle
Now I put two little tomatoes
–>con questa mozzarella e una foglia di basilico
Po nu furno vulett’appiccia
Then he wanted to heat an oven
–>due minuti e ve la faccio assaggiare
Chella pizz’a nventaje pe’a reggina
He invented that pizza for the queen
–>percio Margherita la dovette chiamare
so he had to call it Margherita

History of Pizza Margherita

“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 and also selects pizzerias all around the world to produce and spread the verace pizza napoletana philosophy and method.
Specific rules include that the pizza must be baked in a wood-fired, domed oven at 485°C for no more than 60 to 90 seconds; that the base of pizza must be hand-kneaded (the pizza makers — called “pizzaioli” – prepare the base for pizza just by rolling it with their fingers) 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 one-third of a centimetre thick at the centre.
Pizza in Lazio (Rome) has a thin, crisp base quite different from the thicker and softer Neapolitan style base. It is usually cooked in a wood-fired oven, giving the pizza its unique flavor and texture. In Rome, a pizza napoletana is topped with tomato, mozzarella, anchovies and oil (thus, what in Naples is called pizza romana, in Rome is called pizza napoletana).

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 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, selling his wares at two cents a chew. This was the 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 was not long until small cafes and groceries began offering pizzas to their Italian-American communities.

And now the original recipe of Pizza Margherita:

Ingredients Required

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. plum Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 12″ uncooked NY Style dough crust
  • 6 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 6 fresh basil leaves cut into julienne strips
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh shredded parmesan cheese


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Step by Step Preparation procedure

  1. Combine 2 Tbls. olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, and salt in bowl.
  2. Allow to marinate while making dough.
  3. Brush dough crust lightly with olive oil.
  4. Top with cheese, then tomatoes.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil.
  6. Bake in preheated 500F oven on pizza stone for 8−10 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly.
  7. Remove from oven and top with parmesan cheese, then basil.
  8. Cool on a wire rack for 2−3 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.
Tips: If the dough is too wet: Add a bit more flour and work it in. If dough is too stretchy to roll out: Leave it to rest for 10 mins or so, then try again. You need far more pressure when rolling dough than when rolling out pastry. If the base isn’t cooked: Baking the pizza on top of a preheated sheet or tray should prevent this. However, it could be too thick or have too much topping. If the topping is cooked before the base, cover with foil and give it another 5 mins.


Here is a short list of common pizza recipes
Focaccia al rosmarino – based on rosemary and olive oil, sometimes served with prosciutto. Usually served as appetizer
Pizza marinara – based on tomato, oregano and garlic
Pizza Margherita – based on tomato and mozzarella
Pizza alla napoletana (or Napoli) – tomato, mozzarella and anchovy
Pizza siciliana — tomato, mozzarella, capperi, olive and anchovy
Pizza romana — tomato, mozzarella, anchovies, oregano, oil
Pizza pugliese — tomato, mozzarella and onions
Pizza capricciosa – mozzarella, tomato, mushrooms, artichokes, cooked ham, olives, oil
Pizza viennese: tomato, mozzarella, German sausage, oregano, oil
Pizza quattro formaggi (“four cheese pizza”): tomatoes, and the cheeses mozzarella, stracchino, fontina, and gorgonzola. Sometimes ricotta is swapped for one of the last three.
Pizza quattro stagioni – based on tomato and divided in four sectors, one for each season: Spring (cooked ham and black olives), Summer (artichokes and anchovy), (just tomato and mozzarella, like Pizza Margherita), Winter (mushrooms)
Pizza ai quattro formaggi – with four different cheeses (sometimes melted together, sometimes in sectors)
Pizza ai funghi e salsicce (or boscaiola)- with mozzarella, mushrooms and sausages, with or without tomato.
Calzone – folded over dough usually filled with ricotta and other ingredients

Particular recipes:
Pizza con il cornicione ripieno di ricotta (Pizza with ricotta filling the external part): this recipes was invented at the Angel’s Pizzeria in Naples, now is also found in other pizzerias. The external part of the pizza (the “cornicione”) is used as a pocket, inside of which is put ricotta pureed, or even other ingredients.

Fried Calzone: particularly famous the one prepared at Pizzeria DiMatteo, in Neaples, filled with pork scratching (cubes of pork fat or in alternative diced bacon), cheese, tomato and mozzarella.

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