Pizza is a staple in Italian cuisine, and has been that way for a long time. The curious thing about that is pizza actually originated in Greece. The ancient Greeks began the idea of pizza through baking large, round flat breads and cooking them with oil, herbs, spices, and dates. The flat breads were made from water and flour, and cooked on a hot stone. This was called “plankuntos”. It was used as a large, edible plate to eat stews and broths off of.
Eventually the flatbread spread through Europe, and made its way to Italy. In the 18th century, these flat breads were sold on the streets and in markets without any toppings. Because they were easy to make and filling, they became the food of the poor. From this point, two major events created the pizza we know today.
- Until the 1500s, tomatoes were looked down upon. They were thought to be poisonous, until they were brought back to Europe from Peru and the poor people began adding them to their flatbreads, creating pizza as we know it today. Before this, flat breads were only made with flour, olive oil, lard, cheese, and herbs. This was considered a “Neopolitan” pizza.
- The tomato-laden flat breads became a popular staple in Naples, and all throughout Italy. In 1889, Queen Margherita visited a pizzeria in Naples. Rafaele Esposito, the pizza maker working that day, created an original pizza just for the queen to honor the Italian flag. The pizza featured tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil. The queen adored the pizza, and it was henceforth called “Margherita pizza”. From that point on, the delicious pizza spread throughout Italy, and pizza makers began experimenting and creating their own versions.
Around the same time that Margherita pizza came into existence, Italians began immigrating to the United States for factory jobs and the American dream. In immigrating to New York, Trenton, New Haven, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, and other major cities, they brought with them the flavors and aromas of the new Italian craze. This intrigued Americans around them, and soon the first pizzeria in United States opened its doors.
Lombardi’s on Spring Street in Manhattan, owned by Gennaro Lombardi, opened its doors in 1905 and still sells traditional Italian pizza today. Lombardi was an Italian immigrant and bread maker, who made pizza in a bakery/grocery store in New York. In 1905, the owner of the bakery/grocery store offered to sell the store to Lombardi, who took the deal. He knew pizza was the future, and began an American pizza shop revolution.
Not many nations have the claim that their dish has become an international phenomenon. Although, its roots didn’t begin in Italy, we have Italy to thank for creating the pizza we know today. Since the original Italian pizzas were created, they have been expanded and changed to create different versions such as Chicago and New York styles, deep-dish, thin crispy crust, etc. La Bella Vita is a pizza place that’s loyal to our Italian roots. If you’re looking for unbeatable, wood-fired Italian pizza in Brooklyn, we are the place. Stop in and taste for yourself!