So why is the pizza pie such a national symbol?
When you think of Italy, you think of pizza. And there’s a reason for that.
Walk the streets of Urbino and you see a Ristorante Pizzeria everywhere you look, or at least a restaurant that serves high quality pizza. Step inside a restaurant like the Ragno d’Oro or the Terrazza del Duca, at the highest and lowest points of the town, and you’ll see the chefs cooking their pizzas in classic wood-fired brick ovens.
It’s unclear whether pizza originated in Italy, but Italy is where pizza first became popular. And dedicated Italian pizza makers like to keep it one of Italy’s symbols.
Pizza came from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions as a cheap food that poorer people could buy. It was not considered a household recipe.
But the first pizza to resemble the dish we eat today came from Italy. Biagietti Adriana, manager of the Ragno S’Ore Ristorante Pizzeria in Urbino, tells the story.
It was in 1889 that a Neapolitan chef named Raffaele Esposito baked three different kinds of pizza to honor Margherita of Savoy, the queen of a newly unified Italy. One of the pizzas was made to represent the three colors of Italy, so it was garnished with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.
“The queen wanted a pizza,” Adriana explained.
The queen liked the dish so much that Esposito named it in her honor, hence the pizza Margherita. Since its inception, it has become the most famous pizza to come out of Italy.
North America was introduced to pizza when Italian immigrants came over in the early 1900s, with the first pizzerias appearing in New York City in 1905. But it wasn’t until the Great Depression, and during the years of scrimping on the home front during World War II, that the pizza industry boomed. As it was in the beginning, pizza was cheap.
Since then, pizzas have developed the wide varieties that can be found across the world.
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