Founded around 600 B.C. as a Greek settlement, Naples in the 1700s and early 1800s was a successful waterside city. Technically an independent kingdom, it was notorious for its crowds of working underprivileged, or lazzaroni. "The closer you got to the bay, the more dense their population, and much of their living was done outdoors, in some cases in houses that were little more than a room," stated Carol Helstosky, author of "Pizza: A Global History" and associate professor of history at the University of Denver.
Pizza-- flatbreads with various toppings, consumed for any meal and offered by street vendors or informal dining establishments-- fulfilled this need. These early pizzas consumed by Naples' poor included the yummy garnishes cherished today, such as tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies and garlic.
Italy merged in 1861, and King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889. Legend has it that the taking a trip pair became tired with their constant diet of French haute cuisine and requested a variety of pizzas from the city's Pizzeria Brandi, the follower to Da Pietro pizzeria, founded in 1760. The variety the queen delighted in most was called pizza mozzarella, a pie topped with the soft white cheese, red tomatoes and green basil. (Perhaps it was no coincidence that her preferred pie included the colors of the Italian flag.) From then on, the story goes, that particular topping combination was called pizza Margherita.
Queen Margherita's blessing could have been the start of an Italy-wide pizza trend. And yet, up until the 1940s, pizza would stay little recognized in Italy beyond Naples' borders.
An ocean away, though, immigrants to the United States from Naples were replicating their reliable, crusty pizzas in New York and other American cities, consisting of Trenton, New Haven, Boston, Chicago and St. Louis. The Neapolitans were coming for factory tasks, as did countless Europeans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; they weren't seeking to make a culinary statement. Fairly rapidly, the tastes and fragrances of pizza started to intrigue non-Neapolitans and non-Italians.
The very first recorded United States pizzeria was G. (for Gennaro) Lombardi's on Spring Street in Manhattan, certified to offer pizza in 1905. (Prior to that, the dish was homemade or purveyed by unlicensed suppliers.) Lombardi's, still in operation today though no longer at its 1905 place, "has the exact same oven as it did originally," noted food critic John Mariani, author of "How Italian Food Conquered the World."
Arguments over the finest slice in town can be heated, as any pizza fan knows. Mariani credited 3 East Coast pizzerias with continuing to churn out pies in the century-old custom: Totonno's (Coney Island, Brooklyn, opened 1924); Mario's (Arthur Avenue, the Bronx, opened 1919); and Pepe's (New Haven, opened 1925).
As Italian-Americans, and their food, moved from city to residential area, east to west, specifically after World War II, pizza's appeal in the United States expanded. No longer viewed as an "ethnic" reward, it was significantly recognized as a quick, enjoyable food. Regional, distinctly non-Neapolitan variations emerged, eventually including California-gourmet pizzas topped with anything from barbecued chicken to smoked salmon.
"Like blue denims and rock and roll, the rest of the world, consisting of the Italians, chose up on pizza just because it was American," explained Mariani. International stations of American chains like Domino's and Pizza Hut likewise prosper in about 60 different countries. Helstosky thinks one of the quirkiest American pizza variations is the Rocky Mountain pie, baked with visit website here a supersized, doughy crust to save for last.
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