Pizza: An Italian invention or an American favourite?


For the love of pizza

Pizza: a dish that holds the hearts of many people all around the world as the ultimate comfort food. The versatility of pizza is, without doubt, the power behind its success. Think classic Margherita, made with raw San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, fresh hand-picked basil, and Italian extra virgin olive oil to deep-dish BBQ chicken pizza, with a rich and sticky BBQ sauce, grilled chicken, crunchy onions, and three cheeses (typically mozzarella, provolone and cheddar). No matter what flavours, toppings, and base thickness tickles your tastebuds, there’s an option for everyone.

Where does pizza originate from?

The origin of pizza goes as far back as the ancient Greeks, Romans, Persians, and Egyptians. Thousands of years ago, civilisations made flatbreads in clay or mud ovens and topped them with cheese, garlic, anchovies, oil, and herbs1 – not far removed from a modern-day pizza! But the original Margherita we all know and love originates from Naples in the southwest of Italy.

In 1889, the King of Italy and his wife, Queen Margarita di Savoia, visited Naples for a holiday, where the famous chef Raffaele Esposito prepared a pizza for the royals covered with mozzarella, basil and tomatoes, representing the colours of the Italian flag. The queen expressed her love for the pizza so greatly that the mozzarella pizza was named after her, and the much-loved Margherita was born. 2

Italy VS America – who started the craze?

Although the Margherita pizza in Naples had royal validation, it remained relatively unknown in other parts of Italy until the late 1940s. But across the Atlantic Ocean, pizza was booming!

Immigrants leaving Naples for America (due to the poor economic situation in Italy) brought their regionally loved dish over with them. Neapolitans were cooking up pizzas for themselves and selling them to locals across America. Soon, shops started opening in New York, Boston, and Trenton, which sparked the development of the Margherita and the creation of the New York-style pizza. 3

The Italians’ pizza

To this day, the original Neapolitan pizza stands as Italy’s most loved pizza flavour.4 Like most of Italy’s popular pizza flavours, it’s simple, fresh, thin, soft, and cooked in a wood-fired oven at very high temperatures to create a dark, blistered crust and chewy centre. The Italians take great care in their dough creation; sourcing the finest “00” flour is crucial for creating the lightest and most perfect crusts. The light layer of sauce is created from fresh Italian tomatoes, served simply with mozzarella di bufala or finished with toppings such as prosciutto, mushrooms, and olives.

The Americans’ pizza

The Americans have wildly changed things up from the classic original pizza, from the thick and fluffy Detroit-style square pizza slices to the thin and crispy New York-style. American pizzas tend to be deep-dish because the crust helps hold lots of sauce, cheese, and tons of toppings. The deep-dish pizzas are cooked in a generously oiled pan, ensuring they have a crispy, structured crust, smothered in a thick marinara sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and onions, topped with high-fat brick cheese, and finished with heaped toppings including pepperoni, sausage, pineapple, mushrooms, and even extra cheese!

So, who wins?

Both Italian and American pizzas are, in their own right, world-famous. One may argue neither of the countries invented the pizza, and it was, in fact, the ancient Mediterraneans who created the topped flatbread. Whilst Italy crowns itself as the inventor due to the original margarita being made in Naples, America could equally claim they put pizza on the map and started many of the most famous pizza chains in the world, including Domino’s and Pizza Hut.

Whichever side you come down on, we can all agree the world is a better place with pizza!