The Stories Behind Famous Pizza Names


Everybody has a favourite pizza, with aficionados the world over championing the reasons why their particular favourite is the best pizza. From the classic Margherita to the cheese lovers’ Quattro Formaggi and the often-controversial Hawaiian, there’s something to suit every taste and occasion. But have you ever stopped to wonder where pizza names came from?

Let’s take a closer look at how, where, and why some of the most popular pizzas are so-called…


Neapolitan pizza, also known as Naples-style, is quite simply named for its birthplace – the southern Italian city of Naples! Arguably one of the most iconic Italian pizza styles, the Neapolitan comprises a topping of fresh San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, olive oil, basil, and salt with a thin crust. This particular style of pizza has been granted protected status by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), with certification available to pizzerias that follow the strict requirements in the Neapolitan art of pizza making.


Another iconic pizza, the Margherita, is widely attributed to Neapolitan Raffaele Esposito. The pizzaiolo, so the story goes, created a red tomato, white mozzarella, and green basil pizza in homage to the colours of the Italian flag and to honour Queen Margherita of Savoy’s visit to Naples in 1889. The queen was duly impressed by the dish, and the rest, as they say, is history!


Whilst you could be forgiven for thinking a Marinara is a seafood dish, this cheese-less pizza – traditionally topped with tomato, garlic, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil – was, in fact, named for marinaio or Italian sailors. Legend has it that la marinara, or sailor’s wife, would prepare the dish to welcome her husband home from fishing expeditions in and around the Bay of Naples.

Quattro Formaggi

One for the cheese lovers, the name of this popular pizza quite literally translates to ‘four cheese’ in English. It’s typically prepared with a combination of hard and soft cheeses, usually mozzarella, gorgonzola, fontina, and parmesan, although popular alternatives include ricotta, pecorino, smoked provola, taleggio, blue cheese, gruyère, or emmental. It can be crafted with or without tomato sauce; styles referred to respectively as rossa(red) or bianca (white).


Essentially a Margherita topped with spicy Italian sausage or salami, the Diavola pizza gets its name from the Italian word for devil due to its spicy flavour profile. Some pizzerias also add hot chilli peppers for an extra kick. The nearest pizza to a Diavola in the UK is the perennially popular pepperoni.

Quattro Stagioni

This renowned Italian style of pizza, which translates to ‘four seasons’ in English, is made with four different toppings: one for each quarter of the pizza. Each topping represents a different season of the year – artichokes for spring, tomatoes and basil for summer, mushrooms for autumn, and dry-cured prosciutto and/or olives for winter.


For those who prefer a vegetarian pizza, enter the Ortolana. The name of this Italian favourite loosely translates to ‘greengrocer’ or ‘grower of fruit and vegetables’ in English. It’s typically topped with tomato, mozzarella, courgette, and aubergine, before being baked and finished with olive oil and fresh basil leaves.


Well, this one obviously comes from Hawaii, right? Wrong! The Hawaiian pizza actually hails from Canada. In 1962 Ontario restaurant owner Sam Panapoulos was inspired by Chinese cuisine to experiment with sweet, salty, and savoury pizza toppings. At the time, Hawaii was the world’s major pineapple producer, so he naturally named his creation after his favourite brand of tinned pineapple.

Whilst naysayers claim that pineapple has no place on pizza and public opinion remains divided, it seems the appeal of the Hawaiian is continuing to grow . In 2023, pineapple made it onto Domino’s top ten list of most requested pizza toppings with a staggering 3.63 million requests!

Which side of the fence are you on?