Founded around 600 B.C. as a Greek settlement, Naples in the 1700s and early 1800s was a successful waterfront 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 bit more than a room," said Carol Helstosky, author of "Pizza: A Global History" and associate teacher of history at the University of Denver.
Unlike the wealthy minority, these Neapolitans required economical food that could be taken in quickly. Pizza-- flatbreads with various garnishes, consumed for any meal and sold by street vendors or informal dining establishments-- fulfilled this need. "Judgmental Italian authors often called their consuming routines 'horrible,'" Helstosky noted. These early pizzas consumed by Naples' poor included the tasty garnishes cherished today, such as tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies and garlic.
Italy unified in 1861, and King Umberto I and Queen Margherita went to Naples in 1889. Legend has it that the taking a trip set ended up being bored with their stable diet plan of French nouvelle cuisine and requested for an assortment of pizzas from the city's Pizzeria Brandi, the successor to Da Pietro pizzeria, founded in 1760. The range the queen took pleasure 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 featured the colors of the Italian flag.) From then on, the story goes, that specific topping mix was called pizza Margherita.
Queen Margherita's blessing could have been the start of an Italy-wide pizza trend. After all, flatbreads with garnishes weren't special to the lazzaroni or their time-- they were taken in, for instance, by the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. (The latter consumed a variation with herbs and oil, similar to today's focaccia.) And yet, until the 1940s, pizza would remain unknown in Italy beyond Naples' borders.
An ocean away, though, immigrants to the United States from Naples were duplicating their dependable, 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 jobs, as did millions of Europeans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; they weren't seeking to make a culinary statement. However reasonably rapidly, the tastes and scents of pizza started to interest non-Neapolitans and non-Italians.
The first documented United States pizzeria was G. (for Gennaro) Lombardi's on Spring Street in Manhattan, licensed to sell pizza in 1905. (Prior to that, the dish was homemade or purveyed by unlicensed vendors.) Lombardi's, still in operation today though no longer at its 1905 area, "has the very same oven as it did initially," kept in mind food critic John Mariani, author of "How Italian Food Conquered the World."
Disputes over the finest piece in the area can be heated up, as any pizza fan understands. But Mariani credited three East Coast pizzerias with continuing to churn out pies in the century-old tradition: 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, migrated from city to suburb, east to west, especially after World War II, pizza's appeal in the United States expanded. No longer viewed as an "ethnic" reward, it was progressively determined as a quick, fun food. Regional, distinctly non-Neapolitan variations emerged, eventually including California-gourmet pizzas topped with anything from barbecued chicken to smoked salmon.
Postwar pizza lastly reached Italy and beyond. "Like blue jeans and rock-and-roll, the remainder of the world, consisting of the Italians, detected pizza just because it was American," discussed Mariani. Reflecting local tastes, toppings can run the range from Gouda cheese in Curaçao to hardboiled eggs in Brazil. Yet global 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 a supersized, doughy crust to save for last. "Then you dip it in honey click here for more info and have it for dessert," she said.
About Fireaway Pizza
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