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13 Things You May Not Know About the History of Pizza

History of Pizza in USA by Belforno pizza ovens

Did you know that pizza isn’t considered “true pizza” unless baked in a wood-fired oven? Here are some more interesting facts about the humble beginnings of this now world famous food…


  1. Pizza was just flatbread until the advent of the tomato as a topping.
  2. For many years Europeans thought the tomato was poisonous. It was only towards the end of the 18th century that the peasants in Naples added tomato to their traditional flatbread. This is how the pizza was born.
  3. Pizza became a tourist attraction. Visitors ventured into the poorer areas of Naples and tried the local specialty which was sold from open-air stands and pizza bakeries.
  4. The first known pizzeria dates back to 1738. The Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba sold pizza to street vendors and still operates from the same premises today.
  5. The first written description of pizza was printed in 1830. The French food expert Alexandre Dumas described pizza as ”flavored with oil, lard, tallow, cheese, tomato, or anchovies”.
  6. The Marinara was the first ever pizza. It got its name not from having seafood as a topping but because it was the food prepared by “la marinara”, the seaman’s wife. She prepared it for her seafaring husband when he returned from fishing trips in the Bay of Naples.
  7. Italians made the Marinara without using mozzarella. It has a topping of tomato, garlic, oreano and olive oil.
  8. In 1889 the baker Raffaele Esposito baked three different pizzas for the visit of King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy. The Queen’s favorite was a pizza evoking the colors of the Italian flag — green (basil leaves), white (mozzarella), and red (tomatoes). He named this combination Pizza Margherita in her honor.
  9. Pizza purists consider there to be only 2 true kinds of pizza, the Marinara and the Margherita. The famous pizzeria Da Michele in Via C. Sersale serves only these pizzas.
Download the Belforno Perfect Pizza Recipe and make your own authentic Neopolitan pizza!


  1. There is group called Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (True Neapolitan Pizza Association). It was founded in 1984 to “promote and protect in Italy and worldwide the true Neapolitan pizza.”
  2. There are very specific rules that must be followed to create an authentic Neopolitan pizza:
  •  Baked the pizza in a wood-fired, domed oven at 900°F for no more than 60 to 90 seconds
  • Hand-knead the base. It must not be rolled with a pin or prepared by any mechanical means
  • The pizza must not exceed 35 centimeters in diameter or be more than one-third of a centimeter thick at the centre.
  • Some purist restaurants go so far as only using San Marzano tomatoes grown on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. They only drizzle the olive oil and add the tomato topping in a clockwise direction.
  1. In December 2009, the the European Union granted pizza napoletana Traditional Speciality Guaranteed status.

Additional FREE Downloads:
Belforno Wood-Fired Pizza Cookbook

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Belforno Wood-Fired Ovens

We are a manufacturer of authentic wood-fired ovens that we deliver to your home in a ready-to-assemble kit. Belforno ovens are designed in the Italian tradition using only the finest refractory ceramic materials to hold heat for long periods of time and provide superior cooking results. Contact us for more information.

Other Useful links:
Find out more about the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana here: and here: