At Ristorante Via Appia, pizzas are one of our signature dishes. Today we are going to learn a little about one of the big classics in the pizza world: Margherita, which has its origins in the city of Naples.
The Neapolitans take their pizza very seriously. Purists, like the famous pizzeria “Da Michele” in Via C. Sersale (founded 1870), consider there to be only two true pizzas — the Marinara and the Margherita — and that is all they serve. These two “pure” pizzas are the ones preferred by many Italians today.
The Marinara is the older of the two and has a topping of tomato, oregano, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. It is named “Marinara” not because it has seafood on it (it doesn’t) but because it was the food prepared by “la marinara”, the seaman’s wife, for her sea faring husband when he returned from fishing trips in the Bay of Naples.
The Margherita, topped with modest amounts of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil is widely attributed to baker Raffaele Esposito . Esposito worked at the pizzeria “Pietro… e basta così” (literally “Peter… and that’s enough”) which was established in 1880 and is still operating under the name “Pizzeria Brandi.” In 1889, he 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). This combination was named Pizza Margherita in her honor.