How to make an original Italian pizza

Pizza is now too popular to even try separating what has been added to this old recipe in the past decades and what was there from the beginning. I am an American chef with Italian roots and I have spent a lot of time studying what you can approve as being an original pizza ingredient and what is not. Tomatoes are intimately related to pizza, though they got in Italy in the 16th century, they were used as decorative plants, because they were believed to be poisonous. It was the lower class that started eating them and created a meal that would become extremely popular among both nobility and lower classes in the 19th century, when the first shops where you could order pizza were opened.

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However, the word pizza goes a long way back until Roman times and even earlier than that, but this is a long story on which I won’t linger now. The purpose of this blog is studying the roots of Italian cuisine right here, in US, see how it has changed in time and try rediscovering their first original recipe.

For example, everybody knows how pizza Margherita came to be.  In 1889, Queen Margherita visited Naples and the Pizzeria Brandi, one of its famous locals, cooked, in her honor, a special pizza made by Rafaele Esposito, who was working as a cook that day. So he made a flatbread with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, that symbolized the three colors of the Italian flag. The queen was absolutely mad about it, and this dish gained extreme popularity in the area and spread in all Italy after that. Now, you can eat it all over the world. The ingredients haven’t changed much and, since 2010, this pizza has gained the title of guaranteed traditional specialty (STG) from the EU and, so, the ingredients, the way it is baked and cut when eaten, must be done in the traditional way so that the Pizza Verace Napoletana keeps its quality of STG.

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As I said, pizza Margherita still preserves its original ingredients: tomatoes (from Italy if possible), mozzarella and basil. For the dough, you must find Type 00 Italian flour and dry active yeast, salt and water. Quantities are approximated depending on how much pizza you want to make. The best pizza is the one baked in a wood oven, but, as that may prove to be difficult now, I recommend you use a pizza oven for the best results, as the normal oven won’t bake the dough evenly which will not confer it that delicious flavor.