He prepared three kinds of pizzas: one with pork fat, cheese, and basil; one with garlic, oil, and tomatoes; and another with mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes (in the colours of the Italian flag).
Raffaele Esposito dedicated his specialty to the Queen and called it “Pizza Margherita.” This pizza set the standard by which today’s pizza evolved as well as firmly established Naples as the pizza capital of the world.
Pizza & Naples
The innovation which gave us the particular flat bread we call “pizza” was the use of tomato as a topping. For some time after the tomato was brought to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century, it was believed by many Europeans to be poisonous (as are some other fruits of the nightshade family).
However, by the late 18th century it was common for the poor of the area around Naples to add tomato to their yeast-based flat bread, and so the pizza was born. The dish gained in popularity, and soon Pizza became a tourist attraction as visitors to Naples ventured into the poorer areas of the city in order to try the local speciality.
Until about 1830, pizza was sold from open-air stands and street vendors out of pizza bakeries. Pizzerie keep this age-old tradition still alive today. It is possible to enjoy a delicious pizza wrapped in paper and a drink sold from open-air stands outside the premises. Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba in Naples is widely regarded as the world’s first pizzeria . They started producing pizzas for peddlers in 1738 but expanded to a pizza restaurant with chairs and tables in 1830, and still serve pizza from the same premises today.
A description of pizza in Naples around 1830 is given by the French writer and food expert Alexandre Dumas, père in his work Le Corricolo, Chapter VII. He writes that pizza was the only food of the humble people in Naples during winter, and that “in Naples pizza is flavored with oil, lard, tallow, cheese, tomato, or anchovies”.