When researching pizza, I started asking myself, is pizza Greek? How do you ask? Well, for one, Naples, Italy, was a Greek settlement. That means Naples wouldn’t have been what it is today without the Greeks. Or it might have taken a little longer to get to where they are today.
My second observation is that Greeks were creating flatbread dishes called plakous. This flatbread would come with herbs, cheese, and garlic. It was cheap and fast to make, making it popular amongst the settlers and the city’s poor.
Since Naples is a city by the water, the men were fishermen. According to my research, the wives would prepare a deep bread dish filled with tomato sauce. This sounds like a classing marinara pizza.
By 1700, the city was bustling with Italians, but were there still Greeks there? In 1738 Lucianos started selling their pizza on the streets. By 1830, the family had their first pizza restaurant. Since the family was Italian, does that make the pizza Italian?
In the states, an Italian immigrant changed the way we eat. In 1905, Gennaro Lombardi opened the first pizzeria in Little Italy. The love of the flatbread filled with tomato sauce and cheese soon spread over the states, and our passion for pizza expanded.
Is Pizza Greek or Italian or…?
The pizza we consume today in the USA is shaped to what Americans love. Classic Neapolitan pie includes sourdough pizza, cheese, tomato sauce, garlic, and oil. The pies are cooked in a wood-burning stove built from local volcanic rock. The cheese used on classic pies is usually buffalo cheese. This was changed to cow’s mozzarella cheese instead. Woodburning stoves were turned to coal-fired stoves because it was cheaper but produced the same heat and flavor. Today, you might see electric or gas pizza stove ovens in your local pizza stores.
What do you think? Do you think pizza is Greek or Italian? Or maybe it’s neither. Perhaps the Persians and their flatbreads with dates were making the first dessert pizza.