National Pizza Month: A Slice of History

NATIONAL PIZZA MONTH IS HERE WHICH MEANS WE’RE CELEBRATING EVERYTHING ABOUT THE FAMOUS CHEESY DELIGHT. PIZZA HAS BEEN AN AMERICAN STAPLE FOR DECADES AND DECADES NOW, BUT WHERE DID IT GET ITS ORIGINS?

The true beginnings of our beloved pizza can be traced back to southwestern Italy’s Campania region, home to the city of Naples. In the 1700s and early 1800s, Naples was a bustling waterfront city, filled with lots of working poor Neapolitans. Due to their economic status, these Italians needed inexpensive foods that could be prepared and eaten quickly. Their solution? Flatbreads with tomatoes, cheese, oil, garlic, and plenty of different toppings, aka pizza!

Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba is the world’s first-ever pizzeria, opened in Naples in 1830. Before that, it functioned as a pizza stand for peddlers from 1738 up until its upgrade to a full-blown restaurant. Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba is actually still standing today—you can grab a slice from the world’s oldest pizzeria!

Surprisingly, although pizza had been discovered in Italy very early on, it didn’t receive widespread recognition and appreciation from Italians until much later. In fact, the pizza craze actually began in America, when Neapolitan immigrants came to the U.S. to start a new life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With them came their cherished homemade pizzas and non-Italians and non-Neapolitans were quick to fall in love.

Lombardi’s is regarded as the first pizzeria to open shop in the U.S., and is located at 32 Spring Street on the corner of Mott Street in the Nolita neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, New York City. Although it isn’t located in its original location today, it is still the longest-standing pizzeria in America, having opened in 1905.

After World War II, following the migration of even more Italians arriving in the U.S., pizza’s popularity really boomed. It even resulted in a new kind of pie: California-gourmet pizzas, which are embellished with more exclusive toppings like smoked salmon and barbecued chicken.

When America began to show the world how much we loved pizza, others soon followed, with Italy finally recognizing their great creation. Today, American pizza brands like Papa John’s, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, and more can be found in over 60 countries! It’s astonishing how much impact this simple culinary creation has had on not only the U.S., but the whole globe!

If you’re looking for the best pizza in South Florida look no further than DelVecchio’s Pizzeria. With locations in both Weston and Davie, this pizzeria serves up the freshest New York-style pizza around! delvecchiospizza.com

Best Homemade Margherita Pizza Recipe

HOMEMADE PIZZA DOUGH:
• 2 and 1/2 cups (300 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast (or SAF instant yeast)
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 7 ounces warm water (105 degrees F – 115 degrees F)
• 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons semolina or all purpose flour, for the pizza peel (divided)

 PIZZA SAUCE:
• 1 cup pureed or crushed San Marzano (or Italian plum) canned tomatoes
• 2-3 fresh garlic cloves, minced with a garlic press
• 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 2-3 large pinches of kosher salt

 TOPPINGS:
• 2 – 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
• 7 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 5 – 6 large fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnishing
• crushed dried red pepper flakes (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Prepare Pizza Dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the warm water and olive oil, and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the dough just begins to come together.

2. Scrape the dough onto a well-floured counter top and knead the dough for 3 minutes. It should come together and begin to get sticky. Dust the dough with flour as needed– it should be slightly tacky, but should not be sticking to your counter top. After 3 mins, the dough should be smooth and slightly elastic. Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with olive oil, and place the dough into the bowl.

3. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm, dry area of your kitchen for 2 hours

4. Preheat Oven and Pizza Stone: Place the pizza stone on the center rack of your oven, and preheat it and the pizza stone to 550 degrees F (for at least 30-45 mins). If your oven does not go up to 550 degrees, heat it to the absolute max temperature that it can go.

5. As the oven is preheating, assemble the ingredients. In a small bowl, stir together the pureed tomatoes, minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, pepper, and salt. Set aside another small bowl with the cubed mozzarella cheese. Set aside the basil leaves and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

6. Separate the dough into two equal-sized portions. It will deflate slightly, but that is OK. Place the dough on a large plate or floured counter top, cover gently with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rest for 5 to 10 mins.

7. Assemble the Pizza: Sprinkle the pizza peel (alternatively, you can use the back of a baking sheet) with a tablespoon of semolina. Gently stretch one ball of pizza dough into roughly a 10-inch circle. If the dough springs back, allow it to rest for an additional 5 mins. The edges of the dough can be slightly thicker, but make sure the center of the dough is thin. Gently transfer the dough onto the semolina-dusted pizza peel or baking sheet.

8. Drizzle or brush the dough lightly with olive oil (teaspoon or so). Using a large spoon, add roughly 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce onto the pizza dough, leaving a 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch border on all sides. Use the back of the spoon to spread it evenly and thinly. Sprinkle a tablespoon of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese onto the pizza sauce. Add half of the cubed mozzarella, distributing it evenly over the entire pizza. Using your hands, tear a few large basil leaves, and sprinkle the basil over the pizza. Gently slide the pizza from the peel onto the heated baking stone. Bake for 7 to 8 mins, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling and caramelized, and the edges of the pizza are golden brown. Remove the pizza from the oven with the pizza peel, transfer to a wooden cutting board or foil, drizzle the top with olive oil, some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and chiffonade of fresh basil. Slice and serve immediately.

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