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The History of the Pizza Pie in the United States of America

Posted by Benny Traub on

Many claim that this well-known dish we know as a pizza pie is based on old recipes using unleavened bread served in the early centuries throughout Rome. Others track an association from present-day pizza pie to the pita bread of Greece.


Raffaele Esposito and Queen Margherita

It truly is a well-founded, proven fact that the very first modern pizza was created by Raffaele Esposito from Naples, Italy. Esposito’s invention was created to honor the visit of Queen Margherita who came to Naples in the year 1889. He decorated the pizza using the colors in the Italian flag, utilizing white-colored cheese, green basil, along with red tomatoes. He cooked his creation in a wood pizza oven.


Coming to America

As time went on, and the new century came about, Italian immigrants took this formula along with them to the United States, where the 1st pizzeria in the country was opened in 1905. 


The pizza was mostly popular among the immigrants, and it stayed this way at least until the end of The Second World War. During WWII, American soldiers returned home with an appreciation for pizza that they discovered overseas. With that, the pizza boom in the United States began. 


Pizza also grew to become something closer to an everyday dinner, rather than an in-between-meals Italian snack food.


New York: The Birthplace of American Pizza

 A variety of New York Style pizzas to choose from in a display case

New York had a lot of Italians. And in those early days, many people felt that you had to go to New York to experience authentic pizzeria-style pizzas. Indeed, New York is where the pizza pie got its start in the United States. 

 

Today, New York is known for their pizza shops. Genuine New York-style pizza is made up of a  rather thin, broad crust packed with plenty of different toppings, including tomato sauce, and some serious Italian seasonings. 

 

The Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza is Born

Chicago Style pizza enjoyed in a restaurant

During the early 1940s, the city of Chicago had taken pizzas in a whole new unique direction. It’s believed that the 1st pizza place in Chicago was Pizzeria Uno, opened in 1943 by Ike Sewell. Men and women flocked to this brand new pizza shop, along with a completely new way of cooking pizza that they created.

 

The Chicago-style deep dish pizza pie was really a brand new twist on the old New York City tradition. With the deep dish style, the pizza is placed low into a deeper pan, and the brown crust area is allowed to rise in thicker bubbles around the edges. 

 

Chicago vs New York

Even today, you will find yourself in some fairly heated discussions if you try to argue which type of pizza is best. However, whatever crust style you select, pizza can be a distinctive meal that has a cloudy history and a certain attractiveness which has held up throughout many variations.

 

So if you happen to be fortunate enough to find yourself around New York or Chicago, or anywhere that has a genuine wood pizza oven pizzeria, be sure to indulge yourself in the old tradition and buy a piece of delicious pizza pie.


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