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A History of Pizza: From Italy to Your Plate

A History of Pizza: From Italy to Your Plate

At The Lion Hotel, pizza is one of the most popular items from our gastro menu, and for good reasons too. Appetising, nutritious and customisable, pizza is one of the best comfort foods in the world. Have you ever wondered where pizza came from? You may think that pizza originated in Italy, which is partly true. However, the real origin of where it originated will surprise you. Continue reading as we discover the long and interesting history of pizza. 

Ancient Origins 

The idea of pizza can be traced back to ancient Greek, Egyptian and Persian times. Research says during 600 BC, Persian soldiers used their battle shields to bake pieces of flatbread before topping it with cheese and dates as a simple meal. In Ancient Greece, citizens ate flatbread, referred to as “plakous”, with toppings including olive oil, herbs and cheese. Many people will argue that flatbread is not the same as pizza.  Yet flatbread and pizza are made from similar ingredients and flatbread resembles the appearance of modern-day pizza. In other words, flatbread is an ancestor to pizza.

The First Margherita Pizza

During the 16th century in Italy, flatbread was inexpensive and seen as a street dish for the poor. Fast forward to the late 18th century, modern-day pizza started to take shape. Raffaele Esposito, a pizzeria owner, created the first Margherita pizza when King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889. To honour her visit, Raffaele prepared a pizza topped with three simple and local ingredients: tomato, mozzarella cheese and basil leaves. The colours of these toppings also represented the national colours of Italy. Upon the Queen’s delight, the pizza was named after her and Margherita pizza began to grow in popularity across Italy.

Pizza Arrives In The United States

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, pizza went global when Italian immigrants moved to US cities such as New York and Chigaco to flee poverty and seek a better life. They brought their pizza-making cuisine with them, settled in neighbourhoods such as Little Italy and Brooklyn and started family pizzerias. Over time, American versions of the Neapolitan pizza were created including different toppings and thicknesses. For instance, New York is known for its thin-crust pizza and wide slices. Whereas, Chigaco pizzerias wanted to create a hearty version and developed a deeper and thicker-crust pizza, which today we know as deep-dish pizza. Nevertheless, pizza captured the hearts (and taste buds) of Italian-Americans and the United States became pizza’s second home. 

Introduction of Frozen Pizza & Pizza Chain Restaurants

Pizza became popular not just in the United States, but also in Europe including London. During the 1950s, the United States saw a rise in fast-food restaurants. Working-class people started to eat out more often because it was quick and convenient. This was followed by the introduction of pizza chain restaurants. To meet the growing demand for convenient food, frozen pizzas were also developed in the 1950s after the invention of the domestic freezer. Nowadays, pizza is a staple item in household freezers.

Treat Yourself to Our Authentic Stone-Baked Pizzas

You can experience the original taste of Neapolitan pizza if you are lucky enough to travel to Italy. In the meantime, you can visit us at The Lion Hotel in Belper, one of Derbyshire’s leading pizza restaurants. We were inspired by Italian cuisine and wanted to resemble the taste of Neapotlican pizza to our customers by serving delicious and authentic stone-baked pizzas. 

Our pizza menu has something for everyone, from a classic Margherita to a spicy Capricciosa. Our kitchen is home to our state-of-art stone-baked oven which was imported all the way from Italy. So, when you visit us to treat yourself or a loved one to a pizza, you can see it being stone-baked in front of your eyes! To book a table in our restaurant, you can do so by filling out our booking form or calling us directly.

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Allergens and Intolerance

This website is to be used as a a best faith effort to inform you of our allergen and intolerance policy,  and may not be 100% accurate, or may be out of date at the time of reading, you should always advise your server on any dietary requirements, including intolerance & allergies. All our dishes are prepared in our kitchens where allergens are present. We therefore cannot guarantee that all our dishes are free from traces of allergens.

You must assess your own level of risk, based on your personal circumstances before consuming any of our food or drink.