The modern pizza was originally invented in Naples, Italy but the word pizza is Greek in origin, derived from the Greek word pēktos meaning solid or clotted. The ancient Greeks covered their bread with oils, herbs and cheese. The first major innovation that led to flat bread pizza was the use of tomato as a topping. It was common for the poor of the area around Naples to add tomato to their yeast-based flat bread, and so the pizza began.
While it is difficult to say for sure who invented the pizza, it is however believed that modern pizza was first made by baker Raffaele Esposito of Naples. In fact, a popular urban legend holds that the archetypal pizza, Pizza Margherita, was invented in 1889, when the Royal Palace of Capodimonte commissioned the Neapolitan pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito to create a pizza in honor of the visiting Queen Margherita. Of the three different pizzas he created, the Queen strongly preferred a pie swathed in the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato), green (basil), and white (mozzarella). Supposedly, this kind of pizza was then named after the Queen as Pizza Margherita.
Later, the dish has become popular in many parts of the world:
- The first pizzeria, Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba, was opened in 1830 in Naples.
- In North America, The first pizzeria was opened in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi at 53 1/3 Spring Street in New York City.
- The first Pizza Hut, the chain of pizza restaurants appeared in the United States during the 1930s.
Nowadays, many varieties of pizza exist worldwide, along with several dish variants based upon pizza.