Pizza is one of America’s favorite foods, offering delicious toppings and flavor that generations have enjoyed. While it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where and when pizza originated, most agree it can be traced back all the while to ancient civilizations! Here at Franco’s Pizza in Buffalo, we take great pride in the evolution of pizza, especially how it made its way to our beloved city. Learn more about the history behind one of the most popular food options around the world in today’s blog post!
The ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks all had a simplified version of pizza in the form of flatbreads with toppings. The Greeks even ate a version with herbs and oil, similar to today’s focaccia. But the modern birthplace of the pizza we know today was really in southwestern Italy’s Campania region, home of the city of Naples.
Naples was a thriving waterfront city in the 1700s and early 1800s, but it was also notorious for its large population of the working poor. Pizza flatbreads were an inexpensive food option sold by street vendors and informal restaurants in the area. These early pizzas featured garnishes still loved today, like tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies, and garlic.
In 1889, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples. Legend has it that they become besotted with the local pizza mozzarella, a pie topped with white cheese, red tomatoes, and green basil. This in turn led to an Italy-wide pizza craze that wouldn’t expand to the outside world until the 1940s.
Immigrants from Naples made their way to the United States and began replicating their trusty, crusty pizzas in New York and other major American cities of the time, like Boston, Chicago, and St. Louis. The flavors and aromas of pizza quickly intrigued residents of the area. One of the first documented United States pizzerias was G. (Gennaro) Lombardi’s on Spring Street in Manhattan, licensed to sell pizza in 1905. The pizza industry boomed, leading to many new and interesting variants on the classic Naples recipe.
In Buffalo, NY, pizza has become an integral part of the city’s culinary identity. In the 1940s, the surge of immigrants opening up pizza shops in the city caused a craze that lasted the test of time. Buffalo-style pizza is known for its thick, doughy crust, tangy sauce, and generous layer of cheese.
In recent years, Buffalo-style pizza has continued to evolve. Many pizza restaurants (including Franco’s) are now offering specialty pizzas with unique toppings, like the chicken finger pizza, to take that classic recipe to a new level of flavor and taste!
Pizza has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a simple flatbread! From chicken wing to stinger to classic pepperoni, Franco’s offers a wide variety of pizzas that are sure to satisfy your craving!