Margherita Pizza's Origin Is Linked To Italian Royalty

If you've ever had margherita pizza, you know it's so delicious that it could be food fit for a queen. It's a simple pie made from ingredients in the colors of the Italian flag — green basil, white mozzarella, and red tomato sauce are essential components of a high-quality margherita pizza, along with extra virgin olive oil and a crust that only gets cooked for approximately 90 seconds. As with many Italian dishes, the emphasis is placed on the freshness of the ingredients, and in the case of margherita pizza, the food's tradition is cemented by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, or VPN.

The heritage of the margherita pizza that the VPN aims to protect goes back over 100 years, to when the pies were originally created. And it turns out that it actually does have roots in Italian royalty. Back in 1889, when pizza margherita is believed to have been invented, the king of Italy was Umberto I, who led the country into the Triple Alliance with Austria-Hungary and Germany. But it was his wife, the Queen of Savoy, who inspired the beloved Italian margherita pizza.

Margherita pizza may have been named after Queen Margherita

Back in 1889, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy took a trip to Naples. At this time, the margherita pizza may have already existed – a book written in 1830 touched on a pie made with basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella, although it wasn't yet named what it is today. The legend goes that when Queen Margherita visited Naples, pizza maker Raffaele Esposito made a pie in the colors of the Italian flag to honor her presence in the city. The pizza came at the queen's request – she allegedly wanted to try something she'd never eaten before, so Esposito made three different pizzas to oblige.

The first two, one with garlic and one with anchovies, did not satisfy Queen Margherita. But she loved the third, prompting Esposito to name it after her. The rest, as they say, is history — and now Esposito's shop, Pizzeria Brandi, features a plaque that was put up in 1989 to honor the home of the original margherita pizza on its 100th anniversary.

There is a little controversy over the naming of the pizza, however. Some claim that it was really named after the mozzarella, which was placed in a flower arrangement on top of the pizza and led to the word "margherita," which means "daisy" in Italian. We may never know the truth, but a true margherita pizza is undoubtedly tasty enough to satisfy Italian royalty.