How the Pizza Margherita Got Its Name

Plain English


A pizza Margherita

The typical pizza Margherita.


The pizza Margherita is a type of pizza that was first made in Naples in Italy. Tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and extra-virgin olive oil are used in making this pizza.


How did it get the name Margherita? There are a couple of stories about it. One story goes something like this.


There was an Italian queen called Margherita.

A black and white photo of Queen Margherita of Savoy, taken in the 1870. She is sitting in half profile on a chair. She is wearing a crown, lots of jewelry, and an off the shoulder dress. Her her is half swept up and she is holding a closed fan.

Queen Margherita of Savoy


The Italian queen Margherita was visiting Naples with her husband in 1889. She grew tired of the French food that would usually be served to kings and queens. She saw that the people of Naples were eating a large flatbread and wanted to eat it, too.

A flatbread on a wooden board.

A flatbread is like a pizza without toppings.


Raffaele Esposito was a famous pizza maker in Naples. He was asked to make a pizza for her. He came up with the idea of making a pizza with toppings made up of basil, mozzarella and tomatoes. These three ingredients also represented the colors of the Italian flag.

 
Flag of Italy

The flag of Italy

 


The three pizza toppings in the colors of the Italian Flag:


Bowl filled with fresh basil leaves

Green basil


A piece of mozzarella cheese with a slice cut off.

White mozzarella cheese


A bunch of tomatoes.

Red tomatoes


But we don’t know for sure if this story is true. Because it seems that a pizza with these toppings was already being made in Naples.


There is another story about the pizza’s name. Margherita in Italian means “daisy”, and the pizza looks like a daisy because of its toppings.

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