La Vera Pizza: History and How to Recognize it
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
‘La Vera Pizza’ is an Italian phrase that means real, true pizza! It describes pizza that is only made in Naples although it has spread quite a bit further than that in the past few decades.
While pizza has not always been known by the name, it has definitely been around for quite a few centuries. An example of some of the cultural references that point to the origins of pizza include a poem written in the first century BC by the Roman poet, Virgil, in one of his famous poems, The Aeneid, and it described a dish that was a circle of bread or cake that resembled pizza as we know it today.
Although some pizza dishes can be attributed to a single chef, the age-old question of who invented pizza is still a mystery as not one single person can be credited with inventing pizza. The dish has evolved over time to what we know it as today and many variations exist today in all corners of the world.
When and where was pizza invented?
It’s believed that early pizzas were first made in the form of flatbread with toppings, spices, and oils by the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and other Mediterenian cultures.
Pizza has even been cooked over fires by soldiers that used their shields to accomplish this. Pizza has also been inspiring poems and songs for centuries it seems.
Pizza really began to evolve into what we know it as today in Naples, Italy during the 18th century and this is also where the term “pizza” started taking root. It was and is quick to make but it was also inexpensive and easy to eat and this also encouraged pizza to quickly take off as popular street food and today many street vendors still sell it.
History of pizza Margherita
It is a very popular legend that the classic Margherita pizza began at Pizzeria Brandi in 1889, and the chef Raffaele Espositois invented pizza Margherita as it is know today.
The ingredients were meant to represent the Italian flag, fresh basil, mozzarella cheese, and tomato, and the reason behind creating the pizza Margherita was to celebrate Italy’s unification. The pie was also named after the Queen of Italy, Queen Margherita of Savoy.
The fact that Queen Margherita liked the dish so much transformed it into a truly national dish. It also introduced the notion that pizza was a genuinely Italian food such as pasta and polenta.
Pizza going to the West
Italy is undoubtedly the birthplace of pizza but The United States is where it ultimately found its second home by the end of the 19th Century. Here, it gained popularity and almost everyone started to create their own varieties of this delicious dish and many of them are still around today with ones still getting invented.
Pizza in the United States
According to a 2009 response that was published in a column on Serious Eats, the first printed reference to “pizza” being served in the US was a 1904 article published in The Boston Journal.
Giovanni and Gennaro Bruno came to America from Naples, Italy, in 1903 and introduced the Neapolitan pizza to Boston and later, Vincent Bruno (Giovanni’s son) went on to open one of the first pizzerias in Chicago.
Some stories say that the first pizzeria was opened in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi. He applied for a license to be able to sell pizza and opened Lombardi’s in 1897 as a grocery store at 53½ Spring Street and sold tomato pies wrapped in paper that were tied with a string at lunchtime to workers from the area’s factories.
Pizza was brought to the Trenton area of New Jersey with Joe’s Tomato Pies that opened its doors in 1910, followed soon by Papa’s Tomato Pies in 1912 and in 1936, De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies was opened. Papa’s and Delorenzo’s have been run by the same families since their openings and still remain among the most popular pizzas in the area after all this time.
Before the 1940s, pizza consumption was limited mostly to Italian Americans but following World War II, veterans returning from the Italian Campaign proved a ready market for pizza in particular after being introduced to this native cuisine and by the 1950s, it was even popular enough to be featured in an episode of I Love Lucy.
By the 1970s, neighborhood pizzerias were often run by Italian or Greek immigrants and they became a defining feature of the life in cities and suburbs with significant ethnic-Italian populations, most notably around New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Chicago. These pizza joints usually also sold subs and since the 1990s, gyros have also joined their standard repertoire.
Pizza in Canada
Canada’s first pizzeria, Pizzeria Napoletana, opened in 1948 in Montreal and the first pizza ovens started entering the country in the late 1950s. Pizza gained popularity throughout the 1960s, with many pizzerias and restaurants opening all across the country.
Pizzas were mostly served in restaurants and small pizzerias and most of the pizza restaurants across Canada also serve popular Italian cuisine in addition to pizza, such as pasta, salad, soups and sandwiches. Fast-food pizza chains also provide other side options such as chicken wings, fries and poutine, salad, and calzones.
La Vera pizza can still be found today and modern pizza is also available almost everywhere in the world and with everyone putting their own spin on this true Italian classic. There are many pizza restaurants for you to choose from but the best ones are still to be found in Italy, more specifically Naples.
You can also find frozen pizza in nearly every supermarket but pizza purists still insist on making their own from scratch while carefully selecting each pizza topping, and although this is a fantastic experience and the taste is far superior, it is not possible for everyone.
What does La Vera pizza consist of?
The edges are puffy, the base crisp and golden brown and when you take a bite, the simplicity of this pizza will leave you breathless and wanting more as you come to realize that sometimes simple is best. This pizza will remind you of the Italian flag in the best way from the tomato sauce to the fresh basil and of course the cheese.
The base of a true Italian pizza is the dough and it’s usually made with wheat flour, salt, yeast, olive oil, and water. The dough gets kneaded to develop gluten strands that will form a web-like structure when baked. It also sometimes contains sugar for extra flavor or cornmeal for crunch.
Italian Tipo ’00’ flour, is finer ground than normal flour, and it gives the dough an incredible super-smooth texture which makes it the best flour to use for a traditional pizza dough. You can find it in Italian delis and most good supermarkets.
Traditional pizza sauce is made with a base of tomatoes and spices like garlic, onion, basil, and oregano, and although this seems very plain, it is in fact packed with flavor.
San Marzano are the best tomatoes by far to use for classic red sauce pizza. Some of the other varieties include the Pomodorino del Piennolo, yellow or red, and if San Marzano is impossible to find where you live, oblong peeled tomatoes are the next best choice for the sauce.
Mozzarella cheese is by far the best cheese to use for a traditional pizza or even a modern pizza. Fresh mozzarella cheese is also the best choice as it elevates the flavor to another level. It is rich and creamy and when it gets cooked, it merges beautifully with the rest of the flavors of the pizza.
Traditionally, pizza is cooked using a wood-fired oven heated to a very high temperature and it is served hot. The high temperature of the oven creates the bubbly crust and slightly charred edges which gives it that signature wood-fired oven flavor every time.
Where to find the best La Vera pizza in the world?
Undoubtedly, the best pizza in the world can be found in Naples and the best pizzeria is Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo. It can be found on the old historic street of Via dei Tribunali and it has bagged some of the most prominent awards in the industry.
Eating pizza here will, without a doubt, be something that you remember for the rest of your life!
The history of pizza is a long one and La Vera pizza has been around for a long time. I am pretty sure that whoever invented pizza did not think that it would become this popular decades later but it is clear why it is still around today. It is comforting, delicious, easy to make, and customizable to your taste!
If you found this interesting then be sure to also check out this article on gourmet pizza. This article will explain to you how to create a fantastic gourmet pizza as well as why it was invented and why it is still around today!
Disclaimer: Note that the food images displayed on this website are for illustrative purposes only. They are not indicative of the actual dishes or presentations you should expect during the classes. We strive to provide the best culinary experience, but the appearance of dishes may vary. Always refer to class descriptions and details for accurate information on what to expect.
Frequent Asked Questions
Pizza originated in Italy and was brought over to America by Italian immigrants, and America has since created its own variations (but the originals will always be the best!).
Within Italy itself there are also several regional variations and many famous pizzerias that played a part in the early history of pizza and its origin.
Originally it was considered a poor man’s food in 16th century Naples and the pizza started with very humble beginnings with square shaped flatbreads, topped with nothing more than garlic, lard, and salt.
Fast forward to the 21st century, pizza is a great source of pride for Italians, and it is enjoyed by the whole world to this day with a lot of different variations.
In Italy, Pizzerias live or die by the quality of their Margherita pizza and more often than not they are judged by this Italian dish as a way to see their standards. Just dough, tomatoes and tomato sauce, mozzarella, olive oil, and basil is used for this pizza so there are no toppings to hide behind and a good way to gauge the skills of any pizza makers.
A pizza is usually round or square so there is no true shape but it rather depends on the type of pizza that you are eating or preparing.
Authentic pizza Napoletana is soft and thin so it is easy to fold and eat on the go if necessary but its edge, is usually thicker in order to enclose toppings and to make holding a slice easier for the person eating it.
The fast cooking in a wood-fired oven at very high temperature increases the creation of air bubbles in the dough which makes the crust thicker as it is not being weighed down by toppings and as such the middle of the pizza will still be thin crust.
Although there are many different types of pizza in the present day, the most popular ones are Neapolitan pizza, Sicilian pizza, Roman pizza, and New York-style pizza.
One of the most important parts of a pizza is the crust as it is the vessel that holds all the toppings. The sauce is the base of the flavors so it heavily influences your opinion of the pizza along with the freshness of the ingredients and the balance of flavors.
The toppings should also not overpower the base and the sauce and overall, the whole pizza should be made fresh and served hot. If a pizza sits too long in something like a hot box, the pizza will overcook and the texture and taste will be compromised.