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Pizza Margherita: A Royal Origin Story?

Of all the iconic pizzas gracing tables from Naples to New York, Pizza Margherita remains one of the most beloved and recognizable. Its vibrant ingredients — tomato sauce, melted mozzarella, and fragrant basil — mirror the Italian flag, reminding us of its namesake, Italy’s Queen Margherita. But could this really be how its name came to be?

The Popular Legend

As the story goes, Pizza Margherita was invented in 1889 by a pizzaiolo named Raffaele Esposito at Pizzeria Brandi to impress Queen Margherita and King Umberto I visiting Naples. Esposito presented three pizzas, and the Queen favored a version with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil — naming it Margherita in her honor.

The Historians’ Take

While a great tale, historians have doubts. Similar basil, tomato and mozzarella pizzas existed in Naples before 1889, with mentions from the 1830s on. The “royal note” praising Margherita pizza also lacks concrete evidence. The date and creator cannot be undisputedly confirmed.

A Likely Origin

Despite the uncertain invention date, Pizza Margherita likely emerged from existing Neapolitan pizzas featuring these common ingredients.  Perhaps Pizzeria Brandi did christen it "Margherita," or maybe the name came from arranging the mozzarella slices like a daisy ("margherita" in Italian).

Today Pizza Margherita remains a beloved menu staple across the globe. With instruments and techniques’ changes since Raffaele's era, the simplicity and flavors still shine at pizzerias committed to tradition. This homage to Italy with every bite makes Pizza Margherita a perennial favorite.

For a truly authentic taste of this Italian royal history right here on the Northern California coast, visit Cucina Verona in downtown Fort Bragg. Our Pizza Margherita stays loyal to tradition — tomato, mozzarella, basil — preparing the classic recipe just as Neapolitan pizzaiolos have for over a century...legend or not! Click here to make a reservation.


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