"Pizza Margherita” (also written as “Margherita Pizza,” “Pizza Margarita,” or “Margarita Pizza") is named after Margherita Maria Teresa Giovanna di Savoia or Margaret of Savoy (1851-1926). Humbert I, her consort, ruled Italy from 1878-1900. Raffaele Esposito, owner of the Pizzeria di Pietro e Basta Cosi in Naples, is said to have made a pizza in her honor when she visited Naples in 1889. The pizza was a simple combination of mozzarella cheese (white), tomatoes (red) and basil (green) and was meant to represent the colors of the Italian flag. Queen Margherita wrote back on June 11, 1889, to declare that the three pizzas that were prepared for her were excellent.
However, the July 25, 1880 Washington (DC) Post story, “Queen Margaret at Naples,” shows the queen eating pizza in 1880, not 1889. It is possible that the queen returned to Naples for several pizza-eating visits.
Wikipedia: History of pizza
The Margherita is attributed to baker Raffaele Esposito. Esposito worked at the pizzeria “Pietro… e basta così” (literally “Peter… and that’s enough") which was established in 1780 and is still operating under the name “Pizzeria Brandi”. In 1889, he baked three different pizzas for the visit of King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy. The Queen’s favorite was a pizza evoking the colors of the Italian flag – green (basil leaves), white (mozzarella), and red (tomatoes). This combination was named Pizza Margherita in her honor.
Wikipedia: Margherita of Savoy
Margherita Maria Teresa Giovanna di Savoia or Margaret of Savoy (20 November 1851 in Turin – 4 January 1926 in Bordighera), was the Queen consort of the Kingdom of Italy during the reign (1878-1900) of her husband, Humbert I.
In 1889 the Margherita pizza, whose red tomatoes, green basil, and white cheese represent the Italian flag, was named after her. Her name means “daisy” in Italian. Margherita Peak is the highest point of Mount Stanley, the third highest mountain in Africa, and is named after her.
Wikipedia: Raffaele Esposito
Raffaele Esposito was the Italian owner of a tavern called Pizzeria di Pietro e Basta Cosi in the Nineteenth century. It is suggested by some that he was the father of the modern pizza, having cooked one for Queen Margherita of Savoy to welcome her to Naples in 1889. Deeming the traditional garlic topping to be unfit for the royal palate, Esposito instead used a combination of tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil to emulate the colors of the Italian flag.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
margherita, adj. (and n.)
[< Italian margherita (1889: see below) < the name of Margherita Teresa Giovanna of Savoy (1851-1926), Queen of Italy (1878-1900).
The pizza was created in June 1889 by Raffaele Esposito, a Neapolitan pizzaiolo, to celebrate the visit of Margherita of Savoy, consort of King Umberto I, to Capodimonte. The topping represents the three colours of the Italian flag.]
Designating a pizza topped with cheese, tomatoes, and traditionally also basil. Freq. as postmodifier. Also as n.
1956 R. MINERVINI Hist. Pizza 21 ‘Mozzarelle’..joined the tomato in a new variety, the ‘Margherita’.
1956 R. MINERVINI Hist. Pizza 35 Pizza ‘Margherita’... Instead of garlic and marjoram, garnish with a few thin slices of mozzarella, basil leaves, a tablespoonful of tomato and a small pinch of grated cheese.
1983 M. LOMASK Pizzas, Hamburgers & Relishes 21 (heading) Pizza Margarita Serves 4 A more luxurious version of the very simple pizza featured on the menu of every pizzeria across the country.
1997 Esquire Aug. 110/2 They’ll serve you a Tuscan soup made with thirty vegetables, a great pizza margherita or herb-roasted chicken with braised vegetables.
1998 BBC Good Food Sept. 95/3 He consulted top chefs in Italy, and visited the Neapolitan restaurant Brandi, which claims to have made the very first Margherita pizza.
11 March 1861, San Francisco (CA) Bulletin, pg. 1:
THE NEAPOLITAN PIZZA.—“The pizza!” I hear the reader exclaim; “what do you mean by the pizza?”
Well, the pizza is a favorite Neapolitan delicacy, which is only made and eaten between sunset and two and three in the morning, and it must be baked in five minutes in the oven; at the very moment when it is ordered it is pulled out of the oven and served up piping hot, otherwise it is not worth a grano. The Pizza baker takes a ball of dough, kneads it, and spreads it out with the palm of his hand, giving it about half the thickness of a muffin, then pours over it mozzarella, which is nothing more than rich cream, beaten almost like a cream cheese; then he adds grated cheese, herbs and tomato, puts the cake—which, made after this fashion is termed the pizza—just for five minutes into the oven, and serves it up as hot as possible. The cheese and the cream are, of course, all melted, and unite with the herbs and tomato. The outside crust must in the case of a perfect pizza, possess a certain orthodox crispness. Now, at this season of the year, there is no person, high or low, from the first Neapolitan Duke to the lowest lazzaroni, with whom it is not a primary article of faith to eat pizza. The pizza cake is your only social leveller, for in the pizza shops rich and poor harmoniously congregate; they are the only places where the members of the Neapolitan aristocracy—far haughtier than those of any other part of Italy—may be seen masticating their favorite delicacy side by side with their own coachman, and valets, and barbers. The piiza shops are about the filthiest in Naples, and whoever knows Naples will admit that that is saying a good deal.—Naples Correspondence.
25 July 1880, Washington (DC) Post, pg. 2:
Queen Margaret at Naples.
From the Geneva Gazette.
Queen Margaret is in Naples at the palace of Capediamonte, and a story is related of her which explains the secret of her popularity among the people.
A favorite eatable with the Neapolitans is the pizza, a sort of cake beaten flat in a round form, and seasoned with carious condiments. The Queen sent for a pizzaimole, who is famous for his skill in making these cakes, as she said “she wanted to eat like the poor people.” The man went to the palace, was received, and having shown a list of thirty-five varieties of pizza, was sent to the royal kitchen to make the kind which the Queen had selected. He made eight, which were the ideals of their kind, and the little Prince and his mother found them excellent, but to eat as the poor people in Naples eat—that is often not all, and is more than could be expected. But she has visited the poor quarter of Naples, and sympathizes with the misery she sees there.
History of Pizza
By Roberto Minervini
Entre Provinciale Per Il Turismo—Napoli
HOMAGE TO A QUEEN
The nineteenth century marks a second stage in the history of the pizza, as a new element was then introduced in its preparation; this was “mozzarelle,” a soft buffalo cheese, which joined the tomato in a new variety, the “Margherita,” an addition to the already many varieties. It was thus called to celebrate a visit to Naples by King Umberto I’s consort, Queen Margherita, who used to appreciate our superlative Neopolitan specialty.
Raffaele Esposito was the inventor of “Margherita.” In 1889 an official of the Royal Establishment went expressly to his restaurant—the famous “pizzeria di Pietro” of which no more need be said, to enquire whether he could go immediately to the Capodimonte Royal Palace (a Royal residence in which, as can be seen, the traditional custom was punctually observed throughout the years), to give his Sovereigns a deomonstration of his exceptional ability. It is superfluous to say that he felt exceedingly pleased at the honour and went out of his way to do his best on that fortunate occasion: having tasted the various pizzas prepared by the “Maestro,” cooked as they were to perfection, exquisitely flavoured, their “cornicioni” (boarders) very thin, the Queen expressed her preference for the pizza garnished with mozzarella (Pg. 22—ed.) and tomato, the personal “creation” of Esposito which from that way was called, as we have said before, the “Margherita.”
The Queen’s appreciation found its official expression in the following letter written on a Savoy-crested sheet:
THE HOUSE OF H.M.
INSPECTOR OF COMESTIBLES
Capodimonte, 11th June 1889.
Most Excellent Sig. RAFFAELE ESPOSITO—Naples.
I confirm that the three varieties of pizza which you prepared for Her Majesty the Queen were found to be excellent.
Head of the Table Services of the Royal Establishment.
PIZZA ALLA MARINARA
Mince a piece of garlic very finely, distribute on basic pettola, sprinkle with marjoram and spread over with two table spoonfuls of tomato.
Instead of garlic and marjoram, garnish with a few thin slices of mozzarella, basil leaves, a tablespoonful of tomato and a small pinch of grated cheese.
PIZZA “QUATTRO STAGIONI”...
PIZZA AL SEGRETO…
PIZZA WITH MUSHROOMS
PIZZA WITH ANCHOVIES
PIZZA WITH “CECENIELLE”...
PIZZA WITH LARD AND CHEESE
PIZZA PORTA SAN GENNARO
I LOVE this article. You share my passion for pizza! No other food is so simple, yet so splendid. A peasant food, fit for a King (or as you point out, Queen). Thanks for the great article, it was a pleasure to read!