Food & Drink

So THAT'S Why We Call It Pizza 'Margherita'

Sorry, it has nothing to do with margaritas.
03/14/2018 05:45am ET
Getty Images
Margherita of Savoy pre-pizza in 1875, and post-pizza in a portrait that was released close to her death in 1926.

Have you ever ordered a pizza Margherita and wondered why it’s even called that?

Before you even question its name, it’s possible that, if you’re American, you don’t even know what pizza Margherita is in the first place. (If you do, we apologize for the condescension and hope you forgive us.) There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between cheese pizza, plain pizza and Margherita pizza.

According to the book Pizzapedia by Dan Bransfield, the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana recognizes three types of genuine Neapolitan pizzas, one being pizza Margherita. It’s defined as being “made with tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil.” It’s a pared-down, more flavorful version of what Americans think of as cheese pizza, and it looks like this:

Boston Globe via Getty Images
A Margherita pizza in its full glory.

So how did it get its name? The most widespread ― though not undisputed ― belief suggests that Margherita of Savoy, onetime queen consort of Italy, was visiting Naples with her husband, King Umberto I (who happened to be her first cousin), in June 1889. This came on the heels of the unification of northern and southern Italy, and southern Italy was in need of a morale boost after its loss of independence.

Enter Queen Margherita and her appetite.

Legend has it that the queen tired of the gourmet French food she’d been served on the trip, and asked the most famous pizzamaker in Naples, Raffaele Esposito of Pizzeria Brandi, to make her pizza.

The story goes that the pizza she liked best was made with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, which just happened to represent the three colors of the Italian flag. Convenient, huh? Esposito named the dish after Queen Margherita, and the rest is disputed history.

An alternate theory revolves around the fact that the word margherita translates to “daisy” in Italian, so some suggest the pizza got its name from the daisy-shaped arrangement of mozzarella and basil on top of the pizza.

No matter how you slice it, pizza Margherita is delicious. If you can’t get some from your local pizzeria, make yourself a pie. We’ve got 29 different recipes.

1
Pizza Margherita
Alexandra Cooks
Get the Pizza Margherita recipe from Alexandra Cooks
2
White Pizza With Spinach And Bacon
How Sweet It Is
Get the White Pizza with Spinach and Bacon recipe from How Sweet It Is
3
Pesto Pizza With Fresh Tomatoes And Mozzarella
Foodie Crush
4
Cheesy Fontina Caramelized Onion, Chorizo, Spinach And Artichoke Pizza
Half Baked Harvest
5
Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Bell'Alimento
Get the Buffalo Chicken Pizza recipe from Bell'Alimento
6
Meat Lovers Pizza
How Sweet It Is
Get the Meat Lovers Pizza recipe from How Sweet It Is
7
Mushroom, Asparagus And White Burrata Cheese Pizza With Balsamic Drizzle
Half Baked Harvest
8
Spinach And Ricotta Pizza
Bell'Alimento
Get the Spinach and Ricotta Pizza recipe from Bell'Alimento
9
BBQ Brussels Sprout Pizza
A Beautiful Mess
Get the BBQ Brussels Sprout Pizza recipe from A Beautiful Mess
10
Chicken Tzatziki Pizza
Foodie Crush
Get the Chicken Tzatziki Pizza recipe from Foodie Crush
11
Pizza Sorrentina
Alexandra Cooks
Get the Pizza Sorrentina recipe from Alexandra Cooks
12
Chipotle Cajun Shrimp And Guacamole Pizza
Half Baked Harvest
Get the Chipotle Cajun Shrimp and Guacamole Pizza recipe from Half Baked Harvest
13
Marinated Kale And Whipped Ricotta Pizza
How Sweet It Is
14
Maple Apples, Blue Cheese And Bacon Pizza
Foodie Crush
15
Sun-Dried Tomato And Olive Pesto Pizza With Salami
Half Baked Harvest
16
Cast Iron Skillet Brussels Sprouts Bacon Pizza
How Sweet It Is
17
Toasted Walnut Pesto And Caramelized Nectarine Pizza
Half Baked Harvest
18
Meyer Lemon Pizza
How Sweet It Is
Get the Meyer Lemon Pizza recipe from How Sweet It Is
19
Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash Pizza
Half Baked Harvest
20
Berry With Arugula And Prosciutto Pizza
Foodie Crush
21
Burrata Caramelized Onion And Prosciutto Pizza
Bell'Alimento
22
Bacon, Egg And Asparagus Personal Pizzas
How Sweet It Is
23
Red Potato, Sausage And Rosemary Fontina Pizza
Foodie Crush
24
Pulled Pork Pizza With Maple Leeks, Roasted Garlic And Aged Cheddar
How Sweet It Is
25
Chipotle BBQ And Sweet Chili Pineapple
Half Baked Harvest
26
Spinach Artichoke Chicken Pizza
Gimme Some Oven
Get the Spinach Artichoke Chicken Pizza recipe from Gimme Some Oven
27
Crispy Shredded Sprouts And Cider Short Rib Pizza
How Sweet It Is
28
Thin Crust Pizza
A Beautiful Mess
Get the Thin Crust Pizza recipe from A Beautiful Mess
29
Butternut Squash, Sage Pesto And Prosciutto Pizza
How Sweet It Is
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