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

Sorry, it has nothing to do with margaritas.
Margherita of Savoy pre-pizza in 1875, and post-pizza in a portrait that was released close to her death in 1926.
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:

A Margherita pizza in its full glory.
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.

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

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