Is Pizza Italian or Greek?

Without any doubt, pizza is one of the most popular dishes in the world – and almost everyone loves it. The thing that might not be so clear is this fantastic dish’s origin. Many wonder where it was originally made – is pizza Italian or Greek?

Pizza is Italian as the dish we know today comes from southwestern Italy’s region Campania. This area is known as the home to the city of Naples and the birthplace of modern pizza. Although its origin has some Greek roots, pizza, as we know it today, comes directly from Italy – and Italians proudly take credit for this.

Pizza margherita in a pan

Every chef has the freedom to add some of their secret ingredients, no matter whether we talk about the pizza dough or the toppings. The magic of this dish is that you can experiment with many different pizza types until you find the right one, or you can like many flavors and enjoy them all. Still, there are many stories and legends that explain the creation and origin of this incredible dish, so let’s go over the most famous ones.

Pizza Is an Italian Dish

Everyone is curious to learn more about the origin of their favorite meal, and when it comes to pizza, its history is actually long and interesting. Originally, a flatbread that resembled today’s focaccia with toppings such as herbs and oils was invented and consumed by ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks – some of the oldest known civilizations in the world. However, modern pizza as we know it today comes from Italy. This recipe was created in the southwest of Italy, in the Campania region, which is home to Naples.

Some People Believe That Pizza Is Greek Because of Its Origin

It’s not unusual that some wonder if pizza comes from Greece as it is a true gift from the gods. With supreme taste and many variations, pizza is around every corner, and you can try thousands of different flavors in every country in the world.

It’s hard to give credit only to Italians because, technically, pizza origin goes way back to ancient Greece and the Romans, who made the first version of a flatbread. Italians, however, make this dish even better by adding more toppings, such as cheese and tomatoes.

How Was Pizza Created in the First Place

Naples was founded around 600 BC and was known as a Greek settlement. Later in the 1700s and 1800s, this was a thriving waterfront city and considered an independent kingdom. At that time, this area was very densely populated.

Life was focused on staying outdoors, and the homes of the residents were no bigger than small rooms where they went to sleep. They were mostly poor, so they were looking for an inexpensive way to feed themselves and still keep their strength.

They also wanted to create something that could be consumed quickly and easily. You can already see why pizza became so popular. It was sold as a flatbread with various toppings on the street vendors and some cheaper informal restaurants. It was affordable and could be eaten for any meal on foot.

Some judgmental Italians hate this eating habit and call it disgusting, but eating pizza on foot is common practice among them even today. On the other hand, early pizzas weren’t as tasty and richly flavored as today’s versions. Ingredients that were added to the original recipe included:

  • Tomatoes,
  • Cheese,
  • Garlic,
  • Anchovies,
  • Oil.

One of the legends says that Naples’s famous baker Esposito was invited to prepare a pizza for King Umberto I and Queen Margherita in 1889 during their visit to this city.

If Margherita sounds familiar, this is the main reason for this. The pizza was made with fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese. This name is still popular, and regular margaritas come with these same ingredients.

Another interesting thing that’s connected to this legend is that the colors of these ingredients also symbolize the colors on the Italian flag – red, green, and white.

There Are Some Important Differences in the Recipes

The difference between Greek and Italian pizza is easy to see if you just compare their ingredients, as shown in this table.


How Did Pizza Come to the US?

Pizza was actually brought to the US by Italian immigrants in the 19th century, but it quickly gained enormous popularity because of its simplicity and supreme taste. First, the concept of pizza went to France, then to England and the United States.

New York City Is Home to the Very First Pizzeria in the US

At the time it was introduced to the US population, pizza became known as one of the most popular street foods, and the place where it had the biggest popularity was New York City. Gennaro Lombardi is known as the creator of the very first pizzeria in the US – right on Spring Street in NYC. It was originally opened back in 1905 and still exists today, but the restaurant changed locations.

Despite many believing that American Detroit-style pizza is another great invention, Italians usually don’t entirely agree with this and have mixed feelings about it. Some say that it’s even better than the original, while others say that nothing tastes better than the original Italian pizza with basic ingredients – the same as it was at the beginning, such as pizza Margherita.

Chef making pizza

Pizza Is Italian With Greek Roots

Despite the exciting and dynamic history and many interesting legends related to this iconic dish, the pizza as we know it today was first introduced to the world by Italians. Greeks might have had some impact on creating this dish, but Italian bakers were the first to develop the famous recipe that is still popular. Pizza was later brought to all the other parts of the world, including the US, with millions of people enjoying the dish every day.