Over 90% of Americans eat pizza at least once a month, and pizzerias make up 20% of all restaurants in America. It is small wonder, then, that the humble Italian pizza pie is now a $38 billion industry in its adopted country of America.
New trends in the way pizza is made have only made it more popular. No longer mere fast food, pizza has gone gourmet. Here are six interesting, sometimes excessive, and often delectable pizza trends: (more…)
The idea of writing an article on LA’s best pizza absolutely terrifies me.
Wars have been started over less intense debates! Who am I to tell anyone that their favorite thin crust is not as good as this other guys’ beloved deep dish? One man’s Pizzeria Mozza is another man’s Pizza Hut (and vice versa).
I knew I had to do some in-depth research before I started putting fingers to the keyboard. No pizza left uneaten. No pizza stone left unturned. I had to consume them all before I could legitimately give any sort of educated opinion. This, of course, put an immense amount of pressure on me, and I began scouring the web to make sure I had been to or would soon visit every single well-reviewed pizza place in Los Angeles. My stomach and cholesterol were going to take a beating. (more…)
Vegans rejoice: You can now get vegan pizza at Domino’s! Well, you can if you’re in Israel, at least. The Israeli Domino’s Pizza franchise recently became the first Domino’s chain in the world to offer pizza with a soy-based topping instead of dairy cheese. A new poll showing that approximately 1 million of the 8 million people in Israel no longer eat meat — and that an additional 13 percent of the population is considering going vegetarian or vegan — even suggests that Israel may become the first largely vegan nation in the world. (more…)
Portland, Maine is a highly sought destination for foodies throughout the country, and pizza is no exception to its top notch offerings. From classic New York-style pies with paper-thin crust and tangy sauce, to gourmet recipes that meld both savory and sweet topping choices, the pizza joints around this town do it right. With strong emphasis on locally sourced meats and fresh produce to boot, Portland’s pies are second to none. The following is just a sampling of the area’s most popular pizza places. (more…)
I’m not gonna lie, when I walked into Stella Barra on a Friday night, I assumed it would be a ghost town.
Not anything against the restaurant… just the location. It’s kind of cursed. I’ve been to some of the prior attempts (the ghosts of restaurants past), and they didn’t exactly stick. I’m surprised by this, since it’s a prime location: right next to the Arclight Theater on Sunset Blvd. Apparently, moviegoers will pay $15 for a tub of popcorn but are more discerning when it comes to pre-movie eats. (more…)
Along with hot dogs and hamburgers, pizza is quintessential American food, even if it came by the way of Greece and than Italy, but did you know that the variety of pizzas go beyond just thin crust and thick crust or New York and Chicago? While we’ll also mention New York and Chicago pizza below, there’s definitely others that you might now mind sinking your teeth into. (more…)
Pizza, like so many other foods, did not originate in the country for which it is now famous and in fact, the idea for pizza is older than Italy itself. In its most basic form, pizza in ancient times was more similar to a seasoned flatbread and enjoyed by several cultures including the Greeks and the Phoenicians. Made from flour and water, the dough would be formed into round flat shapes, seasoned with herbs and then cooked by placing it on a hot stone. Referred to as plankuntos, the Greeks would use this flatbread as an edible plate that would be topped by anything from stews and a thick broth to meats and fruits.
Eventually, these plankuntos made its way to Italy and were renamed “pizzas.” The word pizza is thought to have come from the Latin word “pinsa”, which means flatbread. There’s still an ongoing debate as to whether this is true or not. Pizzas were sold on the streets and in the markets as street food to the poor all over Naples. The street vendors (typically young boys) would walk around the city with small tin stoves on their heads, calling out to attract customers. Cheap to make, these pizzas were only topped with olive oil and herbs and yet, they were tasty and filling. Before these pizzas would become more similar to modern day pizzas, two ingredients had to come into play: tomatoes and cheese.
Tomatoes were introduced to Italy in the 16th century by the Spaniards who brought them from Mexico and Peru, but they were thought to be poisonous and were originally grown only for decoration. It wasn’t until the 18th and early 19th centuries that fears were overcome and tomatoes started having more of a presence in Italian cuisine. When mozzarella cheese, which was made from the milk of Indian water buffalo, came to Italy also in the 18th century, pizza with tomato sauce and cheese was truly born.
Eventually, this peasant food started tantalizing the taste buds of the aristocracy which meant that the street vendors gave way to actual shops where people could order a custom pizza with a variety of toppings. By 1830 the “Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba” of Naples had become the first true pizzeria and is still in business today. In the 1800’s, the tools of the typical pizzerias included shelves lined with ingredients, a marble counter where the pizza crust was prepared and a large brick oven to cook the pizza in. Pizzaioli (makers of pizza) often assemble the entire pizza on a marble counter right before the customer’s eyes.
When it comes to the pizza known as the Margherita, it actually owes its name to Italy’s Queen Margherita. In the late 1800s, the Italian monarch King Umberto and his wife, Queen Margherita were touring the Naples area and decided to make a stop at Pizzeria Brandi. On duty for that visit was Rafaele Esposito and to show his patriotism created a pizza that best represented the colors of the Italian flag: red tomato, white mozzarella cheese and green basil. This pizza became such a favorite of the queen that it was named after her. Pizzeria Brandi, now more than 200 years old, still proudly displays a royal thank-you note signed by Galli Camillo, “head of the table of the royal household”, dated June 1889.
By the beginning of the 1900’s pizza made its way to the inner cities of the United States due to Italian immigrants, most notably New York and Chicago, which already had large Italian populations. Pizza was also sold as street food, similar to what was done in Naples and than small cafes began offering the Italian favorite. In 1905, Gennaro Lombardi, is thought to have opened the first US pizzeria in New York simply called Lombardi’s, which were followed by other pizzerias in other parts of New York, New Jersey and even Connecticut, but it wasn’t until after World War II ended that pizza really came into its own. Returning American soldiers having been exposed to pizza while serving on the Italian front were hooked and they were the ones who really drove up the popularity of this one time Italian only known and eaten food.
In 1943, Ric Riccardo and Ike Sewell opened up Pizzeria Uno in Chicago and in 1948, the first commercial pizza-pie mix called “Roman Pizza Mix” was produced in Worcester, Massachusetts by Frank A. Fiorillo. Chain pizza restaurants were soon on the rise as well. Leading early pizza chains were Shakey’s Pizza, founded in 1954 in Sacramento, California and Pizza Hut founded in 1958 in Wichita, Kansas. Both are now national companies.
While the American pizza business is dominated by companies that specialize in pizza delivery, such as Domino’s, Papa John’s Pizza and Pizza Hut, don’t discount your local pizzerias. Whether take-out only, a Mom and Pop joint or even a gourmet restaurant, pizza is truly a food for the masses and is versatile enough for any palate. So be sure to enjoy a slice or two tonight and below are pizza joints you may want to check out.
Bollini’s Pizzeria Napolitana
2315 S Garfield Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana
157 Wooster Street
New Haven, CT 06511
730 N Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611
32 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
641 N Highland Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
After I spilled out of a long flight onto California soil, my sister said, “Come on, we’re going to Cheeseboard.” I was jazzed; Cheeseboard has its own following on Menuism, as well as in Berkeley. It’s famous for being worker-owned, as well as breeding long lines of gourmets stringing down Shattuck Ave. And maybe the most unique element? As user JanetHan writes, “They only serve one kind of pizza each day! Can’t go wrong though!”
My sister and I bought a half-pizza ($10) and carried it back to her house with all of my luggage and a bottle of Pellegrino. That day, the pizza had a base of mozzarella & feta with roasted potatoes, onions, garlic olive oil, cilantro, and halves of miniature key limes, turned face-down.
dmo writes, “The eating experience can be a fun one. A live band is present at times, and if it’s too crowded indoors, plenty of people flock to the median where you can watch traffic from Shattuck Ave. flow around you. Apparently there are signs telling you not to do so, but hey, I’ve always seen people on the grass when I drive by.”
Because it was sunny, we saw people on the median squeezing lime juice into their slices and taking large bites, nonchalant in the face of cars whizzing by on both sides. They were blissing out.
There’s loving pizza, and then there’s real pizza love that you see popping up from time to time, like the careful pizza cook-offs detailed in DC Pizza Blog and the administrator in Berkeley’s admissions department who saw well-made pizza as a real selling point:
and, of course, Chicagoans and New Yorkers who will get out their rulers and measure a crust just to make a culinary point.
Pizza: definitely a topic I want to return to.
Anyway, after all of that pizza nirvana, it was only too good to curl up in front of Top Chef with a big piece of pudding cake and some bubbly wine. Anyone else hoping they’ll be asked to make a pizza in the finale?