When King Umberto I of Savoy and Queen Margherita visited Naples, they went to Raffaele Esposito’s restaurant in the heart of Naples and ordered him to make pizzas for the whole Court. Raffaele Esposito made two typical pizzas: the Marinara, created in 1800, and the Mastunicola, the oldest Neopolitan pizza which dates back to 1660. His wife made a special pizza for Queen Margherita with tomato, oil and mozzarella. She then added basil to recall the Italian flag. Thus pizza Margherita was born in 1889 in the Italian Queen’s honor. (hat tip to Cafe Porta Alba of Madison, WI).
This most simple of pizzas is the perfect anecdote to the fast-food transmorgification of pizza into something wholly different (cough*CPK*cough). However, to fully experience the beauty of Margherita, one must track down a wood-oven baked pizza. And don't forget an easy-drinking glass of vino. Two of my favorites are Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi or Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.