Italia! Icon – The Pizza Margherita

With its red tomatoes, white mozzarella cheese and green basil, the margherita is so much more than just a pizza – it is a symbol of Italian identity…


Ask anyone who has been on a culinary tour of Naples where the pizza margherita comes from and they will be able to tell you that it was invented right here in the city. Not only that, they will be able to tell you exactly where: in the Pizzeria di Pietro e Basta Cosi (‘Pietro and that’s enough’). And by whom: the pizzeria’s owner, Raffaele Esposito. And when: in 1889, on the occasion of a visit to the city by Queen Margherita, wife of Umberto I, the second king of the then recently unified Italy.

The restaurant is now called the Brandi – it was apparently renamed by Esposito himself to take the surname of his wife. It still stands on Salita Sant’Anna di Palazzo and it still sells margherita pizzas. They don’t make a huge song and dance about their unique claim to fame, but if you ask politely they will show you a letter from the Queen to authenticate their claim, as well as pictures of the many celebrities who have visited since.

And is the story true? Well, the suggestion has been made that the Brandi’s tale is as perfectly baked as one of their excellent pizzas. One researcher, Zachary Nowak, in his recent role as Assistant Director of Food Studies at the Umbra Institute in Perugia, claimed that the municipal records he found don’t match the story… Zachary. Please. Sit down. Enjoy your pizza!