Pizza Margherita may be fit for a queen, but was it really named after one?

The iconic Neapolitan dish was allegedly named for an Italian queen after she sampled it in Naples, but some say that theory is a little half-baked.

The Margherita pizza is an iconic Neapolitan dish with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil creating the colors of the Italian flag.
Luciano Furia/Getty

Pizza is one of the most popular dishes in the whole world. This simple combination of baked flatbread, tomatoes, and cheese flowered in Italy and then spread to the United States in the early 20th century with Italian immigrants. Pizza’s popularity exploded in America, becoming ubiquitous across the nation.

There are many different styles of pizza, but only one has a royal pedigree. The origin story began when the queen of Italy visited Naples in 1889. Strolling through the streets of the city center, Queen Margherita and her husband smelled a delicious aroma wafting from a pizzeria.

Intrigued, the couple invited the chef of the establishment, Raffaele Esposito, to the city’s Capodimonte Palace to cook the dish for them there. Esposito prepared three different kinds of pizza. One option emulated the colors of the Italian flag: It featured red tomatoes, white mozzarella, and fresh green basil.

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