Margherita


In 1889, the pizza was named after Margherita, Queen consort of the kingdom of Italy. The pizza bears the three colours of the Italian flag: red tomatoes, green basil and white mozzarella.

To this day, the citizens of Naples still debate, argue, compete for what is the most authentic pizza, the best ingredients and argue about which ingredients are used and how it’s constructed.

There’s no way I’m going to walk through this mine field and even if I visited Naples, I’m sure I’d still piss off someone from there.

Having said that, you can be sure there’s absolutely no tolerance for Hawaiian pizza with pineapple, no Greek pizza with feta or worst still, an improvised pizza of salami, use of any leftover white cheese left in the fridge or the use of canned mushrooms.

I will be in Greece soon and although I’ll be elbow deep in fabulous Greek food, pizza will not be one of the foods I will enjoy.

Greeks (in Greece) love pizza but it’s not pizza as the Italians or American Italians know it. Frankly, by and large it’s horrible!

I still shudder at the use of leftover cheeses such as Gouda, Milner or even grated Kasseri as a topping. It gets worse…no pepperoni but greasy salami or ham becomes the meat portion.

There’s very little sauce on the pizza and jarred or canned mushrooms make even the decent made pizzas soggy!

There are some good pizza makers in Greece now but the bad still outnumber the good pizzerias. The Greeks have always made wonderful dough and pizza crust and lately I’m seeing wood burning ovens and the use of more traditional pizza ingredients.

If it sounds like I’m slamming pizza in Greece, well I am. However, I’m doing you a favour…you’ll be well rewarded by instead eating local, fresh and regional Greek cuisine. Leave the pizza behind for movie night or the big game. You’re on vacation…eat local, eat Greek…why not try out the Ladenia or go old skool and have a whack at the Pizza Margherita.

Pizza Margherita
(makes 1 large pizza or 2 small)

For the Dough
1 cup warm water
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/8 cup olive oil
1 heaping tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
Approx. 3 – 3 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour

For the Topping
hand crushed can of San Marzano plum tomatoes
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
dried oregano
fresh Mozzarella cheese
hand-torn fresh basil leaves

Pre-heated 400F oven

  1. In a large bowl, add your yeast, sugar, and warm water and allow about 7-10 minutes to activate (as evidenced with the bubbling). Now add your salt and olive oil add about 2 cups of flour into the mixture. Keep on adding flour while kneading on a floured work surface until your dough is pliable and no longer sticks to your hands. NOTE: (flour amounts vary from 3 to 3 1/4 cups flour, depending on the weather you are experiencing and how the flour and yeast react.
  2. Spread some olive oil on your round baking pan and sprinkle some fine semolina flour. Roll out your pizza dough to the size of pizza you desire. You may now preheat your oven.
  3. After hand-crushing your plum tomatoes, tear them up and spread the tomatoes over the surface of your dough. Season with some salt and pepper and sprinkle the minced garlic and dried oregano over the sauce.
  4. Now cut (or hand tear) your Mozzarella cheese and spread it over the surface of your pizza (do not entirely cover your pizza with cheese, it will melt).
  5. Bake on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes or until the edges start to brown and your cheese has just melted and browned just a bit.
  6. As soon as the pizza is out of the oven, tear your basil leaves and spread them over the surface of the pizza.
  7. Serve immediately with cold beer or a bottle of good red wine.

© 2008 – 2009,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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73 Comments for “Margherita”

Peter G

says:

So, bad pizza in Greece. I wonder if you can get a good saganaki in Italy?…hmmm…Anyway, it looks good and not a pineapple in sight!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah now that’s a good looking pizza. I’ve been craving pizza all week, and this is how I start my day. Also, that crust looks like it came out beautifully!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah now that’s a good looking pizza. I’ve been craving pizza all week, and this is how I start my day. Also, that crust looks like it came out beautifully!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah now that’s a good looking pizza. I’ve been craving pizza all week, and this is how I start my day. Also, that crust looks like it came out beautifully!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah now that’s a good looking pizza. I’ve been craving pizza all week, and this is how I start my day. Also, that crust looks like it came out beautifully!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah now that’s a good looking pizza. I’ve been craving pizza all week, and this is how I start my day. Also, that crust looks like it came out beautifully!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah now that’s a good looking pizza. I’ve been craving pizza all week, and this is how I start my day. Also, that crust looks like it came out beautifully!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah now that’s a good looking pizza. I’ve been craving pizza all week, and this is how I start my day. Also, that crust looks like it came out beautifully!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah now that’s a good looking pizza. I’ve been craving pizza all week, and this is how I start my day. Also, that crust looks like it came out beautifully!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah now that’s a good looking pizza. I’ve been craving pizza all week, and this is how I start my day. Also, that crust looks like it came out beautifully!

mikky

says:

your pizza looks so great and inviting… thanks for sharing your recipe…btw, you have a very interesting site here…keep on posting…

Parker

says:

That looks amazing…your dough and toppins looks so incredible and tasty, I want a bite. Never new the history of this za’ pretty interesting. Do not have to remind me to pour a nice glass of red vino with a great za’

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy

says:

That is one beautiful pizza, Peter! I’d be proud to serve it at my table. Pizza Margherita is hands down my favorite kind.

Oh, and those crazy Napolitanos always have to have something to argue about! ;)

glamah16

says:

Margherita is not my most favorite. But it depends on the tomatoes.There is Margherita and Margherita. Yours however looks like one I would want( not some tastless slice of unripe tomato). Pizza is subject to so many loose interpations now. I admit I do like my pineapple on occasion. ;-)

Gloria

says:

Love THIS pizza Peter, Im really hungry (12:30 AM here) I was thinking make a salad, but THIS pizza, look so wonderful, I love to make my own pizza.xxGloria

Jen of A2eatwrite

says:

I love Pizza Margherita. And I’m with you on enjoying fresh regional food when you’re in a different place. It’s one of my concerns about globalization.

We Are Never Full

says:

also, don’t forget another important part of the neapolitan pizza is the pizza dough – more specifically the crust. thin crust, but not as thin as rome, with a good crust (like yours) and a bit of chewiness to the dough. and you’re right on about pizza in italy – they don’t bother loading on a shitload of toppings – they want you to taste each and every ingredient.

it’s homemade pizza time in the seppysills househould me thinks! thanks for the inspiration!!

Astra Libris

says:

Ah, how wonderful that you’ll be in Greece soon… Heavenly! Your post about scandalous pizzas made me laugh… :-) Your pizza, however, is a very different kind of scandalous – scandalously beautiful and scrumptious!

Prudy

says:

Huge margherita fan here. How can you possibly improve upon this simple ingredients. Food for the Gods, Greek or Roman. :)

joanne at frutto della passione

says:

Her majesty would be proud! That looks wonderful, great job!

Mary

says:

I would hope, if I ever get lucky enough to go to Greece that I wouldn’t be the standard American tourist looking for pizza and McDonalds. I think I’d like some real Greek food please!
(And the pizza looks damnass good too.)

Maria

says:

Peter, your pizza looks AMAZING! I can’t wait to make it!!! You could not have hit the nail on the head harder!! Pizza in greece is not good! It’s ironic how the Greeks here in the states are known for their pizza!!!

Ciao :)

Elly

says:

Mmm this pizza looks fantastic. For as big of a meat eater I am, there is no pizza I enjoy more than the classic margherita.

Peter M

says:

Pete, good point! Sadly, pizza is not a strong point in Greece.

Cathy, I have made more authentic pizza for family there….they have all the necessary ingredients available.

Mike, a good crust is key.

Mikky, thank you and welcome!

Dharm, thanks…I’m not leaving just yet but soon.

Parker, you call it ‘Za too? You’re now officially cool, like me! lol

Kalyn, I’m South Beach allows for some pizza right?

Ann, no more ready made dough.

Maryann, I love pizza…made properly.

Sticky, I’m pleased to see my Italian friends pleased with my “za.

Glam, if I don’t have good tomatoes, it ain’t made…I hear ya.

Gloria, perhaps you can make it today?

Jen, when I travel…I eat what the locals are having…period!

Thank you Sorina.

Never Full, I went with the not too thin, not too thick crust and homemade all the way.

Astra, thank you…I like this kind of scandal!

Pam, I’ll make it again next week.

Thanks Prudy…it’s a wonderful summer dish.

Joanne, the house of Savoy would be most happy!

Mary, like anywhere, eat what the locals eat and the local cuisine.

Maria, great to see you commenting! You’re right thoughm the Greeks abroad ironically can pull off a great pizza.

Leslie

says:

NICE..no more delivery pizza for me!!
I usually try to make homeade Pizza every Friday night! Love it!
And no..no decorating classes for me.Although I do need to take some!

Ferdzy

says:

Your pizza looks loverly! Definitely not Greek pizza, lol!

But I had to laugh – you made me think of a pizza we ordered when we were in Spain. Spanish restaurants hardly serve ANY green veggies, and we were desperate – so we ordered what was advertised as “7 vegetable pizza”. Yup, you guessed it. Not one of them was green. No; I’m wrong. I think the olives were green. *Sigh*

Zen Chef

says:

Oh my good Lord!
I’m going to invite myself to your house for dinner. The other option is to make some homemade pizza myself.. maybe i do that. Unless you really want to have me for dinner!?

This is a masterpiece!

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

For me, this is the only way to have pizza – all other flavors give me the creeps. Lovely crust too! Enjoy your holiday!!!

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

For me, this is the only way to have pizza – all other flavors give me the creeps. Lovely crust too! Enjoy your holiday!!!

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

For me, this is the only way to have pizza – all other flavors give me the creeps. Lovely crust too! Enjoy your holiday!!!

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

For me, this is the only way to have pizza – all other flavors give me the creeps. Lovely crust too! Enjoy your holiday!!!

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

For me, this is the only way to have pizza – all other flavors give me the creeps. Lovely crust too! Enjoy your holiday!!!

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

For me, this is the only way to have pizza – all other flavors give me the creeps. Lovely crust too! Enjoy your holiday!!!

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

For me, this is the only way to have pizza – all other flavors give me the creeps. Lovely crust too! Enjoy your holiday!!!

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

For me, this is the only way to have pizza – all other flavors give me the creeps. Lovely crust too! Enjoy your holiday!!!

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

For me, this is the only way to have pizza – all other flavors give me the creeps. Lovely crust too! Enjoy your holiday!!!

TeLeGourmet

says:

Hey Peter,

No 1: Happy Birthday! Many happy returns, may you enjoy life and food wherever you are!…

No 2: You’re absolutely right: people who visit Greece should focus on local delicacies and forget about pizza. That’s not to say that you can’t get good pizza in Greece though. If there’s time left when you visit Athens, I’ll point you to a couple of places.

No 3: I just read a huge (cover) feature on Pizza in the June 30 issue of Wine Spectator. Have you seen it?

Best
Ted

Sam Sotiropoulos

says:

Peter, your pizza looks quite good! Though I must disagree with your generalization that all pizza in Greece is bad. Methinks you would have been better served to say that the pizza *you* have had in Greece was horrible. My own experiences of pizza in Greece are diametrically opposed to your own. Some of the best pizza I have ever had was in Greece! As in Italy, pizza in Greece is usually thin crust and this is quite different from the pizza we are used to here in North America. As for the cheeses you mention being put on pizza, well, I have never run across such sad ‘za specimens in Greece. Though, I do not doubt you have had bad pizza there, I have had equally bad pizza here in Canada, so does this mean that all pizza in Canada is bad? Anyway, that’s my $0.02 on your harangue against Greek pizza makers in general. Though, I have to ask, why eat pizza in Greece? My excuse was that I worked in my uncle’s Italian restaurant in Glyfada… It was called “Delizioso” and all the food was exactly that! What’s yours? ;)

Marianna

says:

Well of course if you go to Greece why would you eat Pizza there?? As you said, there are tons of other delicious things to enjoy… (btw where are you going in Greece?). Last year I went to Napoli and tasted the real pizza there… I now feel so lucky to have done a “pilgramage” to the mother city of Pizza… let me tell you- I’ve had the BEST slices in my life in Napoli!!

Grace

says:

i can think of many foods i’d choose over pizza if i were actually in greece (and i will be one day, or die trying!). sauce is very important to me–what can i say, i’m a saucy gal. :)

Peter M

says:

Leslie, making homemade pizza is easy & so much more satisfying, give it a go!

Kevin, simple pizzas usually win out.

Ferdzy, it appears many countries have their fare share of bad pizzas. I saw corn as a topping in Vienna!

Zen, the door and invite is open, mon ami.

Ted, thank you for the birtday wishes. Secondly, I’m glad you got the gist of my rant on Greek pizza. Although Greeks enjoy pizza and the “greek” take on it, I do not think alot of the pizzas are good but as I stated and as you have reinforced, there are some good pizzerias to be enjoyed and I welcome your invite to check some out when we meet in Athens. Finally, email me the Wine Spec article, I’d love to read it.

Sam, re-read my entry:

“There are some good pizza makers in Greece now but the bad still outnumber the good pizzerias. The Greeks have always made wonderful dough and pizza crust and lately I’m seeing wood burning ovens and the use of more traditional pizza ingredients”

As far as your assertion, it’s your opinion, it differs from mine. The largest pizza players in Greece right now are Roma Pizza, Pizza Milano(thes/niki) and Pizza Hut. Assuming al three of these franchises are NOT good pizza, it leaves us with the indepedants, which in turn leaves us with little to choose by way of a good pizza in Greece. It’s however encouraging that your uncle’s establishment is an oasis of great pizza in a desert of crap.

Marianna, I might have a pizza once during my stay there…too much Greek food to enjoy. As for where I’m going in Greece, I’ll write about that soon.

Grace, when you go, I encourage to try out Greek street food like souvlaki, gyros, bittekia or a tyropita.

David Hall

says:

our friday night staple Peter! Get the kids involved, love it. A nice weekly treat.

Cheers
David

kittie

says:

Pizza is one of those things that seems simple, but is so easy to get utterly wrong. Yucky cheese and stodgy crusts are my bugbear. That was before the thought of tinned mushrooms had been put in my head.

Now that’s disgusting.

Btw, your pizza looks great – but I still wouldn’t eat it if I was in Greece ;) Holding out for the local dishes!!

aforkfulofspaghetti

says:

Looks like a damn fine Margerita to me, Peter. If the Neapolitans don’t want it, you can send it over in my direction…

Fearless Kitchen

says:

Real pizza!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay! I’m jumping through my kitchen with joy, which confuses the dog. Thanks for posting this – some of what some people call pizza out there frightens me.

ps – who goes to a culinary paradise like Greece for pizza???

Laila

says:

Hi Peter, I´ve been reading your blog for a few months now, and I love your recipes. On July 10th is the Pizza day in São Paulo (Brazil). Since yours is as yammi as ours I decide to write you and congrat you for the FANTASTIC PIZZA.

Helene

says:

Friday, at our house, it’s pizza night. I love to make the dough, that only takes 2 min. in the food processor. I let it rise for 45 min. and bake it in a warm oven for 8 min. I like to top it up with a homemade sauce, pepperoni, green olives, mushrooms, a good mozza cheese. Soon I want to try to cook it on the BBQ. I only wish I had a wood pizza oven.

culinography

says:

Four days away from my food blog network and one of the first things I see is this amazing looking pizza…

Now I’m hungry!! Pass a slice my way!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen

says:

I am so completely with you about eating the food of the locals no matter where you are. Pizza, what a loaded conversation (pun intended).

Roberto is OBSESSED with pizza. He lives for it, and has only once in the 10 years he has live here, admitted to having pizza as good as in Italy. Yours looks very tasty though my friend, and I am sure even the purists would have to agree!

lorraine@italianfoodies

says:

Ahh margherita my favourite, wish I could say that for the majority of our customers in Ireland, the more you can pile on the better esp the pineapple and sweetcorn – YUK!!! We changed our pizza menu recently to highlight the more authentic Italian pizzas but I think we will probably have to change back again because they aren’t selling:(

Natashya

says:

Mmmm.. pizza.
Was there ever a more perfect hand held food?
Your crust and toppings look perfect – all you need is a cold beer to go with it.

Lisa

says:

Hey Peter – your pizza looks perfect – we use exactly the same crust recipe. Nice of you to stop by my blog – as previously noted, I am always checking in on yours! And, if I haven’t said it before, your photos are fanastic!

Peter M

says:

David, kids love pizza and you’re a clever dad to get the kids in on making pizza.

Kittie, nothing worse than tinned/jarred mushrooms…go fresh or just don’t use them!

Forkful, I get the impression my “Paisan” friends like my Margherita.

Fearless, I might have a pizza once during my holiday, usually in the company of relatives but it’s not my preference…I can eat pizza any other time.

Patricia, thanks…it tasted as good as it looks.

Hi Laila and welcome. Thank you for adding a comment and I hope you’ll visit often.

Kat, thank you…a good balance of ingredients me thinks.

Culinography…catch but it’s hot!

Jenn, you know I enjoy good food but I also pay respect and homage to the indigenous cuisine. I think I had a pizza here an Italian would love.

Ahh Loraine…baby steps…offer up the real pizza as a special…they’ll get it.

Natashya…nice that you mention “hand held”…I still see some eat pizza with cutlery…C’mon!!!!

Eat, the KISS principle rules here.

Lisa, great to know this dough recipe is popular and successful. I don’t get how people buy that frozen crap at the supermarket.

Angela

says:

You’re speaking to me here, Peter. This is my favorite pizza. Nicely executed! I do a version with thinly sliced fresh tomatoes (topped with a little salt, sugar, pepper, and olive oil) baked until steaming hot and then ‘Bam!’ fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, and capers served fresh right away. Yours looks terrific! I love the addition of garlic to the crushed tomatoes.

Holler

says:

Your pizza looks good Peter! I have heard that the definition of a good pizza or in fact the pizza, varies from family to family.

You are really gearing up for your holiday now, aren’t you? I hope you have a great time :)

ps count how many drinks you are being poured after hours!

Chris

says:

I’ve tasted a few pizzas in greece and some of them are fantastic. I personally don’t like mozarella – it doesn’t have any flavour. A nice mild Gouda on pizza tastes delicious.

CaliforniaKat

says:

I so agree with what you said about pizza in Greece. A few friends of mine, even my fiance, claim there is a “great pizza,” so I try it and it’s horrible. I make my own crust, so we eat my pizza now.

I’m game to try this one, however, as I’m always open to anything that may be better or at least different. Looks good!

familiabencomo

says:

Ooooh, I love a good pizza post. This is great. When I studied in Italy I remember trying pizza in every town I visited b/c everyone was so proud of their local style. I have to admit that the margherita that I had in Napoli was the best… but that was almost 20 years ago. I should go back now & re-do my survey.

Have fun in Greece!

xoxox Amy

Ruth Elkin

says:

I never knew the history behind the margherita pizza. I feel all educated now! Thanks!

As for the greek pizza… it’s just as well you’ll have all that other fabulous food to be feasting on!

Jeanne

says:

Funny how your tastes change as you get older… I used to like as many crazy toppings as possible on a pizza (and I have to say, don’t knock strips of tender peppered steak, caramelised onions and chunkcs of feta till you’ve tried it…!). But these days I’d far sooner have very few toppings and absolutely brilliant ingredients. Like your pizza, for example :) Looks fantastic!