The History Of Woodfired Pizzas: From Ancient Rome To Modern Times
We all dive into a piping hot pizza when we see one, but at this moment, we are diving deep into its celebrated history. Pizza, a flatbread served with delectable toppings, sauces, and cheese, is far from being a recent invention. Dating back to ancient times, your favorite Italian cuisine is way older than you think. Especially the traditional open woodfired pizzas. They are commonly relished all around the world, especially in Naples, Italy, the city known for the origin of modern pizza.
This popular Italian cuisine has been around for almost a thousand years with its earliest version recorded during the Neolithic age. Large open woodfired brick and stone ovens were also discovered during the excavation of Pompeii. With sturdy graphite pizza counters, they will instantly remind you of the pizzerias that you commonly see in European cities even today.
The people of Pompeii sure loved their pizzas. Some of the brick and stone ovens found in Pompeii were so well-crafted with ventilation and insulation that they can be used even today!
During medieval times, these woodfired ovens underwent some major transformations. Compared to the large rounded ones found in the northern European cities, they were now smaller to fit in the Italian kitchenettes. Some of the Tuscan farmhouses still use these time-honored ovens for baking. These smaller designs eventually led to the foundation of the modern oven used in the pizza industry.
The Victorian era split the pizza ovens into different shapes and sizes depending on the cooking requirements. There were white and black ovens. They had a separate firing chamber under the cooking chamber with a low barrel vault and a rectangular footprint. These were widely used in bakeries and pizzerias to bake bread in large volumes. However, the only thing differentiating these two ovens was that the black ones had a fuel source in the food chamber itself.
It was during these times that the pizzas were sold in bakeries and at open air-stands in Italy. One of them is Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, the oldest and first-ever known pizzeria that started in the 1700s and is successfully running even today. The 18th century also gave the world the famous Margherita pizza! It was prepared by baker-chef Raffaele Esposito to honor Queen Margherita's visit to the city. Celebrating the colors of the Italian flag (green- basil leaves, white- mozzarella, and red - tomatoes), she was so impressed that pizza was later named after her.
What comes as a huge surprise is that pizza was the common food of the peasants in Naples and was eaten as a flatbread. It was only after the locals started adding tomatoes to the flatbread that led the advent of pizza. Tomatoes, which were deemed poisonous till the 18th century soon made the local flatbread the star cuisine that the tourists fell in love with. It also led to the rise of the popular Marinara sauce.
As the world progressed, the love for pizza only made people find better ways to prepare the cuisine. The industrial revolution witnessed metal being used to make ovens instead of bricks and stones. Soon the electric American ovens took over. It was in the 1990s that pizza ovens became a household appliance, with their baking time reduced from over 3 hours to 40-45 minutes. Modern refractory and insulating materials were used that made the pizza-making process comparatively quicker and easier. Progressive technology introduced more innovations, such as ceramic insulations, thus making pizza ovens pocket-friendly and quicker.
Pizza ovens undoubtedly have come a long way from being made of bricks and stones, but if you ask Italians how they would like their pizzas baked, they’d hands down choose the woodfired ovens. Traditional but timeless, a woodfired pizza holds the fort high when it comes to uniting all the flavors on its crusty bed. And lest we forget, they are served right from the oven to your table— piping hot, with oozing cheese and rich sauces and toppings! #AllReadyToBinge
And lucky for you, you can now get this premium Italian experience at the nearest 1441 Pizzeria outlet. Bringing the taste of Italy to Mumbai, 1441 Pizzeria is serving pizzas the traditional way by baking them in open woodfired ovens. Yes, right from the oven to your tables, piping hot. This means you no longer have to dream of visiting Italy to try the OG pizzas! Their exclusive dine-in collection has the popular ‘Starstruck Pizza’ curated by the eminent Italian Chef Rento Viola. So what are you waiting for? Now that you know the history, it’s time to experience this timeless cuisine. With varied options available for vegetarians, non-vegetarians, vegans, and Jains, feast on the most delicious pizzas in town today!