The Wood-Fired Origins Of National Pizza Day

Although it’s not entirely clear how a dedicated day for the Italian delicacy of pizza came about, (it’s believed to have first been celebrated in the year 2000) we do know there is only one way to celebrate National Pizza Day, on February 9, and that’s by eating a slice (or more) of wood-fired pizza, baked in a Valoriani oven.

If you are planning on firing-up your wood-fired oven in honour of National Pizza Day, before you take a bite, why not gain a little insight into the pizza’s humble Italian beginnings and eventual rise to worldwide status! 

A brief history of traditional wood-fired pizza

A basic flatbread is known to have been consumed by the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. The latter ate a version with herbs and oil, similar to today’s focaccia.  We also know that the word pizza was first documented in 997 AD in Gaeta.  Pizza as we know it today, however, really evolved from a form of basic flatbread served up, with a few toppings, in the maritime city of Naples.  

The working class Neapolitans required inexpensive food that could be eaten on the go and this simple recipe was perfect.  It’s worth remembering that the uncomplicated and delicious toppings enjoyed by Italians back then – tomatoes, cheese, garlic – are unchanged today; as is the cooking technique, baked hot and quick, the wood-fired way! 

The Marinara pizza was actually that which the wives of Neapolitan fishermen served up, when their men returned from sea.   It still consists, to this day, of tomatoes, garlic, oregano and extra-virgin olive oil, with no cheese to be seen!

On the other hand, the Margherita was also born in Naples and was the 1889 invention of  the pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito, the chef at the Pizzeria Brandi.  He created three different ‘pizzas’ to mark the arrival of Queen Margherita of Savoy, wife of King Umberto the First. One carried the toppings of tomatomozzarella and basil, inspired by the colours of the national flag of Italy.  Of the three, this was the only one she liked, rejecting his other options of anchovy and marinara.  Consequently, this pizza became known as the Margherita.

Pizza in the USA

In 1905, Gennaro Lombardi applied to the New York City government for the first license to make and sell pizza in America, at his grocery store on Spring Street, then a thriving Italian-American neighbourhood.  This gave birth to many recreations of traditional Italian pizza and the emergence of subsequent pizzerias, as non-Italians fell in love with the country’s flavours and dishes.  

Now much beloved by all, pizza has travelled a long way from its humble beginnings in Naples and not just across the USA.  It is truly a food hero around the world – simple, delicious and at its best when enjoyed with family and friends.

How can you celebrate National Pizza Day with a Valoriani oven? 

If you already own one of our Valoriani wood-fired ovens, there is no better time to invite a few friends over for an evening of pizza and a glass of something chilled!  

If you want to follow the lead of Queen Margherita, why not impress your guests with this delicious and traditional margherita recipe from chef, James Martin, owner of one of our Valoriani ovens, as you may have seen in Cirio adverts and also Saturday Kitchen.

For something a little more extravagant, however, you could try this slow-roasted shredded pork with Taleggio topping by Jamie Oliver, another Orchard Ovens wood-fired oven owner. If you would like to find out more about incorporating a Valoriani wood-fired oven into your home or outdoor kitchen and appreciate how it can become the heart of all your special occasions and celebrations, call us on 01772 250000 or email 

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