The roots of modern pizza come from the ancient Greek colony of Naples in Magna Graecia, which is part of southern Italy. As early as the 3rd century BC, Marcus Porcius Cato, the first historian of Rome, mentions that people in that area used to eat a flat round dough dressed with olive oil, herbs, cheese, and honey. Even in the city of Pompeii, which was leveled by the volcano of Mt. Vesuvius in AD79, archaeologists have excavated shops that resemble modern pizzerias. Since the tomato was not yet known in Europe, the ingredients of the ancient pizza were somewhat different, but the concept remained the same. During the 16th century, when the tomato was transferred from the Americas to Europe, the poor area around Naples begun adding this plant to their yeast-based flat bread, covering it with mozzarella cheese. Soon, pizza gained tremendous popularity among the Italian people and in 1897 the first pizza was produced for the U.S. public by Antonio Totonno Pero, who worked as an employee at Gennaro Lombardi's small grocery store in New York City's Little Italy.
Today, pizza has managed to become one of the main components of the growing U.S. restaurant chains. As early as 1954, Shakey's Pizza and Pizza Hut begun offering their own versions and today, every U.S. city has a number of pizza restaurants to serve the ongoing needs of people for the treat. In fact, the American pizza business is dominated by companies that specialize in pizza delivery to the home and well-known brands, like Domino's, Little Caesar's, and Papa John's serve the needs of the U.S. customers on a daily basis.
The crust of pizza is traditionally plain, but companies have introduced variations with butter, garlic, or herbs and recently crust stuffed with cheese or tomato sauce. Topped with sauce and a number of ingredients, from pepperoni to mushrooms and bacon to spinach, today's pizzas are capable of feeding a large family or a group of friends watching a movie on TV.
Of course, many households prefer the home-made pizza and again many variations exist on the bread used for the crust and the ingredients with which it is garnished. Among the most famous of all pizzas is the Chicago-style pizza, which is baked in a pan rather than directly on the bricks of the pizza oven.