Pizza is a baked pie of Italian origin consisting of a shallow bread-like crust covered with seasoned tomato sauce, cheese, and often other toppings such as sausage or olive. The word pizza is believed to be from an Old Italian word meaning “a point,” which in turn became the Italian word “pizzicare,” which means “to pinch” or “pluck.”
The pizza could have been invented by the Phoenicians, the Greeks, Romans, or anyone who learned the secret of mixing flour with water and heating it on a hot stone.
In one of its many forms, pizza has been a basic part of the Italian diet since the Stone Age. This earliest form of pizza was a crude bread that was baked beneath the stones of the fire. After cooking, it was seasoned with a variety of different toppings and used instead of plates and utensils to sop up broth or gravies. It is said that the idea of using bread as a plate came from the Greeks who ate flat round bread (plankuntos) baked with an assortment of toppings. It was eaten by the working man and his family because it was a thrifty and convenient food.
Article by Linda Stradley of What’s Cooking America.