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Classic cheese pizza begat all others Phillip Brents | Fri, Sep 06 2013 04:18 PM

Thursday was National Cheese Pizza Day in the United States. However, any day really is a good day to head over to one’s favorite pizzeria and take a bite out of a classic favorite.

Thin crust, deep dish or regular? 

There are hundreds of different pizza types and toppings today but all originated with the cheese pizza.

The basic plan goes back to the sixth century BCE when Persian soldiers ate a form of pizza. The Greeks and Romans both took a culinary whirl with the pizza concept but it was largely regarded as a peasant food and made without tomatoes.

Pizza, as it is known today, became popular in Italy only in the 1800s; the first pizzeria opened in the United States in New York City in 1905.

It is estimated that today Americans eat approximately 350 slices of pizza per second and that Americans eat 46 slices of pizza per year.

Three billion pizzas are sold in the United States each year; it has been reported that 94 percent of Americans eat pizza on a regular basis.

The most popular pizza toppings are pepperoni (36 percent), sausage in second and mushroom in third.

But you can’t beat the cheese pizza for its simplicity — or the taste, for that matter.

According to Wikipedia, the most popular cheeses used in the preparation of pizza are mozzarella, provolone, cheddar and parmesan.  Mozzarella is the most popular (about 30 percent) of all pizzas cheeses.

Ever notice a taste difference between pizzas prepared fresh at a local restaurant and frozen pizzas bought at a supermarket? Processed cheeses are often used for mass production pizzas.

What makes the classic cheese pizza stand out is the zesty sauce that serves as the ocean on which the cheese of choice floats. A better analogy might be to think of the pizza sauce as hot magma.

The sauce is usually a blend of pureed tomatoes, tomato sauce, minced garlic and fresh basil.

The fresher the ingredients, obviously the fresher the taste.

Stan Dale, co-owner of La Bella’s in downtown Chula Vista, said cheese pizzas at the popular west side Italian restaurant include a mozzarella and provolone blend of cheeses.

“Pepperoni is our No. 1 seller but we have a lot of variety, so there’s no one pizza that dominates over the other,” Dale said.

Sprinkle mushrooms over a classic cheese pizza, lay on a few pepperoni slices, sprinkle the top with savory Italian sausage crumbles … well, it’s obvious how the classic cheese pizza morphed into the diverse pizza types we all love today.

With September being National Organic Harvest Month, there’s an endless variety of heath-conscious toppings. However, that’s getting away from the simplicity of the cheese pizza, which can easily be made at home, even on a slice of French bread.
October is National Pizza Month, where all types of the delicious pizza can be celebrated equally.

In fact, La Bella’s has gotten the jump on that by introducing a specialty pizza in September — the Philly cheese steak pizza.
Dale said the plan is to have a specialty pizza of the month at some point.

For more information on menu specials and business hours, contact La Bella’s at 426-8820. The restaurant is located at 373 Third Ave., Chula Vista.

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