Foods similar to pizza have been served throughout ancient history. The Ancient Greeks are said to have eaten a flatbread topped with herbs, onion, cheese, and garlic. Persian soldiers in the sixth century are thought to have baked flatbreads with cheese on their battle shields.
Some trace the word pizza to the pizzarelle, a kosher Passover cookie eaten by Roman Jews. The flatbread with toppings known today as pizza, though, is thought to have originated in 16th-century Naples. This was a cheap street food readily available to the people working on this waterfront city’s wharves.
Tomatoes weren’t added to flatbread pizza until later, as many Europeans believed they were poisonous. By the late 18th century, though, Neapolitans were adding tomato toppings to the breads they now served to famished tourists.