Why Pizzas Aren’t Complete Without Mozzarella
Unlike cities such as New York, Chicago, and St. Louis, there’s really no specific style of pizza that defines Salt Lake City. Instead, Salt Lake City pizza encompasses the best of all worlds: thin and thick crusts, traditional and nontraditional toppings, and a wealth of different baking methods. But despite all this variety, one thing tends to remain constant: most pizzas start with a blank canvas of mozzarella. Read on to learn how pizza got stuck with its favorite cheese.
A Brief History
In 1889, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Italy commissioned Neapolitan chef Raffaele Esposito to prepare an assortment of his native city’s pizza. Wanting to bake a suitably patriotic pie, Esposito took inspiration from the Italian flag and created an arrangement of red tomatoes, green basil, and white buffalo mozzarella. The queen so adored the mozzarella-centric incarnation that Esposito named it Pizza Margherita in her honor and began marketing it as the standard.
Why Mozzarella Trumps the Competition
Unlike sharp and pungent cheeses, mozzarella has a rich, salty flavor that harmonizes with the pie’s sauce and other toppings rather than overpowering them. In addition to its flavor, mozzarella’s signature stringiness and low-moisture content allow the cheese to stretch and fuse to the other ingredients as it melts.
Where to Go for the Best Mozzarella Pies in SLC
Salt Lake City boasts a handful of pizzerias where diners can find traditional, Neapolitan-style pies that would make Queen Margherita herself proud. From Scratch—frequently ranked as one of the best restaurants in Salt Lake City—sets its pizzas apart from the competition by using local, artisanal ingredients, including dough made from flour milled onsite and housemade mozzarella. Another can’t-miss spot for an authentic margherita slice is Settebello, where chefs melt fresh mozzarella to a bubbly finish in a wood-burning oven imported from Italy.