Pizza Margherita: A Neopolitan Classic


First made in 1899, Pizza Margherita is a pizza recipe from Raffaelle Esposito, an Italian chef.  Originating in Naples, this thin-crusted pizza was prepared for Queen Margherita when she was visiting in order to escape a cholera epidemic that was taking place in Northern Italy. The chef named the pizza after the queen upon receiving a letter from her indicating how much she enjoyed the pizza. The ingredients that distinguish this unique pizza include tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves, which represent the red, white, and green colors of the Italian flag.
This traditional Neopolitan pizza has not been widely offered in the States until recently.  But for years one has been able to find this hallmark thin crust pizza in larger U.S. cities such as NYC, where it is very well-known and where my husband and I always have a slice (or two or three) whenever we get a chance to visit.  If made correctly, it is a very delicious pizza!

If you have a pizza stone, that’s great!  But if not, use a perforated pizza pan to allow the oven’s heat to come through and cook the bottom of the pizza dough better.   Several keys to success for a Margherita Pizza is a super thin crust with minimal toppings . . . actually less is more, so remember not to overload toppings on this pizza.  Using the highest quality ingredients, especially the mozzarella, tomatoes and basil is so important to attain the level of taste and quality that this pizza is known for.

This pizza truly rivals any of those offered in New York City!


Pizza Margherita

1 batch of homemade pizza dough (recipe below) or purchased from grocery store (Whole Foods or Publix)
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
15 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1/8 tsp. sea salt
15 oz. of favorite pizza sauce or one large can whole or crushed San Marzano tomatoes, drained and crushed
2 balls of fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4″ slices
2 medium, super-fresh plum tomatoes, sliced very thin, dried out on a paper towel
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 tsp. oregano, crushed
freshly ground salt and black pepper to taste

Heat oven to 500 degrees.
Insert a pizza stone (if you have one) on the LOWEST rack level in the oven for 1 hour to heat up prior to using.
In a small pan over medium heat, cook the smashed garlic cloves in the olive oil until golden . . . do not burn.
Add about 5 basil leaves, torn into small pieces.
Add the salt.
Add favorite pizza sauce and cook until hot and flavors have blended well (5 minutes or so) OR
If using canned San Mareno tomatoes, cook for 20 minutes with the olive oil/garlic/ basil mixture in order to reduce and thicken the tomatoes into a sauce.

Do not punch down the risen pizza dough.
Lightly dust the dough with flour, dust your hands, and dust the surface that you will use to roll out the dough.
If you have a wooden pizza board/paddle, use that as your surface, you can also use a large piece of parchment paper.
Gently pat down the dough and then push it out to form a large circular shape (about 16″ in diameter).
Using a wooden rolling pin (dusted with flour), roll out a very thin crust about 1/8″ thick.
Dust the pizza stone with flour or a little bit of finely ground cornmeal.

If you rolled out the dough on your counter or cutting board, then slide the pizza dough onto a wooden pizza board (if you have one) or parchment paper at this time.
Spread the tomato/garlic/basil sauce all the way around the pizza dough except for about 1″ from the edges.
Layer the mozzarella slices all over the sauce.
Layer the dried, sliced tomatoes over the cheese.
Layer a little more shredded mozzarella cheese.
Sprinkle freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top.
Sprinkle with the remaining whole basil leaves and crushed oregano.
Season lightly with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.

click on ‘read more’ beneath my signature for more on this delicious pizza.

Spread the tomato/basil/garlic sauce onto thinly rolled out pizza dough.
Layer the sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced and dried tomatoes and basil on top of sauce and dough.  Sprinkle with oregano, sea salt and black pepper.
Slide the dough with toppings off of the wooden pizza paddle board or parchment paper onto the pizza stone or pizza pan.Bake for 15 – 20 minutes on the lowest rack level in the pre-heated oven.

Note:  With a paper towel, blot off any excess fluid that may come from the tomatoes; thus the reason why I dry out the tomatoes a little bit before placing them on top of the pizza before baking.
Cover edges with aluminum foil and bake for another 10 minutes to prevent the edge of the crust from burning.
Broil for 5 minutes if desired (I do this) or until desired level of doneness and golden brown-ness of the cheese is achieved.

Pizza Dough
1-1/4 oz. package active dry yeast (2-1/4 tsp.) Use NEW dry yeast, not old
1-3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, divided in half, plus more flour for dusting surfaces
3/4 cup warm water (105 – 115 degrees), divided in half
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Blend yeast, 1 Tbsp. flour and 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl.
Let stand for about 5 minutes, until the surface looks slightly creamy.
Add 1-1/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup warm water, salt and oil.
Stir until smooth.
Add in enough more flour (1/4 to 1/2 cup) for dough to start to pull away from the sides of the bowl (it will be somewhat wet).
On a floured surface (wooden is best), knead the dough until smooth, soft and elastic for 10 minutes.  Add more flour dusting to surface if dough becomes too sticky.
Form dough into a ball, put in a dusted bowl, dust the top of the dough with flour and cover with plastic wrap or (non-terry cloth) kitchen towel.
Let dough rise in a draft-free, warm room until doubled in size, 1-1/4 hours.
Your comments make me smile and I promise to get right back to you both here and on your blog! I may be slow at it because I get easily distracted by something brewing in the kitchen, hummingbirds in my gardens, and student papers to grade! BUT I DO VISIT YOUR BLOG and comment back! Hey, that's what good friends are for! xo

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  1. This is my go to pizza, just as soon as I get some basil growing!

  2. Your home pizza looks really fabulous. i can’t wait to try it!

  3. OMG roz.. you hit my weak spot!!!It’s so hard to get the right crust because that’s what makes it soooo good!!!

  4. This is my favorite pizza…the thinner crust the better. Yours is beautiful. I can’t wait to try your recipe.

  5. This is my favourite pizza. I have a pizza stone and now that my reno is done (yeah) I can hardly wait to make it.

  6. wow what a pizza my fav and love the history of it also great new look for your blog Roz


  7. That looks so very delicious!!! :)

  8. My dinner was pizza too, but yours is just looking delicious…



  9. Looks delicious, maybe Pizza this evening, but we do not make our own, either enjoy our neighbours or visit one of the local excellent pizzerias.

  10. For me there is no better way to eat pizza, yours looks like a real pro did this for sure! I would pay you for one! Lovely picture, mouth watering and computer screen eating worthy!

  11. It doesn’t get any better than the freshest ingredients atop a thin crust.
    Time to get some basil planted!

  12. What a spledid and mouthwatering pizza! Fantastic. Nothing can beat homemade pizzas.



  13. Perfect pizza! A favorite of my family, especially me :(

  14. I love this pizza Roz! Yummy!

    I featured your blog tonight on my post.

    Warmly, ~Melissa :)

  15. I am so in love with your blog. The photo’s are just so appetizing:)
    Already follow just stopping by to see what is for dinner.

  16. Based on your gorgeous pictures I would say your pizza can certainly hold it’s own! I love a good margherita pizza. With ingredients like that, who needs the meat?

  17. looks perfect!

  18. Wow…this pizza looks amazing. Wish I could take a bite right now!

  19. I want to just dive into the computer screen – that photo looks so inviting. I just ordered a pizza stone by email and when it arrives – this will be on the agenda.

  20. Bella Rozalinda! This is one of my favorite types of pizza! I adore the fresh mozzarella and the fresh basil! Growing up in and around NYC and especially Brooklyn, you can try so many different types of pizza, but I also love to use my stone and make my own. Thanks so much for sharing this on the hearth and soul hop! All the best! Alex

  21. This looks absolutely amazing. I do love to make our own pizza…nothing better. yum

  22. I’m a sucker for the classics ~ Looks delicious!

  23. Thank you for the invite! :)

  24. wow, that pizza look totally awesome. I don’t think I have the patience to make something as beautiful as that. I know of one or two really good Italian places that do it for me :-)

  25. Oh, I think I will be getting pizza for dinner!!! Your post is just so tempting!

  26. Hi Roz! I’m inviting you to join me in a cook-along with Lidia! It’s pizza margherita this month! I knew you would have an awesome pic and recipe. Just visit my latest blog post! Thanks and have a great week!

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