While toppings are as subject of debate, pizza is undeniably the world's favourite meal.
A recent survey of the world's most popular takeaways crowned pizza as undisputed champion. The Italian flat bread earned a 44 per cent slice of search traffic from hungry internet users in 2020. The survey by Moneybeach.com showed Pizza to be the globe's go-to fast food, everywhere from Argentina to Zambia.
9 February marks the day the recipe for pizza arrived hot on the shores of America, with the opening of the first dedicated ristorante in 1905 - Lombardi's pizzeria in Manhattan.
Having first appeared in records in 10th century Naples, the world's love affair with pizza goes back a long way.
Though it would be another 500 years before the tomato first arrived on the shores of Italy, it was the meeting of red-ragout sauce and cheese that would lead to an international culinary sensation.
As Neapolitans will argue, it was on the west coast of Italy under the shadow of mt Vesuvius where the modern dish was born. Pizza legend dictates it was named for visiting royalty.
Humble pizza pie was served to King Umberto I and Queen Margherita, who were blown away by the delicacy from the Italian backwater. More used to refined and bland courtly French cuisine the local dish became an overnight sensation. Pizzeria Brandi still displays a royal 'thank you' note from the queen and royal pizza patron, dated June 1889.
While the authenticity of the note has been called into question, the local pride in the dish is authentic. By accident or design, the tricolore of red, white and green ingredients – tomato, mozzarella and basil - has become a national icon.
The 'Margherita' pizza became a Unesco recognised dish of "intangible Cultural Heritage". Today the recipe of the 'Margherita' or Neapolitan pizza is a closely guarded by a syndicate of chefs.
Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana are a collective of pizza makers pledged to promote and protect the dish. In New Zealand there are only three restaurants certified by the group.
They will not stand for rogue toppings pineapple chunks or tinned spaghetti a'la Bill English.
Among the chefs is Napoli native, Sergio Maglione. The owner of Farina – formerly Toto – restaurant came to New Zealand twenty years ago armed with the recipe for the perfect pizza.
"Napoli, where I grew up, is a city that lives on the streets and every neighbourhood has its own speciality dishes," he says. This could be a pasta course or fresh sardines – but for Sergio it has to be pizza.
In his slice of little Italy on Auckland's Ponsonby street , Sergio is marking World Pizza Day by handing out free slices of the Italian classic, between 5pm and 9pm tonight.
New Zealand's Neapolitan Pizza restaurants
If you're hungry for a taste of authentic Italy and unable to travel from Nuova Zelanda, here are the three Kiwi pizzerias accredited by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.
Farina Ponsonby, Auckland
Sergio Maglione's original home of the Naples-style pizza by the metre has been a staple of Auckland food lovers for over 5 years.
Pizza Pomodoro, Wellington
Owned and run by Naples expatriate Massimo Tolve, the Tolve family run restaurant has been serving up slices of 'tomato' Pomodoro pizza for since 2000.
Black Sand Oakura Beach, New Plymouth
A favourite with Taranaki surfers the Black Sand serves up the only slice of pizza with the nod from the Associazione, outside of a major urban hub.