The history of pizza dates back to Greek and Roman times, called Focaccia. Flat breads, basted with oil and oregano to add more flavor. Bartolomeo Scappi, the great Italian renaissance chef published several recipes for “pizza” in his famous cookbook Opera dell’arte del cucinare (published in 1570). These were quite different to the pizza that exists today.
In 18th century Naples, the poor of the city began to add tomatoes to the flat bread, just to fill up, and the creation soon gained popularity. Until about 1830, pizza was sold from open-air stands and street vendors out of pizza bakeries. Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba in Naples is widely regarded as the world’s first pizzeria. They started producing pizzas for peddlers in 1738 but expanded to a pizza restaurant with chairs and tables in 1830, and still serve pizza from the same premises today. A description of pizza in Naples around 1830 is given by the French writer and food expert Alexandre Dumas, père in his work Le Corricolo, Chapter VIII . He writes that pizza was the only food of the humble people in Naples during winter, and that “in Naples pizza is flavored with oil, lard, tallow, cheese, tomato, or anchovies”.
Pizza first made its appearance in the United States with the arrival of Italian immigrants in the late 19th century. The first “official” pizzeria in America is disputable, but it is generally believed to have been founded by Gennaro Lombardi in Little Italy, Manhattan. The original wood-burning ovens were dropped in favor of more efficient gas ovens. this changed the flavor and the cooking method. New York style Pizza is crispier than its Italian cousin and very evenly cooked, without the “smoked flavor”. The pizzas may have evolved but their names remained. The Margherita, Marinara and Calabrese all retained the same textures and toppings from the “old country”.
The history of Ragazzi is a little easier to trace. First off, the name Ragazzi Pizzeria and Italian Bistro is a derivative of the original trade name-Pizza Boys. Ragazzi in Italian means boys, hence Pizza boys translates into Ragazzi Pizza.
The Mazzotta family has been making world class pizza since the early 1970’s. On a cold corner of 118 avenue and 81 street, Vincenzo “Jimmy” Mazzotta opened up a small pizzeria with his brothers, Tony, Mario and Silverio. The idea was to bring authentic Italian/New York style pizza to Edmonton. Vince’s brother had a successful pizzeria in New York, and brought over his experience-before leaving once again for the big apple. The hand tossed pizza, or as we call it,” pizza volare”, had not been seen in Edmonton at the time,
and the combination of great pizza and family-style atmosphere soon made the little pizzeria the place to be. By the late seventies, Vince decided that the long hours of running a restaurant (the place closed at 3 am) took its toll on his family life. The place was sold, and after a brief hiatus-the brothers again opened up another pizzeria, along 111 avenue.
Fast forward to April of 2001, and Pizza Boys was born. This time, Vince and his four sons; David, Daniel, Andrea and Jason, rolled up their sleeves to create Edmonton’s Best pizza!
Just as our Italian ancestors before us, we strove to improve on a good thing. Classic staples such as the Calabrese and Margherita were joined by Davide’s Inferno – a great balance between pizza and extreme spice; The Deluxe – Our revolution of the Capricciosa Pizza, the Pollo Alla Romana and the Pizza Ragazzi.
The place has started out on humble roots, a 27 seat take-out style pizzeria to a “casual-elegant slice of Italian life bistro” as one client described us. We have recently expanded to offer more seating and comfort. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tale of ours, now come, sit down and see for yourself what Ragazzi Bistro is all about.