Neopolitan pizza has had a long and storied history on its way to Hill and Holler Pizza in downtown Lewisburg. Neopolitan pizzas originated in Naples, Italy, and constitute the first variation of the pizza anywhere. Flatbreads had existed in Naples for years, but it wasn’t until the 1700s that the peasants began topping their flatbreads with tomatoes. Tomatoes had been brought back from Peru by European explorers in the 1600s, but were mistakenly thought of as poisonous by the citizenry for nearly 200 years. (In actuality, most Europeans were using pewter plates that, when reacting with the acidity of the tomatoes, leached lead directly into the food, leading to many lead poisonings and deaths that were erroneously linked to the tomatoes.)
But sometime in the 1800s the peasantry began topping their flatbreads with tomatoes and a new craze was born. Aristocrats and other travelers would venture into the poorer Neopolitan neighborhoods just to get a taste of this new, local specialty. Soon thereafter, the pizza was born.
When Hill and Holler began investigating which type of pizza to serve, Neopolitan style gave them the opportunity to chase the perfect pizza, says Chef Todd Wagner, an alumnus of the Greenbrier Apprenticeship Program and long-time veteran of the Greenbrier Valley food scene.