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In its basic form, a pizza (alternatively pizza pie) is an oven-baked flat, usually circular bread covered with various toppings and baked. The usual toppings are cheese and a tomato-based sauce. The cheese is usually mozzarella or its commercial substitute, pizza cheese. Various other foodstuffs can be added to this design, most typically ground meats and sausages, such as salami and pepperoni, ham, bacon and also vegetables such as hot peppers and sweet bell-peppers (of the capsicum family), olives, onions, and mushrooms. The crust can be flavored with butter, garlic or sesame. Pizza can be eaten either hot (typically at dinner or lunch) or cold (typically at breakfast).

Pizza has become an international food since the toppings can be extensively varied to meet local variations in taste. These pizzas consist of the same basic design, but include an exceptionally diverse choice of ingredients, such as anchovies, egg, pineapple, eggplant, lamb, couscous, chicken, fish and shellfish, meats done in ethnic styles such as Moroccan lamb and non-traditional spices such as curry and Thai sweet chili. A "white pizza" uses no tomato sauce, often substituting pesto sauce[?]. Pizzas with "non-traditional ingredients" are known in the United States as "gourmet pizza" or California style.

Pizza may be baked with thin bread bottom (Italian style) or with thicker bread (pan pizza). A Chicago style, or deep dish pizza contains a crust which is formed up the sides of a deep dish pan and reverses the order of ingredients, using crust, cheese, filling, then sauce on top. Some versions have two layers of crust with the sauce on top.

In restaurants it can be baked in a conveyor belt oven or in the case of more expensive restaurants, a wood fired brick oven.

The pizza originated in Naples. The earliest pizzeria was opened in Naples in 1830 but the international success of pizza did not begin until 1889, when Rafaele Esposito[?] created "pizza Margherita" in the colors of the Italian flag, red sauce, white cheese, and green basil leaves, for visiting King Umberto I and Queen Margherita. Since then it has spread throughout the world. It became a popular meal item in America in the mid 20th century after World War II exposed thousands of American troops to the dish during the Italian campaign.

Several major corporations are chiefly engaged in the commercial production of pizza, notably Pizza Hut (owned by Yum! Brands, Inc.), Domino's Pizza[?], Little Caesar's[?], Round Table Pizza[?] and Papa John's Pizza[?]. These pizza chains often coexist with locally owned and operated pizza chains. Because pizzas can be made quickly and are easily transported, most pizza restaurants in the United States offer call-in delivery services. The lack of such delivery services at the time in England was the focus of an extended passage in Douglas Adams's novel The long Dark Tea Time of the Soul.

In the United States, pizza is also found in supermarkets as a frozen food[?]. Considerable amounts of food technology has gone into the creation of palatable frozen pizzas. The main challenges include preventing the sauce from combining with the dough, and producing a crust that can be frozen and reheated without becoming rigid.

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