Made popular in the United States by soldiers who brought the idea back from Italy at the end of World War II, pizza is thought to have evolved from early Egyptian flatbread. Literally translated, the word means "pie," but it has come to represent a round savory tart made with a crisp yeast dough covered with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and other ingredients such as peppers, onions, Italian sausage, mushrooms, anchovies and pepperoni. Variations such as deep-dish pizza, with its thick breadlike crust, have been popular over the years. Many menus now feature pizzas sans tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. They're topped instead with ingredients such as sun-dried tomatoes, duck sausage, fresh basil, smoked salmon, goat cheese or wild mushrooms.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.