Volume 97 Issue 4 A&E

Original Italian Pizza developed in New York

by Angela Dougherty

Original Italian Pizza has two branches in Huntingdon. The closest location to the College is located on 628 Washington Street. You can walk there without a car.

The chain restaurant developed in New York where there are now six branches. The service is quick and easygoing — you can go on the weekend, have an authentic Italian meal and return in time to finish your work. The atmosphere is fun and open, geared toward being social and family-friendly. However, the atmosphere is not overbearing for those who do not enjoy overly social restaurants.

You will likely never see this restaurant empty. It is popular all day, from 10:30 a.m. until 10 p.m., excluding Sundays. The restaurants popularity and amount of return business leads you to realize how much customers enjoy the offerings and come back for business. There is an open seating area in the front and a small bar in the back where you can also buy alcohol. The serving of alcohol does not make the restaurant any less child- or family-friendly.

Italians are known to be some of the best chefs in the world, not to mention they have big and fun personalities. The staff has always been inviting and the food is consistently on par. You can take my word for it; I have eaten in Italy for a week, and actually, the pizza in that country was not as good as it is here. Their salads are a great compliment to the pizza or pasta. Also offered are vegetarian options, wings, ravioli, stromboli, wraps and subs. Seafood dishes and many types of pizza are available as well.

2005 marked the creation of the OIP chain by two business owners, a traveling Italian import salesman and the son of a previous pizza shop owner. The chain was developed in Syracuse, N.Y., with the creation of the menu dependent upon the fantasies of the traveling salesman. He certainly developed a great dessert menu incorporating cannoli!  

The term pizza was first scribed in 997 AD in the location of Gaeta, Italy. The word literally translates from Italian to “pie,” or from the Latin word pinsa into “flatbread.” Pizza was plain at first and eaten without toppings, just sauce and cheese. Naples, Italy, is home to the idea of the everything-is-possible-what-toppings-do-you-want-modern-day-pizza we all know and love.

From meatless to sauceless, there are many options. Italian immigrants first brought pizza to the states in the form of grocery products. In 1905, the first pizza restaurant was officially opened, ironically, also in New York City.

As most people know, there is Chicago-style or thin pizza, and then what we have at OIP, the New York-style pizza. This is because Italian immigrants first inhabited these regions of the country.

The 1530’s was actually when pizza was made possible with the introduction of tomatoes to Italy. Fresh mozzarella is a tradition of Italian-style pizza on top of these non-poisonous tomatoes. Tomatoes are red, so they were originally believed to indicate danger. Pizza was considered peasant food that the aristocracy wouldn’t deign to sample. Once they did, however, it was love at first taste, and pizza was soon marketed everywhere.

Margherita pizza, one of the most common types of pizza offered in America, was named after Queen Margherita of Savoy in 1889. Basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese represent the green, red and white on the Italian flag. Pizza maker Raffaele Esposito of Naples, Italy, made it to honor her. Pizza styles change by region in Italy. For instance, Sicilian-style pizza is from Sicily, the largest island of the Mediterranean Sea.

The 19th century marks the first appearance of pizza into the United States. It was introduced a bit earlier to our neighbor Canada. The popularity rose in the States after World War II. Before, pizza was only made and eaten by the Italians and their social circles who migrated here. The initial cost of a single pizza was 5 cents and relatively expensive for that time. Oven-cooked to perfection, Original Italian Pizza will leave you satisfied, as if you stepped into Italy right here in tiny Huntingdon, Pa.

The pasta will also steal the show. There is a variation for everyone. I personally like penne pasta with vegetables and light sauce. The last time I had it here, it was just right. The garlic knots for an appetizer are also a good touch. Not too much garlic and always hot and fresh, they accompany any meal well.

For some reason, I find that lemonade always goes well with Italian dishes. This may seem like a funny combination because lemonade isn’t Italian. However, the first known evidence of lemonade dates back to medieval Egypt, as lemons originated in the east.

So, it is a blessing these eastern cultures brought their food to America to share with us!

Categories: Volume 97 Issue 4 A&E

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