Looking for pizza in Bend, Oregon? Before you call up your favorite joint, take a moment and think: Do you know the history of this favorite American dish? From college dorm rooms to family dinners, it is a staple in the American diet. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like if the heavenly slice had never been invented. From New York style thin-crust, to Chicago’s deep crust, to the creative fusions of pizza in Bend, OR, every region in America has their own twist on the heavenly slice. To pay tribute to this culinary staple, here’s a slice of its history in America.

A Taste of Italy

The influx of Italian immigrants in the latter end of the 19th century first brought pizza to American shores. For a time, the dish was only popular in Italian communities. In Italy, it had been largely a dish of the working class, an item that could be served for cheap and eaten quickly, and in America that convenience and cost carried over. Vendors would walk up and down the streets in Italian neighborhoods with tubs of slices, selling them to hungry passersby.

It was Gennaro and Giovanni Bruno who seem to have recognized the serious lack of their national dish in America, so in 1903, they emigrated from Naples to introduce the Neapolitan style slice to the American culinary cuisine. In 1905, Gennaro Lombardi’s grocery store in New York became the first established pizzeria.

Pizzerias from Coast to Coast

Throughout the 1900s, pizzerias started cropping up around the country. Vincent Bruno, son of Giovanni Bruno, took the recipes passed down from his family to Chicago, where he opened the first pizzeria in the historic Loop district. In 1910, the first pizzeria in Trenton, New Jersey was established with the opening of Joe’s Tomato Pies. On the west coast, the first pizzeria to open up was in Los Angeles in 1939 thanks to the D’Amore family.

From Italian to Bend Pizza: Comfort Food for Soldiers

Although various pizzerias started opening up, mainly around the east coast, throughout the early 1900s, it wasn’t until after World War II that pizza became a popular national dish that would eventually make its way to Bend, OR. As American soldiers returned home from their stations in Italy, they brought news of and an appetite for this cheesy delight, and soon it began to catch the interests of the broader American public.

From Family-Run Parlors to Chain Restaurants, to Pizza in Bend, Oregon

The 1950s and ‘60s saw the birth of many of the pizza restaurant chains that we know of today. Begun as humble family-run pizzerias, these establishments swelled into national and even international chains as the popularity of the slice skyrocketed and the American public began to demand it for lunch and dinner, hot or cold. While the dominant chain restaurants mostly originated in the Midwest, other small and local parlors also thrived, dishing out some of the best pizza in Bend or anywhere else.

Today: Pizza in Bend

While the chain restaurants still dominate the market for pizza in Bend, OR and other places, an increasing demand for higher quality has seen the decline of the huge chains. Now, more people are looking for better quality ingredients, whether they are eating traditional, Italian-style pizza in Bend, or whether they are looking for creative fusions at establishments known for the best pizza in Bend. Bend pizza is especially known for having inspired takes on this national dish, with local Bend pizza parlors and restaurants offering up fusions of Asian, Mediterranean, or Southern influences to create some of the most savory and unique pizza Bend, Oregon has seen yet.