For me, love is a round, any way you slice it. Or it’s square, rectangular, or crisp or deep dish.
Okay, the fact of the matter is I love pizza.
Like a lot of kids, I grew up on pizza, and I looked forward to my folks going out on weekend nights, just because I knew that meant a pizza delivery was in my future.
I encouraged my folks to go out–a lot.
I don’t think pizza had anything to do with me becoming a chef, but it was ironic that my first “taste” of a real job as a teen was working in a pizzeria. I can’t remember one day of work that I didn’t grab a slice.
Ironically, 30-plus years later, in 2003, among my very first recipe creations at Nino’s were the pizza dough, sauce and recipes that we proudly serve today.
It was like pizza “Back to the Future!”
So with all of this professional cooking experience, you might think I’m a pizza snob.
Well? Yes–and no.
Actually, I love all different types of pizza–thin crust, deep dish and all kinds of toppings (still not a big fan of anchovies though).
What matters most is for ANY pizza to prove great at what it’s trying to be–crisp, chewy, or otherwise. The dough should be tasty; the sauce not too sweet, not too spicy; and the toppings should be fresh.
If I had to engineer MY perfect pizza, it would be a traditional, flat, round pizza, made with Artisan dough–dough made with great flour, like King Arthur® brand, and just of that “aged” sour taste (just a hint). This is exactly what the fresh pizza dough at Nino’s is like, especially if you leave it in your refrigerator for one day or so before you use it.
The sauce I’d use–one of the most critical components of a pizza, would have that sweet, ripe tomato taste, and Stanislaus® tomatoes from California provide exactly that. And I wouldn’t overpower that great tomato taste with too much seasoning. Instead, I prefer just a hint of oregano, anise seed, basil, garlic, and of course, a splash of olive oil.
What I just described is (exactly) our Market Café pizza sauce at Nino’s. I don’t bother making it at home, even though I have the recipe. I can’t make it any better or cheaper, so I just buy a pint of it on my way out the door. Best of all, it freezes well!
And cheese–lots of choices here! But for me, it’s NOT 100-percent mozzarella, not even fresh mozzarella–although it’s one of many GREAT topping choices. It’s not even brick cheese, which is also popular.
For me, I choose a 50/50 blend of mozzarella and provolone cheese–shredded.
Toppings are, of course, a personal preference, and I choose different toppings depending on my mood. Okay, now I am starting to sound a bit snobbish, aren’t I? But it’s the truth.
Having said that, if the foundation of the pizza is great (just like your home’s), how you “furnish” it is just a matter of “taste.”
(Okay, if you must know, pepperoni and mushroom are at the top of a long list of my favorite toppings.)
Now, in my perfect pizza world, I’d have a wood-burning, stone deck oven set at 500 F. And I’d use hickory wood, thank you very much. But if it were a pizza topped with barbecued chicken, I could be convinced to use Mesquite.
(Okay, now I’m REALLY sounding like a pizza snob. Sorry! I can’t help it.)
Of course, in truth, I DON’T have a wood-burning oven at home, so the next best thing is a 450 F oven with a pre-heated ceramic baking stone. That I DO have.
And because, as I mentioned, I like my pizza dough to be a bit aged, when you make your crust and bake it at that HOT temperature, it gets bubbly blisters around the perimeter, which toast up dark and crispy, and in the end, give you that contrast of color, flavor and texture that you just can’t beat.
It’s NOT your usual, commercially perfect, homogeneous crust, but it is a perfectly imperfect Artisan masterpiece.
THAT’S the way a GREAT pizza should be.
So if you’re as crazy about pizza as I am, stop by Nino’s and pick up some of our fresh, Artisan pizza dough; some of our Market Café pizza sauce; and the cheese of your choice. Then, make a delicious pizza right at home.
Want a little more help? No problem! You can pick up our easy-to-follow pizza directions in the store or by clicking HERE.
Better yet, check out our video of me making a pizza with these same GREAT ingredients, right in my home kitchen.
It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s delicious!