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Prep 24 – 48 hours before baking. We all have a friend who’s quick to tell us that your California Roll isn’t really sushi, that real French cheese is made from unpasteurized milk, and even though the cream-cheese-filled fried wontons are the best thing on the menu, it’s not a traditional Chinese food.
They’re obnoxious, but they have a point.

We change things up here in America. We’re an inventive bunch, but a lot of times, we end up bastardizing things. That meat-lover’s pizza with a cheese-stuffed crust you were so eager to devour as a teenager is a perfect example. As Americans, we’ve put pizza on the operating table, cut it up, buffed up some features, added glitz, sewn on gimmicks and created a mutant offspring to pizza’s distant Italian grandsire. If you want to taste a pizza like it was originally made, your best bet is to try a Neapolitan-style pizza. This is pizza distilled to the most basic ingredients: dough, mozzarella, olive oil, crushed tomatoes and fire.

As always, get your ingredients for each stage measured and ready before you start in on the directions. Mise en place, bro.


90° — 95° is what those little yeast cultures love. They're only going to live for a day or two, so let's make their lives better.

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It doesn't necessarily need to be sea salt — just make sure it doesn't have nasty tasting iodine in it. It's not 1923 anymore and Americans get iodine from plenty of other food sources so it's weird that a lot of salt is still fortified with this gross stuff.

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Buy your yeast in bulk. One bag or jar will save you many many monies over the tiny packets.

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00 (Doppio Zero) is very finely ground flour. It's hard to find and really not necessary to get started. For starting out, I recommend using a decent quality bread flour. After you've gotten comfortable with a few pies, take your pizza game to the next level with 00 flour. It imparts a unique softness to the crust.

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Sauce & Toppings

Sorry, San Marzanos aren't actually the best. I recommend Stanislaus or Trader Joe's whole tomatoes. Look for brands with no calcium chloride.

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Again, It doesn't necessarily need to be sea salt — just make sure it doesn't have nasty tasting iodine in it. It's not 1923 anymore and Americans get iodine from plenty of other food sources so it's weird that a lot of salt is still fortified with this gross stuff. Salt, mix, taste and repeat until you like it.

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You'll use plenty of Olive oil when making pizzas. Whether it's drizzling some on top of a margarita pie or for a crispy Sicilian crust — you'll need a lot of extra virgin olive oil.

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Buy a small plant from Trader Joe's and thank me later. Put it in a sunny window and water it every other day. When it's pizza time, pluck a ton of fresh leaves straight off it. You'll barely be able to keep up with how fast it grows.

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Pre-shredded bagged cheese has anti-caking agents (wood dust) that will make your cheese brown up too early. So, whether you slice or shred it, fresh mozzarella is the way to go.

Pro tip for shredding mozzarella: put a solid ball of it into the freezer for 20 minutes prior to shredding. Semi-frozen fresh mozzarella will grate much easier.

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Pecorino has just a little more kick to it parmesan. Commit to the pecorino lifestyle now and buy a big wheel to shred off of for the next few years.

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Una Nota Sugli Ingredienti

There are a few things you may not own that will greatly improve your pizza game. Some things on this list are a must. Like a pizza stone (or better yet, steel). Other items will serve as great gift ideas as making pizza gradually takes over your life.
Honestly, I don't use the best ingredients most of the time. I get the 99¢ cans of Trader Joe's tomato paste and don't always have doppio zero flour on hand. Some of this stuff is hard to find in grocery stores — even nice ones. I recommend starting with decent quality products you can find at your neighborhood store and seeking out the premium ingredients later.


Do all of this 24 – 48 hours before you make your pizza. This recipe makes a dough ball for one 10 inch pie. Scale this recipe up based how many people will be eating. One pizza = 1 person. Multiply the Ingredients by the number of pizzas you want to make.

Pour the 90° – 95° water into a large bowl and then mix in the sea salt until it’s dissolved. Add yeast and let it sit for a minute before swishing the water in the bowl to dissipate everything. Add the bread or 00 flour and mix by hand (or big spoon) until the dough is roughly consolidated mass. Cover with film and let rest for 20 min.
Lightly dust a large surface with flour. Stretch and fold the dough the dough by pulling one corner outward and then folding it back into the center. Rotate and repeat this motion for about 30 seconds until it becomes difficult to stretch.

Leave the dough aside and clean the mixing bowl. Lightly oil the bowl and place the dough back into it (smooth side up). Cover with film and let ferment at room temperature for 2 hours.

Flour the large surface again and gently coax the dough out of the bowl and onto the surface. use a butter knife to divide the dough into as many parts as pizzas you’ve planned for.

— pulling one corner outward and then folding it back into the center. Knead until the underside begins to firm up and then flip over do the smooth side is up. Use your fingers on the back side to push the dough inward, stretching the smooth top without tearing it. Stop when the dough ball surface feels somewhat firm.

Place dough balls (smooth side up) onto a large flour-dusted plate with plenty of space between each ball. Coat dough balls with light dusting of flour. Wrap the top of the plate in film and place in fridge for 24 – 48 hours.

Sauce & Toppings

Sauce: Blend or mill a 28 oz can of whole pealed tomatoes with the 1 ½ tsp Salt — just until blended. This is your classic Neapolitan sauce. Just use a few spoonfulls per 10” pizza. You don’t want to soak your pizza. It'll keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.

Cheese, Olive Oil, & Basil: When we get to baking, we’ll do it in two stages. First, we’ll add a thin layer of sauce with the mozzerala for the initial 5 minute bake. When that’s done, add the basil leaves and drizzle 1 — 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil before the final broil.

Pizza Time...

Remove dough ball(s) 2 hours before baking pizza. Freeze unused dough balls for up to 2 weeks. Position the pizza steel (or stone) on a rack towards the top of the oven (keep a minimum of 6 inches of space under the broiler coils or jets) to Turn oven on to 550° for 45 minutes.

10 minutes before showtime, turn the broiler on high to heat up the pizza steel.

Lay a dough ball well-dusted large surface and press down with your fist in the center halfway. Pick the crust up and grip the crust. Rotate the crust around and around in your hands letting gravity stretch the disc out to 10". Aim to even out the crust while leaving a slightly thicker ½" lip on the outside.

Place crust on a lightly dusted wooden peel. Try to flick your wrist and slightly move the pizza on the peel. If it doesn't slide, redust. You’ll want to confidently snap that pie off the peel onto the steel when it’s time.

Put on your toppings. Turn the broiler off and the oven back on to 550°. Slide the pizza with a flick-jerk motion smoothly onto the pizza steel. Bake for 5 minutes and then put the broiler on high for 1 – 2 minutes to slightly char the edges of the crust.

When it looks done, pull out your pizza. Let it cool for a few minutes and eat!

La Storia della Pizza

Like most great things, pizza probably began out of boredom. For centuries people on the Italian peninsula had been eating flat bread. Those who could afford to, would dip their bread in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, maybe even sprinkle a little salt on top (salt used to be a crazy expensive luxury few could afford). But peasants just had plain old flat bread. Day in and day out. Boring old flatbread. But if you were a peasant in mediaeval Italy, there weren’t a lot of options.

Enter the tomato. This red, bulbous fruit came over from Peru and for a while, many believed it was poisonous. No one would eat it. But it took to southern Italy’s hot, dry climate. It grew like a weed — a worthless, poisonous weed that spread over the countryside. At some point, some peasant must have been bored with his flatbread and in brazen defiance to culinary norms, sliced or mashed up this poisonous fruit and put it on top of his bread.

That was the eureka moment. The moment of unintended genius.

Pretty soon, everyone was adding tomatoes to their flatbread and the popularity of this food exploded. People began flocking to poorer parts of Naples to try this regional treat. Fishermen and merchants who stopped in port returned home talking about what was then called “la marinara.” Innovations followed and people began to add rosemary, basil, pepper, olive oil and of course, one of the defining ingredients, mozzarella cheese to their marinara-topped flatbread.

This was the birth of the modern pizza. But the event that truly brought pizza from a popular street food to the dining table of royalty, was when Queen Margherita of Savoy traveled to Naples and visited a pizzeria called Pietro e Basta Cosi. In honor of his esteemed guests, the owner, Raffaele Esposito, baked a patriotic pizza that showed off the three colors of the Italian flag: red marinara sauce, white mozzarella and green basil leaves. This style came to be known as the Margherita pizza, named after... you guessed it... Queen Margherita.

It was kind of like those cakes that look like an American flag — but a little more subtle.

In recent years, specialty pizzerias with wood-burning ovens that can bake up a Neapolitan pizza in a couple of minutes have sprung up around the United States. In part, this is because people crave more authentic flavors or because Neapolitan pizza, especially when made in a traditional, wood-burning oven, is plain delicious.

The beauty of the Neapolitan pizza is in its simplicity. A lot of us are used to eating pizza that is overloaded with flavors to the point where they all mash together in one glorious and delicious mess. Sticking with a few basic ingredients really allows each flavor to make itself known. One bite and you’ll understand.