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Entries in Neapolitan Pizza (18)

Monday
Oct292012

Pizza Moto – At Smorgasburg

 

I returned to the scene of the crime: Smorgasburg. Last time I visited Smorg, I ate too much. I mean, let's just call a spade a spade here, people. But the place encourages it, does it not? However, much to my chagrin, I did NOT sample the pizza last time. This was obviously a horrendous oversight.

This time, I made sure to sample Pizza Moto's hot-out-of-the-traveling-pizza-oven's goods. To see just how good they were.

First, a few words on Pizza Moto: mobile pizza oven.

That's a few, right? I'll elaborate, just a touch. There is no store. There is no "truck". There is just a pizza oven on a wagon. A fairly large wagon, I'll concede. This is not a radio flyer. It's an industrial-sized war horse of a conveyance whose sole purpose is to pump out piping-hot Neapolitan pizzas. I love it when things have a focus.

Especially when that focus is on pizza. 

And I will say that Pizza Motto has focused and focused well.

I didn't order the usual Margherita pie, but went after their special – The Boys of Summer, a magical assemblage of pesto, chunks of roasted eggplant, and fresh mozzarella. Take a look:

The wells of mozzarella were nestled snuggly between rivers of of pesto. The chunky rounds of eggplants drifed on top like ducks on a pond...

Let's have a close up:

Look at the bubbles on that crust! And now that we're talking about the crust, Pizza Moto's was outstanding. Expertly cooked with dots of char popping up around the outer crust. The inside, however, remained soft and chewy. Pockets of air created crevices of bready flavor - a chewable surface of the moon.

I was tickled by my Pizza Moto experience. I would say, it was the stand-out food event of the day. And I sampled some mighty tasty things, including (but not limited to):

At least two of these:

One of these:

A bite of this:

A forkful or two of this:

And this...for dessert (later):

Anyway, the pizza won. Sing with me now:

Won't you ride in my little red (pizza) wagon...I'll bet all the kids will be jealous when they see my playmate so sweet.. 

I believe ol' Hank was talking about the pizza.

Check out Pizza Moto here, and hire them for your next event. Then invite me. I promise not to sing the wagon song.

Monday
Aug202012

Sweet Cherry Pizza

We haven't thrown a pizza recipe at you in quite some time. And with harvest time (read: autumn) approaching, now is a great time to gather up the last of the summer fruits and make the best of them.

And when we say make the best of something, we generally mean, "make pizza with them".

So, today, we would like to encourage you to gather the last of the cherries and make a sweet Marinated Cherry, Farmer's Cheese and Mint Pizza

Why should you do this? Well, if you know us, you know we love pizza. And you know we would never give you faulty advice (knowingly) about it. This pizza is different, delicious, and delightfully balanced. It's true!

This is a fantastic brunch pizza, dessert pie or even a warm-up appetizer cut into bite-sized pieces and served along with a nice prosecco. Actually, I would prefer a rosé, but I like pink (and so does John).

Here's how it goes:

What You Need
1 cup cherries, halved and pitted
1 cup sweet wine
(I used Chateau Piada Sauternes. It has honey, orange, apricot and pineapple flavors that work well with the cherries)
1 cup Farmer’s Cheese
Honey (as much as you like)
Fresh mint, chopped (as much as you like) 

What You Do:

1. Marinate your cherry halves in the sweet wine overnight. Keep them in the fridge.
2. Stretch out your pizza dough into a round and spread a layer of the farmer’s cheese onto the dough.
3. Top the cheese with the marinated cherries.
4. Drizzle with honey.
5. Bake in the oven at 500 degrees for about 10 minutes.
6. When it is finished cooking, remove the pizza from the oven and drizzle with a little bit more honey and sprinkle with mint.

Need a reminder on how to make the dough? Have at it:

Pizza dough recipe
*You can also buy pre-made pizza dough at your grocery store.
* NOTE: For this recipe, I substituted 1 cup of all purpose flour for 1 cup of millet flour. Millet is slightly sweet, and makes for a nice dessert pizza crust).


Yields 4-5 pizza rounds
Ingredients:
1 envelope active dried yeast
1 ½ cups warm water – 100 degrees F
3 cups flour (all purpose, bread, or 00 flour)
1 cup millet or almond flour
¾ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Tools:
Pizza stone and pizza peel, semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
If you don’t have a peel or a pizza stone, you can also use a cookie sheet. If you are using a cookie sheet, it’s not necessary to use semolina flour or cornmeal. Just place your dough round directly onto the cookie sheet and add toppings.

Process:
1. In a medium mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of the warm water.
2. Stir in ½ cup of the all-purpose flour.
3. Cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let stand for 30 minutes to let the mixture bubble and rise.
4. After the 30 minutes are up, pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer. You can mix by hand as well in a large bowl.
5. Add the remaining ½ cup of warm water, salt and the olive oil to the food processor.
6.  Slowly begin to add the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time.
7. The dough will start to hold together and form into a ball.
8. When this happens, remove the dough from the bowl, and place on a floured counter top.
9. Knead the dough until it is smooth. This may take about 10 minutes.
10.  Dust the dough lightly all over with flour and place in a large bowl, covered with a kitchen towel.
11. Let it rise for 1 hour.
12.   After an hour, the dough will be doubled in size. Punch it down in the center and divide the dough into four or five equal parts.
13.   Form each part into a smooth ball and let them rise, covered, on a floured surface for 30 minutes.

Before you top your pizza, heat your oven to 500 degrees F. If you are using a pizza stone, place the stone in the oven and heat it up for at least 30 minutes prior to baking on it.

When the time comes to top your pizza, begin by stretching out your ball of dough on a floured surface. Start in the middle of the dough, and press outward until you have a flat, round disc, about 10-12 inches in diameter.

Side note: Neapolitan pizza is characterized by a thin crust with a slightly puffy outer crust, or “cornicone.” Feel free to stretch out your dough as much as you feel you can handle, but watch out for tears in the dough.

Take out your pizza peel and dust it with semolina flour or cornmeal.

Place your stretched dough onto the dusted peel. Make sure that you can easily slide the dough around on the peel.

Now you are ready for toppings!

 

Monday
Jul092012

Bed-Stuy Heats It Up With Saraghina

Let's talk about heat for a moment. The heat of a wood burning pizza oven to be specific.

A wood burning pizza oven should range in temperature anywhere from 900-1000 degrees. Some ovens have a floor temperature of 700 and a dome temperature of 1000. In these extreme heats, pizzas cook in under two minutes. This allows the crust to char, or blacken, giving it a crispy outer crust, while the inside remains moist and chewey.

900-1000 degrees. This was roughly the outside temperature last Sunday when I traveled to Bed-Stuy to visit my friend Sarah. Coincidentally, I was also cooked in under 2 minutes.

While my outer crust was a bit sweatier than the typical Neapolitan...I was coming close to achieving that soupy quality, also characteristic of the center of a Neapolitan pie.

What's a girl to do in these conditions? As the old saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Accordingly, we went out for pizza.

Sarah mentioned there was a Neapolitan pizzeria in her neighborhood. She had never been. So we checked the website and some reviews from her apartment before we departed.

"There are complaints on this review site...they say the pizza in soupy on the inside," she read to me from her computer.

"Let's go," I said with some urgency (abandoning a mostly-drank bottle of rosé), "I just got an enthusiastic tingle!"

And so we ventured out into the figurative pizza oven and walked to Saraghina to get some pies from their literal one.

The Scene:

The vibe of Saraghina is one part Whistle Stop Cafe and one part Venice Beach (think Abbot Kinney Blvd.) indoor/outdoor eatery. Distressed country tables, mix-matched sinks and crawling ivy (actually, I think some of the crawlers were grapes) populated the relaxed, enclosed outdoor porch. The inside housed a coffee bar with mesh dome-encased pastry stands and long, wooden tables for diners. In spite of the heat, we chose to sit outside, under the protection of some giant umbrellas.

The Grub:

I was heartily encouraged by the menu's pizza offerings. I was also partial to the stamped graph paper design.

I selected the Bufala which is essentially a Margherita pie with buffalo mozzarella. In my opinion, the buffalo mozz is dairy gold. That slightly sour taste (are buffalo sour creatures by nature?) accents the sweet-tanginess of the San Marzano tomatoes perfectly.

Sarah chose the Ortolana, which offered grilled veggies like eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini.

I was even more encouraged (verging on giddy) at the arrival of my pie. Take a moment, look at it. Take it aaaalllll in. Can you smell the basil? I could. The crust was spotted with char in just the right proportion—too much seems burned, too little is indicative of a low-heat oven. It needs to be just right. But the crust remained puffy, which boded well for interior cheweyness.

Healthy blobs of mozz swirled around some slightly green olive oil. And as they approached the center of the pie, they mingles with the tomato chunks even more to create that soupy, mushy wonderfulness....turning everything, slightly....pink. Did you know pink is the color of good pizza? Just in the middle, that is.

Here's a close-up:

Look at it run! That runniness means you get to rip off pieces of your puffy crust and dip away into that goo, making everything moist, chewey, crispy and MESSY.

Eating pizza is the digestive version of creating art via finger paint. You have to get all in it. Use your hands and your fork. Whatever works. Pull things apart. Sweep them across your plate, creating pizza tracks on your dish. Go all in.

This pizza was a piece of finger painting heaven. I tore my eyes away from its beauty for a moment and looked Sarah in the eye, "This is the best pizza I've ever had...outside of Naples." She just stared at me. "I'm serious," I continued, and then launched into a diatribe of positive characteristics that she pleasantly tolerated. Then she urged me to try her Ortolana:

I admit to being skeptical of the Ortolana for a variety of reasons. I've often been dissappointed by Neapolitan pizzeria's other offerings. And by "other", I mean other than Margherita. It seems that they sometimes just don't deliver on the taste front. Also, I was so into my Bufala, that I could hardly tear myself away.

But the Ortolana was worth the diversion. The chunky cuts of veggie were perfectly cooked and flavorful, giving them the taste equivalent consistency of a perfectly toasted marshmallow. You could sink your teeth into these veggies

The Bonus:

After our meal, we wandered up to the espresso/dessert bar to get some items to go. We both ordered iced coffees, which they made Americano style. They were superbly strong and refreshing. I then selected a strawberry crumble cake from one of the mesh-encased domes.

I ate this on my walk back to the A train, as I couldn't wait. The moist, yellow cake cozily snuggled giant fresh strawberries, some of which were nicely toasted. I gobbled it down at an alarming pace before I even walked a block.

The Sum-Up:

I never thought I would find such quality Neapolitan pie in Bed-Stuy. I never thought I would eat so many carbohydrates when it was so hot outside. And I never thought I would say the following:

This is my favorite Neapolitan pie that I have yet eaten in the grand state of New York. 

Go to Saraghina. Take the A train.

435 Halsey Street, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn 11233

Tuesday
Apr032012

Gather 'Round the Campfire for Pizza at Don Antonio

What do you get when you combine Roberto Caporuscio (of Keste fame) and Antonio Starita? A smokin'-hot Neapolitan pie that is authentic, delicious and begs for roasted marshmallow accompaniment.

John and I have reviewed Keste before, and have been fans of Roberto's expertly-crafted pies which feature large, billowy and charred outer crusts, chewy centers and simple, fresh toppings. Antonio Starita is a third generation owner of one of Naples' oldest pizzerias, Pizzeria Starita a Materdei.

The two have joined forces to create Don Antonio in Midtown, an Italian eatery focusing on expert pizza craftsmanship.

John, not being available I convinced my friend and fellow triathlete (expert pizza-eater) Brittany to accompany me to the pizzeria.

We settled in to seats at the bar, and took a look at the pizza offerings. One jumped out at us immediately: The Montanara Starita. Advertised as a lightly fried dough, topped with signature Starita tomato sauce, smoked buffalo mozzarella and finished in their wood-burning oven.

Here is the text message conversation I exchanged with John post Montanara-eating:

Yes, people, a campfire pizza donut. And it does make sense. Here's why:

The crust was a super-thin layer of just-fried crispiness that practically melted into the warm, bready air pockets that it protected. The middle, while still thin, retained a certain billowy quality that absorbed the tangy tomatoes and frosting-like cheese while still maintaining crunch.

And the cheese...oh the cheese! I think it was the crowning glory. Like the glaze of a donut, the frosting of a cupcake or the filling in a cannoli. It was the yin to the pizza crust yang. "Smoky" doesn't quite cover it.

It tasted like the delicate globs of mozzarella were roasted marshmallow-like on a campfire and plopped straight away onto the pie. I thought I heard crickets chirping and the ocean lapping against the shore while I took bite after bite.

We also sampled another pie, the Sausage and Pistachio.

While still well executed, the crust seemed to pale in comparison to the fried glory of the Montanara. The pistachio pesto was well done, nutty and sweet, and it blended perfectly with the mild sausage giving the whole pie an earthy and rustic flavor. I did think the toppings could have used a little kick - perhaps a bit of seasoning other than basil.

As of now, you can expect a Don Antonio-inspired fried pizza (perhaps finished on the grill) will be rolling out of my kitchen and into the recipe index of this blog. It must be done. I can't guarantee it will be as impressive as the specimen from the Don Antonio kitchen.

I would recommend you go check this pie out. Bring sun glasses, as you might get a sun burn from the magnificent rays of light biblically emanating outward from its magnificent center...

Overall Pizza Eating Experience: HEAT

Don Antonio
309 W 50th St, New York 10019
(Btwn 8th & 9th Ave)

Monday
Mar122012

Pizzas I've Made and Liked

I haven't posted about pizza in a while....home made pizza that is. Don't worry! I've still been firing up the Laboratorio Semi Moderno for the purposes of pizza experimentation.

But lately, I've been taking my show on the road. Oh yes! I am a travelling pizzaiola now. You can rent me out. And I come with accessories: a pizza stone, peel, and excessive amount of ingredients.

And by excessive, I mean ridiculous. Case in point, I recently overtook a friend's kitchen and made 14 different pies. FOURTEEN. 

Anyway, here are two pies that I really didn't think would work, but did. And not only did they work, but they were smashing successes! I'd like to tell you about them.

Smoked Salmon Pizza (pictured above):

What You Need:

1 package smoke salmon
Goat cheese
Fresh dill (as much as you like
Salt to taste
Olive oil

1 recipe whole wheat pizza dough (recipe here) You substitute 1 of the cups of regular flour with 1 cup of whole wheat flour.

What To Do:
Preheat you pizza-stoned-out oven to 500 degrees for at least a half an hour.

Stretch out your pizza dough ball into a round and drizzle the top with olive oil.

Dollop teaspoon-sized amounts of goat cheese liberally around the surface of your pizza dough. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Place the pizza with only goat cheese in the oven for about 8-20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and place the slices of smoked salmon on top of the cooked dough and cheese. Sprinkle with fresh dill.

Slice immediately and eat – makes a fantastic brunch pizza!

This next one was a doozy. I'm not sure if it was the Buratta Mozarella, the bacon or the perfectly simmered mushrooms....but they all worked harmoniously together to produce the:

Mushroom Reduction and Bacon Pizza

What You Need:

3 large portobello mushroom, chopped into tiny cubes
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed (just SMASH it with the blunt side of a knife)
4 strips of bacon cooked, but not browned or crispy and then chopped
Chopped fresh thyme (as much as you like)
Water, chicken stock or white wine (about 2 cups)
Salt and pepper to taste 
Olive oil
Buratta mozzarella
1 recipe pizza dough (recipe here)

Parchment paper so you can make a fancy paper lid for your mushroom mix like THIS:

What To Do:
In a large frying pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Add in the chopped onions, mushrooms, bacon, crushed garlic cloves and fresh thyme.

Pour in the water (or substitute chicken stock or white wine). Don't submerge the veggies completely, but fill the water about 1/3 up to the level of the veggies.

Turn the heat on medium, plop on the parchment hat (I SWEAR to you the parchment hat is worth it - it lets in the perfect amount of air and allow the perfect amount of steam out).

Simmer until all the liquid is reduced. The mushrooms should be moist and soft. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Your oven (complete with pizza stone) should be heated to 500 degrees.

Stretch out a ball of pizza dough into a round and drizzle with olive oil.

Break apart a large ball of Buratta Mozarella and evenly distribute it on the dough.

Scoop out the mushroom reduction and place that on the dough as well.

Add another drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt....and perhaps an additional garnish of fresh thyme.

Slide it onto the pizza stone in the oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes.

When this comes out of the oven, but your gloves on. Boxing gloves, that is, as you will be fighting off everyone else for another slice. Trust me.

Would I lie to you? For no good reason?