I’m just going to say it flat out, and you can fight me on it if you want to. The best pizza ever, in the whole world, is in New Haven, CT. It doesn’t matter which of the three kings you go to, Sally’s, Peppe’s, or Modern Apizza, any one of them are worth a thank you prayer to the pizza gods. I’ve had some very good pies, in well known pizza places like John’s in New York City, or Metropolitana in Perugia, even a nice little joint that my sister took me to in Napa–all very good–nowhere else but in New Haven do I get the urge to stand up in the middle of my dinner and shout “I love pizza!”
After all of that, I’m going to suggest you make your own. I have no time to go to New Haven, and the place down the block from me charges almost twenty dollars for a pizza to feed my family of three. Forget that noise. Buy yourself a brick and get your hat on. Ferdinand takes his pizza with no sauce and cheese, just sausage. I love mine with a tossed salad right on top. Cold crispy baby spinach leaves with just the right amount of nutty olive oil, some tangy cheese, sauteed shitake and a squeeze of lemon. YES!!! That’s what I’m making tonight. I was thinking about spaghetti, but now I’m all worked up into a pizza frenzy.
Here’s the basic dough recipe. Start with two teaspoons of yeast dissolved into one cup of warmish water. Let that sit for a minute with a pinch of sugar, and then dump it into your food processor. Add two and a half cups of all purpose or bread flour, a scant teaspoon of salt, and a few Tablespoons of olive oil. Let it spin for thirty seconds. Take it out, lightly dust your counter with flour, and knead the dough for just another minute or so until it is smooth and feels like silk. You don’t want to add the absolute minimum of flour here, or your crust will be heavy.
Let it rest in a greased bowl for about an hour, covered with a towel.
Heat up a pizza stone in your oven, as high as your oven will go, or forget the stone, and just use a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal.
Flatten the dough out into any shape you like, drizzle with a little olive oil, and the better the oil, the better the flavor, and bake it until it is light brown, about eight minutes at 500 degrees. If you like a slightly thicker crust, turn the oven down to 450 degrees so that it has time to cook without burning.
Toss some baby spinach leaves with olive oil, some crushed garlic, some sauteed shitake, (or good black olives) a little creamy goat cheese, a few shavings of parmesan, and a squeeze of lemon. Cover the pizza with the salad as soon as it comes out, and serve.
I like this with roasted red and yellow peppers on the side and one of those big bold red wines that you aren’t supposed to eat with.