Years ago, I fell in love with Neapolitan-style pizza. I loved its light, airy, char-speckled crust. It was a revelation to me. But really, that revelation was due to never experiencing great pizza and growing up in an area where mediocre pizza was the norm. As time has worn on, and I’ve eaten dozens of styles of pizza all over the country, in literally hundreds of pizzerias, I’ve cooled on Neapolitan style a bit
I am a big fan of a neo-Neapolitan style. Still light and airy, but not as thin and soupy as Neapolitan and with some crunch, too.
I’ve been working on perfecting a neo-Neapolitan style and have come close to my ideal. These pizzas have a light, and tender/chewy crust with a little crispness.
This dough is 64% hydration. It’s a mix of 60% Caputo Pizzeria, and 40% Caputo Chef’s flours. 24-hour fermentation. Cooked at 800F for two and half minutes.
I’ve absolutely love pepperoni on pizza. The stuff is magical. I’ve been thinking of creative ways to use it, and got the idea to grind it up, similar to ground beef or ground sausage. I had never seen anyone grind up pepperoni, and googling it I found one pizzeria in California that is famous for their ground pepperoni pizza. Still, this is a very unique and novel way to use pepperoni.
It is definitely a pepperoni lovers pizza. Every bite is a mouthful of pepperoni, and the texture is very pleasant as well. It’s delicious. This is a pizza that requires high quality pep, don’t skimp on quality.
This is my 62% hydration NY style dough, cooked on a steel in my home oven at 550F.
Thick and pillowy upside down Sicilian inspired by L&B Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn.
The dough is 65% hydration, with 4% oil. I cooked it in a 10×15 quarter sheet tray. 825 grams of dough, enough for 5.5 grams of dough per sq inch, which made for the perfect thickness
I’m pleased with how it came out, with one exception, I overcooked it a bit, and the crumb wasn’t quite as moist as I would’ve liked. The bottom was well browned and crunchy, and the crumb was light and tender enough. There was a satisfying amount of sauce and cheese, with that pleasant “sauce first” eating experience you get with an upside down slice.
I used Roma Sausage—Utica’s most famous tomato pie—as my template when I set out to make a facsimile. In my opinion, what makes Roma’s pies so special is the sauce. The sauce is laid down in a thick layer, and one gets lots of that deliciousness in each bite. The sauce is simple and tomato forward. Its balance of salt and sweetness is nearly perfect.
Utica tomato pie is working-class fare. It’s supposed to be cheap eats. This is not gentrified fare we’re creating. I used inexpensive crushed tomatoes.
I added nothing to the tomatoes except some tomato paste for body, salt, and a little sugar to get the salty/sweet balance just right. I cooked it just long enough to thicken it up a bit.
I didn’t want the sauce to cook in the oven. I wanted a light, bright sauce, not one that’s concentrated and cooked down like an Italian gravy. The pizza will spend a reasonable amount of time in the oven, and the sauce will further cook during that time. When I baked the pie, I put only a very thin layer of sauce to prevent the crust from browning. I added most of the sauce post-bake.
I was delighted with the result. The eating experience and flavor profile were very similar to Roma’s.
My tomato pie is on the left. On the right is Roma’s tomato pie.
I owe a debt of gratitude to Joe Rosenthal for helping me to make true NY style pizza. Before one can make something, one has to know what one is making, and to make it well, one has to understand the details and nuances of said thing. Joe Rosenthal goes into detail about NY style pizza, what it is and how to make it, and he leaves no stone unturned. Thanks to his tips, procedures, and dough formulation I’ve been making excellent NY style pizza at home.
Here are two recent examples of my homemade NY style pies.
I discovered a very good NY style pizza dough recipe a little while back for use in a home oven with a steel. This has become my go to dough for pizzas made in my home oven at 550F, and it’s also worked well when I’ve used it in my Roccbox at about 850F.
I’ve fallen in love with pepperoni. I have half-a-dozen different brands in my fridge at any one time, and I’m constantly trying different brands. I’m not sure if this is an original idea, it likely isn’t, but I thought it’d be fun to put three different styles of pepperoni on one pie.