here are a few photos of the type of pizzas i want to produce; rustic, air-pocketed crust, slightly seared bottoms, fresh looking toppings, etc. - do any of you know of a great source where i can get dough recipes for this type of pie as well as topping recipes? a website or book perhaps? or is there anyone here that might be interested in sharing their expertise in this area on a contingency basis?
I assume that the pictures are of pizza you are already producing in your home? There are several ways to go with this type of pie. Are you leaning more toward the traditional vera pizza Napoletana–because that’s what the pizzas in the picture look like to me.
Tell me more about what it is you are already doing and what results you are looking for.
PS: I will be doing 2 seminars in Orlando on the Lombardi formula: authentic original New York style pizza as it was taught to me by Gerry Lombardi and Jerry Pero of Totonno’s nearly 30 years ago. But if you are looking for the Neapolitan version, there are other sources you can go to.
yes, my plan is to go with a neopolitan (napoletana) style pizza including classics (margherita, marinara, etc.) as well as originals…
as far as the photos are concerned, not my work - i found them on the net. as a matter of fact, i have yet to start experimenting with recipes. after i posted this thread, i spent quite a bit of time searching the net and found quite an impressive amount of information regarding “vera pizza napoletana” including articles describing organizations founded in order to control and protect this style of pie - even organizations which will cetrify your pizza’s authenticity once you complete their course!
you mentioned that there are sources i can go to - would you mind sharing these sources? and, btw, you are a tremendous asset to pmq; thank you very much for your time - it is greatly appreciated.
moderators - is there any way i can edit my first post on this thread? or can you do it for me? i would like to reformat the photos, make them smaller, as they are making it difficult to read this thread in their current state.
DONE - PMQ WEBMASTER
You might want to take a look at the forum at http://www.pizzamaking.com, where you will find an entire section devoted to Neapolitan style pizzas, including detailed discussion and recipes (many of them experimental and for home oven applications) for just about every form of Neapolitan pizza dough. To get the types of results shown in your photos, however, especially the pizza shown in the second photo, you will need a very high temperature oven, preferably a wood-fired one, capable of producing temperatures of about 800 degrees F or more. Also, if you are seeking authenticity of your results, you will want to use a very good imported Italian 00 flour, such as the Caputo 00 Pizzeria flour. Ultimately, your objectives and budget will dictate the tradeoffs from a business standpoint.
Thank you for your kind words regarding my recent addition to the PMQ team. I’m looking forward to helping out in whatever respect I can, and in turn, to learn more myself.
The two best internet sources of pizza information are here at PMQ and at http://www.pizzamaking.com (as Pete already has posted). Pizza Making is not a commercial site, but it contains a huge amount of information and I regard it as a place where at the very least, serious pizza aficionados hang out, and semi-pro and future pros get their start.
I have been a serious lurker there for quite sometime.
Getting back to “additional sources”. I was speaking of the training and certification available in the US by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association: American Division in Los Angeles. The head of this organization is Peppe Miele.
If you are serious about wanting to open a pizzeria–and have the funds, you might want to look into his training. I’m going down to his place next week to work with him at the pizzeria and to interview him. I’ll have some more insight after that.
the website is: http://www.verapizzanapoletana.org/vpn
I made the pizza you posted in your first note. Visit my site at
Re: My pizza
peter: thanks for your link - i did spend some time at that forum but found most of the discussions geared towards very small batch recipes for home/personal use as oppossed to large batch recipes. granted, i’m sure i could simply extrapolate to arrive at a large batch but i was hoping to find posts/information/discussions from operators that are used to making such pies in large quantities… but i will take a much closer look. again, thanks very much.
evelyne: actually i had already visited the verace pizza napoletana association website and found it very interesting although somewhat limited in online information. i also found their training/certification prices quite reasonable. however, i don’t think i could qualify for certification as i plan to make my pizzas in an electric oven (i believe use of a wood oven is required for certification, no?). i looked long and hard at a wood burning ovens, custom and otherwise, but came to the conclusion that it just wouldn’t work in my operation…
jeff: actually it was your site that pushed me over the edge and convinced me that this was the style of pizza i wanted to serve - your site and an aquaintence’s operation here in northern california that does an absolutely first-rate job. not only is your site enormously informative given your detailed notes of trial and error, but i doubt there is a better source on the net for such an honest description of what it takes to produce this style of pizza.
i especially liked your quote “Technique, timing, heat - that’s the ball game. Way down the list is the flour.”
given your experience, i’m wondering if you can help me out with something - i plan on purchasing an electric heavy-duty commerical stone-deck oven that has thermostats rated to 750 f. can i even hope to make the type of pizza you made with this amount of heat (or even less heat 650-700)? a classic pie with a slightly seared crust? did you experiment much with lower temperatures?
also, not only was your sight highly informative, as i mentioned, but it was also a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read!
Re: My pizza
Are you looking at a particular brand of electric oven? Also, where are you in Northern California–I’m up there too.
Re: My pizza
yes, i’m looking at an adamatic (once a subsidiary of hobart) 3-deck stone oven. adamatic makes heavy-duty baking equipment for large industry rather than for retail outlets; hobart wanted to change that somewhat by marketing adamatic’s line of deck ovens to retailers which didn’t work out - for one, they were extremely expensive.
anyway, the model i’m looking at was manufactured in 1988 and has been completely refurbished - it’s actually in unvelievably great condition considering its age. winn-dixie (a large southeastern grocery store chain) used to purchase a large amount of these ovens from adamatic and, from what the the winn-dixie rep i spoke with told me, they were fantastic work-horses.
btw, i’m located in west marin near the coast; about an hour’s drive from san francisco…
Re: My pizza
Does it have steam injection like some of the later models? I have worked with those types of ovens making artisan bread. I think they could probably make some excellent pizza, but not the charred type you are talking about. However, with the proper dough formulation adjusted for that oven, I’m sure you could get something very, close to what you are looking for. They are awesome ovens!!
I am very familiar with West Marin–it’s one of my favorite places!!
I almost did a pizza place in Tomales about 15 years ago, but decided to hold out for doing something here in the East Bay.
Back to your oven. You will have to do a fair amount of tweaking to get what you want out of that oven, but, the results should be quite gratifying.
I’m signing off until Wednesday…Happy 4th to you and to everyone else in the Think Tank
Feel free to e-mail if you have more questions
Re: My pizza
Send any questions to Jeff@think2020.com, as I don’t usually look at this site. (Someone sent me an email and told me about your post of my photo).
Thanks for your kind words about my site.
Yes, I have tried lower temp pizzas. You can tell a pie’s temp and cook time just by looking at it. The more uniformly brown it is, the cooler the temp. Very high temp pies have blackened spots and areas of white. There really is no way to get that same kind of charring at lower temps. I think at 750 you have a chance, but it’s not perfect. At 725 I would say that you are very much into a different product. FYI, although many people talk about temp, I think many would agree that bake time is a more accurate measure. My pies are in the 2:00-2:30 minute range. I had a pie last night at Una Pizza Napoletana, which some are saying is the most authentic Neoplitan around. I clocked them at 2:10 sec. (There’s a lot of BS on the net about times as low as 30 seconds. But this is mostly “boys and their toys” bull)
At 700 you are into a 5-7 minute pie. It’s really very different. It can still be really tasty, but it’s not going to match the photos you say you want. Some top NY style places (not Neopolitan style) make amazing tasting pies in the 4-5 minute range. Johnny’s in Mt Vernon is my favorite of these. It’s right around 5 minutes. I’m sure you would be very happy and proud to serve their pies. They use a regular gas deck. But it’s not neopolitan at all.
Anyway, bottom line, to match the photos I think you need to be thinking in the 800 range. I know that’s not what you want to hear. Personally, having done this a while, I would say you have really just 2 choices: ante up the heat, or commit to a different style. A different style does not have to mean bad pizza.
Re: My pizza
jeff - email sent…
Re: My pizza
So, Evelyn, you operate a place in the East Bay?
Care to mention it, I’m still seeking a favorite here…
Re: My pizza
I’m co-owner of Nizza La Bella in Albany, Ca, just next door to Berkeley.
Nizza is a full service bistro. We have a full bar and the menu includes a variety of offerings from steak frites, roasted chicken and Bouillabaisse to authentic New York style pizzas.
We use organic flour, house-made fresh pizza cheese, local fresh-pak tomatoes and house-made fennel sausage. I use the Lombardi formula, as the basis of my pies–with my own refinements. People from New York and points East have been known to cry tears of joy when eating our pies!! Heh.
If you had a chance to check out the recent American Eats: Pizza on the History Channel, they had some pretty sexy shots of our pizza. For those of you that missed the show, they are repeating it quite a bit.
If you plan on coming by, let me know and I’ll come down and meet you if I’m not travelling around for my work here at PMQ.
Re: My pizza
A while back, the New York Times featured an article on the growing trend toward artisanal and “back to basics” pizzas. Maybe you have already seen it, but I have set forth the article below, which I found at the website of an artisanal pizza operator (Jules):
A pizza parlor in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has a $30,000 oven that can reach 900 degrees. Another, in Scottsdale, Ariz., treats its water supply to mimic New York’s. A joint in Washington, D.C., boasts an imprimatur of authenticity from Italy.
One of the nation’s favorite junk foods is getting a makeover. Thanks to Atkins-style diets, gourmet chefs whose toppings extend as far as sashimi and heavy discounting by the big chains, the independent establishments that account for the majority of pizzerias have been getting squeezed for years. In response, many new places are dedicating themselves to the basics. Instead of stuffed crusts and Thai seasonings, the idea is to focus on pure ingredients: the dough, the cheese, the sauce.
The aim is to get people to put down those panini sandwiches and fast-food burgers and start thinking about crispy crusts and mozzarella. The percentage of all restaurant meals that were purchased from a pizza place fell to 9.10% in 2005 and has been steadily declining since 2000, when the figure was 9.89%, according to market researcher NPD Group. By contrast, traffic at sandwich and hamburger restaurants rose. And nationally, same-store sales have been flat for two years, according to a recent study by PMQ Magazine, an industry trade publication.
Pizzeria Uno, one of the country’s bigger chains, took the image problem so seriously that it dropped any mention of pizza from its name in October. The chain is now called Uno Chicago Grill.
“Pizza is just bad and bad,” says Frank Guidara, Uno’s chief executive officer, referring to pizza’s reputation of being both high-carb and high-fat.
That same challenge has joints all over the country trying different ways to reposition pizza as a purer, simpler dish. Though it steers clear of wild toppings, this back-to-basics movement has its own gimmick: playing up the pedigree and quality of ingredients. American Flatbread, a New England-based chain, touts local sausage and mozzarella handmade by local craftsmen. In Doylestown, Pa., Jules Thin Crust uses organic tomatoes for its sauce, while Pazzo! Woodfired Pizza in Dallas flies its salami in from Italy.
Indeed, some of the beneficiaries of this shift back toward pizza purity are ingredient and gear companies from Italy, pizza’s ancestral homeland. Caputo, an Italian company that sells gourmet pizza flour, says it saw a 50% increase in U.S. sales in 2005 over the year before. GI. Metal, an Italian company that sells implements like metal “peels” that slide pies into hearth ovens, opened its first U.S. warehouse last year.
Of course, authentic Italian pizza made on U.S. shores isn’t a new invention: Lombardi’s in New York City started making Neapolitan-style pie 100 years ago and continues to turn out ultra-thin, lightly blistered crusts in the same coal-burning oven. Just about every big city has its place that people have known and loved, like 55-year old Campisi’s Egyptian Restaurant in Dallas or Philadelphia’s Tacconelli’s, serving the same pizza it did in 1946. The new movement seeks to emulate those old traditions but with modern touches.
Our own pizza binge in search of the country’s hottest pies turned up some noteworthy slices. At Cibo in Phoenix, where all the pies are made by Guido Saccone, the house pizzaiolo, the crust was crisp, chewy, and tasty on its own, and was enhanced by simple toppings like fresh mozzarella and arugula. We also were taken with 2 Amys Pizza in Washington, D.C., which serves thin pies made with sea salt and extra-virgin olive oil.
Pies that are touted as authentic can vary in style and presentation. For example an otherwise tasty slice at Chicago’s Pizza D.O.C., was a little cheesier than we expected. The restaurant says that while that’s not the goal, it can happen because its authentic Italian cooking techniques mean the ingredients are never premeasured
For some restaurateurs, part of the appeal of this approach is a chance to woo healthier eaters. The artisanal-style pies are usually thin-crust, lessening the impression that a few slices translates to a massive amount of carbs, and feature fresh and sometimes organic toppings. John Ordway, the owner of Jules Thin Crust, which opened in Doylestown, Pa., last June, says he focuses on the quality and authenticity of the basic ingredients and makes his own mozzarella fresh each day. His business model, which he describes as “organic pizza in a Starbucks-type environment,” is meant to compete with upscale sandwich chains like Panera Bread. Two more units are scheduled to open this year.
The health vibe is also apparent at American Flatbread, which has nine restaurants in New England and California as well as a frozen-pizza line. The pizzas are called “flatbread” and made in a “bakery.” The chain boasts time-trusted pizza techniques, organic flour and tomatoes, mozzarella from local cheese makers, and wood-fired hearth ovens. The company’s new franchise agreement requires franchisees to source local cheese and meats and use organic ingredients, says president George Schenk.
When seeking the perfect pie at these places, experts suggest paying attention to how the pizzaiolo, or pizza maker, works the oven. Hearth ovens work by getting the stone floor hot enough to cook the pizza quickly. Each time a pie sits on the oven surface, it sucks heat away from the stone – so the pizzaiolo needs to let that spot heat up again before setting another pizza on it. It takes experience to work with a hearth oven, experts say, so it’s a good sign when you see the same pizzaiolo manning the oven night after night.
For entrepreneurs jumping into the restaurant world, so-called artisanal pizza, with its emphasis on handcrafted cuisine, is a way to tap the casual dining boom. Top casual-dining chains – think Olive Garden and Applebee’s – have been one of the brightest spots in the restaurant business, growing annually in customer traffic by around 8%, according to NPD Group. For those who can get a restaurant off the ground and bring in traffic, pizza offers relatively high profit margins. Food costs can be as low as 22% of the menu price, according to Dave Ostrander, a pizzeria consultant based in Oscoda, Mich., compared with an overall restaurant-industry average of about 33%.
While it is a growing focus of the pizza world, the back-to-basics movement is still only a slice of the scene. There are nearly 70,000 pizzerias in the U.S. today. Of those, about a third belong to the top 25 chains, which together account for more than half of all industry revenue. Unlike the upscale artisanal pizzerias, the biggest chains mainly compete with other fast foods or convenience foods. And thanks to recent growth, especially from newly opened stores, these chains have actually helped push pizza sales up – by 5.7% in 2004 over the previous year, according to market researcher Technomic.
Expansion is also on the minds of the new breed of pizza entrepreneur. Restaurants Unlimited, a Seattle-based company with 30 fine-dining restaurants around the country and $150 million in annual sales, opened Pizzeria Fondi near Seattle last month and plans to open three more units in the area this year. “There are others who are dabbling in” upscale pizza, says Don Adams, vice president of creative development at Restaurants Unlimited. “So we want to get in it.”
Re: My pizza
Yes, I have read the article. Excuse me if I yawn, but I’ve heard so much of it all before–about 20 years ago when food writers were saying the same thing about “gourmet” “California” “Boutique” pizza.
“Junk food gets a makeover”, Pizza is being re-positioned to regain market share…it’s a gimick playing up pedigree and quality of ingredients". Can’t they come up with something a bit more original. Just because the pies are thinner, they are still made with whole milk cheese–whether hand-pulled or not, hand-produced sausage or imported salumi are not exactly health foods…
“Dabbling in upscale pizza…taping into the casual dining theme”… began in 1980 when Alice Waters decided to serve pizza in her Chez Panisse Cafe, and then a few years later with Wolfgang Puck at Spago’s. Pizza has been served in upscale situations for well over 25 years, so I wouldn’t exactly call it an emerging trend.
Chefs all over the United States have been using ingredients with a “pedigree”, quality ingredients, organic ingredients, locally produced ingredients, and sustainable ingredients for over 20 years, so why does a pizza maker get accused of “playing up” their ingredients? Am I missing something, or are serious pizzaiolos any less serious than a chef about their craft and the type of food they produce.
What’s really missing from this article is the comparison to artisan bread–but I suppose that no one is eating high-end bread anymore because they are all counting their carbs…Meanwhile, the low-carb craze has come and gone–and pizza is still thriving.
Pizza sales have been flat for sometime, the artisan movement is hardley going to change the economics of the industry but it will surely inspire more attention to quality and craft, and that will be better for everyone.
Re: My pizza
moderators: thanks very much for editing the photos i posted - it made a very big difference!
evelyne: no, the adamatic i’m looking at does not have steam although, after finally checking it out in person today, i did discover that it is indeed fitted for steam in the event i wanted to add that option later. i also discovered that it is a 4-deck oven, not a 3-deck oven, and that it is an absolute behemoth! when the seller rolled it out for me to look at, day turned to dusk as it blocked out the morning sun! each deck is 30" x 58" and the overall size is 78" t x 76" w x 36"d - my only concern now is whether or not my kitchen floor will collapse under its weight!
do you think, with exhaustive tweaking, that i will eventually be able to produce a quality thin crust pizza with this oven? i have finally come to the realization that authentic neopolitans are out with this sort of oven but i’m hoping that i will still be able to produce a rustic, all-natural type of pie - perhaps by employing the lombardi formula that you mentioned?
given your familiarity with west marin, you probably have a pretty good idea of the sort of pie i’m shooting for - a great pie that can be made in large part with the great organic products available here (grass fed marin sun farms meats, cowgirl cheeses, local organic produce, etc.).
btw, i think you made the right decision passing on tomales - as beautiful a location as it is, it’s a rather tough location for a great eatery (imho). about 6 years ago a diner, bakery or some sort of eatery became available in tomales and the owner approached me about taking it over. after taking a look at the place and spending some time up there, i just didn’t feel good about it… but that’s just me.
but the whole west marin scene is really coming into its own - kuleto is finally getting his place ready to open in marshall (should be very, very nice given all the latest reports), the old hotel in point reyes station is finally being renovated with an upscale eatery slated to open, sue conley’s cow girl creamery is better than ever, hog island oysters is becoming a household name in the bay area, especially given the huge hit their oyster bar is in sf the ferry building, dave evans, of marin sun farms grass fed meats, is really beginning to make a name for himself and brick maiden bakery’s artisan breads is second to none. and of course you also have strauus organic dairy and point reyes cheeses - there’s a lot going on here in my neck of the woods and i think a place offering quality, organic pizza would be a perfect fit. but it would need to be done right!
“What’s really missing from this article is the comparison to artisan bread–but I suppose that no one is eating high-end bread anymore because they are all counting their carbs…Meanwhile, the low-carb craze has come and gone–and pizza is still thriving. Pizza sales have been flat for sometime, the artisan movement is hardley going to change the economics of the industry but it will surely inspire more attention to quality and craft, and that will be better for everyone.”
great looking pizzas.
I read some in the thread and saw the reference to Patsy Grimaldi’s
In Scottsdale, AZ, I understand they use a cheese from NY called “eolla”, spelled it the way I heard it…that must be the brand.
what kind of cheese do you use ?