Fresh tomatoes and basil just SCREAM pizza to me. Nope, summer is not over just yet.
Even though I live in the land of great pizza (NYC baby), still enjoy making my own. While I love a slice of New York's finest, I have equal affinity for Roman-style ever since I tasted Gabriele Bonci's pizza in Rome in 2011 (oh yeah, am still dreaming about it after all these years).
Not sure what Gabriele Bonci does to his pizza, but it's damn good. Maybe it was the fact that I was in Rome on a warm summer's night -- nicely tanned after a peaceful few weeks spent exploring Sicily -- with a glass (of nerello mascalese) from Mt. Etna (albeit, in a plastic cup), sitting on a bench enjoying a simple dinner with Patrick. Whatever "it" was, it left a lasting impression.
While Bonci stresses using the best quality toppings, his pizza is really all about the dough/crust. I've been trying to perfect my Roman/Bonci-style pizza for years. The recipe for his dough comes by way of Elizabeth Minchilli (an American food blogger living in Rome) by way of Bonci himself. While my pizza is good, with its nice crispy crust, soft chewy interior, and super fresh toppings, it will never be as good as his. Bonci is a true master at what he does.
Oftentimes, simple is best. When it comes to pizza, I like it simple -- good quality tomatoes, freshly made mozzarella (not by me, by someone else; although, making my own mozzarella has crossed my mind, perhaps another time), and basil.
The dough, with a basic tomato sauce and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, is first baked and then the toppings -- a good amount of mozzarella and basil -- are added after the pizza comes out of the oven. The mozzarella melts a bit on top of the steaming hot out-of-the-oven pizza.
This pizza has a nice crispy bottom with a tender chewy interior. The key to crisping the bottom is to place the pizza (on a baking sheet) on the floor of your oven for the first 5 minutes, but no longer (in the past I've completely charred the bottom of my pizza when I inadvertently left it on the oven floor for the entire cooking time).
Not certain what variety of tomatoes these are, but they're pleasantly sweet and juicy...
The dough is alive....
To make the dough, you gently mix and fold, and then the dough goes in the refrigerator for a slow 24-hour rise. The next day, bring the dough to room temperature and you're ready to make some pizza.
Here are a few photos of the process (am still trying to perfect this part)...setting the timer and posing in front of the camera as I'm preparing the dough is not conducive to the process. But you get the gist.
I like a lot of sauce (and tend to go easy on the cheese). And a nice drizzle of extra virgin olive oil...