ROMAN PIZZA: THE NEXT BIG THING

People like to discover things before they become mainstream – it makes you feel like you’re in on a secret by being ahead of the trend. We want to hear a song before anyone else does and see that band right before they hit the big time. The same is true with food – chefs are always trying to discover the next big thing. Whether it’s a health-centric product like quinoa and fro-yo or an indulgent like cronuts or the bacon craze, chefs want to be out in front of any new food trend. And to that point, I’m offering my prediction of the next big thing in food – Roman pizza!

Roman pizzas ready for the oven.

There are two pizza styles in the city of Rome (which also happen to be easy to produce at home): pizza al taglio and pizza al metro. These are essentially Rome’s versions of pizza by the slice and are a popular take away food in the city.

Now, when people think of Italian pizzas, they tend to envision Pizza Vera Napoletana. This style of pie was all the rage for many years (and still is one of my favorite styles of pizza). These pizzas are typically baked very quickly in blazing hot ovens and are characterized by charred bottoms and edges; these are knife-and-fork pizzas, and aren’t conducive for sale “by the slice.”

Roman pizza, however is more recognizable to Midwestern sensibilities. The crust is thicker than our typical Midwestern tavern style pies and are sturdier and chewy in comparison; this heartiness makes them great candidates for crazy toppings. In fact, I’ve been preparing Roman pizzas for our special Osteria Centro events (using crust made with a 25-year-old starter I developed back in the early days of my career); be sure to stay tuned for more Osteria Centro events this fall.

Roman pizzas can be cooked in home ovens on stones or black steel pans. Try these at your next get together and by the time this new trend hits the media, you’ll already be an old Roman pizza pro!

Crust Recipe
2 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast
2 tbls olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt
6 cups of bread flour, or high gluten flour. Substitute up to 2 cups wheat flour if desired

In a large mixing bowl combine the water and yeast and let yeast start to work. Add olive oil.

Slowly add flour (not all at once). Add salt. Keep working in the flour mixture until a soft dough forms. Knead for 5 -10 minutes, adding flour as needed until a smooth dough forms. You may not need all six cups.

Cut dough into two (or more) pieces depending on the size pizza you want. Roll divided dough into tight balls. Place on greased cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Once dough has doubled in size, stretch out pizza dough in an oval shape. Dust the bottom of each dough with semolina and place dough on greased cookie sheet.

Top pizzas with a few of my suggestions below, or create your own masterpiece! These pizza recipes are enough for two pizzas (or one large pie).

A seafood pizza from a recent Osteria Centro event.

Broccoli, Cheese and Mortadella with Pistachio Pesto
6 ounces Gateway Market Alfredo sauce
2 cups cooked broccoli, cooked in salted water and seasoned with garlic and olive oil
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
8 ounces whole milk mozzarella, sliced or shredded
8 ounces very thinly sliced Mortadella to be added when pizza comes out of the oven
Pistachio pesto – add desired amount on top of the mortadella.

Pesto recipe
3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cups packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 cup toasted unsalted pistachios
8 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon salt
1.5 cups virgin olive oil
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

In a food processor, add basil, parsley, pistachios, garlic and salt. Turn on processor and add 1.5 cups of the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Process to make a smooth paste, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl

You can freeze half of the pesto for future use, just pack it in a plastic container with a thin film of olive oil.

White Sauce, Gorgonzola, Toasted Pecan and Caramelized Onion
6 ounces Gateway Market Alfredo sauce
1 cup pecans toasted with olive oil and salt
1 large onion sautéed until caramelized, seasoned with salt
1.5 cup whole milk mozzarella sliced or shredded
3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

White Sauce, Gorgonzola , Toasted Pecan and Arugula
6 ounces GWM Alfredo sauce
1 cup pecans toasted with olive oil and salt
1 and 1/2 cup whole milk mozzarella sliced or shredded
3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Top with 2 cups arugula tossed with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt

Sausage, Potato, Olive Oil and Garlic
6 ounces Gateway Market Alfredo sauce
8 ounces whole milk mozzarella
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 gold fleshed potatoes cooked; once done, remove skins and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt
8 ounces Gateway Market garlic sausage, crumbled raw on top of pizza

White Sauce, Mushroom, Cheese and Herb
6 ounces Gateway Market Alfredo sauce
4 cups assorted mushrooms (shiitake with stems removed, crimini, domestic) sautéed in 3 tablespoons olive oil and seasoned with salt. Cook until all liquid is absorbed and evaporated, then cool to room temperature or refrigerate
2 cups whole milk Mozzarella, sliced or shredded
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic

White Sauce, Mixed Mushrooms, Fontina, Taleggio, Garlic and Thyme
6 ounces Gateway Market Alfredo sauce
4 cups assorted mushrooms(shiitake with stems removed, crimini, domestic) sautéed in 3 tablespoons olive oil and seasoned with salt. Cook until all liquid is absorbed and evaporated, then cool to room temperature or refrigerate
1.5 cups taleggio, sliced or shredded
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic

Sweet Potato, Bacon, Taleggio, Caramelized Onion and Balsamic Reduction
6 oz Gateway Market Alfredo sauce
1.5 cups taleggio, sliced or shredded
6 slices bacon cooked and chopped
1 large sweet potato cooked until tender (not mushy) and diced, seasoned with salt
1 large onion, sliced and sautéed in 2 tablespoons butter and cooked until brown; seasoned with salt and pepper
Drizzle baked pizza with balsamic reduction

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