Europe Italy Taste Travel

7 secrets of the perfect Italian pizza

italian pizza - tips

Does anyone hate Italian pizza? Please, I don’t believe that such a person exists 🙂 Thin, crisp crust, basil aroma and stretching cheese (more cheese, more cheese!)… We all know this very well. But how to achieve this delicious effect? I am gonna tell you 7 secrets that will help you to prepare the best Italian pizza! Say no to deep-frozen junk pizza from supermarket!

You could find out in our previous post, that we came to Rome to explore the Italian food during the food tour by the Walks of Italy. The highlight of our trip was a “behind the scenes” lesson of pizza preparation! We would not be ourselves if we don’t share with you what we have learned about the best Italian pizza…

italian pizza - oven

JUST A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY OF ITALIAN PIZZA

The most famous pizza comes from Naples. In 1870 pizzeria Da Michele was opened here, which initially served only one kind of this delicacy – with tomatoes, garlic and herbs. Several years later, the most popular version was founded – pizza Margherita, with basil, tomatoes and mozzarella. Legend has it that its name is a tribute to Queen Margherita, who chose this one from various types of pizza prepared to honor her. Why? The ingredients reminded her of the Italian flag. Neapolitan pizza is different from this one originating from Rome – in Rome version, cake is more brittle and crunchy, this Naples one is softer, easier to chew and obligatory has burnt edges (cornicione). Our pizzaiolo turned out to be a native Neapolitan, so our pizzas were prepared that way. So what’s the magic behind the best Italian pizza?

7 SECRETS OF THE BEST ITALIAN PIZZA

1. PIZZA DOUGH

It must contain only four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. Of course, not just random ones! Italians take great care to maintain the high standards of pizza and even set up a special organization (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana), which publishes detailed guidelines. For example: flour must have the consistency of talc (highly refined type 00) without any additives, water should be moderately hard, only sea salt must be used, and the yeast must have an average acidity. Phew. Ok, now the fun begins. To make sure that all the ingredients are perfectly joined, you should knead the dough for 10 minutes and then for another 20 minutes to form a perfect ball. Well, this time a little help from mixer is allowed 😉 But wait, don’t exaggerate, you can’t heat up a dough too much! And watch out for pH – must equal to 5.87 (seriously !!!). I believe in you – you can make it. Now the dough quietly rises, and you have 2 hours free.

2. FORMING A PIZZA

Relaxed? Now get back to work. From the risen dough, you have to form smaller balls (panetti) and again you have time to rest. This time the dough rises for 6h! After this time, we take the ball and start the formation of pizza. No, no, not like in the movies, tossing a large disk of dough from one hand to the other. We start from making a crust (approx. 1-2 cm). Then begin to push the dough from center outwards, while turning over on the table. After a while you have a nice flat disc (np more than 0.4 cm thick). To make it a bit easier, you can gently let dough hang from the edge of the table – it will stretch under its own weight. But remember – no rolling pin!

italian pizza - dough

3. TOMATO SAUCE

The best one is made of the San Marzano tomatoes, which grow on the fertile volcanic soil  of the slopes of Vesuvius. After baking, sauce will be thick and uniform – all the water should evaporate.We pour one big spoon in  the center of dough and distribute in circular motion to its crust.

italian pizza - sauce

4. MOZZARELLA

Yes, yes – we will need the famous Mozzarella di Bufala Campana. I wrote about this cheese here already. You have to spread sliced strips or grated mozzarella evenly over the dough.

5. BASIL & OLIVE OIL

Now we add some freshly picked basil leaves. At the end we pour the olive oil, preferably extra virgin directly from the copper canister – in the same direction as we distributed tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. It’s probably some spell to make the magic work 😉

italian pizza - ingredients

6. BAKING A PIZZA

Pizza lands straight on the stones in the wood-fire oven (eg. oak or ash wood), heated to exactly 485 C degrees. Apparently, it is the most critical factor in the whole process of preparation. If only I have a little more space in the kitchen for such a useful oven… When the pizza is inside, it has to be constantly rotated and controlled, so that each part of it is equally cooked. Cooking time – less than 60-90 seconds. And finally…

italian pizza - oven

7. EATING PIZZA!

Remember that the best Italian pizza is that one straight from the oven. You should eat it within 5-6 minutes. Wonderful aroma of freshly baked dough will certainly make your pizza disappear in the blink of an eye. Yummy!

italian pizza - tips

WILL YOU TRY THIS AT HOME?

PS. Michal was cheating and added some olives and artichokes to his pizza 🙂

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We took a lesson how to make the best Italian pizza in Rome, Italy and this is what we learned. Next time make your pizza like a local!

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    mike
    March 28, 2017 at 14:25

    many many years ago as a small boy my father would send me to a tavern at the end of our street to get a pizza. This pizza if i recall was mushroom and some type of meat. This pizza had an aroma that i have never smelled again in my life….to me it was heavenly. I would not be doubt if the owner was first generation Italian. Do you know of any much less used ingredient that would create such an usual smell ? Mike in Louisville

  • Reply
    Magda
    March 28, 2017 at 14:47

    Honestly, I don’t know! Must have been some secret ingredient 😉

  • Reply
    Dave Anderson
    May 3, 2017 at 13:44

    My wife and I are always looking for new restaurants to try out and new places to visit. Like you mentioned, the best pizza is from Italy and my wife and I would love to visit all of Europe but especially Italy. I think that it would be a fun way to connect and to learn about the culture. In the meantime, we are going to have restaurants and pizzerias like yours to prepare ourselves for the culture.

    • Reply
      Magda
      May 3, 2017 at 13:46

      Italian food is really amazing! Hope you will visit Italy one day 🙂

  • Reply
    Deb Pearl
    November 1, 2017 at 11:21

    I have never had homemade Italian pizza like that before. It sounds and looks amazing! That is really cool that inside the oven the cooking time is less than 60-90 seconds! That’s one hot oven if it can cook it that fast! Thank you for all the fun information!

  • Reply
    Ronald Amon
    August 28, 2021 at 16:51

    More sauce. It’s not gold. Stop smearing a red color on the crust and say you’ve sauced it. You haven’t. Sauce can be healthy. Sauce can be tasty. Generous sauce or we never return.

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