Like most Americans, I’m obsessed with pizza. I love neoplitan-style pizza (my favorite). Tangy and cracker-thin crusted St.Louis-style pizza. Deep-dish Chicago pizza. Chewy and thin New York-style pizza. French bread pizza. English muffin pizza. Pizza dip. Pizza rolls.
You get the picture. I LOVE pizza. (Me and a billion other people.) While Kansas City isn’t exactly known for any specific kind of pizza per se, we have more than our fair share of local pizzerias around the metro area. One of my favorites happens to be a Neoplitan-style place whose pizzas remind me so much of the ones I had in Italy, at times I could almost swear they’re identical. Typically when I go there, I order a classic – margarita pizza. No fuss. Just a perfectly chewy crust, with the sweetest, simplest tomato sauce, gooey handmade mozzarella and fresh basil. Pure perfection.
On occasion I’ll branch out and go with something a little untraditional, and I’m always left wondering why I didn’t just go with my tried-and-true favorite, because my impromptu choice is never as good as my go-to order. That is….until a few years ago when I tried their white “special” pizza. Good lord, is this pizza pie delicious. While it doesn’t replace my margarita pizza, it is a nice departure when I’ve had my fair share of red sauce based pizzas.
The restaurant’s version has a garlicky olive oil base and then is covered in a ridiculous amount of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes and dollops of creamy ricotta, it’s then popped into the wood-fire oven until it’s golden brown and bubbly. Straight out of the oven it’s covered in freshly grated parmesan cheese and then served with oregano, crushed red pepper flakes and even more parmesan cheese to dress as you see fit.
This, is my version of that pizza.
I’ll make my own pizza crust if it’s the weekend, but there are so many great options for pre-made pizza crusts, that oftentimes I’ll skip the homemade crust and go for one of them. A great option is to go to your local pizza place and ask if you can buy dough from the back, usually they’re more than willing to sell it you for a couple bucks at most. Another option, and one of my favorites, is the premade dough at Trader Joe’s; it comes in three different varieties, plain, whole-wheat and garlic; I’ve tried and loved them all, so you really can’t go wrong.
The base of the pizza begins simply with a brush of good-quality olive oil, just a tablespoons will do and then my secret weapon – garlic. Which sounds kind of silly, but what I do is scatter thinly sliced garlic all over the base of the pie, so there is a piece of garlic in each bite. The heat from the oven will almost roast the garlic, but the cheese prevents it from burning – honestly, it’s really what makes the pizza.
For the shredded cheese combination, I went with a mild mozzarella (not fresh) and sharp Gruyere cheese; I really like the combination of the two, plus they both melt ridiculously well. Once the pizza is covered in the cheese mixture I dollop it with fresh ricotta cheese and pop it onto a pizza stone that’s been preheating in a 550 degree oven.
Once it comes out it’s sprinkled with parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and spicy red pepper flakes.
A quick note on cooking pizzas. I highly, highly recommend using a pizza stone. The only way to achieve a crispy crust even remotely resembling a wood-fire oven is to use a pizza stone. They can be purchased pretty inexpensively, and they even work great on frozen pizzas; I promise you, you will not regret purchasing it!
I can promise you, this will be one of the best pizzas you’ve ever made. So so good.
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