Food & Drink

The 10 things you need to know to make a perfect pizza

Sara Norris

Forget delivery. You can even forget DiGiorno (or Red Baron, if you're weird). If you know how to make your own pizza at home, the sky's the limit in terms of customizability, convenience, and how often you casually mention that you make your own pizza in everyday conversation. But how do you make your personal pie seriously great?

Truth is, many at-home pizzaiolos fall into the same traps: using shredded/processed cheeses, compromising on dough quality, eating it with a knife and fork -- the list goes on! Fortunately, renowned New York pizza artisan Giulio Adriani, the mastermind behind Forcella and the sensei of a Neapolitan pizza training program, is here to lend his 30yrs of pie-slinging expertise to every aspiring home chef, regardless of what they top their creations with.

Here's what he had to say:

bottled water nestle pure life
Dan Gentile
1. "Use filtered water or bottled water. An excessive amount of calcium will make your dough too tight, and an excess of minerals will make it too salty, so using a balanced water will help you to get the right texture and taste."
fresh yeast
2. "Use fresh yeast. You can buy fresh yeast from any baker in town. Dry yeast hastens the fermentation too much, and this is something we do not like." We're in this together now!
3. "Use a high-quality all-purpose flour, or possibly an Italian '00'. The dough is made of flour and water, so the quality of flour will influence the dough a lot." Italian "00" flour, also called doppio zero, is a finely-ground white flour often used in European kitchens to make pasta and pizza.

4. "Use fine, non-iodized sea salt. The sea salt has more flavor and salinity than any other salt. Iodized salt is too weak."

5. "Use a long fermentation time. Making pizza is like making love... take your time and let it ferment fully. Don't try to speed the process by adding more yeast, because the dough will be less digestible and will taste yeasty." Making pizza is also like making love because it's not as fun to do alone.

6. "Cook at the highest temperature of your home oven without ventilation."

ground tomato sauce
Flickr/Javier Lastras
7. "Use ground tomatoes. In Italian restaurants, we use peeled tomatoes and mill them, but for home use, the ground ones will work better because they have less water and will not dry too much in the cooking process."
PD Photo
8. "Use low-moisture mozzarella. Same thing here -- the fresh mozzarella will release too much water." Do you want your pizza to be a big soggy mess? Yeah, we didn't think so. Low-moisture all the way!
extra virgin olive oil
Flickr/Chris Martin
9. "Use only extra virgin olive oil. The EVOO tastes better and burns less than vegetable oil." Finally, some validation for what Rachael Ray has been saying for years.

10. And finally, the recipe! Giulio phrases it in European terms, because he's a purist, and also because it's the best way to measure baking ingredients:

  • 1L water
  • 1.6kg flour
  • 50g salt
  • 50g EVOO
  • 10g fresh yeast

"Mix all the ingredients until smooth and elastic. Let rest in a container covered with plastic." (NOTE: WHOA, THAT RHYMES!) "After 5-6hrs, prepare the dough balls and put in a sealed container for another 1.5hrs. Open the dough on a pan or, if you have a stone, use a paddle to deposit it on the stone. Put the tomato sauce on top and start cooking at 500 degrees or more. After around three minutes, take out the pizza and add the mozzarella. Cook for another 3mins or whatever is required to brown the pizza. Enjoy!"

On the issue of pizza stones, he says: "A pizza stone can be a better solution -- if heated right. However, I prefer a previously oiled cast-iron pan."

Enjoying this pizza will be super simple with Mr. Adriani's directions. If you want a more detailed, in-depth lesson on pizza-making, he teaches private classes that are one-day long for beginners and five-days long for professionals. You can check it all out and contact him at his website, right here. Now go out there and make some dough!

Adam Lapetina is a food/drink staff writer at Thrillist, and will try just about anything the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have eaten. Read his musings on Twitter at @adamlapetina.