Remembering Italy with Thin Crust Pizza at Home – Why Make Pizza Any Other Way?

We love pizza. We LOVE pizza. If we could eat one thing for the rest of our lives it would be pizza. During our seven weeks spent in Italy over the past two years, we collectively ate over sixty pizzas. This is not a lie, an exaggeration or a pipe dream. We were not force-fed, under any type of Warren Jeffs/Chuck Manson-like brainwashing, nor trying to economize by eating our way through Italy with pizzas. We made the choice because there IS so much choice of pizza in Italy. And the beauty of the Italian pizza is it is so delicate, so simple and it’s never over-loaded with flavors. It’s gorgeous, wafer-thin crust crunches as you bite into it while still having a bit of softness and ‘chew’ in between layers. They don’t over sauce, over cheese, or over-oil their pizzas. The Italians want you to taste each ingredient so they only put just enough on top. They don’t attempt to lure you to like it by offering nasty ‘garlic butter’ to dip into or ‘double stuff’ processed cheese into the crust. They have the confidence in just knowing how perfect it is.

With over 61,000 pizzerias in America, how many do you think have really got it right? My guess is about 100. I’ve had some really, really, really shitty pizza in this country (Colorado!? San Francisco!!?) I’ve had some really, really shitty in my own neighborhood of New York City! I still have yet to find a place that really rivals the pizza I’ve eaten in Italy, until now when I realized I can make it myself in the comforts of my own home.

There’s place called Franny’s here in Brooklyn that is one of those annoying, overpriced and over-trendy but packed every night. When we finally decided it was time to see if it lived up to the hype, we were totally disappointed. When I eat something as simple as pizza, I don’t feel like dealing with a pretentious, trendy, annoying hipster attitude or staff. I don’t feel like being charged $16 for a pizza the size of a medium-sized plate and leave hungry. We ate reasonably-priced pizza at Isabella’s Oven, but the crust just didn’t quite do it for us. So, we decided to take matters into our own hands. We will never eat thin-crust pizza around New York City again. There’s no reason. For $20 worth of ingredients, a $15 pizza stone (genius, will never live without it – GO BUY ONE NOW), a $9 bottle of Chianti and my ipod, I can have a better, less expenisive, tastier and more relaxing culinary experience in my small Brooklyn kitchen then going to any of those shit-house, wannabe, up-their-own-asses Italian-style pizza places up the street (sorry, I think you’re finding out my true feelings on Frannys). Remember folks, there’s a difference between the type of pizza we’re going to show you how to make here and the many delicious New York City Pizzeria’s I love and adore (Lombardi’s, Arturos, John’s, Pino La Forcetta, Grimaldi’s, Di Fara, Totonnos, etc. etc.).

In fact, if you don’t feel like making pizza dough from scratch, go ask your local pizzeria for some fresh dough. More than likely, they’ll sell it to you. Just make sure it’s simple – nothing more than flour, yeast and water. No crazy bits of roasted garlic, no honey, no nothin’. The other thing that you must, must have, as I mentioned earlier is a pizza stone. This is KEY to making the best pizza at home. Third thing you must have is a really, really simple sauce recipe. Naturally, I recommend using my sauce recipe – it’s simple and delicious – just make sure you simmer it much longer than what is called for. The sauce should not be very wet, but more concentrated. Fourth is space to roll your dough out and a bit of muscle. I can’t toss friggin’ pizza dough in the air for the life of me so I spend my time rolling and rolling and rolling this pizza dough till it FINALLY does what I need it to do – roll out thin. Finally, you need a hot oven. If your oven has a hard time making it past 425 degrees, this may not work as well for you. You need to whack it up as high as it goes (550F+) and allow the pizza stone 20 minutes to heat up before you heat up the dough. Follow these simple instructions and you’ll have perfect pizza every time.

Here’s pictorial of all the pizza’s we’ve made recently to give you some ideas of toppings, most recreated from ones we ate while in Italy. Immediately following the picture you will find a really great recipe for pizza dough from Jeffrey Steingarten’s book It Must’ve Been Something I Ate. Buon Appetito!

Pre Cheese/Cook Pizza w/ cippolini and tonno Homemade Pizza with Cippolini and Tonno
Pizza with Cipollini Onions and Tonno


Homemade Pizza with Capers and Anchovies
Pizza Romana (Pizza w/ Capers and Anchovies)


Homemade White pie With Mushrooms, Leeks and White Truffle Oil

White Pizza with Mushrooms, Leeks and White Truffle Oil


Cabrales, Cipollini, Anchovy and Mozzerella Pizza

Pizza with Anchovies and Cabrales (or Gorgonzola)


Bresaola, Arugula and Parmigiano Pizza

Bresaola, Arugula and Parmigiano Pizza


Pizza Romana w/ Egg
Pizza Romana (Capers and Anchovy) with Cracked Egg on Top

So, hope your mouth is watering and now YOU will think about a new pizza with toppings you love! Check out how to make pizza dough below.



  • 6 to 6 1/2 cups of flour

  • 1 1/2 tsp instant or active dry yeast

  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 1/4 cups cold water

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal or semolina flour

What to do:

  1. In the mixer bowl of your food processor, stir the flours, yeast and salt together. Pour in the water and stir vigourously with a wooden spoon until everything comes together into a “shaggy dough”.

  2. Put the bowl on the mixer and attach the beater – not the dough hook. This dough is too wet for regular kneading. Mix on low speed for a minute then beat on high speed for 3 1/2 minutes, scraping down the beater and bowl halfway through.

  3. ***Steingarten explains the way to knw when your dough is perfect: With well-floured fingers, pull off a piece of dough about the size of a walnut and roll it in flour. You should be able to stretch it with the fingers of both hands without breaking for at least 3 inches across.

  4. Scrape the dough out onto a heavily floured work surface. Fold one side over the other and allow to rest for 10 mintues. After 10 minutes, cut dough into 4 equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball and place each in a well-oiled bowl to rise until double in size – about 3 hours. ***NOTE: Steingarten likes to then put his dough balls in the fridge for an hour… if you have the time, do so, otherwise, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary.

    Pizza Dough

  5. Preheat your oven to as high as it can go (at least 500 degrees!) and allow the pizza stone to heat up for a half hour to one hour.

  6. On a well-floured surface, pat each dough ball into as flat of a circle as possible. Stretch it by draping the dough over your fists, knuckels up, passing it from hand to hand until it reaches about 12 inches. ***NOTE: This is the thing, do not despair at this point if it’s not going as perfectly as you want. This is not as easy as Steingarten says. With practice, it’ll be easier. But, we give the fist to fist way a try for a bit, then bust out a well-floured rolling pin and litterally attack the dough with our pin until it gets as thin as we need it to be. We like it to be about 1/2 a centimeter thick when we first cook it on the pizza stone.

    Rolling Out Pizza Dough Thinly

  7. ***This is where I do things a bit differently than Steingarten. Using oven mits, take your pizza stone out of the hot, HOT oven. Scrape your pizza dough off your floured surface and place on the hot stone (it will begin to cook immediately) and place back in the oven for two minutes or until there is a tiny bit of color on the surface and edges of the dough. Remove from oven and place back on your work surface. It will be ‘stiff’ but not fully cooked.

  8. Depending on what type of pie you are making (red pie, white pie, olive oil and herbs-brushed pie), put down your ‘wet’ ingredients first (ie: tomato sauce). Don’t put too much on, just a thin layer for taste.

    Saucing a Pie

    Saucing the Pie

  9. Add your toppings (go light like the italians! you don’t need to have 2 inches-worth of toppings to make this pizza taste good) and then your cheese (get low-moisture mozzerella and fresh buffala mozzerella that’s as low-moisture as possible – the moisture in the cheese could moisten your crust and cause it to be too wet and heavy).

  10. Add the topped pizza back to your pizza stone and put back in the hot oven for 4 to 7 minutes, making sure all the cheese is melted and bubbley and the crust has some color to it. Remove from oven and allow to rest for a moment before biting in.

    Bottom of Pizza

***If you’re interested in learning how we made any of the pizzas you see pictured above, let us know. We don’t mind posting the recipes. For the most part, you can kind of get a feel for the recipe by looking at the picture and the title of the pizza. But, we’re here to help. You’ve gotta give these thin-crust pizza’s a try!

52 thoughts on “Remembering Italy with Thin Crust Pizza at Home – Why Make Pizza Any Other Way?

  1. First off, I’m a thin crust kinda’ guy so we’ll get along. Secondly, I find the Italian-American or simple Italian pizzas to be best. The yuppie stuff is over-rated.

    Finally, you’ve beat in the pizza-eating marathon. Did you know that Chuck Norris can eat 100 pizzas while doing his tai-chi exercises? it’s a fact!

  2. hey, that’s not the only thing Chuck Norris can beat us at. Others include high-kicks, peculiar wiry-mullet hair-dos, infomercials for all-in-one exercise machines, and cheese-dick 80s movies. That said, anyone who can eat 100 pizzas (tai-chi or no tai-chi) deserves some recognition, if only for their determination.

  3. Nothing like making your own pizzas.CS likes to take over the assembly while I do the hard stuff like make the dough, sauce, chop, etc. These look they were served up in the best pizzeria.

  4. Hi guys, Totally agree with you about pizza restaurants, there are quite a few bad and overpriced ones near us too. Its so much better to make your own. Your post got me in the mood, so tomorrow its homemade pizza for dinner! What do you use as a sauce for the white pizza?

  5. So true. Pizza restaurants are disturbingly overpriced and yet I always find myself at them. I actually made my first pizza with “exciting” toppings last week, but I was too lazy to make a crust and just used a store bought. I really look forward to trying this out though. The crust recipe looks so simple– even for a very bad crust/bread/baking person like myself. Thanks for the post and yummy pics!

  6. Cheers, Rosa! Coco, the pre-baking ensures you will have a wonderful crust all over the pizza – not just on the edges. But it’s the pizza stone that really is key if pre-baking! Thanks really reading the recipe – we appreciate it!!

    And Serena…right on! For the white pizza, what I did was rub olive oil and (optional) roasted garlic after the pre-bake then rubbed a VERY thin layer of ricotta all over. I then added the toppings and cheese. You don’t want too much ricotta, just a thin layer. I topped the pizza after cooked with a little drizzle of the truffle oil. Hope this helps! Oh, and I sauteed the leeks before adding them.

    ALSO, the pizza w/ bresaola (which is Italian air-dried cured beef from Northern Lombardy) – which you could subsitute prociutto for – is topped w/ arugula that’s been tossed in a vinagrette. There’s no cheese (except the ribbons of parmigiano), just a light spread of sauce, the bresaola and then the tossed arugula. it’s so refreshing, light and DELISH!!!

  7. Your pizza’s all look fantastic! I’d be happy to eat any one of them. I have been a converter to the thin crust ever since we went to Italy. Deep dish has been very popular here in Chicago for so long, but now more and more, everyone is coming over to the “thin side”, so much lighter with quality ingredients. Have you ever tried making pizza on a grill? The crust turns out superb!

  8. When I lived in Rome, I tried an experiment and ate pizza rustica three meals a day every day to see if I would ever get tired of eating pizza. After two weeks I decided it wasn’t going to happen and canceled the experiment. Still ate pizza all the time. Especially breakfast: potato pizza with rosemary and truffle butter. Damn.

    Also, save money and buy a $3 quarry tile at your local home centerâ„¢ and just leave it on the bottom of your oven. The stones can break.

  9. if you’re unwilling to shell out for a pizza stone, you can achieve the same effect with *unglazed* ceramic tiles. The unglazed part is REALLY important since glazes can get nasty and toxic when heated. I’ve got a layer of tiles on both the top and bottom rack, and they are fantastic for breads and pizza. I leave mine in all the time – they don’t affect baking other things, and in fact help the oven retain heat longer making it perfect for incubating yogurt overnight after I’ve baked in the late morning/afternoon. The only major change you’d make to the process here is that you’d just partially pull out rack instead of taking the stone out of the oven.

  10. holy crap – i just found your blog
    i love this blog
    this blog

    and peter commented – both peters – the canadian greek and the NE yankee, wine fiend artist! i love their blogs too…

    wow. we’re like one big happy extended family… the mind boggles…

    ok – you’re added to my rss reader so i’m watching you. so behave. do not make me turn this blog around….

  11. Yumm these look delightful. Have you ever gotten the thin crust pizza’s at Sullivan St Baker in SoHo? Molto bene!

    Pizza dough is one of those things I just haven’t perfected yet. I keep trying, but part of me is just resigned to the fact that I need to take a year off and move to Italy and apprentice under some master to get it just right.

  12. I truly can’t believe all of those pizzas you have eaten. If that was me I would still be wearing them on my hips!
    I have learnt some interesting stuff from your posting, firstly, I sometimes struggle to get the middle of my pizza to cook and the top is sometimes soggy. So now I know how to deal with this problem, thankyou. The recipes all look like ones I might just have a go at making.

  13. Smashing pizzas Amy. Can’t believe the price of pizza for shit service! One thing we certainly miss is just walking around and picking up a slice whenever your heart desires. Not sure I can get my hands on pizza stone around here.

  14. I gave up on pizza a long time ago – it just felt like one was more gawd awful than the next – usually all bready, too much overspiced sauce, greasy looking and slimy tasting meat toppings and 20 lb. of cheese that ended up burning your lips before you managed to a) get them in your mouth and b) look like a total idiot trying to eat a slice on the run.

    Your homemade just looks and feels like it could be part of a healthy balanced diet. I’ve been lazy about making my own – I don’t get it? Why didn’t I do this before? Duh.

  15. omg those pizzas look outrageous! open a restaurant stat – i dont think i’ve ever seen such beautiful pizzas. the crust, the flavors, the EGG! wow.

  16. We do homemade pizza crust all the time, a recipe quite similar to yours. It makes excellent crust, great focaccia and is super easy in the K5. We just love pizza too. I could eat some variation of it every week. And yours all look scrumptious. Can I come over?

    We just did one on Saturday and silly me forgot to add the salt to the dough. I will never make that mistake again. It was like hardtack. Ugh.

  17. This is the first time I have come across your blog and it is fantastic! Aren’t pizza stones the best thing! My brother gave us one for a wedding present. One of my favourite toppings is caramelised onions, blue cheese and bacon.

  18. Now that is what I call a great pizza. When I realized that I was paying $10 – $15 dollars for shitty pizzas I decided it was time for me to make my own. Ever since pizza has meant something different for us. Have you ever had puff pastry pizza? That is just delicious!
    Great recipe and great blog 🙂

  19. wow that looks amazing. i love pizza. i could eat every single one…though I’ve never had pizza with cracked egg…sounds interesting!

  20. I am also of the thin crust-loving crowd. I really need to work on my yeasted doughs. They’re my limiting factor in breathtaking pizza (like yours).

  21. There’s nothing like good pizza dough, and this looks like a good one! Your toppings are fabulous, especially the leek one.
    Nice blog you have here!

  22. I gotta say, seeing all these comments makes me kind of excited. There are many blogs we visit often that get high numbers of comments, but not really here – which is fine! I’m totally not whining… just saying that it’s so much fun to have a blog that’s a bit more interactive. I love that this pizza post piqued so many reader’s interest. It proves just how much people love and crave good pizza. It’s also great to see that I”m not the only one who knows how much shit pizza there is out there! Let’s take back the power and make our own pies!!

    Finally, a shout-out to Serena at who said she was in the mood for some pizza and, god damn it, she made it!! Nothing like fulfilling your craving!

    Thanks for the awesome comments and tips. Esp.the ones about not buying pizza stones. VERY interesting and, what i like, cheap tips!

    Oh, and EM at gildingcalm – you MUST try the cracked egg on the pizza. It’s all over Italy and at first I thought it may be strange, but the yolk mixing with all the other ingredients on the pizza is a flavor sensation you’ve gotta try.

  23. now this looks good – good pizzas are hard to come by and here we have laods – i’ll be trying some of these out, particulary the anchovy one – amazing. gotta be thin crust, gotta be! anything else is just wrong!

  24. Ok, with this post? YOU ARE MY HEROES.

    With this paragraph, you won me over: “And the beauty of the Italian pizza is it is so delicate, so simple and it’s never over-loaded with flavors. It’s gorgeous, wafer-thin crust crunches as you bite into it while still having a bit of softness and ‘chew’ in between layers. They don’t over sauce, over cheese, or over-oil their pizzas. The Italians want you to taste each ingredient so they only put just enough on top. They don’t attempt to lure you to like it by offering nasty ‘garlic butter’ to dip into or ‘double stuff’ processed cheese into the crust. They have the confidence in just knowing how perfect it is.”

    Your pizzas, shown above, are simply ART. I love it. And I own a pizza stone, but I’ve never tried my own. Perhaps it’s time I did. Thanks for the confidence.

  25. You go Kate!! I’m telling you… with the double baking method, you will NOT go wrong. I always thought a pizza stone was kind of gimmick-y, but now I can’t imagine making pizza at home w/o one. Thanks so much for your comment. It was fun to re-read my words… it’s now making me hungry for pizza! ha!

  26. We are definitely going to get a pizza stone. My husband and I have been (unsuccessfully) trying to make great pizza at home all winter. I’m looking forward to trying your recipe. Franny’s is awful. The hostess tried to make us wait 1/2 hour when there were two empty tables, only to rescind when we started to walk away. For $16 I had hoped for more than a sausage pizza. Or at least more sausage. The appetizers were yummy though. Yet all hope is not lost! There’s a great pizza place one block from Franny’s. Great thin crust, nice people, and wonderful combinations like, fresh rosemary, mushrooms, sausage and artichoke. For more like $12. The place is Amorina on Vanderbilt and Prospect. Try it. It’s good.

  27. Ahh, yes, Amanda! Thanks SO much for your comment. I needed someone to agree w/ me on the Franny’s thing. Their apps are tasty and innovative… I will give you that. But they are also expensive and tiny! It’s a freakin’ pizza joint… so Brooklyn, right.. or should I say, SO Park Slope.

    Thanks for the head’s up on Amorina. We’ve been meaning to try that place since it first opened and was BYOB… but haven’t yet. It’s time, I think . It looks really cute inside too! Please stop by the blog again! We need more local Brooklynites to comment (rather, i need/want more local peeps to comment).

    Thanks, girl… now get your ass to target and pick up a pizza stone!

  28. Wow, your pizzas look outstanding! Well done!

    I’m a big fan of the pizza stone. I’ve made a few great pizzas lately using store bought dough. I let it come to room temperature before trying to stretch it, use the knuckle/fist method to stretch it, then lay it on a pizza peel covered in corn meal before building the pizza. I slide the whole pizza onto the stone (450 degree preheated oven) and let it cook for around 12-15 minutes. Getting the pizza with the toppings is sometimes a challenge, but the cornmeal on the peel helps tremendously.

  29. Hey, Scott! Thanks for stopping by! You should try the pre-bake method. See if you top it after prebaking for a few minutes. I bet you would find it crispier on the bottom (if that’s how you like it!) and easier to put on the stone. MMMMM pizza.

  30. Badda Bing Badda Boom – New Haven pizza (Sally’s, Pepe’s) all the way. NYC pizza can’t compare. And who are those Chicagoland guys fooling… that’s what you call cake with pepperoni!

    BTW – you’re pizza’s look great, although I’m not too sure of the egg or tuna ones (some things just really don’t go with pizza or cheese). Nice job on the crust. I find using lots of flour while streching the dough helps create the nice crusty, chewy flat crust.

    Va cici tu!


    It’s not thin crust, and its probably yuppy, but it is the best pizza I found in NYC (and that’s saying something).

  32. Giovi, you said what I was gonna say. New Haven really has the best pizza, and without yuppie attitude, too. White clam with garlic and herbs, delicious. Sally’s and Pepe’s are great, BAR is too. It’s just a train ride from NYC and a lovely town. I’m living in Europe now and can get pretty good pizza, but my standard is still New Haven “apizza”.

  33. I just got a pizza stone, and I must say, it doesn’t make that much difference to pre-baking on a pizza pan. Tends to get a little crispier in the middle but that’s it.

    Pre-baking is the only way I’ve found to keep mozzerella gooey, but the ones I made this weekend have been a little… sloppier than usual. Whether this is because the stone is slightly lower than usual, or whether I didn’t put a baking tray above, I’m not completely sure.

    Also, last thing I do differently, is make 2 batches of dough 3 days previous. Let one rise before refrigeration, and put one straight in the fridge. Combine and let come to room temp before making into bases.

    And it’s not too hard to make them circular; one easy technique is to hold the dough up once it’s thin enough, and kind of feeding it through your thumbs (like a steering wheel). The weight of the dough will stretch it out, and you’ll be able to see where it’s getting thinner.

    Oh yeah, my dough has olive-oil in it too, and it’s quite stretchy, so don’t worry about being a little rough.

    1. @Soop – thanks for your comment. Interesting that you don’t feel there’s much of a difference with the pizza stone. We feel quite the opposite. Without the stone (in an oven) we’ve never got close to the blistered and crispy spots on the base that we love so much. Thanks for the tip about the two different dough batches. Very interesting indeed. What’s the advantage of this technique?

  34. it just tastes nicer TBH, I made a quick one on Monday night that didn’t even really raise, and the crust was pretty bland.

    TBH, it may actually be pretty much the same as making a bunch of dough and putting it in the fridge together, but I haven’t experimented with that yet. This week I plan to include some beer in the mix (reminds me, I have to start it tonight), so we’ll see how that goes.

    Since I wrote that I’ve moved the stone up in the oven, and it is a little better, but still not amazingly better. I’ll have to try some more bread on it soon.

  35. I wonder if you have ever used a grill provide the heat necessary to cook the pizza. My grill rapidly gets to 600 degrees and has a thermometer built in so I can monitor the temperature. Any thought?

    1. @Jim Irish – grilling pizzas is a great method but you need to be careful that the bottom doesn’t burn while the top is undercooked. We bought a pizza stone, though a circular paving slab would do just as well, heated it on the grill on high, and the pizza cooked nicely with the lid closed.

  36. Love thin crust pizza!!! Just started experimenting with cooking it at home after my children gave me a pizza stone last fathers day. Now I have 2 stones so I can turn over multiple pizzas when we have friends over for what we in Cajun Country call “suppers” !!
    Cooking the crust for 2 min first–GREAT TIP! Not only does the crust turn out better, it makes handling the pizza in and out of the oven much easier with a pizza peel. That way I don’t have to take the stone out between pizzas.
    For anyone in Louisiana near a Rouse’s Supermanket; they will sell you raw pizza dough from the deli for 99 cents.
    Next pizza. Crayfish etoufe with touch of smoked tasso!! C’est Bon!

  37. I don’t think the double-bake is necessary. Your oven just needs to be *hotter*. In the 600–750°F area!
    And your pizza needs only 30 seconds in there.

    That’s necessary if you want to have that reverse-al-dente dough mouthfeel with a dough that thin. (½ cm sounds way too thick IMO. Millimeters, mate! Millimeters!)

    About being able to throw the dough: It may not be you. It may simply be that your dough recipe needs some adaptation.
    (Remember that it’s never cold in a pizza bakery in Italy. 🙂

    Also, don’t forget the garlic oil at the end. 🙂 (An essential part IMO, but you’re usually asked.)

    1. @BAReFOOt: You’re absolutely right, mate, the oven does need to be hotter. The problem is that most conventional domestic ovens don’t go above 500F. I can get my grill/barbecue to about 700F and have done pizzas within three minutes on that which are very much superior to the double bake which, in truth, can make the crust a little tough. Interesting about the garlic oil – we were never asked if we wanted any. Sure, there were the usual condiments on the table – oil, vinegar, peperoncini – but never garlic oil. I bet it’s good though! That said, chili oil is very common in UK pizzerias, and I like that, but I’ve never seen it in Italy.

      P.S. – you can call us mate (male or female) any time you like. It’s preferable to “sweetie” or “treacle”, “darlin'” or “love”.

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