Tag Archives: Roman-style pizza

Torn between two pizzas

28 Sep
My friend Tom, the aspiring pizzaiolo whom you met last week, seizes every chance to try and browbeat me into making a pie. “Enough with the pastas already,” he harangues, implying that pasta making is, at best, a dubious skill. “You love pizza. You should make pizza. What’s wrong with you?”
I told you he was a pain in the ass, didn’t I?
In the couple decades I have known him, though, not once had his bullying proved successful. Until now.
Last week, after an item entitled “Roman-style pizza farce” appeared on this blog, an item where I may have mildly criticized his pizza-making abilities, my vowel-deprived compatriot managed to whip himself into an uncontrollable frenzy. Like a good man suddenly possessed (think Father Damien in “The Exorcist” except not as cute), Tom decided that he simply would not rest until I attempted to reproduce a pie he’d made, so as to see if I might make it as well. 
He emailed to me his demands, commented upon them on this blog, Skyped me incessantly to argue his case fully (and freely); the cheap bastard even picked up the phone one afternoon just to insist — insist I tell you — that I walk a mile in his King Arthur-dusted kitchen clogs before so recklessly stomping on them again.
I worry about my friend. And believe he isn’t well. His blood pressure is not so good and so he must be medicated. Did I mention that he drinks? Probably shouldn’t have. Forget I said anything, okay.
And so, after consulting, on Tom’s behalf of course, an eminent mental health specialist in Vienna (or maybe it was Moonachie?), I decided to do the responsible thing and to make a freaking pizza, so that my dear, afflicted friend could just finally calm down. 
Here’s how it started, a dough made with “00” and all purpose flour, adapted from a recipe provided by none other than my nemesis (thanks, nemesis). I’m not sure about this, but methinks it did not rise quite enough, as the dough turned out to be a bit dense. (That, or Tom is one very fine saboteur masquerading as an innocent bearer of alleged-to-be-simple pizza dough recipes.)
Into a baking pan (per Tom’s Roman-inspired method) and topped with a quick fresh tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella (that’s a type of cheese, Tommy).
Fifteen or so minutes in the oven at 550, and there you go.
The “upskirt” shot: Considering that this was my first completely solo attempt at pizza-making, I would argue that it turned out pretty well. It tasted good. But the crust didn’t char properly, and the dough, as I said, was more dense than it ought to be.
An associate (one with strong ties to Tom, I might add) offered a less encouraging assessment: “It’s definitely not the worst I’ve had.”
Oh, joy!
There was enough dough to attempt a do-over, but instead I went in another direction. Just garlic, fresh rosemary, fresh mozzarella and olive oil.
Tasted even better than the first one, but, alas, the dough was of the same (defective) lineage.
You may commence with the brutal criticism now, Tommy. Just watch your blood pressure, okay. 
And don’t call me. Please!

Roman-style pizza farce

21 Sep

True friends stab you in the front.

—Oscar Wilde

If you’re one of those people who reads the “Comments” on blogs (I am) and who does much reading of this particular blog (I hope you do), then you may already be familiar with my friend Tom. He’s the pain-in-the-ass who, commenting under a variety of different names, often will go out of his way to make me look bad.

He has accused me of recklessly devouring endangered species (not true), rigging taste tests to advance my personal favorites (also a filthy lie), championing food items he deems putrid and disgusting (sfogliatelle, for instance). Hell, he’s even talked trash about my Sainted Mother — and she’s not even alive to give him a good smack and tell him to “shuttup already!”

He’s a bad one, this Tom. The capo di tutti curmudgeon. It’s a wonder he has any friends at all.

And yet, ruthless as he may be, the man makes some very fine pizza. Often he makes his very fine pizza for me.

A couple of days ago I got an email from Tom. In the subject line were two words he knew would be intriguing to me: “Roman-style.”

Turns out that Tom had been sampling the pizza al taglio (by the slice) at the recently opened Campo de’ Fiori in Brooklyn, where he lives, and found himself inspired to bake his own square Roman-style pie. (He was no doubt aided in this endeavor by his trusted companion, the lovely Beth, a fine baker of all things, though he did not choose to mention this.) Knowing my fondness for pizza and for Rome, where they buy their pizza by weight, not by slice, he decided to photo-document the event and then forward the pics to me.

But there are risks in releasing such documents — made more perilous when you release them to the man you have poked at and prodded for months, sometimes viciously and always in a public forum.

With age, I have learned, wisdom does not always come.

And so here I give you my friend Tom’s version of “Roman-style” pizza — only this time I get to comment on his work. Feel free to join in. He’s a big boy, and can (probably) take it.

TOM (via the aforementioned email) Forget wet doughs. I actually kneaded this with my own two paws. Part whole wheat, too.
MM Whole wheat! Are you serious? Geez, Tommy, why not slip into your organic-cotton overalls and swing by the food co-op for a reusable shopping bagful of acai berries! Grow a pair, would you, and make a real pizza dough.

TOM Docked the dough so it wouldn’t puff up too much in this beat-up and brown cookie sheet.
MM My, my, what a cute little plastic toy you have there, Tommy. Can I borrow it to spell out funny words in the sand? Maybe next time you can use it to make a Sonny Corleone-at-the-toll-plaza cookie. (You punch the bullet holes into Sonny with the toy, get it? I didn’t think so. Hey, Beth, how do you live with this clown? Has he even seen “The Godfather?”)

TOM Tomato sauce is standard but the cheese is asiago, havarti and Argentinean parm.
MM I don’t know why I should expect better from a man with only one vowel in his name. (Actually, only one vowel in each of his three names.) Looks like Ragu to me, Tom. And you have heard of mozzarella? I’ve never eaten a pizza in Rome with those cheeses on it. (Back me up here, Joe.) You oughta be ashamed.

TOM Only took 12 minutes to bake at 550.
MM Big freaking deal. One time I ate two sacks of White Castles in less time than that. I don’t get your point.

TOM Plenty of olive oil in the pan virtually fried the crust crispy and not too bready. Just right.

MM I’d give you props for presented this pizza in a manner that is similar to the way many Romans eat it (two slices joined cheese side to cheese side) but my bet is that you don’t know what I’m talking about. As for the pizza, well, Roscioli it ain’t. But… Well, alright, it looks pretty good. Fine, it looks better than pretty good. Happy now?

MM Next time you’re up the house I expect you to make me a couple of these pies, Tommy. Only let me give you some of my sauce, okay. And the flour. And cheese.

I’ve got way more vowels than you have. And they count for something.