Seven Pizza Toppings To Try Before You Die
Mr Massimo Bottura’s sausage, caramelised onion, parmesan and balsamic pizza at Hai Cenato. Photograph courtesy of Hai Cenato
Forgot everything you know about traditional pizza and grab a slice with a twist for National Pizza Day .
In Naples – where the nation’s favourite snack was invented – there are pizza purists who are evangelical about toppings. They should consist of little more than San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella from Campania. The base must be made from fine 00 flour, and the pizzas cooked in a scorching hot wood-fired oven. Last year, the art of dough twirling, or pizzaiuolo, employed by Neapolitan pizza chefs was awarded UNESCO’s coveted Intangible Cultural Heritage status. But outside its homeland, Italy’s favourite cheese-laden snack has been reimagined in countless forms, from Chicago deep dish to thin New York slices, Argentinian-style dough cooked in a frying pan to curry-topped Indian pizzas. In honour of National Pizza Day, here are seven off-the-wall slices from around the world to try before you die. Neapolitans, look away now.
For the boozehound
Many Italians would grimace at the idea of mixing cream and tomato, two ingredients usually set resolutely apart within northern and southern Italian culinary traditions. Not the case at Rubirosa, however, where the sauce for the signature vodka pizza is made according to a 57-year-old family recipe inspired by the classic Italian-American dish penne alla vodka. Tomatoes, cream, chilli and garlic are simmered down then pureéd before a heady dash of vodka is added. Rubirosa is run by the Pappalardo family, New York pizza legends known for the huge, rimless slices they serve at their Staten Island institution, Joe & Pat’s. Their Manhattan sister restaurant keeps the family tradition going. Wafer-thin, extra-crispy bases are topped with the fluorescent-red vodka sauce and a scant scattering of mozzarella. Best eaten standing up, while putting the world to rights, New Yorker-style.
For the cheese addict
When Italians arrived in the Argentinian capital, they brought pizza. The first documented version in Buenos Aires was made by Naples native Mr Nicolas Vaccarezza in 1882. More than 130 years later, the city is still dough crazy, but the version eaten here is far removed from the Neapolitan original. Pizzería Güerrin is the place to try the Buenos Aires signature slice. Founded by Genoise emigrants in 1932, the lively restaurant is known for its masterful pizzeros, many of whom have been manning the ovens for more than 30 years. The 2cm-thick base is made with risen, focaccia-style dough, smothered with a heart attack-inducing amount of mozzarella from Güerrin’s own dairy farm, then cooked in a frying pan. Sit at the original 1930s counter and eat it golden and bubbling from the wood-fired oven.
For the haggis lover
Scozia pizza at Dough, Edinburgh. Photograph courtesy of Dough
Scottish and Italian flavours collide in the Scozia pizza from Dough, which has two small pizza restaurants in Edinburgh. The dough in question is proved for 72 hours, then spread with San Marzano tomato passata, DOP fior di latte mozzarella and crisp smoked pancetta. It’s there the Italian traditions end. Next come thick slices of peppery Stornoway black pudding, crumbled Macsween haggis and a fried egg. Just the thing to line your stomach before a few drams in the Scottish capital
For the man who has everything
If you find yourself in Steveston, a sleepy harbour town just outside Vancouver, with money to burn, head to family-run Steveston Pizza Co and order the Seenay. The base is crisp, fluffy and thicker than your average, presumably to hold the generous number of luxury toppings. This blow-out pizza comes piled high with tiger prawns, lobster ratatouille, smoked trout, glossy blobs of Russian Osetra caviar and a “snow” of Italian white truffles. We’d say that’s $850 well spent.
For the foodie
Mr Massimo Bottura’s pizza at Hai Cenato. Photograph courtesy of Hai Cenato
London is soon to be home to a pizza dreamt up by the godfather of modern Italian cooking, Mr Massimo Bottura. His one-off creation will be available throughout February as part of a series of notable collaborations at Hai Cenato, the Italian-American restaurant run by Mr Jason Atherton in the Nova development in Victoria. Like so much of Mr Bottura’s cooking, it’s a love letter to his home town of Modena. It features cotechino (a rich Modenese sausage traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve) caramelised onions, parmigiano reggiano and heady, intense balsamic vinegar from Modena. With £1 from each order donated to the charity Hospitality Action, there’s no excuse needed to carb-load.
For the sweet tooth
Pizza Pilgrims started life when its founders, brothers Mr James and Mr Thom Elliot, travelled across Italy in search of the quintessential Italian slice. Their Calzonification pizza is anything but traditional, however. Diners at the Shoreditch branch can feast on a calzone made from a choice of classic chocolate bars, folded between a slow-proved sourdough base and cooked in a specially imported wood-fired oven. So far, so Hackney. But put your hipster prejudices aside so you can gorge on melted Kinder Bueno, Mars Bar or Snickers engulfed in soft, slightly chewy dough (with a scoop of gelato melting on top).
For the traditionalist
Margherita pizza at Pizza Studio Tamaki, Tokyo. Photograph courtesy of Pizza Studio Tamaki
Mr Tsubasa Tamaki has never been to Italy, but he is turning out some of the world’s finest Neapolitan pizza. Diners queue outside his tiny 10-seater PST restaurant, a short train ride from Akabanebashi station, to watch the Japanese chef deftly shape and stretch the dough from an open kitchen. Mr Tamaki has an obsessive approach, sourcing incredible-quality tomatoes and mozzarella from southern Italy. His closely guarded dough recipe, which he has perfected over several years, uses half Japanese, half American flour. Mr Tamaki makes tiny protrusions in the base before it’s cooked, which become singed by the wood-fired oven and result in an intensely charred flavour.