Super thin crusts baked in a woodfired oven, generous spread of fresh tomato sauce, creamy buffalo cheese and fresh toppings – with pizzas like that, who needs a lover! An authentic Italian pizza is not just a dish – it is a celebration of sensational flavours that burst in your mouth and make you go ‘Mmmmm (che buono)!’
An authentic Italian pizza is perfection at 5 different levels – the base, the sauce, the cheese, the toppings and last but not the least – the pizza chef. Let’s unravel the secrets of each of these levels to discover what makes the pizza so true to its name…
- The BaseContrary to the deep dish pizzas that we are all accustomed to getting in corner store pizzerias (that originated from USA), cafes and supermarkets, an authentic Italian pizza base is lighter, crispier, thinner and of course tastier. Making an authentic Italian pizza base is an art that only a true romantic can master. The way your wrists knead the soft dough, twirling it between the palms of your hand and making it fly in the air to achieve a consistently thin crust is a result of years of practice.
If you can get the pizza base right, you’ve won half the battle. Authentic Italian pizzas require special Italian pizza flour (Type ‘00’ category, which is the finest and the most refined variety available). Next, the proportion of yeast and salt seasoning to the flour should be unmistakably accurate. When the dough is rolled out properly, it must rest for at least 10 hours before being stretched and cooked in a wood-stocked oven for about 3 ½ minutes to get a distinct flavour and welcoming blisters that Italian pizzas are known for.
Remember, apart from making the pizza base, it is the dough that lends the pizza its unique texture, binds and holds all the flavours together and makes you feel like you’ve been transported to Italy in that single bite!
- The SauceAuthentic Italian pizzas are based with nonna’s special fresh tomato sauce (which doesn’t get cooked at all!). This rich sauce must be prepared with peeled Italian tomatoes, preferably with San Marzano peeled tomatoes, and then blanched with salt, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil to get an original taste. There are no room for modifications and if you cannot get it right the first time, chances are that you’ll have to start from scratch.
- The CheeseWhat’s an authentic Italian pizza without a careful sprinkling of fresh and flavoursome fior di latte, or buffalo cheese! It lends the pizza its distinct texture, which when contrasted against the crispy crust truly surprises and delights the taste-buds! Also remember, there is no compromising on the quality of the cheese. Low-grade cheese not only ruins the authenticity of the pizza’s overall taste but is also bad for health.
- The ToppingsWith the base, sauce and cheese taken care of, it’s time for the toppings to complete the romance in an authentic Italian pizza. Thankfully, this is your scope to go bold and flirt with flavours and textures.
A traditional Italian pizza would just resort to some fresh basil leaves which, together with the red tomato sauce and the white Mozarella di Bufala cheese complete the tri-colour of the Italian flag. However, depending upon the mood, one can sprinkle some oregano and fresh olive oil for a hint of spice. For those with a more experimental temperament, there are loads of textures and flavours to play with.
Some classic Italian ingredients such as Prosciutto San Daniele, Provolone, artichokes, Italian sausage, salami, black olives, anchovies and of course a few strands of fresh basil are the true ‘wonder toppings’ for an authentic Italian pizza. Apart from these, you can also use fresh tomatoes, onions, red capsicum, zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant, ham, capers, shaved parmesan, gorgonzola cheese, tuna or smoked bacon … the choice of toppings is simply endless!
On our menu, we’ve put together loads of different combinations for your reference to ensure that every ingredient matches and complements the other!
- The Pizza ChefThe last and the most important level where all magic combines is in the hands of the pizza chef – the person who brings in his art, experience and expertise to create a culinary masterpiece – the authentic Italian pizza.
So now that you know the secret of making an authentic Italian pizza, put on your chef’s hat and create your own recipe!