My father worked in a bakery. And right next door was Tony's Pizzeria. Tony made the best pizza in the world. This wasn't the prefab Domino's or Pizza Hut or Papa John's. Tony's was real Bronx pizza, and I usually had a slice on my way home from school. Years later, I can still taste the tomato sauce combined with the dried oregano and garlic powder to form the perfect New York City Pizza taste.
I live on Kauai where my options are limited. Even in Honolulu, I can't find any pizza that satisfies my cravings for a slice of Tony's. Some people say it's NYC water that makes the pizza. So, I asked my dad. You see, my father and Tony were pretty close, helping out each other when needed.
"No, it has nothing to do with the water. It's the fermentation," said my father.
"The best pizza has a dough that sits in a refrigerator for three days. It's gives the dough time to ferment, to change the flavor to a taste that's purely Bronx. And the best part, you can use the same dough for pizza or bagels."
"Yeah. Me and Tony used the same recipe. We used to lend each other dough in a pinch."
"You think I joke about pizza or bagels?"
"No. Anyway, what's the recipe?"
"Alan, that's top secret."
"Come on, Dad. Who am I going to tell?"
Tony's Pizza Recipe
- 700 grams All Purpose flour (you can use bread flour, but it's not necessary) - 100% - 5 1/2 to 6 cups
- 420 grams water - 60% - 1 3/4 cups water
- 18 grams salt - 2.5% - 1 Tablespoon
- 2 grams yeast - .25% - 1/2 Teaspoon
- 20 grams diastatic malt powder or sugar - 3%- (if you're using sugar, a little less than two tablespoons).
- Crushed tomatoes with salt and sugar to taste. NOT COOKED. Just pureed tomatoes with salt and sugar.
Mozarella Cheese - shredded
PROCEDURE TO MAKE DOUGH
Put the water in a bowl. Add the salt. Add the flour. Let it sit for about an hour. Don't stir. Don't mix. Just let the flour absorb the water. Add the sugar and yeast. Knead. Let the dough rest covered for about twenty-five minutes. Divide into 6 equal dough balls (about 190 grams each). Place on an oiled half-sheet. Lightly oil each dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap.
Place in refrigerator, at least overnight but three days is the best. When getting ready to bake, take three dough balls out of the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for about an hour. The other three dough balls, you can take out about a 1/2 hour after the first dough balls are removed from the refrigerator.
BAKING THE PIZZA
Preheat oven/pizza stone/pizza oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius).
After letting the dough ball rest outside of refrigerator for an hour, press the dough ball into circle.
Then stretch out the dough into about a ten inch (25 centimeters) circle.
For the sauce, crushed tomatoes with a little sugar and salt to taste.
For the cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese.
When building the pizza, use a lot more sauce than cheese. NYC Bronx Pizza is not a heavily covered in cheese. It's no Costco junk pizza. This is definitely a case where less cheese is more.
At that temperature, the pizza should take about five to six minutes to bake.
Best Bronx New York City Pizza Ever.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to use a pizza stone or pizza oven? Yes. If you don't, the top of the pizza will bake faster than then the bottom. That's why it's necessary to preheat the stone or specialty pizza oven. The reality is that if you're not baking the pizza at about 500 Fahrenheit (265 Celsius), you're not going to be able to make a New York City pizza.
When I've used a pizza stone, it has made a big mess in the oven. Do you have any suggestions? That's why my dad recommends one of these pizza ovens from Williams-Sonoma or Amazon. He said that even Tony would have problems making a pizza in the typical home oven.
That pizza ovens are pretty expensive, are you sure they're worth it? If you want to make pizza regularly at home, get one. If you only plan to make pizza one time, do take out. It'll be easier and not as expensive.
A lot of pizza recipes call for a dough to rise until double, then divided, then baked. Your dough recipe doesn't. Why is that? NYC Pizza dough (and most doughs) get better with a slow managed rise in a refrigerator. That fermentation changes the taste and texture of the dough. This is pizza that is being made, not a loaf of bread.
Rather than making the dough in separate balls, can I just make one big ball and divide it before I bake? The problem with that method is that the dough will likely be tough. Once you divide the dough, the gluten in the dough tightens. If you do "bulk ferment" the dough, make sure you let the dough rest before baking.
I can't wait three days to make the dough. Can I use the dough after only a few hours? I suggest at least overnight in the refrigerator. You can also make it early in the morning and use it for dinner. But on the third day, the transformation is complete.
Can I use the pizza sauce that is sold in stores? You can, but the NYC Pizza sauce is just crushed tomatoes, salt, sugar. There might be a little oregano but that's it. The sauce cooks when in the oven.
I like pizza with a lot more cheese. Can I add more cheese? It's your pizza. But try it one time with less cheese and more sauce.
Jeff Varasano says that the oven should be much hotter. Why do you recommend only 500 degrees? Jeff's pizza is the neapolitan style. I never saw that type of pizza in NYC. The typical NYC pizza is baked at 500-550 with a baking time of about six minutes. It could be more or less depending on how busy the pizza shop is.
If I have any questions, can I email you. Sure.
Have a Question? It's Sympile.
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