I'm currently exploring some of Pizzeria Basta's great pizzas. The word Basta means "enough" in Italian. I think that word offers a great insight into Kelly's cooking in general. With Basta he created a pizzeria restaurant that showcases delicious foods in a simple and pure way. He also wants everything to be "touched by the fire," so literally everything eventually sees some time in his custom wood fired oven, either from start to finish, or as a finishing touch like his Sous Vide Beef Ribs that slowly cook under pressure for up to 72 hours, and then see the intense heat of the wood fired oven just long enough to add the crispy charred outer layer that completes the dish. He allows his ingredients to speak for themselves and blends them beautifully.
I think Kelly's concept of "Enough" speaks to the simplicity, balance, and purity of the tastes he is striving to share with his customers. When you watch him preparing a dish (we hope to bring you more videos of that soon), you see that he is taking those elements into consideration at every step. He doesn't just place an ingredient on a pizza. You see him staring, almost analyzing each move he makes. You can imagine that in his mind you'd be hearing "That's just right.", or "Enough" when he places his basil down, or adds a touch of salt, or even the amount of cheese he lays across a pie. The bottom line is that he cares about what he is doing and that transforms ordinary quality ingredients into something great.
I love that about his cooking. It brings a true balance to all of his food. He allows each ingredient to be tasted and yet become something more when brought together.
One of the perfect pizzas on his menu that celebrates this philosophy is the White Pizza. It is dough, cheese, basil and a little garlic. That's simple perfection. You'll see below how, in my version, I added a little more than enough of one ingredient. Although my pizza was fantastic I came away with a better understanding of what Kelly was striving for because of my own lesson in finding balance.
Kelly's White Pizza
- Peter's Classic Pizza Dough *See archives for recipe
- Peter's Herb Oil *See archives for recipe
- Sliced Garlic
- Whole Fresh Basil Leaves
Pre-heat oven to highest temperature (550 on most home ovens) for at least 45 minutes to an hour prior to baking in order to get your pizza stone up to the right temperature.
Spread out your dough and place it on your well-floured pizza peel.
Add a little Herb Oil to the dough - Hint: use just "enough"!
Add the Mozzarella and pinches of the Ricotta cheeses. Consider how they will melt together to determine the amount you want.
Add a little thinly sliced garlic
Drag your basil leaves through the garlic oil to coat and place them on the pizza. In fact, if you are doing this, you may even omit the step where you add the herb oil to the dough. I think this alone will be "enough". I like the way the basil comes out when it has some oil on it. It stays a little more moist and also gets crispy.
It's time for the oven.
This one baked for 7 minutes on Convection Bake - which adjusts my temperature down to 525 degrees.
Looks nice! It has a nice deep colored crust and a little charring.
Add a little Sea Salt and you are good to go.
The crust is puffy and the pizza has some nice caramelizing all around. It is delicious. You experience the warm crust followed by the garlic cheese and the then aromatic basil chimes in as a finishing note.
*Note: As I said above, my version had a little too much oil. Next time, I would adjust the amount I used on the crust back a little bit. I don't know if Kelly used a little oil on his crust - it's not listed in the ingredients on the menu. I added it because I love what this herb oil does - especially on simple cheese featured pizzas, so I almost always add it if I'm not using another sauce.