When I make a few pizzas, the one I often end up liking the best was the one that wasn't planned so much, but just sort of came together. This pizza may have been born because I was in a store and something caught my eye. I might have come across a new pile of chili peppers. I might have sampled 5 or 6 salted pork products and found something interesting. Or, I may have had something at home that spurred an idea or tied some of the other ingredients I had shopped for together.
This favorite pizza of mine is more often than not the "Last Pizza" I made. It's my left over ingredient pizza, or my "idea pizza." It's the one where I let chance or even fate drive the story of the pizza I am creating. This is a fun pizza to make. It comes together a little more organically, as if you said to yourself that you felt like pizza that day and went out to the garden to see what you could find. The "Last Pizza" is truly a creation from scratch. When you hit a home run, or sometimes a grand slam with this pizza, it's a little more special because there is just a touch more discovery here than when you follow a recipe. I think there is a bit of this in all the pizzas we make, which may be why we're on a quest here.
Kelly Whitaker at Pizzeria Basta has a list of pizzas on his menu that are always there like most restaurants. As a customer, you know you can get your favorite pizza, which is what we often crave. He also has a Market Menu that is driven by this same concept of cooking with the most fresh and interesting ingredients you can find. I love that in a restaurant. It makes me feel that the chef is thinking and touching the process and, more importantly, caring about it. If I were a chef, I would certainly want to cook this way. They spend a lot of time developing the menu designed to satisfy their customers. But, I think that a chef would enjoy this process of discovering and creating something new even more than I do with my "Last Pizza". To Kelly, I imagine this is what the Market Menu provides for him. And, if you're like me, it provides a great option as a customer to enjoy something new at a familiar place.
I will probably continue to visit Basta's website (www.pizzeriabasta.com) to see what new Market Menu pizzas Kelly and his team come up with. After all, I am just a home cook; Kelly is the chef and I am happy to follow his lead and make and share his pizza ideas. Interestingly, as I choose to make my versions of Kelly's Market Menu Pizzas in the future, they will become my planned pizzas and, while I'm out shopping for those ingredients, I will keep an eye out for something different for my own new Last Pizza for that day!
Looking at his Market Menu pizza online recently, I could see that this was definitely a gourmet ingredient driven pizza. First of all, he is using the Bianco Dinapoli Organic Tomatoes. I did a series of recipes using these - just a simple crushed tomato sauce with nothing added, and it was almost unbelievable how good they were. In fact, my son Owen commented that day on how great my sauce was. It was such hard work for me. I opened the can and squeezed the tomatoes into a bowl by hand. How pure is that?
He also used a nice salami that
I am familiar with and was able to find in my local Whole Foods. And, to top it off, he used Annabella Buffalo Mozzarella, which we had the pleasure of tasting and using for some pizzas when we were filming Peter at The Fire Within Pizza Conference about a year or so ago.
How can you make a bad pizza with such great ingredients? As long as you have a good dough, you can't.
A Pizzeria Basta-Style Market Menu Pizza
- Peter's Classic Pizza Dough *See archives for recipe
- Bianco DiNapoli Tomatoes *Hand Crushed and Served (Or, any high quality canned tomato)
- Salumi - thinly sliced, your favorite type
- Buffalo Mozzarella
- Sliced Red Onion
Pre-heat oven to highest temperature (550 on most home ovens) at least an hour prior to baking in order to get your pizza stone up to the right temperature.
Shape your dough and place it on a well-floured pizza peel.
Add the hand crushed tomatoes to the dough.
Add the slices of Salumi.
Add pinches of Buffalo Mozzarella.
*Consider how this will melt! I suggest using a little less than you think if using a home oven. A soft wet cheese like this can be runny.
Add slices of your red onion.
It's time for the oven.
This one baked for about 8-9 minutes on Convection Bake - which adjusts my temperature down to 525 degrees.
This pizza was delicious! It came out quite runny as you can see from the pictures. I think that these soft/wet cheeses are more suited to Wood Oven Temperatures where the liquid from the wet sauce and wet cheese cooks off a bit more. It did solidify as the pie cooled, though. And, as I said, it was delicious. I have written before about the Bianco DiNapoli Tomatoes - they are truly wonderful. The nice Salumi I had picked out, and the creamy Buffalo Mozzarella with the soft red onion accent came together and reminded me what pizza was meant to be.