The Pizza Lab

Dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of home pizza making through science.

Neapolitan Pizza With Cherry Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Garlic, and Basil

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

I baked this pizza not more than a mile away from Una Pizza Napoletana, Anthony Mangieri's San Francisco pizzeria. Fitting, as the original New York East Village location of the restaurant was the first place I'd tried this particular combination of ingredients. Known on his limited menu as the filetti, it consists of split cherry tomatoes added raw along with mozzarella, basil, sliced garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil.

The cherry tomatoes intensify in flavor and sweetness during their brief stay in a hot oven, softening ever-so-slightly to let their juices spread across the melted cheese, while the basil singes, its aroma filling the air as you eat.

The only differences in my own version are the inclusion of a thin layer of un-cooked San Marzano tomatoes under the cheese (I missed the way the tomato sauce moistens the bottom crust as it cooks), and a sprinkling of Parmesan, which it frankly doesn't need, but I added because I'm an unabashed Parm-whore.

If you can't tell from the beautifully photogenic table in my friend's backyard, this pie was cooked during the same testing session as this Sausage and Radicchio Pizza and this Fig and Goat's Milk Feta Pizza, which means that it was baked in a KettlePizza/Baking Steel combo—the very best way I know of as yet to cook pizza at home.

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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