If you've got a backyard or deck and a grill, grilling pizzas is a natural in the summer. After lighting up the grill, hot, crisp-chewy, perfectly blistered crust is just a few minutes away. But what if you, like me, recently moved from a decked-out Brooklyn apartment to a Manhattan high rise with no outdoor space? The answer seems obvious: Grill the pizza indoors on a grill pan.
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Photographs by Nick Solares Paulie Gee's 60 Greenpoint Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11222; 347-987-3747; pauliegee.com Pizza Style: Neapolitan-style pizza Oven Type: Wood-fired oven The Skinny: As much as a labor of love as any pizzeria out there, Paulie Gee's creates a warm, inviting mood and serves wonderful pies patterned on the Neapolitan model but with a local slant Price: Individual pies, $11 to $17 Notes: Liquor license coming next week If Paulie Gee ever runs out of fuel for his oven, he could probably scuttle his restaurant's interior, which is decked out floor to ceiling in wood, and keep making pizzas...
Because these pizzas are so thin, it's possible to overcome the limitations of a home oven and generate extreme heat long enough to bake the pie to blistery perfection. I find that the easiest and safest way to achieve this level of heat is Heston Blumenthal's broiler method. Blumenthal superheats a cast iron skillet, inverts it, places the pie on the underside of the skillet, and slides it under the broiler to cook the pizza with bidirectional heat.
The best and worst thing about this dough is that it's wet and sticky: Water develops the gluten proteins in the flour, causing the dough to stretch beautifully when the yeast produces a high volume of gas in the heat of the oven. It's undeniably hard to roll out, but considering that rolling out the dough is the only difficult step in the entire process, this strikes me as an eminently fair trade-off.
For my money, grilling pizza is by far the best way to cook pizza at home. The basic theory is easy. Take a round of pizza dough, expose it to the intense heat of a grill, flip it, top it, char the bottom, and serve. Because grills can reach upwards of 600°F and emit radiant energy like a motherfu**er, the pizzas bubble, crisp, and char in about 45 seconds flat per side. That's timing that rivals the hottest wood-burning oven, and just like those pizzas, the result is a crust that is soft and chewy in the center, with a crisp, crackly shell that's deeply charred in spots.