If you love pizza and think it’s impossible to make restaurant worthy pizza at home, think again. Using good quality ingredients and a few simple techniques might get you in the ranks of some of the best pies you’ve ever enjoyed. While you may not have a pizza oven in your backyard, we have 10 tips to help you to make a delicious, thin-crust Margherita pie in the comfort of your own home.
Do the Dough
In order to make restaurant style pizza, you must start with a good dough. Forget about pre-baked pizza crusts from the grocery store. If you want to achieve a delicious restaurant quality pizza, begin with fresh dough. No time? Fresh dough from the deli section of the grocery store is a great option.
Rising time allows the dough to develop flavour. Ensure your dough rises in a warm environment. Roll your dough on a floured surface into a thin even circle — if the dough is very elastic, let it rest for a few minutes before you dress.
Cornmeal is Key
Transfer your dough to a cutting board dusted with cornmeal. This will make it easier to get your pizza into the oven once it’s dressed, and also provide a nice crunch.
Simmer Your Sauce
The best way to achieve restaurant style pizza sauce is by making it yourself. Don’t bother using fresh tomatoes. Canned whole San Marzano tomatoes are the most consistent in quality, and have the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. Pulse your tomatoes in a food processor, then simmer with good quality olive oil, minced onion and garlic. No need for other spices, but make sure to add plenty of salt to taste.
Steady on the Sauce
This cannot be stressed enough: Add a thin layer of sauce onto your dough. If you add too much, you will have a soggy pizza.
Less is More
The trick to topping a restaurant style pizza is to keep it simple. After spooning on a thin layer of sauce, top with fresh sliced mozzarella cheese. Quality counts more than quantity here. Four or five slices of good quality fresh Mozzarella from your local cheesemonger will deliver a much better flavour and texture than store-bought shredded cheese.
Set on Stone
To achieve restaurant style pizza, you’ll need a pizza stone or tile. They typically cost around $30 and can last a lifetime. Do not place a cold stone in a hot oven or it wilI crack. Heat the stone in your oven for a full hour before you use it. This will allow it to fully absorb the heat, and give you a perfectly crispy crust.
Crank the Heat
The importance of a hot oven is often underestimated. Set your oven to the hottest it will go and allow it to preheat for ample time. Place the pizza stone on a rack in the upper 1/3 of the oven.
The trickiest part of making restaurant style pizza is getting the pizza on to the stone in one swift motion. You don’t want the oven door open too long, or the oven will cool down. You also don’t want to pizza to fold or pleat when transferring the pizza onto the stone. This is where ample cornmeal helps make the process smoother, so you can shut the door quickly.
Keep Your Eye on the Pie
Once the cheese is melted, and the dough has risen and has a golden colour, remove from the oven. It should take about 5 minutes. Garnish with freshly torn basil leaves, slice and serve.
Michelle is a Toronto-based food stylist and recipe developer. When she is not in the kitchen, which is almost never, you can find her doing ceramics or biking. Her favourite food is simply soft scrambled eggs.