pizzazz for the pizzas

Barcelona, 2007

me, saying to the waiter at a restaurant: i’ll have the burger and fries, please. thank you.

husband, looking at me with bewilderment (after the waiter had gone away): that’s the third time in a row you ordered that meal here. aren’t you going to try the pizzas? they’re so fresh & good.

me, thinking of the Pizza Hut & Izzi Pizza back in Indonesia and Koti Pizza in Finland, and wondering what could be so special about pizzas: no, thanks.

14 years later, and he still hasn’t let me forget this conversation. 😅

as a silly Asian tourist, back then when we had our first trip abroad together as a married couple i chose to eat burger (what? i love meat!) rather than try a fresh pizza that was–according to my husband–different than the other pizzas we’d had. in my head, pizzas were just pizzas no matter where you go.

that was before i got to know what a Neapolitan pizza is.

based on a page in Wikipedia, Neapolitan pizza is different from the other pizzas from the fact that it has to have specific tomatoes in the tomato sauce and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana in the topping, and also that when the pizza is done it is soft & tender from the middle part.

my first experience of eating a Neapolitan pizza was actually done in Finland. there is this hip & trendy Neapolitan pizza restaurant in the city center, and after our first try, my husband & i fell in love with it. we’d go there for special occasions, and for the first time in my life, i really understood what my husband meant when a pizza can be ‘so fresh & good’.

the restaurant’s pizza con salame.

the restaurant’s diavola pizza.

and then, just like the other things, 2020 happened and ruined it.

for over a year, we couldn’t go to that restaurant and we missed those pizzas so much.

but 2020 didn’t only bring bad things.

it brought me new friends, and one of them is my lovely Italian friend, E.

during my mental health problem days in 2021, i asked if she knew how to make Neapolitan pizza dough. to my delight, she said yes, and generously gave me the recipe!! 😍

i was so excited to try it, and even though we don’t have stone oven (my Italian friend doesn’t have one either), we decided to give it a go.

FYI, before that, i had never made pizza dough on my own in my whole life. so when it all came out perfectly & the taste was exactly the same as the one we used to buy from the restaurant, i was so damn proud of myself!

kneading the dough by hand is supposedly a ‘must’ for making Neapolitan pizzas.

i’m too shy to share the actual recipe (because who knows, a Neapolitan might see it and scold me that it’s incorrect or whatever), but i can tell you that the dough consists of flour, yeast, water, salt, and sugar. olive oil is optional, but of course i use it all the time. i personally think this is what makes the dough taste exactly the same as the restaurant’s pizza.

olive oil… yum!

the original recipe from my friend said to use less amount of yeast, and the rising time is 12 hours.

let it rise… for 8 hours!

12 HOURS?!?!?! yeah, i might have fainted when she said that. but then she said if i double the amount of the yeast, i can let it rise for ‘only’ 8 hours, so i opted for this method!

slice into the tomatoes just a tiny bit…

for the tomato sauce, my friend said it’s okay to use canned tomatoes, but we really wanted to have the best ingredients possible, so we found a recipe online on how to make a Neapolitan pizza tomato sauce. just like the Wikipedia page said, it needs San Marzano tomatoes.

… and let the tomatoes simmer in boiling water for a few minutes.

it may sound like a hassle for some, but believe me, it’s actually kind of addictive. being able to do everything from scratch gives a new meaning (to me) to eat this delightful food, as if there is a purpose to everything i do. ❤ it gave me back my appetite which wasn’t around for a time back then, and it made me love eating again.

now the tomato skin gets off very easily!

so for the tomato sauce, we used fresh San Marzano tomatoes (peeled and crushed), olive oil, salt, oregano, and basil leaves.

crush, crush.

before reading the Wikipedia page about Neapolitan pizza, my husband and i planned to copy the topping ingredients from the restaurant’s menu. our faves were the Con Salame pizza and Diavola.

more olive oil.

i asked my Italian friend if she knew good mozzarella cheese for the pizzas. she was the one who told me about Bufala mozzarella, and trying our luck, we searched for it.

chopped basil leaves: check!

luckily for us, we found it, and also found some salami that is also from the Naples, and even Nduja sausage (a very spicy sausage ‘spread’), all of which are the very same things that were written on the restaurant’s menu!

the wait was finally over! phew!

out of laziness (hello, this is me we’re talking about), i always spread the dough by hand. and funnily enough, now that i found that Wikipedia page, it turns out that it should exactly be made like that instead of with a rolling pin!

i do try to make it as thin as possible, but since i’m not a pro, i guess sometimes they’re still a bit thicker than 3mm.

con salame: Neapolitan salami, Bufala mozzarella, basil leaves.

the first few times we made the pizzas, i cut the Bufala mozzarella into small pieces like the picture above. lately, though, i’ve been cutting them in thin slices but let the whole width be the way they are.

fresh from the oven!! 😋

the first time we made this pizza on our own & ate it, i almost cried from happiness. it was just so surreal to taste the exact same Neapolitan pizza as the ones we used to buy from the restaurant after more than a year of not having them, and the fact that we did it ourselves was just an unforgettable experience.

sometimes we add chili flakes to the con salame pizza just for a bit of spiciness.

we’ve been making these pizzas now at least once a month. not only does it save a lot of money, it gives me such a pleasure to make them.

diavola: Nduja sausage, Bufala mozzarella, pecorino romano cheese, basil leaves.

even when it’s a workday for me, i’d just get up an hour earlier to make the dough in the morning, leave it to rise as i go to work, and then after coming home we’d continue the rest of the process.

a slice of the diavola pizza, before the Nduja sausage is spread.

if you ever want to try making your own Neapolitan pizza, i suggest you splurge on the topping ingredients. try to go as close to the original ingredients as you can. believe me, you won’t regret a single penny you spent on it!

after spreading the Nduja sausage, this is what it looks like.

next time we can travel again (and i’m already dreaming of going to Italy, of course), i’m definitely going to try to eat the local pizzas. who knew there are all kinds of pizzas out there?

for now, at least, these pizzas are my newfound treasure & hobby. 🍕🥰 buon appetito!

6 thoughts on “pizzazz for the pizzas

  1. Wowowow! So the next step would be to open a Neapolitan pizza resto, haha, just kidding :)) Lucky you, to have an Italian friend who so generously gave you the recipe for the dough. I am really amazed at your courage to make something you’ve never made before, and the persistence to look for the exact same ingredients used by the resto!
    Congrats to you and hubby for the great success with the Neapolitan pizza, and may there be many, many more pizza creations by you! ❤

    • actually, that’s what we’ve been saying too. now that we can make ‘restaurant-quality’ Neapolitan pizzas, it’s almost like having our own restaurant (without having to serve others, LOL!). before this, we’ve always only made pizzas by using ready-made pizza dough from the supermarket. making it from scratch makes all the difference! 😊 and it helped bring me back my appetite, which is just as important. ❤

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