favorite party food—and one for dessert!
I probably don’t need to sell you on pizza, do I? Hot, cheesy, savory, and chewy, these crusty slices of heaven are top sellers at my restaurant (and pizza joints around the country) for a reason. I have a special connection to ’za, though. The dough-sauce-and-cheese-layered variety we all know can trace its origins to Naples, where my grandfather was from. Some of my earliest kitchen memories are of making pizza with him, and when I spend time tossing and topping dough with my own daughter, it brings me right back to those happy times.
Like any Italian cook worth her salt, I have a few classic combos I come back to again and again. I love a Margherita, that classic whose red, white, and green combo of tomatoes, cheese, and basil was said to be inspired by the Italian flag and named after a nineteenth-century queen. But now and then I also like to play with other flavor pairings and with seasonal ingredients. If you feel like sampling a bunch of different tastes, well, there’s no better excuse that I can think of than to call up a few friends, fire up the oven, and start rolling out the dough for a pizza party.
Though you’ll want your offerings to run the gamut of topping possibilities, it’s smart to include a few basics. If you slice up good ol’ cheese or Margherita pies for your crew, they’ll be tempted to try your more adventurous offerings, too. My Margherita couldn’t be simpler: dough (you can make your own or pick some up balls at your local pizzeria or the grocery store’s freezer) and sauce made of canned crushed tomatoes, shredded mozzarella, and a few leaves of basil. That’s it. My Bianca Pizza is just as elemental, but not as everyday: flattened pizza dough sprinkled with salt and thyme, baked for 15
minutes, then topped with slices of mortadella. Game day is just right for canapé-sized pizzettes. In the version here, earthy mushrooms and kale combine with pungent Gorgonzola for a cocktail-party-worthy bite that’s hard to pass up. And because everyone loves sweets—yours truly included!—I’ve fired up a calzone filled with creamy ricotta and chocolaty chocolate-hazelnut spread that’s a handheld bit of happiness.