What is Margherita Pizza?
Margherita pizza or ‘pizza margherita’ is the simplest pizza agoing. You may look at it at first glance and call it cheese pizza, however it’s so much more than that. Neapolitan margherita pizza goes a step above plain cheese with freshly sliced mozzarella, tomato sauce made from San Marzano or plum tomatoes, and fresh basil. If you venture to Italy you’ll find margherita pizza on every pizza joint’s menu.
For simplicity, I usually opt for my favorite brand of pizza sauce. I really like Victoria’s pizza sauce. If you’re feeling REALLY authentic, you can buy canned San Marzano or plum tomatoes and blend with a pinch of salt, a splash of olive oil, and a garlic clove to make your own homemade Neapolitan-style pizza sauce.
Whichever you decide to do, always go light on the sauce. Too thick and the crust will get soggy. Fresh mozzarella contains more moisture than processed shredded cheese, so keep toppings light so your crust stays crispy.
How to Make Neapolitan-Style Pizza
Outside of the authentic fresh Italian ingredients, Neapolitan-style pizza is the technique of quickly cooking pizza at very high temperatures.
Since we don’t have a 1000° F wood-fired pizza oven lying around, I opt for a pizza stone. I heat the stone up for one hour in the oven at 500° F before baking. Then I throw the pizza in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes for the perfect finish every time. The pizza stones allows for better crust due to the high temperatures generated by the stone while it sits in the oven.
One final and really important step. Once the crust is golden and the pizza is near complete, I like to switch the oven to broil and crisp the top of the pizza for about a minute. Carefully monitor the pizza during this stage as it can turn from delicately charred to burned very quickly.
Here are a few tips on cooking the perfect pizza at home.Print
- 18–20 ounces pizza dough
- 1/2 cup Victoria’s Pizza Sauce or homemade pizza sauce
- 6–7 1/4 inch slices fresh mozzarella
- 3–4 basil leaves chopped or arranged in the center
- Flour, for pizza peel
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, for crust
- pinch of salt
Homemade pizza sauce
- 1 can (28 ounce) whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- pinch of salt
For the homemade sauce
- Combine all ingredient in a blender or food processor. Pulse 4-5 times until smooth. This will render more, but you’ll only want about 1/2 a cup of sauce for the pizza.
For the pizza
- Preheat the oven to 500° F. Place the pizza stone in the oven and let preheat for one hour.
- Meanwhile, roll out the dough into a 12 inch crust. Be sure the dough is adequately floured and not sticky. A little extra is better.
- Place a small handful of flour onto a pizza peel and spread evenly to prevent the dough from sticking to the peel.
- Transfer the dough onto the peel. Top with a light coating of evenly spread olive oil. Use the backside of the spoon to spread the oil over the entire crust. Sprinkle with a little salt. Evenly coat with pizza sauce leaving a 1 inch crust all the way around. Add the fresh mozzarella.
- Slide the finished pizza onto the pizza stone and bake for 10-15 minutes. Be sure to carefully watch the pizza because all ovens will cook at different rates. Sometimes it will only take 10 minutes to fully cook. Once pizza is golden, turn the oven to high-broil and let broil for about 1 minute, or until crust and cheese presents a few lightly charred spots.
- Remove from the oven, let cool, and serve topped with fresh basil.