Restaurant Quality Pizza – Made at Home

About six years ago my wife and I moved from the Boston area to Texas. We left an area rich with great Italian food and… amazing pizza! We were both a little shocked to discover that the pizza in Texas, just isn’t that good. Sorry Houstonians! You may think your pizza is good, but clearly you have not eaten pizza in the North End of Boston. Great pizza is chewy and crispy with a perfect combination of flavorful cheese and tangy tomato. That great combination is difficult to find here in Texas.

Luckily I worked for several years as a restaurant manager in an Italian restaurant and have learned the finer art of pizza making. In my years working in the restaurant industry I have made thousands of pizzas. Since my options for finding good pizza in Houston were non existent, I decided to figure out how to make great restaurant quality pizza at home.

Over the last few years I have been perfecting my cheese combination and sauce recipe. I have experimented with different cooking techniques to produce a perfectly cooked pizza in my home oven, not some special pizza oven. The results have been sensational and I am excited to share them with you! This video and the recipes below are my secrets to making great pizza… at home.

Tools you will need -
– 1 or 2 Stoneware Pizza Stones – Available here
– Pizza Cutter – This is the one I use
– Pizza Peel – Available here
– Pizza Ladle / Spoodle – A ladle bent flat, see video – Order here

Place your pizza stone into your oven, and then preheat your oven to 500 degrees. It is critical that before turning your oven on, that you place your pizza stone into the oven, so that the temperature of both rises simultaneously. Once your oven reaches 500 degrees wait 10 – 15 minutes before starting, to ensure that your pizza stone comes to temperature. Now you are ready to start making pizza!

Dough -

If you have a good recipe for pizza dough feel free to make your own. Mario Batalli has a good recipe that you can find here. I prefer to purchase a few dough balls from a local pizza restaurant. They usually only charge me a few dollars for two or three dough balls and it makes the process a little easier. Ask the manager at your favorite local pizza shop if they will sell you large dough balls, in my experience most will not have a problem with it.

- Make sure that your dough temperature is at 60 degrees fahrenheit before pounding out your dough. If your dough is too cold you will end up with lots of bubbles when you cook the pizza.

{UPDATE} I get a lot of questions about making dough – Janae Monir has a great post about pizza dough on her food blog – Click here.

Pizza Sauce -

Enough for 4 large pizza’s

1 28 oz container Pomi Strained Tomatoes (You can substitute Hunt’s Tomato Sauce if Pomi is unavailable)
1 6 oz Can of Hunt’s Tomato Paste
½ tsp Garlic Powder
1 ½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Oregano

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix together until smooth. If you have time, let the sauce sit for at least an hour before making your pizza. You want all of the flavors to come together. You can even make the sauce a day ahead and store it in your fridge until you are ready to use it.

Cheese Combination -
I like the following combination, but feel free to experiment and try different cheeses.

- Sliced Provolone cheese (I like Sargento or Boar’s Head)
– Sliced or shredded mozzarella (Some mozzarella cheeses, especially the shredded version don’t have a lot of flavor)
– Shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese
– Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese

Toppings???? Go crazy, have fun, be creative. Pizza is such a fun dinner to make at home, because the combinations of toppings are endless. Get your kids involved and make it a family adventure in the land of pizza making. (For more on toppings see one of my newer posts on pizza toppings)

If you have any questions please leave a comment below, I will make sure to answer. Have fun and enjoy making tasty pizza in the comfort of your own home!

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33 Comments on “Restaurant Quality Pizza – Made at Home”

  1. woodswomen@aol.comy says:

    I’m drooling. What a great step by step video. Can’t wait to try it Erik.

  2. michela says:

    I’m a New Yorker living in Ohio (where they cut their pizza in squares! Squares!) and can’t wait to try your recipe. I discovered that grated parmesan cheese is what makes NY pizza so good and plan to add some in to my cheese combo. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Hmm, never would have thought to just buy crust from a pizza joint. We have a place locally that makes theirs in the traditional Naples fashion too. I’m going to look for Pomi as well. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Memoria says:

    Thank you for the detailed video. I love how you shaped the pizza!

    I think it is so interesting that you used dough from a pizzeria instead of making your own since you stated that the pizza where you live is not very good. I feel like making your own crust is one of the most important parts of a homemade pizza.

    I love that you used Pomì (grave accent on the “i”). That is my favorite brand of tomatoes, and I love that the tomatoes are not housed in a can. I also prefer tomato paste in the tubes like Oro di Parma or Amore. I also use a raw sauce.

    I just made homemade pizza yesterday (I place the adorned pizza on a heated-up jelly roll pan to get the same effect), but the next time I make more, I will remember how you shaped the dough in the video. It was very informative. Thank you.

    • Hi Memoria,

      Luckily there is one or two pizza shops in my area that make great dough, even though the final product is not so good. There is now a pizza shop in town that makes pretty good pizza, but they just opened recently. It took over five years for a decent pizza shop to move into town. Thanks for your feedback!

  5. Oh, my gosh. I just made homemade pizzas today and I also swear by Pomi. There’s nothing better as a sauce. For my first time making pizza dough years ago, I also used Batali’s recipe. However, I will admit that since reading about Trader Joe’s pizza dough in one of my pizza books, I’ve taken the easy route. It’s pretty good! Your dough and your pizza look perfect!

  6. briarrose says:

    Wonderful job on this. The crust looks perfect.

  7. Lynn says:

    That pizza looks perfect! Whenever I make pizza it looks homemade, I would never have guessed this one was.

  8. Tara says:

    It took me a while to make the perfect pizza, finally realizing that my stone needs to be preheated with the oven at 500! Critical! What a difference it made. My favorite toppings are roasted red peppers and olives, along with some goat cheese and of course mozz. Yum. Thanks for sharing your pointers!

    • Mmmmmm Goat Cheese! You are right, the biggest secret is placing your dough on a preheated pizza stone that is 500 degrees. If you don’t the bottom of your pizza will never get crispy.

  9. Wow, that just looks awesome…
    But I actually happen to like when the dough forms bubbles while baking :-)
    Do you have any experience with baking on a cheapo version of a real pizza stone? Like ceramic tiles?

    • If you like the bubbles use really cold dough right out of the fridge and I guarantee you will get more of them. I have never used ceramic tiles, but if they can withstand 500 degree temperatures and you can safely put them in and take them out of an oven. By all means go for it!

    • psoutowood says:

      I bake on unglazed clay tiles and they work great and only cost about a buck a tile. Also, you should try making your own sourdough crust then freezing the dough. It’ll easily keep a month and probably be better than local pizzeria dough. Doubt it? Check out how I make mine:

      http://psoutowood.wordpress.com/bread/handmade-pizza/

      • I will have to try it! I’m not against making my own dough, it’s just a time consuming process. Making the dough and freezing it for when you need it is a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Laura says:

    Thanks for sharing your method! I’m excited to try it. One question I have is about using fresh vegetables. I like to use bell peppers, onions and mushrooms…but they give off a lot of moisture. Is there anything you can do about that?

    • There is nothing that you can do about the extra moisture from the veggies, but don’t worry about it. It won’t negatively effect your pizza. Add as many veggies as you want and your pizza will still be great!

  11. rsmacaalay says:

    I agree that looks like a restaurant quality. It reminded me of the New York Slice pizzas

    Raymund

  12. indigowynd says:

    Erik,

    I completely agree with you on the lack of good pizza here in Houston. There is nothing like the delicious pizza from Boston and in New York. I can’t wait to try your pizza recipe this weekend :)

  13. cookthestory says:

    We have the same problem in Orlando. We moved here from Toronto a couple of years ago and have been desperately searching for good pizza. We’ve made some pies at home but not using the same method as you’ve shown. I’ll try that out and hope that we’ve found our solution to Pizza in Orlando. Thanks!

  14. milnewsca says:

    Cool idea, but you know, at the risk of sounding snobbish, if you’re making it at home, why aim JUST for a take-out pizza standard? :)

  15. Looks like something I have to try soon!

  16. Thanks for making the youtube video on how to stretch out pizza dough. It really helped and i’ll definitely try it out one day. I usually just roll them out with a rolling pin as all recipes suggests it, and we all know that’s not really how it’s supposed to be done :)

  17. Hi Erik, I’m Italian and it’s simply amazing to see how pizza is cooked in so many different ways oversea :) I lived in Italy until 5 years ago so I can say I really tried the difference. If you want you can take a look at my recipe: http://bit.ly/h2T1ti Enjoy!

  18. me on diet says:

    it look goood
    i’ll try it soon
    thanks

  19. johnandelana says:

    I really like prosciutto, fig and arugula with ricotta cheese!

  20. Mike says:

    I like your video, about forming the dough.

    I buy the dough balls at sam clubs they are desent in flavor and I believe its what they make there pizza by the slice from.

    I want a good pizza stone but not sure I will want the pizza that crispy though, I like it to a golden brown but it did look good.

    im always sharing the pizza with nieghbors and they keep telling me I should start a pizza place.

    ive resently started hand tossing my dough which I must say makes for a good pizza

  21. brody says:

    Usually alot of people leave their pizza stones in the oven and slide the pizza off the pizza peel onto the stone. Is your method safe? Like i know its 500 and some degrees, but wouldn’t it burn the wooden peel? and if i slapped my dough onto it wouldn’t it instantly stick?

  22. Vanessa Dobson says:

    Erik were can i find semolina we don’t have that in Boston can you help me find where i can order some online. Also can you show me how to make my own pizza Dough from scatch or email me and tell me how to do it and how much of every thing to put in it so i can make me my own pizza dough. Thanks my

  23. Andrea says:

    Awesome video! Thanks so much for sharing. I just found a blog that bragged they had the perfect pizza crust (I tried it, and they were right! Here’s the link if you’re interested: http://www.annies-eats.com/2008/08/15/perfect-pizza-crust/) I then began searching for the right cheese recipe and found you. As a bonus, you just showed me how to shape the dough. I have the stone but not the peel so that’s my next big purchase. Can’t wait to shop for the cheese and try again. Thanks again!!

  24. johnwarwickj says:

    For 15 years on Thanksgiving eve we have friends and neighbors over for pizza which my brother always made (12-16 pizzas) He is gone and now it falls on me. i’ll buy the dough at the local bakery but my attempts have turned out doughy in the middle. i have stone but question is on what do i do with dough bought day before in plastic bags in refrigerator.? How long does it need to be out of refrigerator to rise before using? Do i take it out of plastic bags and cover with a warm towel? Put it in 15 bowls and cover? How long should it be allowed to rise.? Your video was great on making but i’m lost prior to that. I
    Any suggestions would help.
    Thanks


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