Pizza From The Restaurant Made Better At Home

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Image: Peter Miller

Your best pizza joint is close to reopening. But if you are careful, and conscientious, you can take these days, and learn to reheat a pizza, in a way that will make you burst with pride and pleasure. 

You can of course take this time and learn to make your own pizza, or even your own pizza oven. That is something else. This is an insider trick. Soon, you will again not have any time and this trick is a handy one for dinners that need a hand.

You cannot do this trick with corporate pizzas — the dough and the sauce and the cheese are too compromised to get anywhere. Never forget, for years, you were told that Parmesan cheese came in a green cardboard can, from Wisconsin. It was not Parmesan, of course, and it was not even cheese. But those companies that make things that are like things but not quite really those things — those companies are still around, and still producing. 

A great, re-heated pizza must come from an actual pizza, with actual dough and sauce and cheese and, if you want the truth, wood or coal high heat. Get one of those, the simplest version, from a true pizza maker. I use Bar del Corso, but there are others and some are great.

You can even ask that they slightly undercook the pizza but I even skip that detail. I get this pizza most often at the end of the meal — can I ask that you make us a pizza, to go? A margherita, the simplest, or perhaps only mozzarella and tomato. Choose the better, fresher mozzarella version — it will be $4 more. (If I asked you if you would like fresh beans ground for your coffee or last years beans, you would not hesitate.)

When we get home, we wrap the pizza in tin foil, out of the box. And refrigerate it. The box is no use at all — it sucks the juice from the dough, it dries the pizza. Throw it away. You could use plastic wrap but the tin foil is better. Wrap well — no air. You can cut the pizza in half and stack it if you wish a smaller package.

When you are ready to cook, heat large cast iron pan for half an hour on medium low, before smoking temperature. You may have to fool a little to find the right setting — better to err on the low side, you want to re heat, not burn. You can use the oven, with a pizza stone. But it must also get the right temperature. When you cut the crust, it must have a crunch to it, but not a black burn. If the crust is limp, you are on the wrong trail. With the wrong pizza.

When you are ready, bring out the pizza, cut it into sizes that fit, usually quarters. I save the tin foil for doing salmon, or leftovers.

Then you will need stuff: grated fresh Parmesan, parsley chopped, basil of course, chives, goat cheese, ground pepper, bits of ham or prosciutto. And most crucially wild mushrooms.

You live where mushrooms live — use them, they are a brilliance only a fool should ignore. If the porcini are $50/pound, buy $10 worth, it is a fortune. Same for morels, or chanterelles. Or matsutake. Sauté them on the side, in a small sauté pan, with parsley and garlic and such. Few pizza places will use such mushrooms, for they are expensive, fragile and, for the most part, their brilliance is lost on the audience.

You have the advantages – use them. You are not adding the cooked mushrooms to be cooked on the pizza, you are adding them to the cooked pizza as a finish. As a luxury, take the luxury. If you should ever see an Oregon or Washington truffle, buy it and grate that on the pizza at the end. Then you are in the kingdom.

Add a tiny bit of olive oil to the heated cast iron pan, then lay the pizza in, cheese up, of course. It must not burn but it must cook a little. I cover the pan, just until the cheese slightly bubbles, no more than two minutes, then add some Parmesan, cracked pepper. 

Feel the bottom, it must crisp just a bit. Then slide the pizza out, onto a cutting board. Add the basil, the sautéed mushrooms, a little more olive oil, and, with a sharp knife, cut the piece, on a diagonal. Two small triangles off the end, then sharp chops through the crust. Deconstruction. 

Lay them out on a heated large plate- and add everything, the parsley and cheese and such, all over the place. It is your pizza, no one else has anything even like it.

2 COMMENTS

  1. My husband and I are regular parishioners at the Church of Bar del Corso, at least we were back before the plague. We preferred the late-night service. We would arrive around 9 just as the place started emptying out, sit at the bar, and order a salad and a pizza, usually the margherita but sometimes the special if it had something seasonally irresistible on it. We’d eat half the pizza and get the other half wrapped to take home for breakfast.
    Our reheating method is the same as yours except that Charlie cracks a couple of eggs over the half pizza after putting it in the hot pan and covering it with the lid. But your suggestion to add mushrooms sauteed separately, just before eating it is pretty brilliant. I can’t wait to try it, now that the main ingredient–a BdC pizza–is available again, starting today.

  2. There are now so many great pizza places around that do exceptional pizza…..alas… I can only eat 2 slices at a sitting so always bring some home. I use many of your methods but am more slapdash about it ….still…. the results are amazing and I think usually better than the first night. I even (gulp) use a large nonstick pan with a little olive oil and just heat it put the pizza in with warmed toppings place a small piece of foil on the top of the pizza so it will heat through ….watch the bottom like crazy to keep it from burning and the result is delicious….Oh, and have to have a little Reggiano on it! For me Reggiano is like salt.

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