When you go to your neighborhood pizzeria, you expect toasty bruschetta, panini, sandwiches, pizzas, and flatbreads that are bubbly and browned on the edges. Yet somehow, when you try to make all of that at home in your oven, they’re not nearly as good as when the pizzeria bakes them. Why is that?
Pizza ovens generally operate on a higher heat than we can achieve in an indoor oven—temperatures from at least 500 degrees to over 900 degrees. But what your indoor oven can’t do, your outdoor grill can.
Take a grill on a patio and you’ve got a pizzeria in the making.
In our previous book The Gardener and the Grill, Karen Adler and I grew vegetables, fruits, and herbs in our gardens and then sizzled them on the grill—with fresh, colorful, and delicious results.
For Patio Pizzeria, we’ve gone from gardeners and grillers to pizzaiole, or pizza women. It’s a natural progression because it also fits the way we want to eat—dishes that are fresh, flavorful, filling, budget-friendly, and on the grill. When we pair bruschetta, panini, flatbreads, or pizzas with salads that complement or contrast with the pizza toppings, we’ve got a great casual meals with a wide appeal that feels virtuous to eat.
Pizza oven inserts for Weber and Beefeater grills or free-standing, gas-powered pizza ovens such as the Pizzeria Pronto are the hot newcomers to the Kansas City outdoor kitchen. These dome- or box-shaped enclosures trap the high heat in and around the pizza stone.
Homemade brick oven–style dough is the next step to a signature pizza or flatbread on the grill. Low-protein Italian flour (available at Italian markets or online from King Arthur) is labeled on the bag as “doppio zero” or “00.” It makes a silky-textured pizza dough that can be rolled very thinly. Roll out the dough and put it on a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel. The cornmeal acts like little ball bearings or wheels to help slide the dough off the peel and onto the hot pizza stone. You don’t want the dough to linger on the cornmeal for longer than 15 minutes because the cornmeal starts to soften and the dough will stick. After you’ve topped the pizza with your ingredients, you’re ready for the big move—sliding the pizza from the peel to the stone. In a few minutes, your pizza will be done.
Recipes are adapted from Patio Pizzeria by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig.
Brick Oven-Style Pizza Dough
This sturdy dough rolls out thinly—thanks to Italian 00 flour or a combination of all-purpose and cake flours—and easily forms the classic pizza circle. For vegan dough, substitute agave for the honey. Makes 2 (12-inch) individual pizzas
2-1/2 cups Italian 00 flour (or 1-1/4 cups all-purpose and 1-1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting and kneading
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant or bread-machine yeast
1 cup lukewarm water, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
In a medium bowl, stir the flour, salt, and yeast together. Combine the water, honey, and olive oil, and stir into the flour mixture until the dough comes together. If the dough is dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time until the dough is just moist. Transfer the dough to a floured surface. With the heel of your hand or your knuckles (or both), knead the dough, adding flour as necessary to keep it from sticking, until it is smooth, not sticky, and springs back like a pillow when you make an indentation in the dough with your knuckle, about 4 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 3 days before baking. Let come to room temperature before using.