What’s your favorite pizza place in NYC? After living here for eleven years, I can definitely say that the best pizza I’ve had is at Co. in Chelsea. Have you ever been there? Co.’s owner, Jim Lahey, is a bread-making genius (“the man can do wonders with flour and water,” says the New York Times); since New York pizza is known for its thin crust, the danger is that it can taste as dry as cardboard, but Lahey has a way of making his pizzas pillowy and chewy in just the right way. He also adds bold toppings—like, sauerkraut, arugula, leeks, pecorino—that elevate his pizzas from kids-birthday-party catering to grown-up fare. Here’s a recipe that will blow your mind…
The Best Pizza You’ll Ever Have
by Jim Lahey, owner of Co. and author of My Pizza: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home
In Italian, stracciatella means shreds. As a cheese, it’s a soft form of mozzarella that melts very quickly, becoming molten almost instantly. In Italy it’s often used in soups. With pizza, you’ll find that stracciatella placed on the hot pie just of the oven turns the pizza into a masterpiece that looks like you slaved and worried over it—when in fact you surely didn’t. It’s quick and easy—and in my restaurant it is ordered so often I sometimes think it’s all the guys in the back are cooking.
Stracciatella is not in every cheese store, even many of those with an especially broad selection. I buy ours from Buon Italia in New York City. It’s worth ordering and waiting for.
Recipe: Stracciatella Pie
Makes one 10- to 12-inch pizza
1 ball of Pizza Dough, shaped and waiting on a floured peel (here’s the recipe for easy, no-knead pizza dough…but you can sneak and get frozen dough at Trader Joe’s!)
1/4 cup basic tomato sauce (recipe below, if you’d like to make it from scratch)
Generous pinch of fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 ounces stracciatella cheese
About 3/4 ounce arugula
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Put the pizza stone on a rack in a gas oven about 8 inches from the broiler. Preheat the oven on bake at 500F for 30 minutes. Switch to broil for 10 minutes.
With the dough on the peel, spoon the tomato sauce over the surface and spread it evenly, leaving about an inch of the rim untouched. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. With quick, jerking motions, slide the pie onto the stone. Broil for 3 minutes under gas, until the top is bubbling and the crust is nicely charred but not burnt. Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a tray or serving platter. Distribute the cheese in clumps over the surface of the pie; it will melt and spread immediately. Cover it with the arugula and drizzle with oil. Slice and serve.
Recipe: Basic Tomato Sauce (if you’d like to make it from scratch)
1 1/2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes or 1 28-ounce can peeled Italian plum tomatoes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
If using fresh tomatoes, bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a 5- or 6-quart pot.
Cut away the dry stem area of the tomatoes, leaving the core intact. Place 2 or 3 tomatoes at a time in the boiling water for 5 to 10 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and put on a rack to cool. Peel the tomatoes with a pairing knife.
Whether using fresh or canned, cut each tomato into several wedges and run them through a food mill over a medium bowl to create a pulp (not a fine puree; you want to retain some texture). If you don’t have a food mill, just squish them with your hands—it’s messy but fun.
Stir in the olive oil and salt. The sauce will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.