The best way to make pizza better is to drink more.
I’ve eaten some fantastic artisan sourdough wonders here in London but nothing compares to being wasted as fuck and finding the one place that’s open at some ungodly hour after a heavy night of eating fuck all and getting your teeth into some greasy monster made of the worst possible ingredients.
> I think a pizza steel preheated in a kitchen oven at 500F gives you a perfectly good pizza, and the fact that you can slide out the oven rack and use gravity to launch the pizza off the peel makes it a total win.
For me, the pizza steel is also plenty good compared to the portable gas ovens. Some other tricks I use are adding diastatic malt powder to the dough, and par-baking the crust before adding the toppings, to let the middle get crisp.
A couple years ago, when I was on a pizza kick, the thing that worked best for me was to start cooking the dough on the stovetop on a very hot cast iron skillet. I would cook it long enough for the dough to start to change color and bubble a bit (45-60 seconds), and then make sure it was releasing from the pan. Then, I would sprinkle on oil, tomato sauce and toppings and move it from the skillet to the preheated stone, and leave it under the broiler for another couple minutes.
The initial cook on the pan got the crust going, and so the oven time was mostly focused on the toppings.
pizza ovens rely on a chain of different skills that all must be done well or the pizza comes out poorly. correctly making the dough, correctly topping it, getting it to slide off the peel correctly, putting it in the right place in the oven, rotating it correctly, and probably several things i'm missing. it leads to an enormous amount of frustration; i haven't gotten something i would consider "good" even once yet.
Native Chicagoan here as well. When I was growing up we called this "party" style pizza, while deep dish was just called pizza. After living in Austin for last 8 years, I still desperately miss good deep dish pizza, but thin crust is easy to find outside of Chicago...
Growing up in Springfield, IL (3 hours south of Chicago), most of the pizza served ourside of chains was the ultra thin crunchy square-cut pizza mentioned in the article (or NY-esque Neapolitan slices).
JT Costello's (more recently)
all served delicious crunchy thin crust with heavily spiced sauce cut thin and usually sent out covered in paper. Any bar that didnt serve frozen pizzas served a variation of this thin crust pie.
Notably, Gallina's Pizza and Lucca Pizza were both Neapolitan style.
I use the oven method with a pizza steel exclusively but the recent spike in natural gas costs in SoCal had me cut back considerably on making pizzas. I was looking into alternatives like the Ooni and the Breville countertop pizza oven, but the reviews on the Breville aren’t inspiring. Kenji’s multi-day method for making his thin crusts seems absurd but after testing same-day and “cured” crusts, it’s worth it.
Mmm. Cicero’s is my favorite pizza spot atm. My kid recently started making pizzas w/ a cast iron skillet in oven at 550, not quite the crispy crust that Cicero’s has, but not entirely bad.
Good to hear about your take on the Ooni—-I think I had started buying into the hype and was starting to eye one in next year or two. Your comment gave a nice reminder to work through some other approaches first.
I know this isn't directly related, but what's your recommended baking for a deep dish pizza? I get Giordano's shipped a few times a year as there's nothing remotely close locally (also open to other shipping options!). I tend to burn the crust before the toppings are done.