Three Cookbooks to Make Pizza at Home

Three pizza cookbooks. Three different approaches to making the most of Pizza Night.

How do you pizza? Pizza from Angela’s, the slice shop in the New Jersey town where I grew up, was a meal my mom turned to when she and my dad had date night. Mom would make a salad to go with it until I was old enough to prepare that on my own. If you are ready to make pizza at home, three new cookbooks help you sort through dough styles, toppings, and even the salad on the side. The gluten-free dough recipes are what I cook now and you should try them, too. Mom would be proud.

And, for those summer nights when it is too hot to cook, eat pizza from World Champion chefs at a pizza event series in Napa. Read on for details.

Pizza Night

By Alexandra Stafford

Pizza Night cookbook cover by Alexandra Stafford

Are you a fan of the streamlined menus at pizza parlors? Alexandra Stafford is, too. The chef and cookbook author, who lives in upstate New York (near Albany), designed a book that pairs seasonal pizzas with a seasonal salad. It’s a one-two punch that maximizes the meal’s veggie potential, focusing as much on the ‘za as its accompaniment. The book begins with four no-knead crust recipes – thin crust, Neapolitan, sourdough pan, and gluten-free – eight sauce recipes (including five with tomato plus basil pesto, butternut squash sauce, and vegan cashew cream) and 12 salad dressing recipes. Really, you could stop reading the book here as these basics will get you where you want to go.

Some of the recipes are familiar, like Summer’s Grilled BBQ Chicken Pizza (p. 53) paired with Creamy Cole Slaw (p. 54) or Spring’s Sautéed Mushroom Pizza with Roasted Red Peppers (p. 193) paired with Snap Pea Salad with Radishes and Mint (p. 196). But simple and familiar is kind of the point with pizza, right?

There’s plenty of inspiration, too. Fall’s Roasted Butternut Squash with Gruyere and Rosemary (p. 106) felt fresh as did Winter’s Spinach Artichoke Dip Pizza (p. 166) and Summer’s Fig Pizza with Pickled Jalapeños and Crème Fraiche (p. 86). The book wraps up with five desserts – Berries and Cream, One Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookies, Loaf Pan Tiramisu, Affogato with Homemade Gelato, and One Bowl Lemon-Ricotta Pound Cake, that stay true to the streamlined but fun dinner theme.

For my fellow gluten-free eaters, I easily found Stafford’s recommended Antimo Caputo Fioreglut Gluten-free Pizza Flour. Stafford’s GF crust recipe is designed for use only with this flour.

This book is for pizza and salad lovers and anyone who celebrates Pizza Night.


Pizza Volume 01

By Tom Gozney

Pizza Volume 01 cookbook cover by Tom Gozney

I had never heard of Tom Gozney or his eponymously named pizza oven company when his cookbook crossed my desk. Gozney, who invented the Roccbox portable pizza oven, is not yet a household name in the United States. With recipes from brand name American chefs like Missy Robbins in New York, Jhy Coulter in Kansas City, and Brad Leone in Connecticut (there’s even an “unmarked” photo of Chris Bianco’s pizzeria in Phoenix), Gozney and his team seem set to change that. Naturally, Gozeny’s first recommendation is to purchase a proper outdoor pizza oven. As we head into summer’s heat, that seems like an excellent idea!

Once the oven is sorted, dig in on stretching and proofing dough. Though there is no recipe for gluten-free pizza, there are step-by-step instructions for solving common dough problems, how to turn pizza in the oven, as well as recipes for Roman-style and focaccia. There’s even preferments (pre-ferments) for Poolish and Biga (p. 76), the description of which I found a bit confusing. No matter – sally forth with Tom’s 96-hour pizza dough as a foundation for Marmite & Hot Honey Pizza (p. 122) or Frank’s NY-style White Pie (p. 142) from the Williamsburg chef, Frank Pinello of Best Pizza.

There’s a picture of the finished pie alongside every recipe – check out the stripes on the Detroit-style Trio Pizza on page 158 – and a chapter dedicated to cooking things besides pizza in your Gozney (dukkah lamb cutlets, anyone?). Despite the American stylings of this cookbook, it reads British – Gozney runs his business out of Bournemouth on England’s southwestern coast. Example: No one I know outside of Jersey (my home state) calls capicola “gabagool” but there it is, in the headnotes on Ines’ Salad Pizza Gabagool (p. 134) as “Californian.”

Whatevs. It’s fun out there in Gozney pizza world.


The Pursuit of Pizza: Lessons From the World Pizza Champions

By Tone Gemignani, Laura Meyer, Nick Bogacz & Mike Bausch

The Pursuit of Pizza cookbook by Tony Gemignani, Laura Meyers and others

photo credit: Windemere Press

Thirteen-time world pizza champion Tony Gemignani’s latest cookbook is a pizza club, of sorts. Chefs who are members of World Pizza Champions – elite pizza professionals pushing the art of pizza to new heights – are profiled, given ample space on-page to discuss their business and the finicky preferences that make their pies winners. Tulsa’ Mike Bausch’s Oktoberfest Pizza (p. 192) includes homemade pierogi that can be eaten on their own are here used as an integral flavor in the finished pizza. Pittsburgh’s Nick Bogacz crafts Smoked on the Seven Seas Pizza, a Feast of the Seven Fishes atop a blistered crust. Melissa Rickman of Wholly Stromboli in Fort Lupton, Colorado, contributes her Original Stromboli recipe (p. 228).

Gemignani provides recipes to his master pizza doughs, including sourdough starter and gluten-free pizza dough which, like Stafford’s recipe, calls for Caputo gluten-free flour. There’s even a recipe for Acrobatic Dough (p. 70). Each recipe includes a QR code so you can watch Tara Hattan toss dough through the air or get an explainer from Paul Cataldo about successfully combining semolina and high-gluten flour as in his Vegas Fortuna Pizza (p. 234).

There’s nothing here a home cook can’t handle and most will appreciate the extensive photography provided with each recipe, backed up by the QR-linked videos. To keep things simple, many recipes, like lemon oil and roasted cherry tomatoes, are shared.

If only champions in other competitions were this friendly!

Don’t Cook! Eat Pizza from World Champion Chefs Instead

Should you desire to eat some of the above-mentioned chef’s creations, the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in downtown Napa is hosting Summer of Pies. It’s a world pizza tour with guest chefs scheduled to throw down their favorite pies from June through October. Featured in The Pursuit of Pizza, Chef Spencer Glenn of Pizza My Heart in San Jose is at the ovens July 12-13 and Laura Meyer of Pizzeria da Laura in Berkeley visits July 26-27. Frank Pinello, featured in Gozney’s Pizza Volume 01, is on hand October 18-19, among many others.

Chef Tony Gemignani, 13 time World Pizza Champion, in front of his North Beach, San Francisco restaurant

photo credit: Marc Fiorito, Gamma Nine