La pizza buonissima

Pizza…very good pizza is my husband’s favorite food. I admit, I love a good pizza…thin crust, preferably cooked in a wood-fired Italian pizza oven, authentic and delicious. We travelled to Southern Italy in the Fall of 2018 and pretty much ate pizza everyday. I mean, when in Rome…and Reggio di Calabria, Salerno, and Naples, this is what you do. Oh, and with Naples being the birthplace of pizza, we HAD to try some.

We asked our Neopolitan AirBnB owners where to get the best pizza (La pizza buonissima) and they recommended Sorbillo’s. We used our GPS to locate the restaurant, and after a 12 minute walk, we stumbled upon the crowded, colorful street that is Via di Tribunali. This part of Naples is exactly what you’d think of when you think of old school Italian neighborhoods: ancient, somewhat crumbling buildings, with clothes lines filled with unmentionables laced above the street, grandmas yelling “buon giorno” to their neighbors across the way, and Vespas racing through, honking their horns and weaving in and out of the people.

The best pizza has fresh mozzarella and delicious tomato sauce and of course, fresh basil – this is the quintessential Margarita pizza, made with the colors of the Italian flag. When you find a well-made Margarita (or make your own), you will never forget it!

While I love the pizza with the wood-fired, thin crust, my husband loves the thicker, Sicilian style pizzas that you can buy at train stations, mom-and-pop stores, and sandwich counters. This style has a crunchy, yet fluffy crust of focaccia bread. It is more hearty, more filling, and perfect to wrap and put in your bag for later.

During this time of Covid-19, while everyone was baking sourdough, our foodie friends from San Francisco shared a recipe for focaccia that I made into a Sicilian pizza. Man, oh man, it was worth the 6 hours of work (mostly passive) for ‘la pizza buonissima’ to hit our mouths.

So, here you go…my step-by-step recipe. You are welcome!

Ingredients on hand for the focaccia
This is the ingredient list from the Bon Appetit recipe, and I pretty much followed this, plus added my own spin, based on what I had on hand.

Method

  • Into a large bowl, mix the yeast into 2 1/2 cups of warm water, along with the honey. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Add the flour and salt and until a rough dough forms.
  • I added about 3 tbsp of olive oil to the bowl and flipped the dough over a few times to coat it. Then I covered it with plastic and left it on my counter to rise.
Rough dough, covered and waiting to rise.

After about 4 hours, the dough doubled in size and I transferred it to my oiled, large baking tray. I left it uncovered for another hour or so, for the second rise.

**The worst part of making any bread dough from scratch is waiting for it to rise. I recommend setting a timer and doing something fun during the waiting. One this particular day, I was either on a Zoom call, doing laundry, or watching a show on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, or hanging out with my husband. Maybe it was a combination of all those, given the 5 hours of wait time.**

Method, continued…

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • After the 2nd rise, pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over the dough, and use your fingertips to put indentations all over the dough. This is super fun!
  • Add some fresh garlic, sea salt and dried herbs at this point. (Since I was making pizza, I left it with the olive oil only.)
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden and browned on the bottom.
  • NOTE: I made the mistake of adding my pizza toppings after baking about 10 minutes. Even though it was delicious, I think cooking the focaccia 20 minutes then adding the tomato sauce, slices of fresh mozzarella, etc. THEN return to the oven for another 8 minutes or so, will produce a better result.

Enjoy! If you’ve never taken a LEAP into baking fresh bread, I recommend this because it is so easy! No kneading! You will love the result!

The smell of the focaccia baking is mouth-watering. It lingers in your kitchen for a while, even luring your neighbors over to see what you are cooking. The taste of the Sicilian focaccia pizza is even more memorable and will leave you wanting to make it again. Just give yourself plenty of time and have your favorite movie or TV episodes ready to binge during the downtime.

Leave a comment and share photos of your homemade pizzas!

Happy baking and eating!

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