Francis Garcia and Sal Basille, co-founders of the legendary Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, are past PMQ cover subjects and celebrated New York pizzaiolo. The cousins opened their first store in New York’s East Village in 2008, and the company has since expanded to 15 locations in New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona and Connecticut. Legions of New Yorkers swear by Artichoke Basille’s New York-style slices, which also attract celebrities ranging from Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Lopez to LeBron James and Leonardo DiCaprio. Here, they share their recipe for a Margherita pizza that anyone can make in their home oven!
Making the Dough:
1 c. water
1 tbsp. dry yeast
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. olive oil, plus more for the bowl
3 1/2 c. high-gluten flour
In a large bowl combine 1 c. water, yeast, salt and oil. The salt will give it great taste and color, and the oil provides the great texture. Add the flour, mixing by hand until it forms a ball and looks smooth. Take the dough ball out of the bowl, add a little oil to the bowl, then place the dough ball back into the bowl (the oil will keep it from sticking). Cover the bowl with a dish towel or something that will allow the dough to breathe. Give it an hour; it should double in size.
Making the Pizza Sauce:
(Makes about 2 1/2 cups)
Get a can of Italian peeled plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, but California tomatoes are just as good. For one pizza, use a 20 oz. can. Pour the tomatoes in a bowl and smash them with your hand until they reach the consistency of a chunky sauce. Add 3 pinches of salt and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. That’s it, plain and simple.
1 batch pizza dough
1 c. flour
10 oz. whole-milk mozzarella, preferably Polly-O (just buy a pound and use what you use). Cut into 1” cubes
1 batch pizza sauce
4 tbsp. grated Locatelli Pecorino Romano or any other Pecorino
Ovalini fresh mozzarella, cut or torn into 1” pieces
½ c. grated Parmigiana Reggiano
Garcia and Basille offer the following tips for making this pie in your home oven:
“Deck ovens give Artichoke Basille’s New York-style pizza its signature crispy crust. Deck ovens have thick stones that we cook the pies directly on. These stones retain a lot of heat and give our crusts that unbeatable bottom.
“To convert your home oven, you’re gonna need a pizza stone. Don’t have one? You can use quarry tiles. Go to Home Depot, buy a box of quarry tiles, move your oven rack all the way to the bottom, and lay your stone or quarry tile over the rack. The stone needs to be heated all the way through before putting your pizza on it; otherwise you’ll end up with a cooked top and a soggy bottom. Turn your oven up as high as it goes—we’re talking 550° to 600°F. Let it preheat for at least an hour.
“You’re going to need what we call a ‘peel’ to get your pie into the oven. If you don’t have one, that’s OK; you can use the top of any pizza box or any other piece of cardboard that’s at least 16” by 16”.
“First, flour your peel and start stretching your dough. Start by pressing down your dough from the outside and working your way into the middle. Try not to take all of the air out of it. Once it’s flattened, pick it up and gently toss it back and forth. Try not to let the center get thin. It’s important that the dough is even.
“Stretch the dough into a 16” circle, then put it on the floured peel. Once the dough is ready to go on your peel, spread the cubed mozzarella evenly over the dough and distribute two 6 oz. ladlefuls of sauce over the cheese. Start from the edge and create a bull’s-eye right up to the middle. Try to distribute it as evenly as possible, then sprinkle your Pecorino over the sauce and your Ovalini mozzarella on top of that. Let it cook for about 12 to 15 minutes, until it looks like all the cheese has melted and started to brown. Finish with a sprinkling of Parmigiana Reggiano and a drizzle of olive oil.”