With pizza, just as with life, sometimes less is more. Mario Rizzotti, food event emcee, brand ambassador and popular judge of the Food Network’s Iron Chef America, has illustrated this philosophy elegantly with a recipe he calls Mama Rizzotti’s Pizza Bianca con Patate e Rosmarino (White Pizza With Potato and Rosemary). Reminiscent of Rome from yesteryear, this simple recipe embodies what pizza was all about from the very beginning: an inexpensive food staple for the masses, with distinct, delectable, authentic Italian flavors.
And Rizzotti knows plenty about flavor and Italian authenticity. Born in Italy, he moved from Rome to the United States when he was in his early 20s and began to make a name for himself as a chef, TV personality and culinary consultant. He has a simple motto that every pizzaiolo—and every pizzeria customer—should take to heart: “A meal is not the consumption of food, but, rather, a celebration of la dolce vita.” On Iron Chef America, he has judged the best culinary efforts of chefs like Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Michael Symon, Marc Forgione and Masaharu Morimoto. He was the Italian Culinary Expert for Academia Barilla, where he made it his mission to help consumers better understand real Italian products like olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cheeses and cured meats—and how to recognize the fakes.
Here’s what Rizzotti told me about his potato and rosemary pizza:
“When you have good quality ingredients, you don’t need to dress them up. Sometimes less is more. The classic flavors of potatoes and rosemary highlight the simplicity of this recipe. I like to come up with recipes that are close to my heart, my roots and my origin. I try to help people understand that simplicity is the key to any Italian recipe. My mom used to say, ‘Six ingredients are the most you can do for Italian cuisine. But be careful, because six ingredients are already two too many.’” —Mario Rizzotti
Mama Rizzotti’s Pizza Bianca con Patate e Rosmarino
30g extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
20g fresh yeast
10g fine sea salt
430g dough ball
4 medium potatoes
2 branches rosemary
EVOO to taste
Sea salt to taste
Heat the water to a lukewarm temperature. Add fresh yeast and activate in the water for a few minutes, until fully “awakened” and frothy. Meanwhile, place the flour in a mixer, add the salt to the dough, and mix well. Then add the water with the yeast and the EVOO. Mix until the dough is smooth and cohesive, for about 8 to 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into two balls (approximately 430g each) and let rest on a counter, well-coated in flour, for 30 minutes.
Peel your potatoes and slice them to ½ cm in thickness.
Stretch the dough in your pan, and top it with the potatoes and rosemary leaves, plus a touch of salt and olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 380°F. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
After that, the pizza is finito! Take it out of the oven and drizzle it with some good quality EVOO, and buon appetito!
That’s it! Nothing goes together better than potatoes and rosemary, except maybe Cheech and Chong or Tom and Jerry. I hope everyone takes the time to try this simple yet delicious recipe at home or in their pizzeria. For more info about Mario Rizzotti, check out the online Q&A at pmq.com/mariotalks.