Panino’s Montanara

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. ball of Neapolitan-style artisan pizza dough(for a 10” pie)
  • ½ c. San Marzanotomato sauce
  • 3 oz. mozzarella shredsor fresh mozzarella(a combination of thetwo is recommended)
  • 1 tbsp. grated Parmesan
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Fresh basil (to garnish)
  • Sprinkle of sea salt

Directions:

Stretch or roll out your pizza dough into a 10” round disc, leaving a 1” border all around as you would on a traditional pizza. Using your fingertips, make indentations in the center of the dough without disturbing the pizza border. Carefully drop the dough into a 350°F fryer, holding it down with a large metal spatula or strainer, and flip it until it turns golden-brown on both sides. Remove the dough from the fryer and drain the excess oil on paper.

Place the fried pizza dough on a pizza tray and add tomato sauce, mozzarella shreds and/or fresh mozzarella, grated Parmesan, fresh basil, olive oil and sea salt. Bake in an oven at 600°F or hotter until the cheese melts and the edges are slightly charred.

A Specialty From the Streetsof Naples

A fried pizza? You’ve got to taste it to believe it, according to Gino Rago, co-owner of Panino’s Pizzeria in Chicago. The Montanara pizza is common street fare in Italy and was featured in the 1954 film, L’oro D’Napoli (The Gold of Naples), with a young Sophia Loren preparing this deep-fried delight for admiring onlookers.

Rago has been making his own version of the Montanara for about nine years. He starts out with his homemade Neapolitan dough, flash-fries it and tops it with San Marzano tomato sauce and a combination of Galbani® mozzarella shreds and Galbani® fresh mozzarella. Baking it in a very hot, wood-fired oven burns off some of the oil and makes the crust airy, yet crispy. The combination of melty cheese and a lightly charred crust is deliziosa!