The Mumbai Mix Team tells you how to get the most out of a pizza day out and make it a meal to remember
Have you ever gone out for a pizza, only to be overwhelmed by the choice, and then disappointed by the type you end up ordering? The eatery may not be to blame. With the variety on offer and (let’s face it) our love for Indianising food, you may not always get the most out of this Italian classic. However, a pizza is a delicious treat if you choose wisely. So, here’s to getting you armed and ready for your next helping of the Italian baked delicacy. We tell you more about the different styles of pizza, how to choose your base, what toppings go best with different types of pizza and what you can pair with it.
PIZZA STYLES AROUND THE WORLD
Pizza is a dish that’s so popular today that every country, region and sub-culture seems to have their own version of it. This makes it confusing to pick from all the options. So, we’ve listed out a few pizza styles that have turned into staples you’ll get almost anywhere in the world.
This is probably what comes to your mind when you hear about pizza. The style is associated with Italy — the crust is thin and topped with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, and the basil leaves added in as garnish round up the colours of the Italian flag.
This white pizza is famous in Rome and is a dressed-down version of the Neapolitan. The cheese and tomato sauce of the Neapolitan is absent here, and the thin dough just gets a drizzling of olive oil and coarse salt, giving the pizza its pale appearance.
New York style pizza
What type of cuisine isn’t mirrored with a New York version? They have it all on the east coast of America! Much like the Neapolitan, the New York pizza is typified by a thin, crispy crust with a light tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.
Chicago-style deep-dish pizza
The Chicago-style deep-dish pizza came into existence during the late 1940s, and is as thick as a metal pan. Even though it looks blocky, the crust isn’t very thick, the pizza instead consists of layers of toppings. This pizza takes a lot of time to bake and since the cheese on top would eventually burn, it is added in last, which is why it is also known as an ‘upside down’ pizza. We’re already stuffed just looking at it!
A peculiar, rectangular pizza, the Sicilian is deep-dished and is characterised by crunchy, caramelised edges. While you can choose the toppings you want, this pizza is a whole lot of dough, sauce and cheese. Sounds like something we could fall in love with!
This one may have originated in Turkey or Armenia and the name loosely means ‘meat and dough’. And, that’s just what it is! Minced lamb placed on a piece of dough, with herbs, onions and other ingredients added in. Whether it resembles a pizza or not, it makes for a great snack.
New England Greek pizza
The crust of this pizza lies somewhere between that of a thin-crust pizza and a Sicilian pizza. Baked in a heavily greased pan, it usually has a golden-brown crust, which is delicious by itself. Most of the ingredients used in this pizza are generally Greek vegetables such as feta, artichoke and Kalamata olives.
BACK TO THE BASE-ICS
Thin crust, deep-dish, cheese-filled — what crust would you choose? And, with which pizza is each type appropriate? Confusing, isn’t it? Here’s what you need to know about your pizza base to get the most out of your pie.
The Neapolitan-style pizza is probably one of the first types of pizza to have been Americanised. Usually baked in a wood-fire oven, its crust is thin and crunchy. And, since it comes from Italy itself, it has very few toppings — mozzarella cheese and basil, along with a good amount of tomato sauce for the base.
This consists of a thick layer of bread, and most people generally avoid it. However, if you know how to pair it well, there’s no reason why you should shudder when you see this one on the menu. It can be a very filling option, but remember to keep the toppings to a minimum, to avoid making it too heavy.
A classic, thin-crust pizza is made to be folded into half and eaten like a sandwich. The crust is thin and crispy, and the pizza is generally light on the palate. The trick of the trade to making a delicious thin-crust pizza is to remember to keep the ingredients sparse.
This base is a crispy, ultra-thin crust that allows you to focus more on the toppings. Due to this and the fact that it is a good-looking snack when you layer and top it with anything you wish, it is a good option for gourmet pizzas.
A pan pizza is more like the little brother of the deep-dish pizza. Made like the deep-dish, it is only slightly less thick, because of which this style is a happy medium for most pizza lovers. It has a buttery, pan-fried texture on the outside with a soft and chewy centre and is probably one of the most well-known pizza crust options.
This is a relatively recent development in pizza technology and includes the crust being partially or completely filled with cheese. This style goes well with almost any topping because, well, it’s cheesy.
Trying to work out a diet, but love pizza? Focaccia may help! Though it is bread, its texture is similar to a pizza and it’s loaded with herbs and cheese, and brushed with a little olive oil. That won’t hurt your diet as much as a deep-dish, right?
CHOOSE YOUR TOPPINGS
Of course, the crust matters, but if there is something that makes or breaks your pizza, it’s the toppings you select. Go beyond the regular ones you normally choose and make your pizza experience one to savour.
Pick your sauce
You can create one of the tastiest pizzas if you pick the right sauce. Select from everyone’s favourite BBQ sauce or the pesto that is filled with traditional goodness — your sauce is the building block for your pizza.
Add some protein
Bacon, ham, salami, sausages, chicken and pepperoni — these options go well with every pizza choice.
Add in some vegetables as well
Vegetables such as tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, capsicum, broccoli and spinach add a lot of colour to your pizza. If you don’t like the taste, add some veggies to your pizza for your Instagram aesthetic. Either way, you win!
Cheese is exactly the kind of ingredient we want to add to the pizza in bulk. Whether it is mozzarella or feta, add a good amount of cheese on your pizza for some gooey goodness.
Take your homemade, rustic pizza to a whole new restaurant-like level with these pairs of pizza topping combinations — some traditional, some experimental and some gourmet! Some of these ingredients may be a little difficult to find (and pronounce), but we assure you, they’re all worth searching the city (or scouring the internet) for.
Figs and blue cheese
The thing about figs is that they instantly make every cooked dish they are added into a gourmet affair, so top yours with some dried figs and crumble some blue cheese over the top. To bring out the layered taste of this combination, use mozzarella cheese on marinara sauce as your base, finish off your pizza with some kosher salt and sprinkle fresh arugula over it.
Brussels sprouts and pancetta
We usually don’t want too much green on our pizza (or any food for that matter), but when you pair Brussels sprouts with smoked pancetta and complement them with whole-roasted garlic and sliced buffalo mozzarella, we’ll chomp it down in a minute! For a complete meal, use marinara sauce as your base and finish it off with pecorino (a hard Italian cheese) and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Asparagus and sundried tomatoes
Grill both and use the oil from the bottom of the jar of sundried tomatoes for the base along with ricotta. Finish it off with kosher salt and some freshly cracked pepper. This pizza doesn’t take much time to make, but it’s still a savoury treat for a party or picnic.
Roasted corn and goat cheese
Roasted corn is going to be a staple once the monsoon arrives, so take your love for it a step further and use some grilled pancetta as your pizza topping. You can use goat cheese as the base by mixing it with ricotta and finish off the spicy fare with parmesan shavings and baby arugula.
IN GOOD COMPANY
It might seem like all you need is a glass of cola and a slice of cheesy pizza to call it a successful pizza night. However, to complete the meal, you might also call for some garlic bread of your choice. Well, if your taste buds have had enough of that combination, we lay out a couple of dishes that could be the ideal companion to your pizza.
This is a fresh and bright salad and the flavours will complement your pizza well. Its crispiness will enrich your meal in a jiffy.
Simple roasted vegetables
Nothing suits a tasty pizza like the wonderful flavour of lightly roasted vegetables. Garnish it with some oregano and you have the perfect dish to supplement your juicy pizza.
If you crave for something a little less run-off-the-mill, you could add polenta chips to your meal. Potato balls and calamari rings will also go well with your pizza. Couple this with some wine to further enhance the taste. Pizza, regardless of the topping, is fairly earthy and demands red over white. The Chianti and Gamay of Beaujolais are the wines you should reach for.
The refreshing flavours of a citrus salad will not only complement, but also heighten the flavours of your pizza. This makes it the perfect side dish, while managing not to overpower the pizza itself.