Chicago Pizza 101 by Richard Bragiel (recipe)
I would like to start my first column by saying “thank you” to the Carson City community. Although I frequently vacationed in the Lake Tahoe area, I never really took the time and/or had the chance to get to know Carson City. Living in Carson City since January 2015, I have come to embrace the culture of the city and especially the people who have made this the educational, enjoyable and community-oriented city that it is.
Let me give you a brief synopsis of myself. My culinary career began in 1992 when I opened a Chicago-area pizzeria. My subsequent endeavors have led me to work in both the culinary and hospitality fields throughout the United States, including Las Vegas, Arizona, Florida and Connecticut. All of this led to the August 2018 opening of my latest adventure here in Carson City, Mangia Tutto Pizzeria e Ristorante (www.mangiatuttopizzeria.com, 200 N. Stewart St.).
Enough about me, though, let’s talk pizza!
Chicago boasts three distinct styles of pizza: thin crust, deep dish and stuffed.
Thin crust pizza — the crust is thin and firm with a noticeable crunch, unlike a New York-style pizza where the crust is pliable. The Chicago thin crust pizza is cut into squares, known as “Tavern style” as opposed to being cut into traditional “Pie Cut” slices. This is the true “Chicago pizza” readily available in any Chicago neighborhood, which, among Chicagoans, outsells all other styles.
Deep dish pizza — made with a non-traditional pizza dough, the deep dish is a “deep” crust that resembles a pie more than a flatbread. The pizza is assembled “upside-down,” meaning the crust is first covered generously with cheese, meats and vegetables and finished with a hearty tomato sauce topped with grated parmesan cheese. The crust itself is medium in thickness; however due to the hearty quantities of ingredients, the pizza becomes a “deep dish.”
Stuffed pizza — often deeper than deep-dish pizzas, stuffed pizzas generally have more topping density than any other type of pizza. Made with traditional pizza dough, the ingredients are “stuffed” between two skins, sealed much like a pie, then baked and finished with a layer of hot pizza sauce. Distinguishing between stuffed and deep-dish pizza is difficult to see until they are cut.
Ready to bring out your inner *pizzaiolo? Here are easy recipes for thin crust pizza dough and a sweet and zesty pizza sauce. Mangia mangia!
Thin Crust Pizza Dough
(yield, two – 10”-12” pizza skins)
• 1⁄2 C – Semolina flour
• 3⁄4 C – Warm water (100o)
• 1 pkg – Active dry yeast
• 1⁄2 tsp – sugar
For added flavor, consider adding 1/8 tsp of one or two of your favorite spices/seasoning (garlic or onion powder, oregano/Italian seasoning). Combine yeast, water, sugar, salt and oil in mixing bowl. Mix in flour and knead for 3-5 minutes. Form into a ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover bowl with plastic, place in a warm place and let rise. Use immediately or place in a ziptop bag and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.
Sweet & Zesty Pizza Sauce
• 1 can (28 oz) – Tomato puree
• 1 TBL – Sugar
• 1 TBL – Grated parmesan
• 1 TBL – Italian seasoning
• 1 tsp – Oregano
• 1 tsp – Black pepper
Combine all ingredients, use immediately or refrigerate up to 48 hours.
Baking your Pizza
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Divide dough and roll out into two 10-12-inch thin round circles. Place dough on greased perforated pizza pan or screen. (If you are a true *pizzaiolo, please utilize your peel and stone). Spoon 6-8 oz of sauce into center of skin and spread evenly. Place a single layer of your favorite toppings and cover with 4-6 oz of shredded mozzarella. Bake 12-15 minutes, remove from oven and let rest 2-3 minutes; cut and enjoy.
If you have no time or desire to cook and are craving some pizza, Carson City has your back. Want to try authentic Chicago Pizza? I invite you to stop by Mangia Tutto, 200 N. Stewart St. and say hello. Loyal and true to New York-style pizza? Visit my friend Ryan over at Flat Earth Pizza, 2010 E. William St., winner of the 2018 and 2019 Nevada Appeal’s “Best Pizza.”
*pizzaiolo — a person who makes pizzas in a pizzeria.
Richard Bragiel is the executive chef/owner of Mangia Tutto Pizzeria e Ristorante, a fine dining Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria located at 200 N. Stewart St. in downtown Carson City.