Welcome to the website and thanks for your comments about it. I don't know how helpful I can be, but just a few remarks. I know the threads can be overwhelming to some, but there are not many shortcuts to learning many things in life . . . as well as pizzamaking.
Boy, you brought up some names of pizza places from the past that I visited many times, too. Giovanni's of Roseland was the
all-time best thin cracker crust pizzas in the world and a relative of theirs later opened one in Dolton, IL, but that one made a very different pizza that was never as good. And of course Alfs and Aurelio's. Gone is John's Pizza in Cal. City.
I would have suggested that you got several different size deep dish pizza pans, but as gifts what can you do. You'll find out why when your refrigerator gets full with older baked pizzas baked in large 14" pans. And its nice to experiment with small size pans to see the effects of different crust recipes and ingredients, which is hard to do with large pans. And the average home oven may have a difficult time holding more than one big pan per level and doing 14" pizzas on different home oven rack levels can be problematic with timing and adequate baking of the bottom of the crusts, etc. The alternative may be to do one on a low rack, wait 35 to 50 minutes (depending on one's oven characteristics), take out and then do the second and on and on, which . . . . . can be problematic, to say the least. With three 14" DD pans, do you have a barracks to feed? LOL.
You might get as many different answers to your questions as there are members on this forum. Which recipe for deep dish is best to use? There will never be a consensus on that. Review those given on the many threads and judge which to experiment with from time to time. I prefer those recipes with Semolina or Durum Flour and many do, too, so I don't have the foggiest idea where you got the notion that Semolina is "no longer called for"? ? (See http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11855.0.html
) Since you'll be doing 3 pizzas, why not do one recipe with Semolina, one without it, and another with a variation of either. That way you get to see, taste and learn which is most liked by you and yours. I'm betting on the Semolina or Durum. But it makes no difference cause you'll be a winner either way with the great recipes on this website.
For deep dish (I never do any stuffed but consume a lot at Giordano's), I only mix by hand and, of course, you know that you only do a minimal amount of kneading to avoid overworking the dough (because if you did, it may become "bready" -- not desirable except for lovers of Pizza Hut). But many others successfully use their big mixing machines. I use sweet or mild Italian sausage, too, and since I've located about a dozen great Italian deli's in my metro area that make some great home made sausage (many make it with fennel, many make it without fennel, and many make it with lots of garlic) I haven't gotten into making my own sausage and don't know if I ever will. A good scale is a great tool in this effort (except for dry ingredients that just are added in tsps or Tbs).
I love 6 in 1's drained for 10 to 15 minutes (much longer and it gets too dry) and prefer adding to it a small amount of Muir Glen diced tomatoes or comparable quality diced tomatoes (for which there are many). That then gets close to the great Chicago deep dish pizzerias IMO. The Lou Malnati's tomato sauce is the best in my estimation, however, but hard to get. I would caution you to be careful on adding too many extra things into the tomato sauce as some of those things can be overpowering in just tiny portions. I've done sauces with all the ingredients that you mentioned and have quickly learned to pull back on many (because it may become too late to learn that you have ruined the whole effort by excessive addition of too many spices and additives). I've stopped using the Penzy pizza spices as my taste testers and I have come to dislike it (but recently delighted in trying King Arthur's pizza spices, which is vastly different). But of late, the best additives have simply been "pinches" of Penzy oregano and fine basil. Maybe a little sugar, too. Sometimes maybe some minced garlic, but . . . . I hesitate to go overboard anymore. But it's hard to talk to a fellow about "pinches" of spices and things when he's facing a great amount of sauce to put on 3 giant pizzas! LOL.
I do about 50/50 of same day dough vs. cold fermentation overnight (or even a day or two), and I am hard pressed to say which is best. I've made great pizzas both ways, but for same day about 6 to 8 hours of off and on fermentation (knocking down and reforming the dough ball several times) has been best for me. And I did this just a couple of days ago with one having 50% durum and baked it about 6 hours later and it was outstanding. But, as you might hear the phrase many times, "trial and error" is the only way to see what's best for you. When I have "lots" of pizzas to make for an event (like 3 big 14" DD), I would probably like to do it a day or two in advance, so I would put the mixed (but somewhat raised) dough into zip lock bags into the refrigerator. But take the dough out of refrigerator about 2 hours prior to use to get to room temperature.
Don't know if I've been helpful or created more issues for you. But don't hesitate to ask as there are no dumb questions. And in future times, we hope you will be similarly helping others on this site with all your learnings and points of view. And also, get you digital camera out and learn how to take and post pictures of your pizzas as that gives so much life to what one has experienced and is talking about.
Best of luck and let us know how things go.