Author Topic: Advice please - Trying to replicate my favorite pizzeria pizza.  (Read 666 times)

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Offline tourmaline

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Hey guys,

Iím Zoe and Iím seeking some input and advice on making my perfect pizza. Iíve been making pizza at home for about 6 months now, Iíve probably made about 30 pizzas, so Iím still quite a newbie. In my pizzas, my primary goal is to recreate the incredible flavor of the pizza at my favorite pizza joint. Below I have posted various pictures of their pizza. Itís not a pizza that is browned or overly cooked, like I know some people love. The crust is quite thin, slightly crackery in places but still floppy and not *overly* crispy. The sauce is fresh, light, and bright red. The cheese is opaque white, quite runny and Ďstringyí when hot, and has a marked glistening, oily sheen on it when itís first brought out.

A little backstory: Some months ago I attempted to get information on their pizzas by emailing them and asking very specifically about their cheese (because the cheese seems to be the source of their pizzaís amazing flavor). I asked if their mozz was whole milk or part skim, and/or is it buffalo milk (because I could taste a slight sharpness to the cheese)? The wife of the owner emailed me back asking me why I was asking because thatís proprietary family info. So that was disappointing.
Well recently when I was there to pick up a pizza, I started quizzing the cashier girl about their pizza recipe. Much to my utter astonishment, she sang like a canary! She seemed very forthcoming. I asked about the sauce and she stated that it was just a simple tomato sauce with some herbs like basil and maybe thyme & parsley.  So I pressed my luck and asked about the cheese blend they use for their pizza. She stated that for regular, non-specialty pizzas, they just use a blend of mozzarella and romano. Aha! I thought! Now I have the answer, the *KEY* to getting that special flavor. It must be ROMANO.

So I bought some deli-grated, sheepís milk Romano from a local health food store. Now, in the past, for my whole milk mozzarella, Iíve used Sorrento, Boarís Head, and Great Value (from WalMart), < which is what I used last night. The Great Value mozz is very wet, I find. I used about 50/50 mozz & romano.  Well, needless to say it did NOT impart the amazing flavor that I was going for. I hated it, and I consider it the worst pizza Iíve made. The Pecorino Romano made it taste gamey and icky.  (Obviously I used too much of it.) And the grated romano did not actually blend with the mozz, it melted but the little Ďneedlesí of grated romano were still visible within the mozzarella. Iím really annoyed. Iím even wondering if the forthcoming cashier was not giving me the whole story - maybe she was actually clueless and was making up an answer that sounded good on the spot. There is obviously something in THEIR pizza that I am failing to capture. Could it just be a matter of the quality of ingredients? Or maybe itís just the fact that I added way too much romano, maybe a much smaller amount would that hint of warmth and sharpness and flavor that Iím aiming for.

So guys, if youíre still reading (thank you)Ö.my questions Iím seeking advice on are:

1. Looking at the pictures below, what can you say about the pizza & especially the cheese (about the blend, the brandÖanything at all)?
2. Looking at the pictures below, how do you think this pizza was cooked, in terms of temperature, time, oven, etc.?
3. Do you think I should keep pressing them about ingredients, brands, etc.? Should I hide out at night and dumpster dive to find out what they use? LOL
4. Thereís a cash & carry food service store in my city, they have ďBel Gioioso Fresh Mozzarella - Special Formula for PizzaĒ and they have ďFirst Street Gold - Low Moisture Whole Milk MozzarellaĒ.  Anyone tried either of these, can you comment on quality/flavor?

Any advice appreciated!! Thank you for reading. Here are pics of their pizza, the one Iím trying hard to replicate:



Offline WarEagle09

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Re: Advice please - Trying to replicate my favorite pizzeria pizza.
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2013, 01:28:53 PM »
I'm new too, but I'll go ahead and point out a few things:

1) What pizza joint are you trying to imitate? There may already be an effort underway to imitate in the "American Pizza" forum
2) Speaking of other forums, efforts to replicate American pizza joints are usually located in that forum, so this thread will probably get moved over there, but that doesn't mean you won't get any shortage of help in your effort!
3) I think the cheese looks a little watery, but that may be due to the use of large quantities of vegetables as toppings, and not the cheese - you should try ordering a pizza without vegetables as toppings, and see if that changes the moisture characteristics (you noted cheese moisture in your OP). Ordering a cheese or pepperoni pizza will also make it easier to isolate that variable.
4) You can tell a lot how a pizza is cooked by ordering the pizza on site, and watching them prepare it. The oven itself may be visible to you - can you see the brand or model? How long is it in the oven? What do they cook it on (screen, disk, etc)? You are unlikely to imitate their oven in your home. This will require you to make adjustments in other areas.
5) Do they provide nutrition/ingredient information for any of their pizzas or other food products? If it's a single store or small chain, then probably not.

Other members may be able to provide more guidance on the Romano aspect of the pizza... good luck!

Offline mkevenson

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Re: Advice please - Trying to replicate my favorite pizzeria pizza.
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2013, 02:08:17 PM »
tourmaline , my suggestions, added to those WarEagle09, would be based on the size of the pizzeria and where they get their ingredients. Presumably from a commercial food distributor in your area. If you can find out that info, you can also find out which cheeses and sauce they may be using. I doubt that they are getting their ingredients from a local retail market that you are visiting.
I also like the idea of you ordering a cheese only pie. This way you can take the pie apart and taste the ingredients individually.
In my town there is a restaurant supply that also sells to the public, perhaps in your town also.
 
Good luck in your search.
 
Mark
"Gettin' better all the time" Beatles

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Advice please - Trying to replicate my favorite pizzeria pizza.
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2013, 04:30:42 PM »
It looks like a docked cracker crust, so that section would be a good base to start in.

Offline tourmaline

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Re: Advice please - Trying to replicate my favorite pizzeria pizza.
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2013, 05:26:04 PM »
Thank you so much for the responses! I didnít think anyone would respond since I'm so long-winded.  :-[

So last night at 2 in the morning I decided to make a pizza, in a different way than I had before.
-I made the crust super-thin, as thin as I could, like 1.5mm.
-I made a very simple uncooked sauce with ONLY tomato paste, dried & fresh basil, and salt - not muddying  it with lots of herbs, oil, garlic etc.
-I used Sargento Whole Milk Mozz & Provolone blend, then I sprinkled about a tablespoon of powder-ground romano over the top of the mozz before baking.

Well this pizza was pretty good! It was actually fairly close to replicating the pizza that I am aiming for. The cheese was very flavorful but not gamey (like it was when I used 50% romano), and the harmony of basil & aged cheese was nearly perfect, very similar to the pizza Iím trying to copy. Iím so close. I understand now that just a tiny bit of romano is needed to give a boost in flavor. I also understand that a mishmash of spices like oregano, garlic, thyme, etc. is NOT a part of this pizza. Itís all about the basil - and ONLY basil. And grinding the pre-grated romano also helped bring out the flavor I think by exposing the fragrant interior of the grated romano needles.
Anyway, just wanted to share.  :chef: :pizza:

WarEagle: The pizza joint is just a single location, mom & pop pizza place in my city. I donít really want to name it because then my post could come up in a google search of the name, and the owners would get even more paranoid if they see my post. lol
About the cheese, itís always completely dry, not watery at all. Even the toppings never leave any moisture on top. But Iíve noticed that their cheese is very white & has an oily sheen to it when itís fresh out of the oven, I wonder if they oil the cheese or if itís just the brand of mozz that they use that gives it that glisten.
Thanks for the tips, Iím certainly not done sleuthing. The next time I eat there I will definitely get out of my seat and skulk around by the kitchen a bit. I should try chatting with the chefs through the kitchen doorÖAnd I still might dumpster dive too - Iím fantasizing about stumbling onto the ďkitchen trash bagĒ which has package wrappers for their cheeses, their tomatoesÖeverything. That kitchen trash bag would be an amazing coup.

Mkevenson: Thatís a good idea about discovering their supplier. That would certainly narrow the search down a lot. As for being able to isolate each component, I do always get a side of their pizza sauce in a little container each time I go there. I tell them itís for dipping the pizza, but really I just use it for reference purposes, to analyze. Ha! Their sauce seems a more bright red than the sauces that I make with tomato paste. I wonder whyÖ

Tscarborough:  Yes, the crust is definitely docked. Toward the rim, their crust is slightly crisp, but near the center itís quite bendy.

Thanks again, everybody.
If anyone has any more insight or advice, please chime in.

Offline CDNpielover

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Re: Advice please - Trying to replicate my favorite pizzeria pizza.
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2013, 09:56:53 PM »
If anyone has any more insight or advice, please chime in.

No offense, but it's going to be extremely difficult for anyone to help you clone a pizza from an unknown, unnamed shop based solely on photos of cold congealed cheese and desdcriptions like "The crust is quite thin, slightly crackery in places but still floppy and not *overly* crispy. The sauce is fresh, light, and bright red. The cheese is opaque white, quite runny and Ďstringyí when hot, and has a marked glistening, oily sheen on it when itís first brought out."   :chef:

Offline tourmaline

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Re: Advice please - Trying to replicate my favorite pizzeria pizza.
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2013, 10:41:54 PM »
No offense, but it's going to be extremely difficult for anyone to help you clone a pizza from an unknown, unnamed shop based solely on photos of cold congealed cheese and desdcriptions like "The crust is quite thin, slightly crackery in places but still floppy and not *overly* crispy. The sauce is fresh, light, and bright red. The cheese is opaque white, quite runny and Ďstringyí when hot, and has a marked glistening, oily sheen on it when itís first brought out."   :chef:

It's a small pizza place in a small city in a rural region of the country. Even if I named the pizza place, it's quite unlikely that someone who frequents this forum and is knowledgeable about ingredients will be familiar with this place.

And I don't know why my descriptions would not be helpful. "Opaque, oily, stringy, runny, glistening."  Aren't those normal descriptors in describing certain types of cheese and how it melts? Not sure why you are dismissive of my descriptions and pictures, but whatever...
It's not like we have smell-o-vision or taste-o-vision.  I'm not sure how I can describe the pizza any better.

Thanks again to the people who responded kindly to my post. Very helpful.  :D