Our friends Mark and Diana, who live up the street from us, have made a terrible mistake. The mistake is this: they fed us grilled pizza and now we’ll be demanding it on a regular basis.
How did I not know this? I mean, I knew this–I’ve watched Ina Garten throw a grilled pizza party on T.V.–but I didn’t know how good it was. Do you know? Here’s what happens: because of the high heat of the grill, the pizza gets charry and crisp on the bottom (like what happens in the high-temperature oven at a fancy pizza restaurant) and then you top it with whatever you want to top it with, you close the lid, and moments later you have totally excellent pizza. And if you shape your pizza dough into a large oval, you can feed a big group of people quite happily, as Mark and Diana did last night for us and our visiting friends Patty and Lauren.
Confession: I’ve had grilled pizza TWICE now at Mark and Diana’s. The first time, Mark’s parents were visiting and you can just see the pride on his parents’ faces as he serves them up slices of asparagus and burrata pizza:
Wouldn’t you be proud of your son if he served you this?
Mark and Diana aren’t fussy about pizza dough. The first time they made it (for the parents), they used Mark Bittman’s pizza dough recipe from the New York Times (this was before he published his most recent pizza article); last night, they used Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough.
With the Bittman dough, the pizza turned out crisper and cracklier but not so flavorful; the Lahey dough had incredible flavor (almost like sourdough) but puffed up a lot more. It doesn’t matter which dough you use (both are great)–you could even use store-bought dough–the point is that you grill it.
Here’s Mark’s very casual instructions: oil your grill with olive oil first. If you have a gas grill (which is what they have), crank up the heat on one side all the way—you want it super hot; the other side should be a little less hot. When the heat’s high, stretch your pizza dough out as thin as you can; the thinner you get it, the crisper it will be.
Lay the pizza on the very hot part of the grill, spreading it out carefully so it doesn’t fall through a grate. Let it cook like that for several minutes, until it’s firm on the bottom and you can lift it easily. When that happens, flip it on to the less hot side of the grill and top it with your toppings. Last night Mark and Diana did a sausage mushroom pie that was super tasty; but they also did a transcendently good combination based on a pie at Motorino in New York: that’s rendered bacon, Brussels sprout leaves and big chunks of burrata.
I mean: come ON.
As you can see, the 2nd night crowd was just as happy as the first night crowd:
Who wouldn’t be happy being fed crispy, slightly charred, smoking hot pizza topped with burrata and BACON? We actually have a communal grill here in our new apartment complex and I’m thinking one night, sometime soon, I’ll have to crank it up and grill us some pizza.
Only: with Mark and Diana up the street, I’d rather have it at their place. Maybe I should have a standing reservation, like the one Woody Allen had at Elaine’s. Their grilled pizza is just that good.