What are we doing for dinner tonight? It was Friday, in Lent, and we couldn’t have meat.

Trader Joes provided the whole wheat pizza dough, but we needed a topping worthy of the Ruffino Reserva Ducale Chianti Classico that would be opened.

I recalled reading somewhere that traditional Neapolitan pizzerias (“VPN”’s) don’t use what we call “mozzarella” at all. In Italy that cow’s milk cheese is known as fior di latte. Real mozzarella there is all made from buffalo milk.

A blend of scamorza and provola di bufala is what I needed, and the local Italian gourmet store obliged. These authentic cheeses melt better, have less moisture, and add a tang of flavor that you can’t get from the other stuff. I don’t know if they add grated Parmigiano Reggiano in Napoli, but I sure did.

Four peeled and seeded organic Roma tomatoes, two garlic cloves, and chopped red onion (that was left over from Thursday’s chili) all went into the food processor with a sprig of fresh oregano from the windowsill. A splash each of red wine and olive oil, and a dash of sea salt, red pepper flakes and eight turns of the Turkish pepper mill (it’s really a coffee grinder) completed the sauce.

Being around the restaurant biz for more than a few decades, I have a few gadgets that really come in handy, not the least of which is my pizza peel which I dusted with stone-ground corn meal. Stretching the now room-temperature dough was easy, and doing so provided a pleasing sense of connection to my ancestry.

The pizza pan in the oven was well over 500 degrees F when I slid the pie in. After only 8 minutes it was ready for the fresh basil leaves to be ripped and deposited onto the now bubbling cheeses.

A perfect dinner was completed with some sautéed broccoli rabe with garlic.

My only regret is that I didn’t bake it in a Blodgett pizza oven, or use an Irinox blast chiller/freezer to better preserve the remaining slices, providing us with another memorable feast, when next we choose to open a good bottle on a meatless Friday.

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Tags: Blodgett, Ferri, Irinox, Joe, Pecinka, Pizza, Provola, Scamorza

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Comment by Joe Ferri on March 31, 2010 at 3:24am
I like the idea of reinstating Friday as pizza night! My son has been out of the house for almost 10 years now.
Spring is in the air, and a renewal is afoot, it's the perfect opportunity to reestablish a grand old tradition.
Plus, home-made pizza can often be the base for using the week's leftovers as toppings!
Comment by Chef Len Elias CEC on March 31, 2010 at 2:59am
Sounds like my house. Friday has been and always has been Pizza night. My kids are in their twentys but still expect pizza. The problem is they eat almost whole pie each, so I have to make 2 or 3. I make the dough in my bread machine, it comes out awesome, I actually use trader joes pizza sauce and nothing but polly -o mozz and belligoso provolone. We cook them on a pizza pan at 450 in my oven and its excellent. Thats how traditions start, I am sure Friday will be pizza night in my kids houses as well.

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