RECIPE: Roberta’s Margherita Pizza and Cookbook Giveaway

We got our hands on the recipe for one of the Roberta’s classics: margherita pizza.

featured pizza

Roberta’s junkies, this is kind of a big deal. Imagine not having to bear the face-stinging cold or push your way onto the L and still getting to eat Roberta’s pizza. At home.

A few weeks ago, the Roberta’s masterminds debuted their first cookbook, a compilation of recipes, photographs and stories from the “slacker pizza shop.” In the book, chef Carlo Mirarchi and co-owners Brandon Hoy and Chris Parachini share recipes for everything from their Cheesus Christ pizza to simple roasted carrots.

We got our hands on the recipe for one of the Roberta’s classics: margherita pizza. Below, check out the recipe they use for the pie, the sauce and the cheese.

Dying for the dough recipe? The next 5 people who purchase a 2- or 3-year subscription to Edible Brooklyn, Edible Manhattan, Edible East End or Edible Long Island and forward their receipt to [email protected] will receive a free copy of the cookbook!

Margherita Pizza

Ingredients:

1 (12-inch) round of pizza dough
43 grams (3 tablespoons) sauce (recipe follows)
Some good olive oil
4 or 5 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
80 grams (2¾ ounces) fresh mozzarella (recipe follows)

Preparation:

This is a classic margherita. As much as we’ve tinkered with the pizza dough over the years, we haven’t messed with this formula.

Preheat the oven to the highest temperature possible. Place a pizza stone or tiles in the middle rack of the oven and let it heat up for 1 hour.

Put the sauce in the center of the dough round and use the back of a spoon to spread it evenly over the pizza, stopping about half an inch from the edge. Drizzle a little olive oil over the sauce and scatter the basil on top. (We put the basil under the cheese so that the heat from the wood-fired oven doesn’t incinerate it. If you prefer, you can scatter it over the cheese, but we’ve grown to like it this way.)

Break the mozzarella into several large chunks and distribute it over the pizza. Bake the pizza until the crust is golden brown and bubbly.

Sauce
Makes about 350 grams (1½ cups)

Ingredients:

1 (794-gram/28-ounce) can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
Some good olive oil
Fine sea salt

Preparation:

The recipe for this sauce is simple. All that matters is that you use the best-quality canned tomatoes you can find. Depending on where you are, that might mean San Marzanos or it might mean tomatoes from California or Mexico. Try a few different labels before you decide on your go-to. Some are sweeter, some are more acidic. And often the flavor of one kind varies from year to year. We like a subtle sweetness, good acidity and strong tomato flavor.

Drain the tomatoes and discard the juice (or use it for Bloody Marys). Use an immersion blender or a regular blender to puree the tomatoes until almost smooth.

Add a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt, blend until smooth, and taste. Add more olive oil and salt to taste, if needed, but keep in mind that the sauce will reduce a little bit when it’s baked on a pizza, so it will only get saltier. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, and up to 6 months in the freezer.

Fresh mozzarella

Ingredients:

Makes 454 grams (1 pound)
454 grams (1 pound) mozzarella curd*
Water
Kosher salt

* It will take a little looking, but you can buy mozzarella curd at specialty cheesemongers and online. If the smallest quantity of curd you can find is 5 pounds instead of 1, you can freeze the curd you don’t use and use it later.

Preparation:

Nothing’s as fresh as when you make it yourself from scratch. But we realized early on that the process of making mozzarella from milk—first making curd and then making cheese from that curd—wasn’t going to fly with the volume of pizza we were doing. But making mozzarella straight from curd still lets you get your hands dirty and control things like salinity and texture, and it’s much faster.

Break up the curd into small pieces and spread them out on a sheet pan. Let the curd come to room temperature. It’s crucial that the curd be truly room temperature when you combine it with the hot water in the next step; otherwise it will lower the temperature of the water, and the curd won’t melt quickly enough to form the mozzarella.

Put 360 grams (1 1⁄2 cups plus 1 tablespoon) water in a small saucepan and set it over high heat. When the water is just boiling, add 14 grams (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons) salt. Turn off the heat and use a thermometer to check the water temperature. It should be 190°F when you combine it with the curd. Water that hot is actually painful to hold your hands in. Rubber gloves will help a little. But the water has to be as hot as possible for the curd to melt quickly. If the curd doesn’t melt quickly, the mozzarella will be tough, or won’t come together at all.

In a large bowl, combine the 190° salted water with the curd and start mixing the curd and water together with your fingers. As the curd becomes more elastic, you’ll be able to gently fold the pieces of it into one another. Gradually work the pieces of curd, stretching and folding and incorporating the pieces into one another, until the curd comes together in a smooth mass. (If you work the curd too much, the cheese will toughen up, so work quickly. The whole process should take about 3 minutes.)

When you have a ball formed, fill a container that’s just large enough 
to hold it with cold salted water (5 grams /1 teaspoon of salt to 
225 grams/1 cup of cold water). Transfer the mozzarella to the water to let it cool. If you’re using the cheese that day, leave it out, sitting in the water, until ready to use. If you’re using it later, cover the container and refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it. It will keep in the refrigerator for a week.

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When Marissa was a little girl, she threw her bottle and pacifier down the stairs and begged for "real food." More than two decades later, her passion for real food has grown into a part of her everyday life. Marissa graduated in May 2014 with a Masters in Food Studies from NYU, where she focused her research on food politics and food culture. She has taught children’s nutrition, gardening and cooking classes for the past four years, and she will spend the next academic year as a FoodCorps service member in Guilford County, North Carolina.