What Makes Good Pizza
It seems that most people enjoy eating pizza which would explain why there are so many pizzerias throughout the United States and Canada. Yet people are always complaining that certain pizzerias just do not have good pizza. So, what make good pizza? Over the course of this article I shall explain why some pizza tastes so much better than other pizza.
Now I may not be the foremost pizza expert but I did once own a small pizzeria so I do know a thing or two about this subject other than just eating pizza. Before I go into all the ingredients that make a good pizza we need to understand the various pizza styles and what sets them apart.
The most popular type of pizza out there is a New York style pizza. Although many pizzerias today have altered this pizza style some compared to what you find in Manhattan it still to me is New York pizza. True New York pizza is thin crust, cooked in a coal burning oven and cooked well done until the cheese turns a golden brown color. Not many pizzerias do their pizza quite like that but not too far off.
The second most popular pizza style is Chicago deep dish pizza. This pizza is more costly and takes at least twice as long to cook. A good pizza provided you are willing to spend more money. Also common are Sicilian style pizza, California style pizza and so on.
You see it does not matter what the pizza style is, what matters is how you prepare the pizza. When you own a pizzeria two of the most important factors about making pizza are the cost and time. Many pizzerias today are competing with the major fast food restaurants so the price charged for a pizza and how long it takes to get that pizza in the hands of the customer are critical for the survival of the pizzeria.
Like most things in life it comes down to money. To make good pizza you will need to spend more money on quality food product and more time in preparation. Some places due to their financial plan opt to go the cheap route and that in most cases makes unfavorable pizza.
Food Products that Make a Good Pizza
To make good pizza you first start with the dough. I believe the dough should be made daily in a pizzeria. Never should you use frozen or pre-made dough but many places do. Pizza dough is made with water, yeast, sugar salt and oil, some pizzerias may add some other special ingredients but those are the basics. Water is very important as not all tap water is the same, some cities have very hard water and that will make a difference.
I am aware of some pizzerias that use purified or distilled water for dough making as it increases the quality of the dough but also adds to the cost. As I mentioned before pizza dough should be made daily, preferably each night and made with warm water so it will be ready the following day. Once the dough is formed into a ball shape it then goes into the walk-in refrigerator for the rest of the night where it will rise and be ready the following day come lunchtime.
The next item that is crucial is the pizza sauce. Many pizzerias will buy pre-made sauce in a can for their pizza. This usually will have a bland taste, nothing to get excited about. Good pizza sauce is made the night before you use it and is made by adding spices like garlic, sugar, olive oil, oregano, salt and ground pepper just to name a few. These ingredients are added to a tomato sauce, thoroughly stirred and then placed into the walk-in refrigerator to set overnight. Unlike marinara sauce you do not cook pizza sauce; it will cook when on the pizza while in the oven. So much better than canned pizza sauce.
Not many people realize that the most expensive component of a pizza is the cheese. Well that is unless they are using an imitation cheese. Good pizza is made with 100% cheese. If you are looking to cut cost on pizza making this is the place to do it as just about all pizza has cheese. Most pizzerias will use either mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese or a blend of both. These cheeses melt well and have a great taste. Now some specialty pizzas may use other cheeses like asiago, mild cheddar, provel or feta all which have great flavor and appearance compared to imitation cheese.
There are many different brands of cheese and the prices vary greatly. The top brand of pizza cheese is Grande Cheese so if you walk into a pizzeria and they display a sign stating they use Grande Cheese you are getting the best. Chances are you will not see that often and when you do the price of the pizza will be above average.
Now comes the pizza toppings. Cheap pizza will have toppings that come either frozen or canned. Some pizza topping products may only be available that way but others are available fresh and that makes a big difference in taste. Toppings likes mushrooms, spinach, jalapenos, tomatoes, pineapple and broccoli taste so much better fresh than when they are purchased frozen or canned.
The last step to making good pizza is the oven. There are many different pizza ovens out there and they do make a difference. Of course there is nothing like a old school coal or wood burning oven but those are rare and usually found at more upscale pizzerias. Most pizzerias have either a deck oven or a conveyor oven. I believe deck ovens are far better as they contain shelves of stone which cook the crust better. Conveyor ovens can cook a pizza in 4 to 6 minutes and it comes out the same every time. This oven is what you usually find in the big corporate pizza chains as they are easier to operate.
My Final Thoughts about What Makes Good Pizza
There you have it as that is what makes good pizza. Next time you are in a pizzeria look around, ask questions to determine the process used to make pizza. It is the little things that when added together will dramatically affect the taste of pizza. My advice is to visit the independent family owned pizzerias as they usually are the ones that make good pizza and have done for years.
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