Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It may not be Reginas, but it sure is closer

My husband and I adore the original Pizzeria Reginas in the North End in Boston. The crust is flavorful with a great balance of dough and crunch. The sauce has the right balance of acidity. Even the mozzarella is perfect. But Reginas is about 30 minutes away, is scarce on parking and long on lines. So unless there is the rare slice left in the freezer, we are more likely to go to the local Bertuccis.

Recently, in an attempt to save money and to increase the likelihood my toddler would eat more foods if he kept cooking with me, Raphael and I began to make pizza. And so far, we haven't stopped. It meets all the great requirements for a meal: inexpensive, quick, easy, tasty and very, very fun.

We have tried dough from Trader Joe's and Russos in Newton. We also made our own. All were good, but so far, ironically, nothing beats the dough from Bertuccis. (I had no idea you could just walk in and buy it until recently. They will even sell you dough that is stretched out, but then you miss some of the silliness as you toss it in the air pretending to sing in Italian. Raphael thinks that is hysterically funny and little David just grins away at us.)

I am still trying to perfect the toppings. Again Trader Joe's sells a decent pizza sauce, but I hope to start making and freezing our own soon. I used shredded cheese from Stop and Shop but as it tasted a bit like melted plastic, I will go for a higher quality brand next time, though Trader Joe's low fat version was fine.

My main suggestion, though, is to splurge for a pizza stone. It is very inexpensive and is available at most cooking stores, Bed and Bath, Crate and Barrel, etc. It makes an enormous difference in the quality of the crust. It doesn't replace the 100 year old oven at Regina's, but it helps to add heat to the oven, crispness to the crust and it cooks the pizza very quickly. The key is also to put it on the lowest rack of the oven at the highest temperature your oven and stone can tolerate. I find that 450 works best. Definately preheat the oven for at least 30 minutes in advance-just enough time to get out the ingredients and create your pizza.

So far I have found it is easiest to give Raphael his own little bit of dough, but for the most part, I make the crusts, spreading them on a pizza peel covered with a bit of cornmeal. Raphael's job, that he relishes dearly, is to spread the sauce and the cheese.

I put it in the oven and literally minutes later it is done, ready to eat and delicious.

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