I’ll never forget the day I discovered grilled pizza. It was back when I was the restaurant critic for Boston magazine. The restaurant in question was Al Forno in Providence, Rhode Island. The waitress delivered an uncut rectangle of dough—cracker-crisp at the edges, blistered and charred on the bottom, moistly chewy in the center. Puddles of fresh tomato sauce dotted the fire-darkened surface, along with shaved cheese and torn fresh basil leaves. Simple, yes, but not simple-minded. The smoky aroma damn near drove me mad.
It was, in short, everything pizza should be—and less—boasting the puffy moistness of freshly baked pita and the smoke flavor of Indian naan. More importantly, it was mercifully free of the gloppy melted cheese or pooled pepperoni grease that mar commonplace pizza joint pies. I summed it up in one short, sweet phrase: love at first bite.
Grilled pizzas have become big business since then, turning up at progressive restaurants and home grills across America and around the world. And with them comes considerable confusion about the best way to grill a pizza.
Do you cook the dough directly on the grill grate over the fire, as they did (and still do) at Al Forno? Or should you use one of the dozens of models of pizza stones now available for use on the grill? Raw crust or pre-cooked? Direct grilling or indirect grilling? And how do you infuse your grilled pizza with the blessed scent of wood smoke?
This week on Barbecue Bible, it’s all about grilled pizza.
There are 8 steps to direct grilling the perfect pizza and 6 steps to “grill-baking” one on a pizza stone. Can you guess them? Refresh your memory.
Want my recipe for the best three-grain pizza dough?
For the ultimate Margherita pizza, make a variation of my pizza recipe from How to Grill. Add extra smoky flavor by grilling the tomato slices instead of frying them and substituting in smoked mozzarella.
And here, in appreciation to you, Up in Smoke readers: five of my favorite toppings for grilled pizza cooked by either technique. Guess which one I’m using this weekend.
Tell us about YOUR adventures with grilled pizza. Post photos, recipes, and comments.
Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen's official newsletter, Up in Smoke, is available exclusively on barbecuebible.com. Culled from experiences on the barbecue trail and beyond, Steven brings you reviews you can use, recipes, answers to your questions, special BBQ store discounts, and more. The newsletter is FREE and comes out every week. It is available first only to subscribers to the newsletter and then posted a month later in the newsletter archives. Sign up today!