Why Make Your Own Pie?

Pizza Czar – Anthony Falco, 2021 

Reviewed by Naomi Bussin

I would love to be a Czar, any kind, minus the negative qualities.  But Pizza Czar has a cool ring to it, for sure.  I was inspired when I received Pizza Czar, by Anthony Falco, international pizza consultant. Anthony used to make pizzas at Roberta’s in Brooklyn (great pizza) and is now a consultant, working in cities including Toronto, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

I acknowledge the very excellent pizzas on offer in Toronto, which can be delivered right to your door.  Some of my favourites are Terroni, Queen Margherita Pizza and Maker pizza but there are many.  So why make it yourself?  It does take more effort, but it’s fun and you can make it exactly how you like it.  With no embarrassment, even if you like olive, anchovy and pineapple pizza (you know who you are).

Great pizza is about the individual elements but also how they work together as a whole.  In my view, the crust and the sauce are key, as is the balance of ingredients.  But whatever you think is important about pizza, you can find it in this book.  Here is what I learned –

The crust – I like a thin and crispy crust; but the book also has recipes for Sicilian grandma dough and buttery pan pizza.  The grandma dough resulted in a thick crust but it was nice and soft inside, very retro.  The thin and crispy crust was the best pizza dough I ever made. A dream to work with.  The directions for making the crust are simultaneously detailed and vague.  Unfortunately there were no timelines so I was not clear about whether I was allowed to sleep during this apparently 24 hour process.  I contacted Anthony who told me to “listen to the dough”.  I did my best.  I suggest that you know something about making dough before you try it and do the math in advance.

The sauce – homemade sauce is superior, hands down.  I like a basic raw tomato sauce, but I also tried the cooked spicy grandma sauce, which was delicious.  There are recipes for other sauces and pizza without sauce if that is your jam.

The toppings – great information about cheeses and other toppings that really made a difference.  Also many recipes from margherita and pepperoni to less classic Bolognese pizza, Brazilian mashed potato pizza with eggs, and pizza alla norma, with eggplant.

The cook – high heat is key.  You can cook your pizza in a cast iron skillet, a pizza pan or baking sheet or directly on the BBQ.  You can invest in a pizza peel and stone, but see what you can do with what you’ve got first.

The verdict – a really interesting book, detailed information and recipes and fun facts about pizza and different cultures.  If you want to make pizza, listen to the Czar.

Naomi Bussin is a lawyer, mother of three and an accomplished cook. Food is her favourite subject and she reads cookbooks in her spare time.