By in Food

Pizza 101

Finding the perfect pizza is much harder than it seems to be. Everyone has their own taste, yet there are general guidelines in choosing between a quality slice and a cookie cutter refund.

Section 1: The Crust- Really, dough?

Let's start with the crust: the foundation of any pizza. Attention deep-dish or Sicilian fans. This is a guide of a standard circular pizza. If need be, omit this paragraph and move onto Section 2: Sauce. Now depending on your geographical location (New York, Chicago, and California for example), each city generally has their own proprietary blend. Commonly, crust that is too thin and bland, like a saltine cracker, cannot hold much weight overall. A thick crust will add on plenty of carbohydrates and may leave one too full to eat many more slices. An acceptable crust thickness should be about a quarter thick, but should not bend under excessive weight. Yes, some people like to bend fold their slices, yet the integrity of the crust should hold. Some butter and seasoning on the thicker edge or stuffed crust is not needed, but an added bonus. For gluten-free eaters, there are versions of crust that include tofu or rice.

Section 2: Sauce- The subtle factor.

When it comes to the sauce in a pizza, most don't really notice it there. Unless it dribbles onto your new polo shirt a day before Thanksgiving dinner, then you notice it. Yet one can only drown a pizza in cheese so much before you realize your missing the crucial ingredient. Aside from White pizza, sauce is included in every pizza imaginable. A typical name brand pizza bought in a grocery freezer aisle is bleak and ends up being way too hot or runny when placed in a microwave. An oven is fine, yet the freshness is just not there when fully thawed. It sometimes seeps into the crust too. A good pizzeria knows just the right amount of sauce to add so that there is not an overload of tomato flavor, but just enough for the cheese to mold onto, kind of like bricks and mortar. Hints of garlic, oregano, and other spices can enhance the pizza's after tastes. Tomato pies are excluded from the rest of this guide.

Section 3: Cheese-Without it, your nothing.

Next, comes the cheese (go figure). This quintessential ingredient can vary from incredible to dissatisfying, depending on the establishment. Some large chain restaurants must have a secret ingredient that makes their cheese addicting. Those in particular are only good for large events or under extreme hunger conditions. Cheese should not be too stringy and stretch like a piece of gum. If the cheese is a bit curdled, it is normally mozzarella or goat cheese on a specialty slice. Any establishment that claims to use multiple cheeses may wield a potential winner, or an overkill if your a topping person. Inspect all cheese with a napkin. If grease saturates it, the pizza will be hazardous to your arteries (not really, but you get the drift.) A quality cheese layer should have minimal grease and should not taste "old" or, God forbid, "like chemicals". For plain cheese pizza fans, your done here. Your journey to pizza nirvana has been completed.

Section 4: Toppings-Everyone's special ingredient.

Lastly, are the toppings. The majority of you have moved passed the third section and are ready to personalize your perfect pizza pie. Toppings come in all sizes, flavors, and food groups. With titles as a "Taco Pizza" or a "Buffalo Chicken Pizza", one's taste buds salivate over the special combinations. For meats/protein: classic pepperoni, steak, ham, pulled pork, bacon, chicken, sausage, salami, eggs, tuna, and anchovies. For vegetables & fruit: lettuce, spinach, pineapple, onions, tomato (if not already in the sauce), mushrooms, olives, peppers (green, banana, hot, and all other types), broccoli, and zucchini. Most of these toppings are complimented with some form of sauce or condiment, like BBQ sauce or blue cheese. A gratuitous finale to any pizza. Just remember that "gourmet" slices always cost more than a plain slice, unless you buy them at closing. Then you may end up getting them for free.

Image Credit »

You will need an account to comment - feel free to register or login.


Madcanman wrote on November 6, 2014, 5:41 AM

Okay, okay already- stop!! You're making me hungry, and if I don't exercise some self-control, which for me is a challenge around food, I'll eat everything in sight for breakfast, especially since my wife's still asleep and can't police what I eat. Damn you...

Scorpie wrote on November 6, 2014, 11:59 AM

I will often ask for my pizza to be over-cooked by three minutes. I really like my toppings to be on the crisp side. I will then take the pizza home to doctor it up with cayenne pepper and real Romano cheese before eating.

BarbRad wrote on November 7, 2014, 8:20 PM

You reminded me that pizza is exactly what I'm in the mood to make for dinner tonight