What’s more fun than a pizza party? A party with fresh, homemade pizza pies right from your own oven. Next time you get family or friends together for steaming-hot pizza and everyone's favorite toppings, try these great home pizza-making tips offered by Mark Bello of Pizza a Casa. In his popular cooking classes, NYC-based Bello teaches people how to make pizzeria-quality pies in their home ovens. Check out Bello’s expert advice, and try it out with a few of our favorite homemade pizza recipes from the Rodale Recipe Finder. (If homemade pizza becomes a frequent item on your dinner menu, consider planting a pizza garden next spring for the freshest, healthiest ingredients.)
A pizza pan will work, but if you’re serious about crispy, thin-crust pizza, invest in a quality baking stone for your homemade pizza recipes. Go for something a half inch thick (Bello swears by Old Stone Oven brand, available for around $50), and get it heating up in your oven at least an hour before you plan to put in your pizza. A baking stone distributes heat evenly to the pizza and crisps up the bottom nicely.
Be gentle as you stretch your dough out, or you'll literally beat the "breath" out of it, resulting in a flat, cardboard-y pizza. Be kind to your dough and it will return the favor with crispy outsides and pleasingly bready, chewy insides. Don't worry, we have a pizza dough recipe coming right up.
Set your oven as hot as it goes. Most ovens can go to 500 or 550 degrees. Pizza-making perfection at home is possible at these temperatures.
With toppings, less is more, and go for quality over quantity. Don't overload your pizzas with either too much of any one topping or too many different toppings. Quality ingredients shine in moderation, and a less-loaded-up pizza will cook better.
Keep that oven door closed—no peeking! Every time you open your oven door you lose precious heat. If making more than one pie, get them in and out pronto!