8 Simple Tips From Dan Richer and Katie Parla’s “Joy of Pizza”
When Dan Richer offers his advice on pizza, you’d be wise to listen.
As the chef and owner of Razza Pizza Artigianale, he knows his way around a pizza peel. Four years after opening his first restaurant, Arturo’s, his locally sourced, lovingly crafted pies caught the attention of the James Beard Foundation, and in 2019, the offerings at Razza were officially deemed the “Best Pizza in North America.”
For his new cookbook, “Joy of Pizza,” he teamed up with fellow New Jersey native, Katie Parla, a Rome-based food writer and culinary expert, to deliver a gorgeously photographed, methodical encyclopedia of all things pizza. The book contains too many takeaways to mention — detailing the ingredient rubrics alone could fill a magazine — but here, we’ve compiled some of our favorite, easy-to-execute tips to immediately improve your pizzas.
- Let’s start with the basics: When prepping your dough, flour is your friend. Before removing them from your proofing tray, sprinkle the top of each ball and then, using a dough scraper, gently invert it into your hand and onto the countertop. There, you’ll flour the bottom of the ball (now on top), too.
- How you open your dough is up to you. Dan recommends both the gravity method, in which you slowly turn it like a steering wheel while allowing physics to do its thing on your dough, and clockwise stretching, which involves gently resting your hand on the center of the dough and using your other hand to stretch the edges at twelve “hour marks” around the pizza. (This latter method is great for wet doughs.)
- We all know to dust the peel before placing your pizza on top, but just how to dust the peel? That’s where Dan’s advice comes in: You want to dust from up high, to allow for “nice, even coverage.” This will ensure the pizza launches cleanly into the oven without finding a place to stick.
- Stick to the 80 percent rule. This means you’ll only want to stretch your dough to 80 percent of its full size before moving it to the peel. As you transfer the dough, it will naturally stretch the remaining 20 percent, resulting in a perfectly-sized pie.
Give it a shake. As you’re transferring your dough to the peel, this helps remove the excess flour from your dough and gives it one final stretch.
- Exercise restraint. Only cut or tear as much cheese as you need for your first pizza; Dan recommends using one-inch pieces for optimal melting.
- Speaking of melting, keep an eye on your pizza as it cooks. Watch how the cheese melts, and depending on whether it melts too quickly or slowly, adjust for larger or smaller pieces, respectively, on your next pizza.
- And going back to that rubric… Blind tastings can do wonders for the quality of your ingredients. Try it with several canned tomato brands, using Dan’s "Tomato Evaluation Rubric" to determine which one has the best flavor and characteristics to top your pizza.
For many more tips and explanations, check out “Joy of Pizza,” available now.