Chris Bianco-inspired Pistachio Pizza
In the annals of modern American pizza, there are few pizzaiolos as famous as Chris Bianco. And of Bianco's most beloved pizzas, almost none are as iconic as his pistachio, red onion and Parmesan-topped Pizza Rosa. Funny, then, that this standout pie was inspired by a delicious yet simple Italian focaccia.
The story of the pizza goes something like this: On a break from running his eponymous restaurant, Bianco took a trip to Liguria, Italy and found himself charmed by a Parmesan and sesame seed focaccia. After trying (and failing) to replicate it at home, he thought about what exactly it was that made the focaccia so special. Part of it was the simplicity of the nutty flavors, but there was something more…
Bianco realized that the sesame seeds he’d had in that Mediterranean port town were so good because they didn’t have to travel far from where they were grown to where they were eaten. He started thinking about nutty and delicious topping options available in his home state of Arizona, and came up with not sesame seeds, but pistachios. The pizza came together from there. In his cookbook, Bianco, the pizzaiolo writes that the creation gets its name from “the pink of the red onion,” an addition inspired by chewy onions at the heart of a bialy, a Jewish baked good similar to the bagel. That, we think, is a stroke of culinary genius.
Bianco says his riff on the original focaccia from Liguria “is like playing a cover song; if you do it the exact same way, it won't have the same effect.” We took that as a tacit blessing to play with his creation.
We stuck with a thin dough base cooked at a high temperature and also kept the olive oil, rosemary, pistachio, and red onions. But we strayed from Bianco’s recipe in two notable ways: We used Piave Vecchio cheese, and we added a drizzle of lemon, thyme, Meyer lemon and bay leaf honey for a bright, sticky-sweet citrus kick.
Like Parmigiano Reggiano —the cheese on the pizza that inspired Bianco — Piave Vecchio is nutty and crystalline. Unlike Parm, it has notes of tropical fruit and almond. Basically, Piave Vieccho is a bit sweeter. If you struggle to find it at your local grocery, just substitute a different Italian hard cheese.
From Liguria, Italy to Phoenix, Arizona to Ooni’s US HQ in Austin, Texas to your kitchen, this simple focaccia may have changed a bit, but one thing is certain: It’s been a delicious journey. Buon appetito!
Chris Bianco’s standard dough recipe is made with active dry yeast, high protein flour, water, and fine sea salt and proofs for 5 hours. Want to follow his guidelines exactly? Find the recipe in his cookbook, Bianco.
2 x 12-inch pizzas
2 x 250-gram dough balls
⅓ cup (60 grams) sliced red onion
1 tablespoon (2 grams) fresh rosemary, chopped and stems removed
4 ½ ounces (120 grams) Piave Vecchio
1 ½ tablespoons (20 grams) olive oil
1 cup (50 grams) pistachios, chopped and toasted
⅓ cup (30 grams) thyme & Meyer lemon-infused honey
This recipe would suit a variety of pizza styles, including Bianco’s dough recipe mentioned in the notes above, but we think our classic pizza dough would be a great fit. Make sure to prepare your dough ahead of time to ensure it rises at room temperature before firing up your oven.
Preheat your home oven to 325°F (160°C), chop your pistachios and toast your pistachios for about 10 minutes. them for about 10 minutes. When they’re done, they should smell deliciously fragrant. Let them cool and roughly chop them. Then, thinly julienne your red onions, set them aside and roughly chop the rosemary.
Fire up your Ooni pizza oven, aiming for 850 to 950°F (450 to 500°C) on the baking stone inside. Use an infrared thermometer to quickly and accurately check the temperature of the stone.
Place a dough ball on your lightly floured work surface. Push the air from the center out to the edge with your fingers. Stretch the dough out to a 12-inch-round base, then lay the stretched dough over your lightly floured pizza peel. Top with halves of the sliced red onion and rosemary; then, with a Microplane or a handheld cheese grater, shave on the Piave Vecchio.
Drizzle your pizza with olive oil, then slide it off the peel and into the oven. Cook for 60 to 90 seconds, turning the pizza regularly to ensure an even bake. Just before the end of the bake, take your pizza out of the oven and top it with half of the toasted pistachios. Return the pizza to the oven, give it a final turn, and remove. Finally, drizzle your pizza with the flavored honey, slice it into pieces, and enjoy.