Click open your Instagram around dinnertime and it won’t take two swipes to see pizza has turned cult. Whether home-baked or from the spate of zendo-like “just-one-pie,” “just-two-toppings” pizza temples bubbling up around the country, fans swoon over secret dough blends and yeast starters, artisan-made wood-fired ovens, the very provenance of their pomodoros. Not us. At Mantry, the joy of pizza comes in its slap-dash sprezzatura, and easy, humble grace. From the charred crust to the tossed-on toppings, pizza should be a worry-free affair. So let us slice through the oozing hype with two perfect pie options — plus dessert. Preheat the oven and crack a Peroni. Tonight, pizza comes back to earth.
Pizza Flour // Hayden Flour Mills // Phoenix, AZ
In any good pie, the secret’s in the crust. Most chefs worth their marinara guard their recipes tight, those alchemical blends of science and magic, mixing precise blends of flour, calculating protein content and hydration levels to the percent; multi-day, temperature-controlled fermentations under great-grandma’s tea-towel, blessed over with ancient incantations… As they say, though, an over-worked dough never rises. Take it easy. The hardest part with this recipe is planning ahead: the crust is best if it rests a day before baking. Scoop three cups of flour — like this stone-ground, Arizona-grown mix of hard red spring and white Sonora wheat. Add three teaspoons sugar, half a teaspoon yeast, a pinch of salt and process with 1 1/3 cups water and a quick glug of oil. Knead for a few minutes, adding a little flour if it’s too sticky. Cup into a tight ball, pop in an oiled bowl, and tuck into the fridge. On party day, let your dough come to room temperature while the oven preheats to 500°, then bake for 12 minutes.
Classic Red Sauce // Jar Goods // Hoboken, NJ
Our first is the ur-pie, the classic: red sauce and pepperoni. More than mere adornment, sauce should be a peacemaker, a bridge, the hardworking mortar linking the sweet chew of the crust to the savor and spice of your toppings. You need a sauce with guts, and where better to look than Jersey? This one, swiped from Jersey City’s famed Jule’s restaurant does the trick, a slow-simmered stew of vine-ripe tomatoes, rib-sticking thick enough to keep even the most freewheeling toppings in place.
Smoked Pepperoni // Vermont Smoke & Cure // Hinesburg, VT
Pepperoni like you’ve never had before — smoked — has a spicy-sweet snap satisfying enough to munch as-is (legend has it some dedicated Vermonters have hiked the state’s Long Trail sustained on nothing but). But re-holster your multitool, Griz — it also makes the perfect earthy pair to a sauce so bright, thanks to locally-raised pork, fresh herbs, and the flavorful kiss of Vermont hardwood — maple, naturally.
Genovese Pesto // Scarpetta // Lynn, MA
For a lighter pie with a zesty herbal edge, bake your crust naked, then dress with a dollop of the world’s best pesto. From Liguria, the basil capital of Italy (and thus, the universe), a masterful mash of prime-plucked leaves, Italian cheese, fresh olive oil, and chewy pine nuts. As simple and fresh as a kitchen garden.
Prosciutto // Daniele // Pascoag, RI
Creamy, salty, unctuously sweet — damn near meat candy — sliced from American hams patiently dry-cured with a centuries-old mix of salt and time. But you needn’t wait — this prosciutto is ready to eat right from the wrappings. Don’t tarnish its mellow flavors with a smoking-hot oven; instead, wait till your pie is cooked then drape a few slices over top, drizzle with bright young oil and a basil leaf or two.
Lemon Sugar Cookies // Grey Ghost Bakery // Charleston, SC
Like a perfect crust, you could eat these sweet southern treats on their own and be plenty happy. But as with pizza, the right topping takes them, well, over the top. And for that, we turn to the greatest culinary innovation since sliced bread: sliced ice cream. Reach as far back into the freezer as you can and grab the most solid pint you find. (We got a raspberry sorbet.) Wielding your largest bread knife — and most carefully, we needn’t add — saw into discs, container and all. Peel off the wrapping, and sandwich.