I was reading some conversations about Pizza on Quora, when one stuck out at me: ‘What makes the best pizza.’ If you are thinking this is a loaded question, you are right! Especially when the number of answers to this question directly relate to the number of opinions there are on the matter, and of course who’s to say what the right answers are? Now before even drilling into the answers of which I knew there would be many, I immediately started going down a list of possibilities in my head. Unfortunately, there can be no right and wrong answers as ‘best’ is a matter of opinion, or is it?
What struck me as odd is there were only six answers. Now this could be because this question is so fresh, or it could be because, like me, most people read it and think that there are too many variables…simply too broad of a question. Of the six answers I expected I would definitely read various responses about what is most important to each person… the crust, the toppings, the bake itself was most important, etc. So what did I find?
To no surprise the first response was indeed about the crust. This dude was so bold as to post the recipe he feels is the best. After mention of the dough and the recipe he went on to offer the following additional tips: cook the pizza at the highest setting of the oven for the shortest time; use fresh ingredients; use very little sauce; shred your own cheese. All valid points from someone who seems to know what he is talking about.
The second comment spoke of the water…when the same recipe is used in the East U.S. versus the West U.S. the results will be different due to the water. Good point sir.
The third comment was as useless as I thought they all might be…simply a statement regarding the nature of opinions…some people like thin crust, some like thick. Some like a lot of sauce some like a little bit of sauce, and so on…a useless proclamation about the opinions that everybody seems to have without giving one of their own.
The fourth comment was likewise a useless one, however at least this person took a stance. Their favorite was thin crust, fresh ingredients, just a few toppings… Although they introduced a new suggested factor to the ‘best pizza’… they acknowledged that the oven makes a difference. “The oven makes a difference too: pizza oven > conventional oven > toaster oven... and forget the microwave!” Ah, touché.
The fifth comment was a sort-of passive-aggressive plug for cheese. “Use this…(insert picture of fresh mozzarella cheese) instead of this…(insert picture of a bag of cheese with Asian writing of some sort.) Makes all the difference in the world” While I am sure the cheese does indeed make a difference, here again is another opinion. Both cheeses come in a bag. One has an English label and the other has a label with an unknown language. Truly, how fresh is the cheese wrapped in plastic marketed to English-speakers?
Comment number six is short and sweet…”When its hot and freshly made (not reheated)”…ok, I’ll give you that one. They also add “When its free!” Um, ok. I would like to disqualify this answer…’Free’ is not really a quality of the pizza, is it?
Finally, I must of course throw my two-cents into the mix. I am a solid believer that high temperatures are an absolute necessity to baking a good pizza. I must agree with the comment that sited the oven. Yes, I am biased, but having worked for PizzaOvens.com for the past seven and a half years I have gained knowledge of the industry…most manufacturers don’t market an oven for pizza unless it has a thermometer of at least 650▫F and a stone hearth. The traditional, old-world yet still favored Italian method of cooking pizza was in a wood-fired oven, those reach temps upwards of 900◦F. At that kind of temperature the pizzas cook fast! So yes, the oven does matter.
Second to the method of cooking (the hotter and faster the better) are the crust and the ingredients. Although water will indeed change the taste of your pizza, a great one can still be made from one coast to the next if the dough and the rest of your ingredients are top quality.
What do you think makes the best pizza?