After our adventures in Tuscany, we headed to Rome. And as the saying goes: When in Rome, eat like a Roman.
On our third night in Rome, we decided to skip the hotel concierge and consult a higher authority: Google. Google sent us to Pizzeria Baffetto in the Campo Marzio neighborhood.
The cab driver dropped us off as close as he could, and we set out on the cobblestone streets to find the pizzeria. After a minute of walking, we saw a line extending several feet out of the door. If this was the line at 9:00 at night, it had to be good pizza.
After forty minutes passed, we took our seat in a small corner of the restaurant, just in front of the kitchen, and immediately adjacent to the 500 degree pizza oven. From our seats, we could watch the chefs roll out the dough, spoon the sauce, scatter the cheese, throw the toppings, and shovel the pizza. Pizza after pizza. The precision and timing with which they fed the giant oven was a sight to see. And to hear.
The Italian in charge of the oven was a short man, but small in size only. A dead-ringer for a young Al Pacino, he barked at the waiters as rapidly as he wiped the sweat from his brow. His voice was hoarse — presumably from shouting at the waiters all day, every day — but no less imposing. One waiter, who had handed him an incorrect order, seemed too frightened to hand him anymore.
Even I got in trouble. Or so I think. After dinner, I stood up and began to walk to the cashier. But after a few footsteps, I could felt his hoarse words shooting towards me. Caitlin, fearing for my life, suggested I return to the table, and await further instruction.
Meanwhile, Mr. Baffetto, in his trademark mustache and glasses, came over to bus our table. At seventy or eighty years old, he walked with a slight limp, but still worked quickly, grabbing our dishes and silverware, and asking us how we enjoyed the restaurant.
We told him, in all sincerity, that it was “Molto Bene!”
This pizza can’t compare to what we had at Baffetto’s; but, at least, it can remind us of all the fun we had that night.
whole wheat grilled white pizzas
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
DOWN TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: 25 minutes
YIELD: 3 Pizzas
WHAT TO GRAB:
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
3/4 cups warm water (105-115° F)
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
24 grape tomatoes, halved
4 ounces mozzarella
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
1 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
HOW YOU DO IT:
PREPARING THE DOUGH
1. In a small bowl, stir together the water, yeast, and honey. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If the mixture doesn’t foam, you’ll have to discard it and start over with new yeast.) When the yeast is dissolved, add one tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons Kosher salt, and 3/4 cup of each flour. Mix well. While mixing, add the remaining 1/4 cup of each flour, or just enough to make a soft dough.Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.
2. Remove the dough to a lightly floured board, and knead it by hand for about five minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
PREPARING THE TOPPINGS
3. Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions. After ten minutes, continue cooking the onions, but add the chopped mushrooms and vinegar. Continue cooking for another ten minutes, or until the onions are caramelized and the mushrooms well-cooked. Set aside.
BACK TO THE DOUGH
4. Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 3 equal pieces. Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cornmeal, and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
5. Stretch the dough. Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper and cornmeal. (If you’ve chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead of time and let it come to room temperature.)
READY THE GRILL AND THE TOPPINGS
6. Preheat the grill. Brush each pizza with olive oil, and sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper. Top each pizza according to your personal tastes. We made one Pizza Margherita (basil, mozzarella, tomato), one pizza with the mushrooms, onions, and rosemary, and one pizza that combined the best of the first two! Top the pizza with shaved Parmesan.
7. Place each pizza on a grilling tray (preferably one with a handle) that has been lightly greased. Grill for between five and ten minutes with the cover down, or just until the crust is starting to brown and the cheese has melted.
8. Slice and serve warm!