January: Breakfast Pizza

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Breakfast Pizza finish with script

Buon giorno!

Pizza! Pizza! Pizza! Everybody has a pizza – a dough – a fave. But – do you have a BREAKFAST PIZZA? Here is the true “breakfast of champions” – a sure bet for your  “home team”. This pizza has all the breakfast elements you might look for – dough, cheese, sausage, spinach, and of course, the EGG. Add some champagne to wash it down, and Yeah – there’s a breakfast!

Actually, this one is more of a flatbread than a pizza – as it is cooked in the oven at 450 – no charred crust – no stone, cornmeal etc.  You can make a large one or make a few “pizzettes” (small individual pizzas).

The birth of this pizza: It’s funny sometimes how recipes come to life. This one was the result of a head scratching moment trying to select the perfect birthday treat for my very sweet and deserving daughter in law, Laura. I was out of ideas at the time and asked her what she might like. Her first words were “Linda’s Pizza”. While flattered, I pointed out that we were planning on a breakfast celebration, but this did not deter our persistent and resourceful Laura. She immediately suggested BREAKFAST PIZZA! The rest is now family history. We all put our heads together and volunteered our ideas for ingredients and… talk about a BREAKFAST – WOW! We decided it was a winner and resolved to place it in the family favorites rotation.

The jewel in the crown was definitely the fried egg for the top. This is a MUST and makes this pizza amazingly rich and well.. just perfect. Note: if making individual pizzettes, simply place one fried egg on top. If you are making a large pizza to feed several as we did, you will want to serve each person a fried egg on top of his or her slice.

A little story: This kind of reminds me a little of an old family story.  My father, Attilio, was known for his perfect eggs. He would set out to make an egg for himself, after first asking if anyone else wanted one. When he had no requests for more eggs, he just made one for himself. Family members would peer over his shoulder longingly at sight of the single artfully cooked egg, and he ultimately had to share it. I can’t tell you how many times this happened. Same idea here – I guarantee that all those who opt out on the egg will surely come around, once they see how much it adds to the flavor of the slice!

Now, before we begin – do you want an egg or not? I am not sharing!!


Makes a large pizza or several pizzettes


My Mother, Loretta’s, famous pizza dough. Recipe: HERE

Olive Oil

Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese

Mozzarella Cheese – grated or sliced – 8 oz. for one large pizza

Cooked Italian Sausage, casings removed

Fresh Spinach leaves – uncooked

Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Fried Eggs

Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzle


After clicking on the link to my mother’s famous pizza dough, follow the instructions to make it. If you are making one large pizza, you will want to divide your finished dough into 2 large balls – one for this pizza and one for the freezer. If making pizzettes or individual pizzas as described in the text above, divide your dough into several smaller balls. I always like to make my dough ahead and freeze it.

Roll out your dough for the pizza and brush with olive oil to seal it.

Next spoon some Ricotta in several places on the dough. Follow this with the grated or sliced mozzarella.

Now place your cooked Italian sausage over the cheese.

Place as much of the fresh uncooked spinach leaves on top as you like and follow with a sprinkle of the Parmigiano.

Breakfast pizza 1

(If you like a little spice, add a little dried red pepper flakes.)

Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Because, as the post describes, this is more of a flatbread than the traditional pizza – Bake it in a 450 oven for about 30-40 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is cooked.

When finished, remove it from the oven. If you are making one large pizza, make a fried egg for each slice, and serve it on top of the slice. If making smaller individual pizzas or pizzettes, make one fried egg for each pizza and place the egg in the middle as shown in the photo.

Prepare for eating noises of satisfaction as each yolk is broken, and your guests bite into this breakfast delight.

So – your BREAKFAST PIZZA awaits! Don’t forget the champagne chaser – Not explainable but definitely worthy – It just tastes better!

Breakfast Pizza Promo


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Loretta’s Sausage Roll

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Sausage Roll finish with script

Buon giorno!

Saturday night was always pizza night at the Calabrisi’s in our little kitchen in Binghamton, NY. The expectation was comforting. We knew some form of pizza was coming, but were never sure exactly what my mother, Loretta, had in mind. On some of these pizza nights, we had a special kind of pizza in the form of a roll – LORETTA’S SAUSAGE ROLL! She always used my father’s homemade sausage which is still the best I have ever tasted – perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of the very necessary fat. Then, of course, there was her dough!

LORETTA’S SAUSAGE ROLL was a very simple recipe. She used her pizza dough which I still use today. She made this roll with sausage and a little bit of red pepper flakes.

Loretta’s dough: I think it is the very best for a few reasons. To begin – It is simply authentic and “old world”.  It is easy and is created with the signature simplicity found in most authentically Italian recipes. It is not fancy. There are no tricks to it. It does not require special flour. What is most important is that this dough has the perfect flavor and elasticity you would and should expect from any Neapolitan pizza dough.

Versatility: This dough can be used for pizza and, as it is here, for “sausage roll”. You can also use it to make divine flatbread. It is also lovely for Mozzarella in Carozza or Pizza Fritte. In addition, this dough makes amazing “Grissini” – Northern Italian Breadsticks.

Variations: Sometimes I add some fried peppers to the sausage. If I want to get a little funky – I use those sweet-hot Peppadews. Another addition that is oozy and delicious is grated mozzarella. Have fun with it.

When something is this perfect and this simple – there is nothing left to say except…Andiamo!


Makes 1 Roll – Serves: about 4

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes


1 Loaf of Loretta’s Pizza Dough

1 pound Italian Sausage – taken out of casings – sweet, hot , or a combination of the two

Olive Oil

Leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh Rosemary – chopped a little

1/4 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes or more if you like it spicy

Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Make your dough in advance. The recipe for Loretta’s Dough makes about 4 loaves. Use one for this. I make my dough ahead and freeze the loaves so I always have some.

Remove the sausage from the casings and brown it in a tbsp. or 2 of olive oil – breaking it up into small pieces with a fork as it cooks.

Sausage Roll 1

Roll out your loaf of dough on a little flour into about a 14 inch rectangle.

Rub a few drops of olive oil over the surface of the dough with your hands.

Spread the browned sausage over the dough leaving a small border all the way around.

Sprinkle the fresh Rosemary leaves and the red pepper flakes over the top.

Sausage Roll 2

Fold the right and left shorter edges inward.

Sausage Roll 3

Then begin rolling the dough like a jelly roll from the bottom edge forward.

Sausage Roll 4

Keep rolling until the finished roll forms.

Sausage Roll 5

Rub the surface of the roll with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil and place on a lightly oiled sheet pan or foil covered pan.

Sausage Roll 6

Bake the roll at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and cool at least 15 minutes.

Sausage Roll 7

Serve with a nice drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Variations: Sometimes I add some fried peppers to the sausage. If I want to get a little funky – I use those sweet-hot Peppadews. Another addition that is oozy and delicious is grated mozzarella.

Enjoy LORETTA’S SAUSAGE ROLL as an appetizer with wine or beer, breakfast, lunch – or  a light main course. You will absolutely love this stuff and the very versatile dough as well.


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Two Championship Pizzas!

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Super Salad Pizzas!

Eggplant Pizza

Buon giorno!

During the Super Bowl championship and playoff seasons, everyone scrambles for the best treats to serve friends and family at kickoff. Linda’s Italian Table is there for the coin toss this year with two –hear it? – TWO great pizza ideas worthy of the Super Teams.

Everyone knows and loves the traditional Pizza Napoletana – you know the drill – sauce, cheese, sausage, sometimes further complicating your palate with with peppers, mushrooms and whatever else catches your fancy. Here it is – always authentic and wonderful:


The TWO CHAMPIONSHIP PIZZAS featured here, in honor of the big games of the season, are different and will please everyone no less than the “usual suspect” with tomato sauce that we all know and love. Both are served with a topping of mixed greens or salad making them “Super Salad Pizzas”. This works, and they are amazing! They each offer a meal in one bite – throwing in some greens to make you at least feel like you are dining on a healthful item.

The first trophy contender is Pizza with Pear and Gorgonzola. I remember serving this one for the first time and hearing “I.. don’t know..,” – later resulting in its total disappearance while the saucy traditional one was left over for another meal.

The second is one that  even Vince Lombardi would have enjoyed –  Pizza with Eggplant. This one will disappear fast once tasted. I notice that everyone seems to like to fold the slices of this over into a sandwich for consumption. The eggplant in this one is pressed first, leaving a sweet pleasing flavor, and then roasted before topping the pizza.

To me – with pizza – the crust is as important as the topping. I recommend my pizza dough, inspired by my mother, Loretta’s delicious recipe, which I always keep frozen for “emergencies”. It’s easy and the makes the best crust I know. Visit my post PIZZA, THAT’S AMORE for the best dough recipe ever! So many have written me about their “conversion” to this dough. It is easy to make, has great texture, holds toppings well, and has perfect flavor.

On both of these pizzas, the flavors combine very favorably offering an interesting and addictive payoff! You will love them and wish you made more. May my team win!


Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza with script

Makes: one 12-14 inch pizza


Dough for crust – recipe HERE 

1 Bosc Pear thinly sliced

4 oz. Gorgonzola Cheese crumbled (more if you like)

4 oz. Fresh Mozzarella grated or sliced thinly

A few coarsely chopped nuts are nice on this one – hazelnuts or walnuts

Honey for drizzle

Mixed tender greens

Quick Orange Vinaigrette dressing for top: 1 C.Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1/4 C. Apple Cider Vinegar, 1/2 Tsp. Dijon Mustard, 1 Tbsp. Honey, 2 Tbsp. Orange Juice, salt, pepper.


Make your pizza dough ahead. My pizza dough recipe above is easy. Keep some in the freezer at all times!

If frozen, defrost a loaf for one pizza. Roll it out. Brush or rub it with a few drops of olive oil.

Add fresh mozzarella.

Arrange the pear slices over the top.

Next – crumble the Gorgonzola over the pear.

Sprinkle with nuts.

Cook your pizza. Try using your grill – instructions HERE

While the pizza cooks – prepare your greens. I like a mix of tender fresh spring greens, baby spinach, or arugula for this. Toss with the Quick Orange Vinaigrette which can be made ahead. This makes over a cup of dressing – so you’ll have plenty left for another salad or two!

When the pizza is ready, drizzle very lightly with honey, and slice the pizza.

Mound your greens gently in the center of the pizza so that every slice gets some of the salad. Serve!


Eggplant Pizza

Makes one 12-14 inch pizza


Pizza dough for crust: HERE

1 small eggplant peeled – I like to partially peel mine so it is sort of striped.

1 Large Purple Onion – sliced thinly

2 Tbsp. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano Cheese

6 oz. (more if you like) Fresh Mozzarella sliced or grated

Salad of mixed tender greens: spring greens, arugula, baby spinach etc.

Dressing: extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper to your taste


Peel and slice eggplant thinly, vertically, for long thin slices. Press the eggplant slices for a couple of hours to eliminate bitterness. Instructions for pressing: HERE

Brush slices of eggplant with olive oil on both sides and add salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until tender. Set aside.

Slice the onion thinly and caramelize – (saute in 1 tbsp. Butter, 2 Tbsp Olive Oil and 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 2 Tbsp water.. Salt and pepper to taste – stir occasionally until onions brown and soften – about 12 minutes at medium high heat.)


Roll out dough

Brush with olive oil

Add ½ of the mozzarella cheese.

Place the eggplant slice in a wheel style around the top.

Distribute the caramelized onions over eggplant.

Sprinkle with 2 tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano or Romano Cheese.

Add the remaining mozzarella cheese.

Cook the pizza – Instructions for grilling pizza HERE

During the cooking process – prepare your tender greens and toss with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

When the pizza is cooked- slice and then pile the tossed greens in the center of the pizza and serve – making sure every portion gets some of the greens!!

No penalties here and no flags thrown! TWO CHAMPIONSHIP PIZZAS await and are sure to please a hungry crowd!  (For more great pizza ideas visit: Linda’s Italian Table!



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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography


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Spicy Hot Shrimp Pizza

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Pizza di Gamberi  all’ Arrabiata-


Spicy Shrimp Pizza_5

Buon giorno!

Pizza has endless possibilities. For me, when I go to the trouble to make a pizza, it needs to be memorable. Just plain pizza will never do. Often when I am in the mood for something hot or spicy, my preference is SPICY HOT SHRIMP PIZZA or Pizza di Gamberi all’Arrabiata. This is a fun pizza and one that you will remember eating!

Arrabiata generally means angry. However, it can run the gamut from mad to enraged or infuriated depending on how passionate you want to be. In the case of pizza, that would include how hot and spicy you want to be. Arrabiata Sauce is a hot pasta sauce that is most often attributed to Rome or Central Italy. When you want heat, this is the sauce, baby, and the amount of heat is up to the chef. Of course, the more gentile among us might prefer a little less intensity and can enjoy the sauce with less hot pepper. It’s your call.

The good news is that this is an easy pizza to make. It is one of the more interesting ones and satisfies both the need for pizza as well as seafood.

The best and easiest pizza dough or crust I can recommend – one that you can make ahead and freeze – is the recipe from my post Pizza-That’s Amore. 

I always keep a couple of loaves in the freezer. They thaw quickly. That way I can have perfect pizza anytime I crave it.

You’ll see me break one of the rules with this pizza – you know – the one about no cheese with seafood. In this case the mild mozzarella provides a creamy base for the shrimp and does not overwhelm it. I think it has something to do with the presence of the hot pepper also. It all seems to make sense.

OK! So let’s put on our red hot shoes and reach for the large container of red pepper flakes for this occasion—and prepare to be infuriated, or enraged, or — WHATEVER!


(Pizza di Gamberi all’Arrabiata)

Makes: 1 pizza


1 loaf pizza dough – See recipe: Pizza—That’s Amore

1 C. Marinara Sauce or Sauce Pommodoro (Olive Oil, fresh garlic, San Marzano Tomatoes, salt, pepper, Fresh Basil)

1/2-3/4 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

1/4 C. Heavy Cream

1/2 lb 16-20 Count Raw Shrimp, cleaned and peeled

1 1/2 C. Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (grated or sliced thinly)

1/2 C. Chopped Fresh Basil

A few capers – optional


Make a simple Marinara Sauce (this is a basic recipe – make as much or as little as you like): Add some garlic to a little Olive Oil in a pan. Cook a couple of minutes. Add some San Marzano Tomatoes, crushed with your fingers. Add Salt, Pepper and Fresh Basil. Add the Red Pepper Flakes to the pan, and simmer about 10-15 minutes until the water is cooked out of it leaving a concentrated sauce.

Take 1 cup of sauce and add the heavy cream – Stir.

Take a little of the sauce and add it to the raw shrimp-just enough to coat, mix, and set aside.

Prepare your pizza dough for your pizza and roll or stretch to desired size.

Put a few drops of olive oil on the pizza dough and spread with your fingers coating the dough.

Put some of the remaining sauce on the pizza shell.

Spicy Shrimp pizza process 1

Top with Fresh Mozzarella.

Spicy shrimp pizza process 2

Arrange shrimp around the top of the cheese.

Spicy Shrimp pizza process 3

Sprinkle fresh basil over the top.

Spicy Shrimp Pizza process 4

Add a few Capers for brightness if you like.

Cook your pizza as you normally would indoors or out on the grill. For a step by step method to grilling great pizza, check my post: Pizza On the Grill.

Enjoy your Spicy Hot Shrimp Pizza with your favorite Italian red wine or some ice cold Peroni. As for me, I’d go for a nice Valpolicella with this one.


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Pizza Bianca With Three Cheeses

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White Pizza6

Buon giorno!

So, it’s late in the day, and the sunlight gives way to shadows, and I’m in a pizza kind of mood. I look to PIZZA BIANCA (White Pizza) as one of my favorites requiring no sauce, no meat, and a minimum of fuss. PIZZA BIANCA can take on many forms. It can be just a crust with oil and herbs or you can add a little cheese and maybe an olive or two. I especially like PIZZA BIANCA WITH THREE CHEESES because it has all of the elements of a good PIZZA BIANCA plus a little more.

This pizza is especially cool because it has so many uses. Aside from being another great pizza choice, it can be an appetizer when cut into small pieces, an accompaniment to your antipasti, or a more interesting substitute for bread at a meal when cut up and served in a basket– especially On the Patio –  where I love to hang out for meals whenever weather permits.

It is so darn simple you won’t believe it and still retains a complexity with the choice of ingredients and flavors. Your average “garden variety” PIZZA BIANCA usually “pals up” with olive oil and herbs. This PIZZA BIANCA WITH THREE CHEESES runs up the ladder a little with, what I think, is a great mix of ingredients.

Roasted garlic – I start with the usual layer of olive oil and follow with roasted garlic mashed and spread out over the dough. If you are familiar with roasted garlic, you know how mild, nutty, and inoffensivo the garlic becomes when roasted in the oven prior to use. This is an easy step, which I describe in the recipe, and kicks this pizza into the stratosphere.

Cheeses – For my 3 cheeses, I selected some of my favorites: fresh mozzarella for it’s mild, creaminess, Parmigiano-Reggiano for a little sweet nuttiness (and also because I can’t imagine pizza without it), and Ricotta Salata for it’s salty flavor to balance the other milder cheeses. Also, the Ricotta Salata tends to hold its form a little more than the others and will stand out when the other cheeses melt together.

Other stuff – Sometimes I like to add Black Olives or Kalamata Olives sliced in half. They add a little brininess to the pizza. I love to sprinkle fresh Rosemary from the garden on this pizza. With the olive oil and garlic, the Rosemary is like the third of Three Tenors which make this pizza sing. I also like a little Red Pepper Flakes scattered over the top for some zip! Last but not least – the ingredient that ties it all together  – a drizzle of good Extra Virgin Olive Oil before serving. What else could you possibly need?

The dough –  Many people like to buy their dough. I know – it’s easy. If you’d like to make your own dough with a VERY easy recipe, check my post: PIZZA THAT’S AMORE

This is my mother, Loretta’s, pizza dough – with a little tweak from me. It is easy to make. You can make it ahead and freeze it. I like to have a couple of loaves in the freezer at all times so I can have pizza any time I like.

I always make my pizzas on the grill. If you add some wood chips to your grilling process, you get that beautiful wood fire flavor on your crust that is known around the world as the signature Napoletana style of producing a great pizza. Honestly, if you have enough wood in there, your flavor will not be much different from pizza cooked in those $15,000. Ferrara ovens that are legendary.  You can’t achieve that indoors in the oven. Pizza made on the grill is also less messy than indoors. For a tutorial on this process, check out my post: PIZZA ON THE GRILL. 

Let’s fire up that grill!


Makes: 1 Medium Pizza

Prep: 40 minutes

Cook: About 5 minutes on a very hot grill


1 Loaf Pizza Dough – For an easy delicious recipe see: PIZZA THAT’S AMORE 

1 Large Bulb Roasted garlic (instructions below)

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

1 8 oz. ball Fresh Mozzarella Cheese

Lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese – about 1/4 – 1/3 cup

1/8 lb. Ricotta Salata

1/2 c. Black Olives or Kalamata Olives sliced in 1/2

Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

Fresh Rosemary

Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Prepare your pizza dough.

Roast your whole bulb of garlic: Cut off the pointed end of the bulb. Slice it all the way across so that the tops of the cloves are exposed. Place it in foil and drizzle with olive oil. Seal up the foil and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes. Cool down before handling.

Roll out your pizza dough – Rub the top with a few drops of olive oil.

Take the roasted garlic bulb, turn it upside down, and squeeze out the soft roasted cloves onto the oiled dough. They should slide right out. Then mash them and spread them out on the dough with a fork.

White Pizza1

Add a little salt and pepper.

Slice the mozzarella thinly and distribute it around the top of the pizza.

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

White Pizza2

Shave the Ricotta Salata and add to the pizza. A vegetable peeler is a good tool for this.

White Pizza3

Don’t overload your pizza – especially this one.

Distribute your olives next. Then add the red pepper flakes and as much fresh Rosemary as you like.

White Pizza4

Cook your pizza as you like or use the grilling method: PIZZA ON THE GRILL

When your pizza is finished, give it a generous drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Enjoy your PIZZA BIANCA WITH THREE CHEESES with your cocktails, your dinner, or as an appetizer. It pairs beautifully with a lighter red wine like a Valpolicella or even a Barbera. The roasted garlic and earthy cheeses seem to beg for your favorite vino rosso.


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Fig and Sausage Pizza with Frangelico

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Fig Pizza_0030

Happy Birthday, Linda’s Italian Table!

Buon giorno!

I can’t quite believe it , but here it is – the one year birthday of Linda’s Italian Table! HOORAY! Because one year ago my first post related to my passion for figs, I thought it might be fitting to celebrate this event with another delicious fig recipe, FIG AND SAUSAGE PIZZA WITH FRANGELICO. I couldn’t wait to share this one with you, as it meets all of my usual requirements for a stellar dish: it is drop-dead gorgeous, an easy slide in the prep, and downright addictive. Yes, this is the one that will evoke those “I’ll have what she’s having” comments.

This is a great time for fresh figs in almost all markets.  For us, “fortunates”, we have been enjoying them since June. However, I find that aside from having them grow in your own back yard all season, the later figs found in the local markets are especially ripe  and delicious. The Mission Figs in particular are perfectly ripe, seductively sweet,  and seem to arrive in a faultlessly “ready”  state for cooking. They are just waitin’ for ya!

There are many suggestions out there for the use of figs on pizza. This one is a little different, I think, in that there are a few surprises. (Now didn’t you just know there would be?)

First – The Cheese: So many times, when figs are paired with cheese, the most obvious come to mind: Goat, Gorgonzola, Feta, and Ricotta. I frequently select these cheeses, myself, when preparing my fig dishes. This time we’re going to the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean and South of Turkey for something a little different – HALLOUMI. This traditional Cypriot cheese is usually made from a combination of goat and sheep’s milk. Sometimes a little cow’s milk can be used as well. HALLOUMI has a high melting point which makes it  the perfect choice for frying, or grilling as it does not melt and run – also making it a fine cheese for the intense heat of pizza on the grill or at a 500 degree temperature in the oven. There is a little saltiness or brininess in its flavor because it is usually kept in sea water – making it a flawless partner to the sweet figs. It really has wonderful flavor – much like feta – but lighter. In addition to both its distinctive flavor and high melting point,  the fact that figs are part of the diet of the Mediterranean makes HALLOUMI my only choice for a pizza this special. HALLOUMI can be found easily in the specialty cheese section of most markets and definitely at Fresh Market and Whole Foods.

However, for those here, in Atlanta, visit CalyRoad Creamery on Hildebrand Dr. in Sandy Springs for the very finest HALLOUMI. This cheese artisan spoils me with all of their special fresh cheeses. We are so lucky to have their expertise available to us. Make your “CalyRoad Run” on a Thursday or a Friday, pull up a chair, and watch them make the cheese.

Second – the Hazelnuts: The addition of toasted coarsely chopped Hazelnuts comes after the pizza is cooked. These nuts add a very distinctive flavor to this pizza and will compliment the last surprise ingredient. Hazelnuts are so delicious with figs.

The final surprise: The last of the unexpected ingredients and perhaps the most special is a light drizzle of Frangelico liqueur, which I suggest for over the top of the hot pizza as soon as it comes off the grill or out of the oven. It is the je ne sais quoi that pulls all of the flavors together into what will induce immediate surprise and sounds of pleasure with the very first bite. Just try keeping them away from this one! (Better make two!) A light honey drizzle can be substituted and is very good, but the Frangelico is the little “number” that will bring ‘em to their knees!

The ingredients: As always, the ingredients in this pizza separate it from all others. The fresh sweetness of the figs, along with the Hazelnuts and Frangelico, and then married with the savory nature of the sausage and briny creaminess of the HALLOUMI make this not a pizza but an event. —And then there are the onions – oh my what we’ll do to those!

Let’s rock this thing! Put your red shoes on! I’m hungry – and I grow very impatient waiting for the birthday celebration to begin!

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Makes: 1 medium pizza


1 loaf pizza dough – For a great dough recipe, visit my post:  Pizza—That’s Amore.

Olive Oil

1/2 lb Loose sausage (out of casings) – in pieces lightly browned

1 Purple Onion, sliced thinly

   2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

   2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

   2 tsp. Honey

   Kosher Salt  & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

4 oz. Halloumi Cheese, sliced

8 Fresh Ripe Figs – Sliced

1/3 c. Hazelnuts, very coarsely chopped and toasted

Handful of fresh Basil Leaves for garnish

Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzle.

Frangelico Liqueur (Hazelnut Liqueur) for a light drizzle at the end

(Honey can be substituted for the liqueur)


Try the pizza dough recipe from the link in the ingredients. It is a great dough and easy to work with.

Prepare your dough and rub the surface with a little olive oil.

Prepare your onions as follows: Saute in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey, adding a little salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 10 minutes until tender and caramelized. They will be oh so sweet!

Place the onions over the surface of your pizza dough.

Fig Pizza_0008

Saute the sausage pieces until just lightly browned. Then distribute them over the onions on the dough.

Fig Pizza_0012

Next place the Halloumi slices over the top of the sausage.

Place your fig slices around the top.

Now – cook your pizza as you would normally or –  follow the directions for grilling your pizza in my post: Pizza on the Grill or for cooking pizza in the oven, refer to my post: Pizza—That’s Amore.

When your pizza is cooked, immediately drop the toasted Hazelnuts all over the top.

Fig Pizza_0026

Follow this, with your chopped fresh basil. Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive oil.

Finally the best part! Lightly drizzle the Frangelico over the top and serve.

Fig Pizza_0038

Celebrate this first birthday along with us at Linda’s Italian Table by enjoying this wonderful Fig and Sausage Pizza with Frangelico  with someone very special. This pizza is full of surprises which can’t be fully described until you take your first bite. I think a lovely Pinot Noir would be choice #1 here – unless you’re me, in which case only the “bubbly” will do for this special birthday. Whatever you decide to drink  – raise a glass with me while you enjoy this surprise laced pizza and toast – “TO A YEAR FULL OF SURPRISES – MAY THEY KEEP ON COMIN! YEAH! “

Thank you all for showing up week after week!

Tanti Auguri, Linda’s Italian Table!


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Grilled PIzza_3

Buon giorno!

I have found that sometimes change is a good thing, and sometimes we just need to be flexible and “go with it”. Outside of the Ten Commandments, nothing is written in stone, and that includes pizza.  After making literally scores of pizzas over the years, I have discovered that making PIZZA ON THE GRILL is just my favorite new thing. Of course, this means another excuse for eating On the Patio – which can’t be too bad. I spent years of cranking my oven up to 500 degrees and heating up the whole house – including in the middle of Hot-Lanta summers. I even cracked the inner glass on my oven door when I inadvertently let the pizza stone rest against it while making one of the Linda’s Italian Table specials. I experienced major appliance envy while visiting our good friends, Barbara and Steve, who had installed an authentic state of the art pizza oven, and I lamented my inadequate “equipment”. (Read about this amazing “gadget” in our January blog post. FIRE IN THE HOLE!  Well, times they are a-changin! You, too, have a pizza oven in your outdoor grill, and I bet many of you didn’t know it.

Thanks to the prodding of my husband, Tom, who is always game to try something new – I grudgingly agreed to try making pizza on the grill – something he had heard and read about. After a little research – we tried it. OMG!! Once again, Tom rocked my world – or so he says! Gone are the days of maneuvering the pizza in and out of the oven, turning the kitchen into Dante’s Inferno in mid-July, and sweeping cornmeal off the floor afterward. I am about to change your pizza-making ways forever. Follow my lead and you’ll never cook another pizza indoors.

The keys to the kingdom – the tools: Nothing new here – you’ll use all the same things I recommended in my Pizza Post “THAT’S AMORE” : Cornmeal, pizza stone, large spatula, a pizza peel, the best ingredients – good dough preferably homemade (we’ll chat about this later) fresh mozzarella, good sausage, fresh herbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, good olive oil. Last but not least – scissors! My mother, Loretta, always cut her pizza with scissors and did not use a pizza cutter. Thank goodness, or I’d still be sitting in her little kitchen waiting for the pizza to be cut. I’ve never seen a pizza cutter beat the scissors. I have seen people hack away repeatedly at a pizza trying to get a quick and good cut. Some morsel always seems to remain attached. If you like your pizza cutter, by all means use it, but I will continue to use my scissors. Truce declared!

The Secret – HEAT: An actual pizza oven heats up to about 900 degrees. What we realized was that by heating up your grill ahead of time like you would do with your oven – and adding wood chips if you want to achieve the real wood-fired effect – you actually turn your grill into a pizza oven with temperatures way above the 500 in the kitchen oven – or around 800 degrees. This, of course, means that your cook time will be far less than cooking the pizza indoors which is usually about 15 minutes. You’ll want to heat that sucker up with the lid down and with the pizza stone on the grill for about 15 minutes. This pre-heat time is what it’s all about.

The path to enlightenment: While you’re heating up the grill with the stone inside, get all of your ingredients together and be ready to go. Put some cornmeal on the pizza peel. Stretch or roll your dough out to the desired size, and place it on the prepared peel. Now to construct your masterpiece! Always start with a sprinkle of olive oil, and spread it all over the dough with your very clean fingers. This helps to seal the crust and prevent the toppings from making it soggy. Then place your ingredients on top usually ending with the cheese. A last drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive oil is nice. Do not leave your pizza sitting there waiting for peace in the Middle East. Get that puppy to the grill as quickly as possible.

Stairway to heaven: Open your very hot grill,and then sprinkle the stone with some cornmeal. Ease the pizza off the peel with a large spatula and a little shake. The cornmeal on the peel makes it slide off easily. Quickly put the lid down. Your cook times will vary, as your grill may take longer or less time than mine. The cooking time I will offer is only a guideline, and yours may be different. However, I’ll testify – experimenting is fun! Once the pizza is on the grill, I cook the pizza for approximately  3-4   minutes, and then I peek at it by raising the grill lid, lifting the edge with a spatula. You should look for a golden brown, crisp bottom and a lightly charred edge. Now you are operating like a true pizzaiolo (the guy who cooks pizzas in Naples). Peeking is good. Here is a peek at the crust of one of my pizzas:

Grilled PIzza_4

If almost there, let it go another minute. Keep peeking. You may want to rotate the pizza a little with the spatula to get an even bake. Usually 5-6 minutes total will do it. Here is one that is almost there:

Grilled PIzza_6

This is totally according to the heat level in your grill. Depending on your grill – going beyond this time may burn the bottom. Watch it!

When you have the desired “doneness”, gently slide the peel under the pizza, and lift it off the stone and onto the plate. DONE! Pizza in 5-6 minutes – see the lovely “fired” edge – Troppo bella!

Pizza-2 with script

A word about the dough: I make my dough using my mother’s recipe which calls for regular flour. I know that many like to use the Italian flour referred to as Double Zero. This is traditionally used in Italy for pizza and pasta making. I always use it for making my pasta fresca. I do not use it for pizza, as I like my mother’s recipe, using all purpose flour, which I offer in my post, “THAT’S AMORE”. It is easy and delicious, and I think more folks would be inclined to make their own dough if they could use ingredients that would be found in their pantry. I have made some adjustments to that recipe recently that I have found to make a better and thinner crust. You might want to take a look on the post!

It Ain’t Heavy: Pizza isn’t always laden with the worst of the worst for you. I am offering you a look at my GRILLED PIZZA MARGHERITA. You know this one. It’s the one given the nod by Queen Margherita “just a few years ago” – in 1889. Back in the old days in Binghamton, my grandmother used to refer to my mother as La Regina Margherita. I can only imagine why!  This pizza is light, fresh, quick and easy. There are many variations of this recipe, but I like this one as most of the ingredients are fresh and healthy. Some of these ingredients can probably even be found in your garden!


Pizza Grilled_0003


Makes: 1 large pizza

Prep for grill: 15 minutes

Prep for pizza: 7 minutes

Cook: Approx. 6 minutes

Dough: Follow the instructions for the dough in the post, “THAT’S AMORE”. Suggestion: Make the dough ahead and store it in the freezer, if you like. One recipe will make 4 loaves of dough for a thinner crust. Each loaf  is perfect for this recipe. If you like a thicker crust, just make 2 loaves, and use one of those for this recipe.


Olive oil

Several Fresh Campari Tomatoes sliced. I like Campari’s which are in season right now because they are soooo sweet. If you can’t find Campari Tomatoes, use the freshest tomatoes you can find.

Salt and Pepper

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Fresh Mozzarella – sliced thinly not grated

Fresh Basil Leaves –at least 1/2 cup – more if you like. Leave the leaves whole.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Follow the instructions in the preceding text for tools and preparing the grill.

As instructed above, place the dough on the peel topped with cornmeal.

Rub the surface of the dough with a little olive oil.

Lay the Tomato Slices on the top of the dough.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Top with sliced Fresh Mozzarella.

Add the fresh Basil Leaves.

Drizzle with a nice Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Grilled PIzza_2

Follow the directions in the portions of the above text called The Path to Enlightenment and Stairway to Heaven for grilling the pizza.

The long and short of it is: In approximately 6 minutes total –  you’ll be eating it!

VINO: With this one, I’d say go alla Napoletana, as they know the most about pizza in any form. For white – I’d suggest Fiano di Avellino or Falanghina. For red – try an Aglianico. Just sayin…


** I love receiving your comments! Don’t forget – you can leave comments at the end of each blog post. If you receive your post in your email, just click on the post title and go straight to the blog on the website where you can leave your thoughts! Looking forward to hearing from you.

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MY WILD SIDE!” Wild-Mushroom_01_thumb1 Buon giorno! Bet you think perhaps I’m about to reveal some deep dark untamed  period in my youth. WRONG! I must say the subject of my musings today is wild and rather fervent—but not of the type you may have hoped I would share. Sorrrry!… no secrets revealed here. However, I must opine about a lifetime longing or passion for which there seems to be no means to abate. I LOVE WILD MUSHROOMS!! No not in the “like to have them once in a while sense” but more like I gotta have ‘em – “kind of hopelessly addicted sense”. (Before we get too excited – I do not refer to the naughty mushrooms of Alice’s “trip” to Wonderland – let’s get that straight right from the beginning!) I have been known to specifically shop for the wild mushrooms first and then decide what I would do with them much later. The ladies can relate as many of you understand the “need” for that amazing “must have them” pair of shoes that goes with nothing in your closet and perhaps might be more comfortable or appropriate housed in a museum than on the foot. YUP! That’s it! That’s the perfect comparison. Strangely, my addiction began at a very early age. Let me explain. In our house, wild mushrooms were revered. I experienced them early and often in my childhood and thought pretty much everybody did. I just loved them. My father, Attilio, would hunt for them at the suggested time of year. He knew several types of the “wild ones” and only picked those on his own. He was extremely careful about the ones he picked and always cautioned us about never eating or cooking with any we weren’t absolutely sure of because of the toxic nature of some species. He was so meticulous about the process of picking that we never worried much about  getting sick. This is something he did not take casually. When he brought them home my mother, Loretta, froze them so we would have wild mushrooms to enjoy for months on end. One of my favorite dishes using the “wild ones” was a dish made with the mushrooms along with sausage, red wine, tomatoes, and, of course, red pepper flakes. Crusty Italian bread made this dish a runner-up to heaven.  Because she froze so many of the mushrooms, we always were able to have Loretta’s amazing Wild Mushroom Risotto on New Year’s Day!     Attilio especially loved the Popinki’s or Polish Honey Mushrooms. So we always had those at a surplus. One place he “hunted” Popinki’s was not far from our house in a wooded area on upper Glenwood Avenue in Binghamton, New York where we lived. He also picked a variety called a white, hooded type called Shaggy Manes – which he named Daisy Mae’s. (He had a name for everything and everybody! A couple of times a year Attilio would sometimes take my brother, Richard, who recalls a tree on upper Glenwood where they would harvest a large Ram’s Head (also called Hen of the Woods or Sheeps Head) mushroom every year with the permission of the owner.  This large mushroom variety looks like a cabbage or a large flower and can weigh as much as 25 pounds! It has an earthy, “gamey” flavor. The larger ones are a little tough and are often found on Oak Trees and stumps. One year they eagerly returned for the mushroom and, sadly, the tree was gone.  On many occasions, my Dad had a friend from the First Ward in Binghamton named “Coco”, who sometimes accompanied him and knew other varieties of wild mushrooms, and he would guide Attilio in picking those. As my father aged and could no longer “go picking”, Coco faithfully brought him a couple of baskets a year of the Popinki’s.  Caution: I would not advise anyone to pick and eat wild mushrooms without a good deal of knowledge and recognition of what is safe or perhaps a degree in Mycology ( the study of fungi). Few types cause fatal results, but many can cause allergic episodes. You really need to know what you are doing here. Also, some areas where you might find them are protected.  Wild mushrooms in so many varieties are not so wild anymore. My best advice is to buy them – buy them in quantity – and safely enjoy the HECK out of them! We are so fortunate now to have our local growers supplying so many different types to our Farmer’s Markets.  Think LOCAL as much as possible!  Even Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and your neighborhood grocers have gotten into the act. You will find everything you desire from the very dear Chanterelles to Trumpets to Porcinis to Creminis ad infinitum. If you haven’t tried them, you must. I insist you join me in this pursuit of these wild things!  The difference is a tasty, earthy, sometimes buttery depth of flavor you could never experience in the average button  mushroom. They add so much to every dish. You’ll be happy you did. Wild-Mushroom_021 Curiosity piqued? Just because, my enthusiasm for your trying these jewels knows no bounds – I will provide a luscious excuse for you to experiment.  The following Pizza is one of our favorites –always a winner at our table –  purely vegetarian  – with ingredients that always deliver individually – but most certainly come together for a mighty crescendo of earthy delight. I guarantee, your guests will love this one. Troppo Bella!



Begin with the recipe for Pizza Dough from our previous post Pizza – That’s Amore (click here for dough recipe) Or use your favorite store bought dough. Olive Oil – small amount to spread on dough Whole bulb of garlic roasted as per instructions below. Fresh mozzarella – grated or thinly sliced Assorted wild mushrooms – about 1/2 lb. Try to use some Shitakes as they provide a buttery flavor to the mix. Given a quick saute in olive oil, Kosher Salt and Pepper Fresh Rosemary and Fresh Oregano – about 1 Tbsp of each 3-4 oz. Goat Cheese Large Slivers of Ricotta Salata Cheese Extra Virgin Olive Oil Prepare dough and stretch onto stone or pan. Rub dough with a little olive oil.

To Roast your bulb of garlic: Remove the outer skins of garlic bulb. Place the bulb, with the top cut off exposing the cloves, in foil – drizzle with olive oil – add a little Kosher Salt – Seal the foil and Roast in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.  Roasted garlic is mild and nutty flavored and can be use in countless ways as its usually sharp, pungent and offending odor and taste is muted. When ready to apply to pizza – just gently squeeze bulb – the soft roasted cloves will ooze out easily. Squeeze roasted garlic directly onto dough- smash it- and spread over the dough with a fork.


Place grated or sliced fresh mozzarella on dough. Saute fresh sliced wild mushrooms lightly in a tiny amount of olive oil, Kosher Salt and Pepper – Spread mushrooms over the  pizza. Sprinkle with fresh oregano and fresh rosemary.


Dot pizza with Goat Cheese.


Shave large slivers of Ricotta Salata Cheese over top.  Place in oven at 500 degrees for 10-15 min. til crust is golden and crisp on the bottom. PIzza_0017a

Drizzle with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil to serve.


I recommend my favorite St. Bernardus Belgian Abbey Ale with this pizza OR Hannibal Lecter’s favorite “a nice Chianti”! (Click here for Hannibal !)




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Fire In The Hole!

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Buon giorno!

It always interests me as to the motivation for “toy choices”. Why this thing and not that?

When our good friends, Barbara and Steve, told us about their new “construction project”– an outdoor wood burning Pizza Oven, I was intrigued immediately. For Pizza lovers, this is the “toy of toys”. I just had to know everything about this so that I could share it with you. When they graciously asked us to come by to see and sample, I knew this would be a treat, and I couldn’t wait.

The whole concept of having one’s own personal outdoor Pizza Oven was immediately alien to me as a small town Italian girl, born and raised in Binghamton,NY. Loretta and Attilio, my parents, (read more about them on the About Page on my website, Linda’s Italian Table < click here) made their own dough simply, added fresh tomatoes and homemade sausage or pepperoni, and just popped it into the oven. (Find out more about making pizza with Loretta and Attilio – Arugula Pizza < click here ) I thought I had “graduated” when I began using a pizza stone! Who knew?

Barbara and Steve, a couple of real Italian food lovers, have taken Pizza Making to an entirely new level. Barbara had the pizza oven idea tucked away in her mind since the 1970’s when she became serious about learning to cook. The whole idea began when they were thinking of making some adjustments to their home. Their children were grown and sprung from the nest, and Barbara and Steve thought, “What next?” So, their attention turned to something they love to do – cooking and entertaining. A few years before, the couple had completely revamped their kitchen, a project featured in an Atlanta magazine. They incorporated a very sleek and updated look to serve as the backdrop to a functional environment where Barbara could practice what she learned as apprentice in some of the top restaurant kitchens in Atlanta.


See the exquisite Lacanche “Cluny” stove where she does her creating indoors. I have to confess, the old “green eyed monster” emerged when I first gazed upon that lovely piece. Read more about these incredible French ranges at Lacanche Coet d’Or < click here.

With the renovation behind them, what then could they possibly add to their already state of the art cooking facilities? They knew just what was missing – an outdoor wood burning Pizza Oven that was authentic and efficient. The authenticity factor was important to them, and they spent a good amount of time researching and designing the oven that would be a permanent and very important element in their home that was true to the way they enjoyed entertaining their family and friends.


In Steve’s research, he found Forno Bravo < click here – and purchased the actual prefabricated oven from them online. He then enlisted a mason to house and build the stucco and brick facade. At the same time, the mason built an attached fireplace according to their design similar in style to the oven so that they could extend their seasonal outdoor use of their deck/patio. This fireplace incorporated the same stone used in other exterior parts of the home. An area was efficiently designated to store logs in the back of the structure. The process took an amazingly short 2 ½ weeks! It was then, that Steve could begin the process of “curing” the oven with small fires before actually progressing to making pizzas.


Steve has the process down to a “science”. When we arrived, Steve began the quite deliberate task of starting the fire – a process that takes about an hour. He explained that his preferred method is from “top to bottom”. Instead of putting the kindling on the bottom and wood over it as is common in fire building, he places the wood on the bottom and kindling on the top.


The heavy insulation provides the environment in which an intense fire will develop within about an hour to achieve the desired 900 degrees needed to cook a perfect pizza in 2 minutes!


Steve monitors the temperature with an infra red thermometer while he waits for the interior of the oven to turn”white hot”. One can even bake bread in this oven by placing a door-like device in front of the opening to keep ALL of the heat inside.

During our demonstration, when the fire was deemed ready, Steve’s duties turned from fire starter to pizza tender and server extraordinaire!


Barbara who creates behind the scenes while Steve “mans” the oven, soon appeared with her infamous dough and toppings.


While we were there, she made it all appear easy!


She asked everyone to create a pizza suited to their taste and delight. The guests even added some of Barbara’s beautiful and mouth watering antipasti to their pizzas as well as several types of cheeses including ricotta with garlic. Troppo Bella !


Absolutely nothing was missed when it came to inventive ways to dress these pizzas thanks to Barbara’s innovative preparation. In addition, it was incredible fun for her guests.


The finished products produced crusts that were light and crispy. The toppings of intensely flavorful meats, cheeses, and vegetables provided a “kid in a candy store” experience for everyone.


When it comes to pizza, these folks know how to do it!  Thank you, Barbara and Steve!!


Parla Come Mangi!



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Buon giorno!

   Recently, Tom and I attended a Christmas celebration with the Atlanta chapter of Amici d’Italia (Friends of Italy) at the lovely home of its organizer, Gina Micalizio. What a great night! Amici d’Italia does not require Italian ancestry or Italian language proficiency as a requirement for membership and encourages and celebrates all things Italian – food, culture, custom, and heritage. All that is necessary to participate is a love of Italy and the desire to learn more about this amazing country, its people, and to enjoy a community of others who do the same. It doesn’t get any better!

  Amici d’Italia in Atlanta http://www.amiciatlanta.com  hosts several events during the year where members come together in different venues to enjoy various events of Italian interest. In the past, there have been wine tastings, visits to galleries, shops, local businesses, and lectures. There are off-shoots of the main organization that are more specific in their subject matter such as Italian Genealogy. One of the members, Steve Lembo, participates regularly with this particular group which researches Italian ancestry and genealogical records in Italy dating back generations.

  The title of the holiday event we attended was “Beyond Cannoli and Tiramisu”! The evening began with a light tasting of delicious antipasti followed by a buffet of interesting Italian desserts made by a very talented pastry chef and Amici d’Italia member, Linda Boshart, of Oui Pastries http://www.ouipastries.com .  Her featured items were meant to demonstrate different types of dolci than the more common ones most of us know.


Linda offered and described an interesting array of dolci  which included:

a Mascarpone Cheesecake – a very rich and creamy confection with a freeform pattern of Nutella Glaze;


Espresso Cake – an intensely dark and dramatic cake which left one longing to linger over a slice in a Roman café with an accompanying Espresso;


Sicilian Cassata  – a multi-layered chocolate version, different in its presentation with white and dark chocolate curls;


Olive Oil Cake (my personal favorite!)- moist, light, flavorful.


There was even a lovely faux cake, for display purposes only, constructed with inedible cardboard and decorated with real icing and sugar decorations. (See the opening photo in this post.)

  The group was generous and welcoming and engaged in lively discussion of Italian family memories and interesting travel experiences. As someone raised in an Italian home, I was very much at ease in the midst of this charming gathering. However, my husband, Tom, who is not Italian, was equally comfortable and involved in the camaraderie that dominated all conversation. What a great group! I highly recommend visiting the site at http://www.amiciatlanta.com and adding your name to their membership list. I just can’t wait until the next event when I can celebrate Italia with all of these fine new friends!


  As a special benefit to our readers, one of the members of Amici d’Italia, Lauren Spiridigliozzi, has kindly contributed her family recipe for Tomato Pie! It reminds me so much of the “Hot Pie” offered at Bruno’s Market in Binghamton, New York when I was growing up. It was available by the slice, and they very strategically placed it near the door of the market so you couldn’t leave without walking around it. Lauren is originally from Utica, New York, home to a large community of Italian families –  not far from “my” Binghamton. We talked endlessly about upstate New York Italians and the authentic Italian pastry shops in Utica which attract a clientele from all over the state. One of these shops is the famous Florentine Bakery. Thank you for sharing your recipe, Lauren!


Lauren’s Tomato Pie



  In the new year, I hope subscribers in the Atlanta area will give the Atlanta chapter of Amici d’Italia a serious look. It is my understanding that other chapters of this organization exist around the country. Hopefully, those outside this area can connect with a similar group. These folks have roots planted all over Italy. They have great stories to tell and have much to impart about their extensive travel experiences there as well as family lore. Even better – they’re fun!



Happy New Year To All!  See You in 2011 at My Italian Dish!!



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Buon Giorno!

Looking for that great new Pizza Recipe? Perhaps Pizza Dough?

When it comes to PIZZA, the feeling of most aficionados is best described by Dean Martin in his infamous song. Indeed – That’s Amore!

Italians, Americans, – let’s face it – the whole world is in love with PIZZA!! The international favorite! This is the Italian standard that everyone can relate to on some level. This is the Italian dish that probably started as mere sustenance and became a craze worldwide. There is probably not a city of stature in the world without a pizza joint – New York’s Little Italy, in my opinion, being the best of the best in the USA in that arena.

To illustrate, here is my husband, Tom, enjoying a slice in the heart of this famous arena of Italian food. Street food is king in Little Italy, and there it nothing quite like it anywhere.

Tom in Little Italy

Dating back to ancient times, many existing cultures served pizza in some form and prepared it with the hot stone method that has returned to us in our modern times. Traditional pizza, as we know it today, using the tomato, which was previously believed to be toxic in earlier centuries, had its origins in Naples, Italy, native land of my father, Attilio. (He would tell you that most good “eats” got their start in Napoli!) Pizza, thought to have originally evolved as a staple among the poorer classes, would fall into the category of what my mother, Loretta, called “peasant food” – food simply prepared, with simple ingredients, and enjoyed without thought to class and rank. (Read more about Attilio and Loretta at Linda’s Italian Table click here ) Pizza has evolved into many forms today from the sweet and fruity to the savory and spicy and sometimes to the very unlikely in terms of toppings.

I remember pizza growing up as the “Saturday Night Special”. My parents would either make their own dough or short-cut it by procuring it from the reliable Dirienzo Brothers Bakery in my hometown, Binghamton, New York. The preparation for their dough was very simple: flour, yeast, salt, water with 2 rounds of rising. After the second rise they rolled out the dough on their tiny round kitchen table. I loved to be around for this. It was truly a family affair with everyone gathering around to watch and throw in his or her preference as to what should be included in the toppings– and then the agonizing wait for the finished product. Do you have a pizza story? I would wager there are many.

Pizza is not just the “Saturday Night Special” anymore, making its way into even the most sophisticated of cocktail menus. It happens to be one of my favorite cocktail appetizers when cut in little squares with endless imaginative toppings from mushrooms to salmon and caviar. Pizza, as an appetizer, is a great accompaniment to drinks, especially the MARTINI served “Dry as dust” as Nora Roberts wrote in “Morrigan’s Cross”, and in particular – my personal choice, Tom’s Bada Bing Bada Boom! Click here for recipe

I thought it might be fun to discuss a more unusual version of pizza and mix it up a little. Today we’ll explore PIZZA WITH ARUGULA, SAUSAGE, SUN DRIED TOMATOES, AND GOAT CHEESE – red, white, and green for the Italian flag!!

I can’t say Arugula without smiling and thinking of Steve Martin in “My Blue Heaven” where he speaks of “A-ROO-gula” and pronounces it a “veg-et-a-ble”! Nutritionally speaking, Arugula is a source of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, minerals and a good source of dietary fiber.

This delicious pizza is kind of a take-off on the tradtional dish, “Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe”, found on many Italian restaurant menus. Here we substitute the light, tender, and peppery Arugula for the bitter Broccoli Rabe (the rabe is an acquired taste I have found).

And now we begin either by purchasing a perfectly fine dough at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or another of your favorite places — OR MAKING YOUR OWN!

SING IT, DINO! Click here for a treat!


(courtesy of Mama Loretta with a slight twist from me!)

Makes 4 loaves of pizza dough for a thinner crust – 1 to use – 3 to freeze! (Makes 2 loaves if you like a thicker crust.) There is nothing like craving pizza and being able to go right to your freezer for a loaf of dough just waiting for you!

Each loaf will also make 2 individual “pizzettes”.

7 cups Flour (Loretta used all purpose flour and it is just fine!)

1 envelope dry yeast dissolved in 1/2 c. lukewarm water

5 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. salt

2 c. hot water

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Put flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Make well in center. Add yeast/water mixture, then, the hot water & oil.

Mix with hands until dough pulls together to form a lovely ball of dough.(You can also use a food processor or dough hook – but I love getting my hands in it like Loretta did!) Knead and rub a couple of drops of oil over ball. Let rise in a bowl rubbed with a few drops of oil for 2 hours in a warm place. Mom used to put a towel over the bowl and put it in the oven – not heated.

After the first rise, it’s “aggression time”. Punch that sucker (aka ball of dough!) down like it was your worst enemy and give it a quick knead. Ahhh – stress reliever!

Now place the dough back in the bowl to let rise one more time for about another hour. Then divide to form 4 balls (loaves) and chill to use or freeze for later.

When ready, roll out or stretch your dough on a floured surface to your desired shape and thickness – round if using a stone. Use your fingertips to assist in shaping. Lift it, turn it, shape it.

I like to use the pizza stone method which I think provides a crispier crust. I discuss this here.

Preheat the stone at 450” for about 15 minutes until crust is crisp and golden or a little longer depending upon your oven. Note – some like to bake their pizzas at 500 or 550. This is fine – but your cook time will be shorter.

When you are ready to add the pizza to the stone – sprinkle the stone with some cornmeal to keep the pizza from sticking.

I use a peel to slide the pizza onto the stone which also has cornmeal on it under the raw pizza. I use the peel again to remove the cooked pizza from the stone.

Caution: Do not prepare your pizza and leave it sitting on the peel, or anywhere for that matter, to cook later. Your crust may become soggy. Always rub the dough with a little olive oil before topping, as this will help to seal your crust and inhibit any sogginess. Then add your toppings and pop the pizza into the oven immediately.


(aka: Not Your Mother’s Pizza)


4 Cups fresh Arugula

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

3 cloves garlic

1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on your palate)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 links Italian sausage (I like to use 1 mild and 1 hot) each link about 5 inches

8 Sun Dried Tomatoes packed in oil and sliced in strips

1 c. grated Fresh mozzarella (fresh a must – buffalo all the better)

3 oz. Goat Cheese

While preheating the stone, heat the garlic cloves in the oil til golden and add the arugula, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Gently toss until arugula is just wilted (just a couple of minutes) and covered in the flavorful oil. Remove garlic cloves.

Remove the sausage from the casings in small pieces about an inch wide and saute in a tbsp of olive oil til just browned. Discard the casings, reserve the sausage, as in “leave the gun, take the cannoli”.


Put about a tablespoon of olive oil on your rolled dough and spread around with your fingers. Add the grated mozzarella by sprinkling around the dough. Distribute the arugula next and follow with the sausage pieces, sun dried tomatoes, and goat cheese broken into small bits. A sprinkle of good Parmigiano-Reggiano is always a nice finish.

Bake in 450 oven for about 15 minutes or until bottom is crispy and golden.

Serves about 4 depending upon the appetite.

I suggest serving this with a St. Bernardus ABT12 Belgian Abbey Ale – a strong full bodied, flavorful Belgian ale which stands up well to the strong flavors in the pizza – Not Italian – but good anyway! Of course, a fine Chianti is always a good pick.


Reminder: Be sure to visit my website,Linda’s Italian Table, for the new Recipe Of The Month!

Food Photos by Tommy Hanks Photography

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