Less is more for the perfect pizza

Pizza modo mio by world's best pizza maker John Lanzafame

By Louise Johnson
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Poached pear and almond pizza from Pizza modo mio by John Lanzafame

Poached pear and almond pizza from Pizza modo mio by John Lanzafame [©Murdoch Books]

Pizza modo mio by world pizza champion John Lanzafame
Asparagus pizza from Pizza modo mio by John Lanzafame
Basic dough from Pizza modo mio by John Lanzafame


John Lanzafame was thrown into the deep end making pizzas at Sydney's GPO as a stand-in for an absent chef. Within a year he had won the best pizza chef titles in NSW and Australia and best pizza at The America's Plate competition.

In his pizza cookbook, Pizza Modo Mio, John says his philosophy is simple - "less is more."

"Concentrate on one flavour, rather than a bunch of different ones. I would much rather make a lot of little pizzas, using a few key ingredients, than just one big pizza with everything piled on top," he says.

He starts with the basics, including a no fuss plain pizza dough. Yeast is an ingredient that sends even the most confident cook into hiding, but with a little planning and a foolproof recipe like this, making your own pizza dough is very simple. Once you master the basic dough like John's, you can start getting fancy. He includes instructions on how to create variations including parmesan, fresh herb, wholemeal and a sweet dough for dessert recipes.

If you've no time for kneading, rising, punching, resting and rising again, make friends with your local Italian pizza joint and ask nicely for a lump of their dough.

You do need to make some effort with pizza sauces and John's basic pizza sauce, which requires just a cup of tinned tomatoes and a handful of basil or oregano, shouldn't tax even the laziest pizza lover. His rich tomato ragu, which has osso bucco cuts of veal slow cooked, is almost a staple in our home with tubs in freezer ready to go for pizza or fast family friendly pasta meals.

The book is split into chapters with the traditional pizzas section reflecting popular pizza menus, modo mio or "my style" features John's favourites and is by far the largest chapter, and most delicious. Pizza pies presents the thick crusted pies of country Sicily and while these often have a dough lid, John's recipes leave these off. They could easily be added by making a larger batch of dough. Calzone gets a chapter as well as special pizzas for kids to make. And then dessert, which may not be traditional in the pizza world, but soon will be.

We especially loved the asparagus with crushed walnuts and truffle oil, though at home we replaced the truffle oil with some good quality olive oil and the result was still sublime. In fact, the single free-range egg cracked on top of this pizza wasn't enough - we added two extra. Watch your cooking time to make sure the yolks stay runny. 

Another highlight is the filled river calamari pizza, which won John the American title. It takes some time to prepare, but the crab-stuffed calamari hoods look beautiful thiny sliced and spread over the crisp golden base.  The tomato ragu from basics features in a pizza pie recipe combined with bone marrow and truffles - I'm sure marrow and truffles will be delicious, but we've been using this recipe without them with great success.

For dessert if you can resist the blueberry, coconut and chocolate pizza you've more willpower than me. Coffee lovers will have heart failure over the milk chocolate and marshmallow coffee froth pizza.

Who said pizzas were humble? John Lanzafame is a world champion in our kitchen too.


Pizza Modo Mio by John Lanzafame, world pizza champion, is published by Murdoch Books. RRP  A$34.95

VisitVineyards.com and Winepros Archive members can purchase Pizza Modo Mio at a 12.5% discount through our online book partner Seekbooks.

See also our review of the book and baking stone pack available through Australia Post - what a bargain! »


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January 12th, 2009
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