I’ve been in the pizza business for over 30 years. In 1997, I was on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Shortly after, I received a letter and bottle of wine from a man named Dino Cortopassi. He congratulated me. He told me that my last name, Gemignani, was a popular name in Lucca, Italy, where he was from. He told me he would try and get me into the newspaper in Lucca. We met in person later, mostly at Pizza Expo or at the cannery. We talked a lot about farming because I grew up with my grandfather who was also a farmer. He taught me so much. Dino and he were very much alike. They loved the land, enjoyed their wine, respected their friends, cherished their family, and had an amazing hard-working life. Like Dino, my grandfather was the hardest working man I have ever known. Tomatoes are the essential ingredient for almost any style of pizza. Here is my tribute contadino (farmer in Italian) tomato pizza that is absolutely delicious. Enjoy.
TONY GEMIGNANI is one of America’s most influential pizza makers. Instagram: @capopizza Photo: Tony Gemignani
1 – 12-13 ounce dough ball 5 1-ounce slices whole milk mozzarella 3 ounces ground tomato 1 ounce super heavy pizza sauce 3 whole peeled tomatoes, sliced in half Extra-virgin olive oil 2 ounces chiffonade basil 6 full basil leaves 1 burrata Pecorino Romano di Lucca Garfagnana Salt & pepper Pinch of oregano Pinch onion powder
Using an immersion blender, blend the ground tomatoes and super heavy tomato sauce together and add the salt, oregano and onion powder. Mix well and set aside. Shape and stretch dough into a 10-inch circle, making sure the crust is nice and thick. Brush dough with olive oil. Place the mozzarella down, leaving a 1 – 1 ½-inch border. Add sauce over the cheese and place pizza into the oven. I prefer a high temp oven like an electric or wood fired. This pizza was cooked in an electric oven at 575 F. Remove pizza from the oven when finished and add the six tomato halves and basil leaves. Add the chiffonade of basil in the middle and place the Burrata over it. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and serve.