Super good Italian bread pizza

This post wasn’t supposed to happen. I was too hungry to stop and take a picture. And I knew Heather was too, so I didn’t want to ask her to wait. But, it turns out that pizzas made with that leftover loaf of Italian bread on your counter are very filling! So after we gobbled through 3/4 of the pizza, we were stuffed and there were two pieces left. They were still warm enough to look delicious…so here they are! I highly recommend using up your day old bread this way (this one was a loaf of Pane Italian from Wegmans). Top it with whatever you have left over in the fridge. This half of the loaf had sauce, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, grated parmesan, peppadews, prosciutto, olive oil, salt, crushed red pepper, and basil. The other half (which we ate first, and hence is missing from this post) had sauce, tomatoes, summer squash, mushrooms, asparagus, shredded mozzarella, grated parmesan, olive oil, salt, crushed red pepper, and arugula.

Don’t forget the wine…salut!

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Osteria Rocco (Neapolitan pizza, part three)

And for the final installment of Heather’s Neapolitan pizza article written for CITIZEN magazine:

Osteria Rocco, 165 Monroe Ave., Rochester, 585-454-3510, roccorochester.com

            Okay, so this pizza wasn’t cooked in a wood-fired oven, but was it ever good! The cooking method here is to use a brick-lined gas oven that runs at about 700 degrees. Yes, 700 degrees. That’s hot, and the nicely charred crust is evidence. This crust was a bit denser than at the other two places. It was crisp on the outside and super chewy on the inside, and we loved it!

First up was the margherita, which had crushed California tomatoes, basil leaves, and – cue the choir of angels – FRESH mozzarella. I did say we were pizza snobs, right? To me, a margherita just isn’t quite the same without the fresh mozzarella. The Rocco margherita was, therefore, my favorite.

Heather cutting the margherita!

Our chef’s choice pizza was the vongole. Its toppings consisted of clams (yes, clams!), pancetta, parsley, chili peppers, and garlic oil. This pizza had a really nice heat to it. The toppings made for a delightfully unusual flavor combination.

The vongole, fresh from the kitchen. Clams on a pizza!

The pizza at Rocco is served in the traditional Neapolitan style, which means that it comes whole, and is meant to be eaten with a knife and fork. This reminded us of our beloved Una Pizza, where the pizza is also served whole. However, Rocco helps you out by providing you with a pair of kitchen shears with which to cut your pizza into slices, if you so choose. How fun!

We had an appetizer before our pizza. Fresh homemade ricotta. It’s worth a trip all on its own!

Fresh homemade ricotta. Incredible.

We’re sure that there are many more Neapolitan-style pizzas out there for us to try, no matter where you are. If you have any recommendations, leave us a comment!

Where’s the Beef?

Father’s Day. What would it be without grilled meat? Well, I guess it would still be a Sunday to celebrate how great our fathers are. But, it might not be quite as manly without the grilled meat! (and a beer as you grill!) So Happy Father’s day…a day after. I hope you got to enjoy something like this Italian themed burger!

As I said in the caprese burger post, it’s fun to make a burger that’s way bigger than you can easily take a bite out of. So, we did it again here! 90% lean irradiated ground beef was once again our beef of choice. For this burger, I chopped up oregano and parsley and mixed it in the meat when I created the patties.  Grill it medium, and it’s incredibly juicy and flavorful. Place it on your grilled Italian hard roll and top the burger with fresh mozzarella, grilled pepper, grilled onion, more fresh oregano and parsley, mixed greens and your favorite tomato sauce.

Make sure to hold it over your plate and have a few spare napkins nearby!

The juicy, dripping, flavorful Italian themed burger.

I can just hear the sizzle and smell the smoke.

Chef Mark….cookin’ the birthday food.

Our good friend Chef Mark recently had his birthday, and we were fortunate enough to host his gathering. So what does a chef want for his birthday meal? To make his own pizza! Chef Russell generously offered to make some of his “secret recipe” pizza dough (thanks Russell!), Chef Mark brought over some delectable toppings, and we were off to start cookin’ the birthday meal! Since the recipe for the dough is top secret, for now I’ll suggest picking up some pre-made dough at the store. Be sure to bake it on a pizza stone for best results. Place the pizza stone in the oven prior to pre-heating, and heat your oven as high as it can go. We had ours at 550 degrees. This will create a pizza with a crisp outside and a nice tender center. Top with whatever your heart (and stomach) desires. For this particular pizza, we created a version of the margherite with tomato sauce, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil and sea salt. Get creative….make your own masterpiece! Let me know what you come up with…

Chef Mark making his own birthday pizza!

The homemade sourdough margherite pizza. Yum!!

The juicy, finger-licking good caprese burger!

It’s fun to make a burger that’s way bigger than you can easily take a bite out of. It just looks really good! But then…you have to eat it. So, you smush it down, with the juices and dressing dripping all over, and take a bite. It’s so flavorful and finger-licking good, you don’t care what a mess it is!

Using irradiated ground beef has become mandatory for us. You can use the 90% lean (to keep it almost relatively healthy), cover it in spices of your choosing, cook it medium, and it’s incredibly juicy and flavorful. Next choose your toppings. For the caprese burger, we used fresh mozzarella, grilled onions, tomato, and fresh basil topped with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. As an added bonus, the “bun” became grilled rosemary olive oil bread! Skip the fries and grill some fresh pineapple wedges for a healthier side.

This will be the first of many burger posts for the upcoming summer season. Let us know what you’d like to see on the next one. Cheers!

The caprese burger! Yum!

Rosemary olive oil bread becomes the perfect "bun".

2008 The Stump Jump, G.S.M. 90 points in Wine Spectator and a great match for the burger.