Anyone who loves pizza knows that making it is an art form. Even though it calls for only a few simple ingredients, to make one well requires scrupulous attention to detail. Once you master the tricks of the trade, you'll realize that, despite your preferred pizzeria of choice, no pie will ever taste as good as it does when it comes piping hot out of your own oven, in the comfort of your own home. In search of some culinary lessons, we took a pizza-making class at Pizza Beach, a beach-themed Italian restaurant on N.Y.C.'s Lower East Side helmed by executive chef Eric Kleinman. Here's what we learned:
1. Make your dough the day before, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
That way, it will be dense enough to shape. Also, make sure it's brought to room temperature before stretching it out—it's easier to work with and is less likely to tear. Same goes for the toppings.
2. Knead the dough from the center out toward the edges.
With your hands giving the Illuminati symbol, thrust your left hand toward the left and your right hand toward the right, stretching the dough until it's flat. Make sure to shape the crust when you finish, too.
3. Have the essential ingredients on hand.
4. Ladle the sauce starting in the center of the pie.
Drop one spoonful of sauce in the center, then, using the bottom of the ladle, gently spread it out counterclockwise until everything but the crust is covered.
5. Use a pizza stone.
Most pizzerias use ovens that cook at very high temperatures (some go as high as 800°F!). A pizza stone will help keep the temperature even and hot at home.
Pizza Beach, 167 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002. 646-852-6478; pizzabeachclub.com.