With the kind of news we’ve been seeing the past week, let’s embrace joy where we can find it — starting with the new book, The Joy of Pizza: Everything You Need to Know.
Today, we have Dan Richer of the wildly popular Razza in Jersey City, NJ that he opened in 2012. Five years later, his restaurant was reviewed in The New York Times, earning a three-star review with Pete Wells suggesting Richer is making better than pizza than much what you’d find in Manhattan. Super prolific Italian food expert-writer-spokesperson and co-author Katie Parla joins Richer in this audio for a fun conversation on how to bring the joy of making pizza into our homes. Below is a preview from the interview, but you really should listen to the whole thing.
On the book title, ‘The Joy of Pizza’
“I take so much happiness and joy from just doing it every day and connecting with people. The relationships that we've developed … making pizza, it's such a special relationship and bond. Whether it's a vendor that we've purchased their products, and helped develop their products and their businesses, to the kids that I've served when they were in high chairs.” — Dan Richer
“To see how Dan lights up when he is on the floor and talking to people: It's this very contagious, joyful thing that extends beyond just the often solitary process of developing dough and baking, but also extends to the actual consumption of [pizza] and sharing it with the community.” — Katie Parla
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On making pizza in a restaurant versus home baking
“I didn't take the restaurant formula for dough and just say, ‘Turn your oven up hot and bake it.’ We kind of reverse-engineered the dough specifically to bake well in a home oven at those slightly lower temperatures. So it's definitely a unique approach to a pizza book. Everybody says you can't make restaurant-quality pizza without a brick oven or without a high-temperature oven. It’s so not true: You just have to use the right dough formula.” — Dan
“This is one of those books that you're meant to kind of open and read from start to finish, instead of just jumping to the recipes and diving in. We walk you through why on earth you would want to even endeavor to make pizza at home and how it can absolutely be some of the best pizza, if not the best pizza you've ever had in your home oven.” — Katie
On sourcing ingredients
I believe that you should use the ingredients that are located in your area. Not only are they fresher, but you're also spending your dollars, and your dollars matter. You're casting a vote for something. So if you can help out a small farmer and buy their flour or their cheese, you're keeping money in your local agricultural system. And that's something I think it's super important. — Dan
There are the recipes for the dough in ascending order of complexity. If you're just starting, get the most reliable flour on the market: King Arthur all-purpose or bread flour is going to be spot-on with the same specs every single time. Start there and then introduce small amounts of your locally milled flour, if you're into that. But no single step and no single ingredient trumps another. You kind of have to think of them as part of this whole, part of a community. But trust me, if you go to your local farmers market or agriculture university to interrogate people about stuff, they're going to be more than happy to share what they've got going on…. I promise you. — Katie
Listen in for more.