Pizza al metro
(Pizza by the metre)
Makes 2 pizzas of roughly 28 x 35 cm, which fit on a standard oven tray
At the peculiarly named Ristorante Rabbit in Agerola (named after Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit) where the famous fior di latte cheese is made, we watched Nicola Giannullo make pizza al metro using his favourite part-wholemeal flour dough. He told us the Agerola pizza is known as the ‘day after pizza’ as it is even better the next day. Nicola’s tip is to add more yeast if in a hurry but he prefers to use just a few grams of fresh yeast for a whole kilogram of flour as he makes the dough at 8am so that it has all day to ferment and rise before the evening service.
Gigino Dell’Amura, the original owner of one of the biggest pizza restaurants in the world, invented the famous pizza al metro. His restaurant in Vico Equense is known as The University of Pizza and the speciality of the house is a metre-long pizza made on the long boards that are used to shunt the pizzas into incredibly hot ovens. They are made with a variety of toppings similar to quattro stagioni, or four seasons pizza, but with more choice. Each flavour is separated by lengths of rolled dough, which we thought looked great. We have been making them regularly since our visit with our children as every one can choose their own toppings. My favourite is made with a tomato sauce base, then as soon as it comes out of the oven it is topped with a salad of lettuce or escarole if you can get it, olives, chilli, garlic, salt and olive oil. Giancarlo’s favourite is a typically Tuscan combination of slices of cooked potato, rosemary, garlic, black pepper and sea salt. You can take a Tuscan to Amalfibut you can’t take Tuscany out of the man!
For the dough
- 250 g ‘00’ flour’
- 250 g strong wholemeal flour
- 15 g fresh yeast or 7g dried yeast
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 330-350 ml tepid water
For the topping
- ripe, flavourful tomatoes, or bottled tomatoes
- 4 slices of pancetta or streaky bacon
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- good quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- fior de latte or buffalo mozzarella
Start by making the dough. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together using your hands or a dough scraper. If using fresh yeast blend it into a li†ttle of the water before adding it to the flour. Add the water and mix the ingredients together using the scraper or the fingertips of one hand until you have a ball of dough. Add a li†ttle more water if necessary.
Tip this onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Shape into a ball and put back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel and put it in the fridge to rise slowly (this usually takes about 7 hours) or leave it in a warm place to rise more quickly. The advantage of the slow rise is a bett†er acidity to the flavour of the dough. Divide the dough into 2 even-sized pieces. Using your fingers squash and stretch the dough into two 28 x 35 cm rectangles or use a rolling pin if you prefer on a well-floured surface.
If using a pizza oven Transfer the dough to a long wooden paddle. Top with fresh or bottled roughly chopped tomatoes. Finish with pancetta or streaky bacon, garlic, oregano, salt, olive oil and fior di latte or buffalo mozzarella. Shunt the pizza in the oven and cook for 5–7 minutes. ‘La pizza,’ Nicola told me ‘cooks in the front of the oven, away from the intense heat of the wood-burning fire.’ This way the dough is cooked through but not burnt.
If using a domestic oven Preheat the oven to its highest temperature. Put the pizza base on a lightly oiled baking tray then dress as above. Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is cooked and the cheese is bubbling. It is always better to slightly overcook than undercook a pizza to ensure the base is cooked through.
This recipe first appeared in Amalfi Coast ($49.95) courtesy of Hardie Grant.