At the Centre of Perfect Pizza
Rockville Centre, New York
MAPPING THE DAY
Rockville Centre, New York may not necessarily be a vacation destination, but the food is definitely a worthy draw for a RoadTrip. The lovely residential town is located less than an hour from Manhattan on Long Island.
Our visit was an adventure. We were two California natives plunked in a Long Island suburb to perform a research project for a client. During our three-night stay, we have never been honked at more in our entire lives. It did not matter if we were driving or walking, we clearly did not know the secret rules of the road and local denizens were not shy in letting us know.
While our work days were stress-filled, our evening dining experiences could not have been better. The local Hampton Inn desk clerk was a Rockville Centre native and steered us to his local favorites: Churchill’s, The Original George Martin and Blue Moon Pizzeria.
VIEW FROM THE TABLE
Blue Moon boasts a 50-year reputation and prized coal-burning oven. The casual ambiance is punctuated with exposed brick walls and red-and-white checkered tablecloths.
We were seated at a booth and greeted with friendly service. We ordered Blue Moon beer on draft, a House Salad for two and a Blue Moon Special Pizza with peppers, onions, mushrooms and sausage. I can still taste the coal-burning oven crust in my memory … crisp, salty and slightly charred.
Pizza making is a very personal thing. So our recipe here is only about cooking technique. To start, make or buy your pizza dough. We have made dough from scratch in the past. It is wonderful, but very time consuming. We now more frequently buy dough at Trader Joes and it is great. You may also buy uncooked dough at your local pizzeria.
For sauce, we usually use Italian-seasoned tomato paste. A thin layer gives robust tomato taste without making the crust soggy.
For toppings, the sky is the limit. K.O. prefers sautéed onions and goat cheese. I like roasted red peppers, hot salami and buffalo mozzarella. The key is to have everything prepared before you start cooking the dough.
Start a charcoal grill at least 1 hour prior to cooking time. We use a Weber Kettle Grill and appreciate the ability to bake the pizza as well as grill. When the coals are white, spread them flat under 2/3’s of the grill space. You want to have space to finish your pizza with indirect heat at the end.
Roll and stretch your dough into small pizza rounds. We prefer a rustic, asymmetrical pizza, but it is really of no consequence how you stretch it. It is easier to handle smaller pizzas on the grill.
Pour olive oil into a cloth or paper towel and rub the grill grates. Carefully lay the raw dough directly onto the grill. The dough will quickly start to bubble on top and brown on the bottom. When the bottom is cooked to your liking, remove it and place on a large surface with the cooked side up.
Coat the cooked side with a thin layer of tomato sauce or paste, add cheese and toppings. Once dressed, place the uncooked side back on the grill. Cover to bake and melt the cheese. Check the grilling side often to ensure the right doneness. Move the pizza to indirect heat as needed to heat ingredients and melt the cheese.
The finished product is crisp and slightly charred. It is pretty close to the coal-burning oven in Rockville Centre.