Pizza modo mio (with baking stone pack) - John Lanzafame

Replace takeaways with something healthier and far tastier

By Robyn Lewis
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Poached pear and almond pizza from Pizza modo mio by John Lanzafame

Poached pear and almond pizza from Pizza modo mio by John Lanzafame [©Murdoch Books]

Basic dough from Pizza modo mio by John Lanzafame
Asparagus pizza from Pizza modo mio by John Lanzafame
Pizza modo mio by world pizza champion John Lanzafame

What a bargain! Pizza modo mio by Sydney’s own world pizza champion John Lanzafame has been released in smaller soft cover, at the same price as the earlier hard cover edition but with a 33 cm pizza baking stone and steel carry rack included.

Now there are no more excuses for soggy or overly thick pizza crusts, and with these world-beating toppings the entire family will not only love them but get involved in making them, too.

The package – only available through Australia Post – comes shrink-wrapped so it’s not possible to see if the book is a cut down version of the hard-cover edition; be reassured it’s the full thing.

Author John Lanzafame came to pizza making by accident in Sydney, but within a year of starting he’d won the title of World Pizza Champion, first beating over 1000 hopefuls in Australia, and then the world’s best in New York. Amazing, and should give us all hope and inspiration, especially with his recipes and a pizza stone in hand. His winning secret? Less is more.

Lanzafame is obviously a generous man – it shows in his recipes – but also because the book includes his world beating ‘filled river calamari’ pizza on page 74, with nothing left out, either. We review a lot of cookbooks and can assure you that sharing of the very best is rare – or sometimes a special ingredient is omitted, meaning that unless you are very experienced and can work out what’s missing, it’s impossible to replicate.

There are recipes from the relatively plain and traditional through to experimental and highly creative pizzas including brains, black pudding, caviar and even marshmallows – not all at once of course.

‘Modo mio’ refers to ‘my style’ or ‘my way’ – it is also refreshing that Lanzafame pays homage to the hundreds of years of Italian and Sicilian culinary tradition from which he draws and builds on, instead of the increasingly common and (to me) irritating practice of chefs referring to recipes as ‘my’ – as if the past thousand-odd years of previous cooks’ and chefs’ experience, experimentation and refinement counts for naught. Only chefs like El Bulli's Ferran Adria – the Salvador Dali of the culinary world – can say as much. Cooking is part art, part science, and both develop by building on the shoulders of the greats who went before.

But back to the pizzas. There’s also a section on ‘pie’ pizzas, deeper and with thicker crusts, originally with a lid for taking out into the fields for lunch, and folded pizzas called calzone – like pasties, but without all the fat in the pastry (how much healthier!) – and mini pizza scrolls. Mmm, that smoked trout sounds delicious.

Many are recipes that children or even very basic cooks can make, and there’s even a dessert pizza section with a marshmallow pizza my six-year-old daughter is very keen to try. She has already had her first culinary success with a savoury pizza – her smile lasted for days. The dough can be made in a breadmaker and kept until ready to bake, or if you don’t have time for that you can buy dough, or pizza bases ready made. The pictures are great so you can see the intended outcome in advance.

The baking stone is well made and not at all flimsy. Although the pack says microwave safe, pizzas are not meant to be made in microwave ovens. The gluten is toughened for one thing, and in my experience porous clay and microwaves don’t get on, especially if wet – don’t try it unless you are prepared for a breakage. It’s thick enough to hold the heat without being too heavy, and retails for A$15-20 alone.

Wine matching is not mentioned and with this range of toppings the standard ‘chianti (sangiovese) with pizza’ needs to be extended. Follow the general rule of balancing flavours – the more delicate the topping the lighter the wine, whether red or white, and keep the sweeter style for the dessert pizzas, as you need a bit of acid in the wine to cut through any oiliness.

Whatever, celebrate the fact that the World Pizza Champion is an Australian with an Australian wine, of course. Buon appetito!

The Pizza modo mio (sc, Murdoch Books 2008) and baking stone pack is available exclusively from Australia Post outlets, RRP A$34.95, and makes a great gift.

Read our review of the earlier edition of Pizza modo mio here »


  • Sydney (NSW)

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November 27th, 2009
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