Three Secrets to A Great Tasting Pizza

Three Secrets to A Great Tasting Pizza

Here at Mascalzone, our guests often ask us how we manage to make our pizza taste exactly the same as it does in Italy.

The secret is simple: We use classic Neapolitan flour imported especially from Italy in our hand made dough; we use San Marzano tomatoes from Campania, also imported from Italy; but when it comes to the mozzarella, we make it ourselves.

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The Origin of the Pizza

Pizza was born in Naples and Neapolitan Pizza is the Queen of all pizzas. The first known pizza shop opened in Port Alba in Naples and is still there today.

A commonly told story as to the origin of the pizza  is that on 11 June 1889, to honour the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, the Neapolitan pizza maker Raffaele Esposito created the “Pizza Margherita”, a pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, to represent the national colours of Italy as on the Italian flag.

Check Out Eirkan, Pizza Chef at Mascalzone, Edgware in action:

SECRET #1 – The Dough

The best Pizza dough must be made by hand or at the least with a very low speed mixer. If you prefer using a mixer, you can, but the best Neapolitan pizza dough is made using only your hands!

A typical Neapolitan Pizza Dough can be used to make pizza bases, calzone and also different types of bread, such as Focaccia, which is believed to be a forerunner of the Pizza as we know it.

In this section we will look at the ingredients, the utensils and the method required to make a really great tasting Neapolitan Pizza dough.


  • 1kg plain Neapolitan flour {imported from Italy)
  • 30g sea salt
  • 700ml of room temperature water
  • 7g dry yeast or fresh yeast
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  • 1 x large size mixing bowl
  • 1 x large wooden board for mixing (or a wooden kitchen bench)
  • 1 x wet tea towel (wet the tea towel in preparation for this dish and squeeze all the excess water out of it
  • 1 x flat tray

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Cooking Method:

  1. Place 700ml water into your mixing bowl.
  2. Put 7g of yeast into the water  mixing it by hand so that it dissolves completely.
  3. Season by adding 30g of sea salt.
  4. Add flour to the bowl a small amount at a time making sure to keep a small portion of the flour to the side for later.
  5. This part can get quite technical –  start by cupping part of the mixture and turning it back in to the remaining flour while rotating the bowl a little at a time. Take care to mix the dough and not squash it!
  6. When you have used all of the remaining flour move the dough onto the pizza bench.
  7. The dough will likely still be a little too soft at this point so add some of the flour that you left to the side earlier on. You can do this by putting some flour and your hands and rubbing them together on top of the dough. This will help harden and dry out the dough.
  8. Mix your dough using one hand at a time, while it continues to soften.
  9. Begin to massage the dough, pressing quite hard maybe even punching it. The aim here is to remove all of the air and be left with a dough that will work with you.
  10. The dough will be ready when it has become quite hard. It can now be placed on a large wooden board or kitchen bench. A wooden surface is preferable as the dough will get stuck on other materials.
  11. Press down on the dough, one hand at a time and then with both hands. Repeat until the texture  gradually becomes smoother and more stretchy. Take care also to make sure that all of the air is out.
  12. Spread some extra virgin olive oil in the bowl, mould the dough into a little ball and place it back in the bowl.
  13. Place the wet tea towel over the top of the bowl which contains the dough. Ensure that there are no gaps or holes letting air in, and put the dough in the fridge for around 12-24hr.

This dough will stay fresh for around a week so you can be creative and make whatever you like!

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Secret #2: The Tomatoes

At Mascalzone we use San Marzano tomatoes from the Campania region of Southern Italy.

Southern Italy, particularly the Campania region is synonymous with growing extraordinary tomatoes. The Mediterranean climate and rich volcanic soils provide the ideal environment for tomato growth.

Grown in the city of San Marzano, near Naples, these sweet tasting and meaty gems have a low acidity level  and fewer seeds than the Roma strand.

San Marzano tomatoes really taste like fresh tomatoes. They are unusually fruity and aromatic unlike other species of tomato.

Not only are there many varieties to choose from but they all have their proper place. Some, such as the large, heirloom shape tomatoes with lots of ridges are just as delicious partially green as well as red and can be eaten in salads, such as the Insalata di Caprese. 

Unquestionably, the San Marzano is the best tasting plum tomato. The San Marzano’s are a DOP product  (Denominazione di Origine Protetta, literally “Protected Designation of Origin”) and are most typically used for sauces, ragu or canned.

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  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1/4 rennet tablet or 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet (Not Junket rennet)
  • 1 gallon milk, whole or 2% fat
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  • 5 quart or larger non-reactive pot
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Thermometer
  • 8″ knife, off-set spatula, or similar slim instrument for cutting the curds
  • Slotted spoon
  • Microwavable bowl
  • Rubber gloves

Cooking Method:

  1. Prepare the Citric Acid and Rennet: Measure out 1 cup of water and stir in the citric acid until completely dissolved. Then measure out 1/4 cup of water in a separate bowl and stir in the rennet until fully dissolved.
  2. Warm the Milk: Pour the milk into the pot. Stir in the citric acid solution. Set the pot over medium-high heat and warm to 90°F, stirring gently.
  3. Add the Rennet: Remove the pot from heat and gently stir in the rennet solution. Count to 30. Stop stirring, cover the pot, and let it rest undisturbed for 5 minutes.
  4. Cut the Curds: After 5 minutes, the milk should have set, and it should look and feel like soft silken tofu. If it is still liquid, cover the pot again and let it sit for a further 5 minutes. When satisfied that the milk has set, cut it into curds of roughly equal size and length: make several parallel cuts vertically through the curds and then several parallel cuts horizontally, creating a grid-like pattern. Ensure that the knife your are using reaches all the way to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Cook the Curds: Place the pot back on the stove over medium heat and warm the curds to 105°F. Stir slowly as the curds warm, taking care not to break them up too much. Eventually the curds will clump together and separate completely from the yellow whey.
  6. Remove the Curds from Heat and Stir: Remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring gently for another 5 minutes.
  7. Separate the Curds from the Whey: Ladle the curds into a microwave-safe bowl with the slotted spoon.
  8. Microwave the Curds: Microwave the curds for one minute and then drain off the whey. Put on your rubber gloves and fold the curds over on themselves a few times. At this point, the curds will still be very loose and similar in consistency to cottage cheese.
  9. Microwave the Curds to 135°F: Microwave the curds for another 30 seconds and check their internal temperature. If the temperature has reached 135°F, continue with stretching the curds. If not, continue microwaving in 30-second bursts until they reach temperature. The curds need to reach this temperature in order to stretch properly.
  10. Stretch and Shape the Mozzarella: Sprinkle the salt over the cheese and squish it with your fingers to incorporate. Using both hands, stretch and fold the curds repeatedly. It will start to tighten, become firm, and take on a glossy sheen. When this happens, you are ready to shape the mozzarella. Make one large ball, two smaller balls, or several bite-sized bocconcini. Try not to over-work the mozzarella.
  11. Using and Storing Your Mozzarella: The mozzarella can be used immediately or kept refrigerated for a week. To refrigerate, place the mozzarella in a small container. Mix a teaspoon of salt with a cup of cool whey and pour this over the mozzarella. Cover and refrigerate.

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Best Pizza in Houston?

Well we wouldn’t be serious about competing for the best pizza in Houston if we didn’t have the right tools for the job. That’s why we use the Maran Forni Pizza Oven.

This final hidden secret is the result of Marana Forni’s intensive cooperation and development undertaken alongside the master pizza makers of Naples.

The combination of the Neapolitan Pizzaioli and the technological prowess of Marana’s craftsmen has created an impressive machine certified from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (Genuine Neapolitan Pizza Association). Vesuvian lava stone is included in the exclusive mix of materials used for the oven’s construction.

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Where to EAT pizza in houston

So all that remains now, is to head down to Mascalzone in Houston or London and try out one of our pizzas for yourself. Our restaurants are open 7 days a week and are great spots for a get together, a romantic evening, to catch up on a sporting event or for some live music.

We also host events such as Wine Tasting and Food Sampling. Our venues are available for hire for your own event and we offer a special event catering services for corporate events and wedding.

To book a table at Mascalzone Restaurant, Houston Telephone: (832) 328-5151 and London Telephone: 020 8951 5533, or send us an email.

Author: Toto Mascalzone

Toto Mascalzone is event and marketing manager at Mascalzone restaurant. He is an Italian wine writer and educator, blogger, and food and wine enthusiast currently living in London. He is author of the wine and lifestyle blog, and was a co-editor, together with Italian wine writer a blog devoted to news from the world of Italian wine.


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