“I have something for you,” said Londoner James Elliot, one of the Pizza Pilgrims behind the pizza van and insanely popular pizzeria of that name. “I’d like to you take it home and test it.”
I assumed the white pizza box Elliot handed me contained a pizza, albeit a rather heavy one. But when I opened the lid I saw a chemistry set where the pizza ought to have been. Plastic containers containing various elements were slotted into the round openings in a square sheet of green cardboard.
I slid the box over to Elliot for an explanation of its contents. The printed text under the lid contained the step-by-step instructions (see their recipe) for the Pizza Pilgrims Neapolitan Frying Pan Pizza . I was to “bake” this at home with a nonstick frying pan, a hob (USA stove) and a grill (USA broiler).
The containers held all the ingredients I would need for two 20-25cm (roughly 9-inch) Margherita pizzas: two doughs, tomato sauce, fresh basil, Parmesan, mozzarella, olive oil.
The next night I took down the nonstick frying pan and pizza paddle (peel) hanging from the kitchen wall of my London flat, preheated the grill, opened the beta version of this home pizza kit and got to work.
The directions were clear, the ingredients superb and the procedure straightforward. It helped that I was accustomed to stretching out my own homemade pizza dough. In addition, if I didn’t have a pizza paddle to dust with flour and neatly transfer the flattened disks of dough from counter work surface to frying pan I’d likely have botched the manoeuvre.
Both my Pizza Pilgrims Frying Pan Pizzas were good. Very good. Truly amazing. Okay, the bottom of the crusts were much crisper than the soft, pliable ones I’ve sampled at Pizza Pilgrims and other Neapolitan-styled pizzerias (not that I minded) but that might have been my (un)doing. I fear I cooked the pizzas for too long over too low a flame.
Oddly, in a couple of ways my two Pizza Pilgrims Frying Pan Margheritas were even superior to the Margheritas I’d tasted direct from Pizza Pilgrims pizza oven the prior night. As widely acclaimed a pizzeria as Pizza Pilgrims is its pizzaioli do not always manage to connect the white dots of fior di latte (cow’s milk mozzarella) scattered over the surface. They either don’t get or don’t stay melty enough. Also, the pizzas are not always piping hot.
On pizza I prefer mozzarella in a molten state that runs into the tomato sauce. The two commingle and the red and white surface of the Margherita goes pink. With Pizza Pilgrims home version the only thing stopping the steaming-hot fior di latte from flowing off the top of pizza and into the living room was the crust’s puffed rim.