It is so easy to enjoy pizza. Simply take a bite and let the doughy, cheesey, saucy gift of the gods sink into your taste buds. But have you ever thought about what goes into making this heavenly delight? The careful science behind the delicate dough? The precise way to stretch the crust? The exact temperature to melt the cheese and tan the edges to a golden brown without overcooking it to a burnt ash? Well, we found out that it is far easier to eat pizza than it is to make it! We joined Chef Brian Ashness in the kitchen at Surf Club in Newport, and made our very own Neapolitan style pizza. And thanks to Chef Brian, we can cook up one hell of a pie now.
It started with a sprinkle of flour to roll out the dough. Chef showed us how to spread it thin, but keep it from ripping. He helped us to carefully press out the dough and maintain the shape, until it was just right and ready for toppings.
Next we ladled red sauce onto our dough (You already know that I poured an extra spoonful because I love sauce), and evenly saturated our soon-to-be crusts. I am a firm believer that a pizza derives so much of it’s power from the sauce, where all of the herbs and seasonings are fragrantly living. This sauce was melodically flavorful and tangy, the perfect foundation for our masterpiece pizza pies.
When you can add whatever toppings you want to a pizza, it is seriously hard to not go wild and literally pile 17 cheeses, 12 meats and 14 vegetables all on top. This is my personal idea of being a “kid in a candy shop”, except I am a grown adult trying to decide between gorgonzola and gouda. We wanted to maintain the integrity of our pizzas, to keep from overloading it and weighing down the dough. So on Molly’s pizza, she went with a classic mozzarella, sweet red onions, and finished it with arugula and prosciutto. My pizza was earthy with black olives, cremini mushrooms, and a rich, decadent black truffle spread. A sprinkle of this and a dash of that, and we have created our very own Picasso Pizzas.
Chef Ashness showed us how the pros slide a pizza into an oven easier than a bro slides into a chicks DMs. With a seemingly unnecessarily long paddle, we carefully placed our pizzas into the rotating oven and within 120 seconds, BOOM they were done! Bubbling and melting cheese, crispy crust. The hardest part? Waiting for it to cool before digging in!
Just an FYI, our pizzas came out AMAZING. The roofs of our mouths thanked us for giving them a moment to cool, so we could keep all of our taste buds actively enjoying our creations. While we were eating, Chef made whipped up a couple more, since you know, they cook in less than three minutes. (Keep this in mind this summer when you’re starving and don’t feel like waiting forever for food to fill you up post beach day. A quick pizza pops in the oven and gets in your mouth in minutes!)
A little pesto action, and a spicy pineapple made for some seriously solid toppings. Our pizza options seemed endless. Our appetites were wildly eager to judge which we liked best.
But Chef kept the food coming! Of course, we adore anything “bun” related, and it just so happens that one of Chef Brian’s favorite items on the menu is the Cubano Bun. He sears the outside of the adorable little bao buns so that they are ever so slightly crispy on the edges, but maintain their luxuriously doughy texture. Tasso ham, and pulled pork rest in between the buns, with tangy pickles and a flavorful mustard. These little buns have got a whole lot going for them. Two bite delights, perfect for sharing with your favorite human.
Just when I felt like I might have to undo my belt from excessive fullness, Chef came out with a dish that I simply could not say no to. A macaroni and cheese crab cake. YES! Elbow macaroni in a creamy house made cheese sauce, hand mixed and packed with shredded lump crab and placed atop of a smooth mustard seed sauce. DAMN, this dish was brilliant! Cracking into it was like opening presents on Christmas day as a child. The crisp on the outside was like a protective shell to the ooey-gooey tastiness inside. Luxurious crab cake meets heavy mac daddy comfort food!
Big thanks to our friends at Surf Club!
Shout out to Chef Brian Ashness for bringing us back in the kitchen and showing us how to make a mean pizza!
If you want to have some fun and make your own pizza at Surf Club, check out their monthly pizza classes!
Love tacos? Big fan of tequila? Those were rhetorical questions because of course you do. Join Surf Club for their tacos and tequila night for SIX courses, each paired with a cocktail. Grab your tickets here.