12 Tips for Making the Best Homemade Pizza from a Professional Chef

To make incredible pizza at home, we’re turning to an expert: our VP of Culinary Product Development, better known as Brava Chef Travis to the FB Community. With credentials like having worked at Gary Danko, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and recipe-developed for the Flour + Water cookbook, Brava Chef Travis has trusted tips for pizza and beyond.

I thought pizzerias made the best pizza, until I tried my first pizza in the Brava. I was blown away by the crispy crust, the bubbling cheese, and the caramelized toppings. Since Brava’s lamps can reach 500°F in a 10th of a second, Brava can mimic a pizza oven and produce stellar results in roughly 10 minutes. Why wait an hour for a pizza to be delivered — and why pay so much for it when you can make restaurant-quality pizza at home?

My family makes pizza at least once a week with the kids. More importantly, we’ve gotten our 4-year-old excited to cook with us. You’ll be amazed by what kids will eat when you involve them in preparing meals and cooking at home.

Even you can make the very best Brava pizzas.

Here are a few general tips:

  • Ball your dough well in advance. Great crust starts with a tight dough ball. Make sure to ball up the dough while it’s cold. Do this at least 2 hours before you want to cook your pizza. You can do this the night before. Make sure you sprinkle the dough balls liberally with flour to prevent sticking. Then cover the dough tightly in plastic, and store them in the refrigerator. 
  • Rest your cold dough ball at room temperature for at least 2 hours. This relaxes the glutens in the dough, making it much easier to stretch. 
  • Handle the dough gently. This protects all of those air bubbles you developed while resting the dough. Those bubbles are going to give the crust an airy, crispy texture.
  • For toppings, less is more. Too much sauce or toppings can easily sog out the crust. You only need 1-2 ounces of tomato sauce and a few ounces of cheese!
  • Adjust the cook time. Use the personalization slider. I prefer a crispy, slightly charred crust, so I increase the cook time by 9-10% every time. If you like it softer, use the default or decrease the cook time. 
  • Use extra metal trays. This lets you assemble your second (or third, fourth or fifth) pizza while your first one cooks. 
  • Transfer the pizza to a cutting board before slicing it. You don’t want to ruin your metal tray with your pizza slicer!

Make Two Pizzas at the Same Time:

Did you know Brava has a Two Tray mode for Pizza? That’s right! You can cook two ‘zas at the same time.

Below are a few of my personal pizza tips:

  • My favorite sauce: Using a food mill or blender, puree 1 can of San Marzano tomatoes. Stir in a pinch of salt, a few thin slices of garlic, and a few glugs of extra-virgin olive oil. That’s it. No cooking required. 
  • Go-To Cheeses: Try using sliced fresh mozzarella instead of pre-shredded. Gruyere or Emmental pairs nicely with mushrooms. Goat cheese is great with most vegetables, sausages, and cured meats. I top every pizza with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, but you can use Pecorino Romano, instead. 
  • Cheeseless or Sauceless: Some of the most traditional Italian pizzas don’t even have cheese! Try a classic like tomato sauce with anchovies, and add capers and olives if you like. Many other classic pizzas don’t use tomato sauce. Try a few glugs of your favorite extra-virgin olive oil instead of tomato sauce next time. Bechamel also makes a rich white pizza sauce. 

Let’s Talk About Veggies.

Pizza gets a bad rap for being “unhealthy”, but it really depends on what and how much you are putting on top. Here are a few vegetable topping ideas to chew on: 

  • Thinly sliced (or shaved) asparagus
  • Sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • Roasted garlic (made in your Brava!)
  • Thinly sliced roasted beets (with goat cheese)
  • Baby arugula (topped on after pizza cooks)
  • Roasted peppers (or shishito peppers)
  • Roasted butternut squash 
  • Thinly sliced Brussels sprouts (or whole Brussels sprout leaves)
  • Leeks, shallots, spring onions, or any type of onions

These are my favorite topping combos:

  • Pepperoni, Italian sausage and thinly sliced pepperoncini
  • Prosciutto pizza (tomato sauce and mozzarella, topped with thin slices of prosciutto after cooking)
  • Margherita pizza (tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil)
  • Wild mushroom white pizza (extra-virgin olive oil, mushrooms, fontina, thyme)
  • Ricotta, sausage, and roasted peppers
  • Asparagus, pecorino, and egg (during the spring)
  • Roasted garlic and cherry tomatoes

I could go on and on and on… There’s really no limit to the creativity you can bring to making pizza with the Brava. Remember, a little advance planning goes a long way. We can’t wait to see the pictures you post on the Brava Home Community on Facebook.

Happy cooking y’all! 

Chef Travis

One Comment

  1. I’ve been craving for Pizza these past few weeks, that’s why I’m thinking of making one for myself in the meantime. I’m glad you shared this; I’ll make sure not to place too much sauce and toppings on my pizza so the dough won’t sag. Although, whilst I’m still perfecting this dish, maybe it would be best to look for a restaurant that serves this type of food!

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