Brooklyn’s turn-of-the-century craft scene made it the Cool Capital of the World. That energy may have dissipated in the borough, but through it all, Carlo Mirarchi and Brandon Hoy’s flagship restaurant in Bushwick, Roberta’s, has endured. It has since spread around Gotham and even Los Angeles, going beyond serving excellent pizza to include simple cuisine inspired by Chef Mirarchi’s Italian-inspired culinary style. In the second cookbook, Roberta’s: Still cooking they detail their classics like carbonara and wood-fired pizzas, as well as their oxtail lasagna, wood-grilled spotted shrimp and tripe prepared in the Roman style.
They shared with Robb Report readers the recipe for their famous honey and soppressata pizza, the bee sting. They not only provided the recipe for the pizza itself, but also how to make the restaurant’s coveted dough, its sauce, and the chili oil that spices the pizza up.
People seem to really like this pizza. It is both a blessing and a curse. Roberta’s LA veteran Will Jackson describes himself as “My Girl’d” all night long when a stack of Stingz hits the rail. Always cut the pizza first, then drizzle with honey, or you’ll end up with a sticky pizza cutter.
Bee sting pizza
Makes 1 individual pizza
- 1 ball of pizza dough (detailed instructions below)
- 70 grams. pelati (detailed instructions below)
- 1 g. crushed red pepper flakes
- 5 grams chili oil (detailed instructions below)
- 4 fresh basil leaves
- 75 grams. fresh mozzarella
- 6 thin slices of soppressata
- 15 grams of honey
Preheat the oven as high as possible (about 500 ° F) with 2 baking stones or steels about 4 inches apart in the middle of the oven for a full hour.
Place the pizza dough on a lightly floured work surface and stretch 10 to 12 inches according to the instructions below. Transfer to a wooden peel.
Ladle Pelati over the center of the dough, then use the bottom of the ladle to spread it evenly, leaving a margin about 1 inch wide around the perimeter. Top with crushed red pepper flakes and chili oil, then tear the basil leaves and drop them on the pizza. With your hands, break the mozzarella into grape-sized pieces and distribute them evenly over the sauce. Place 5 slices of soppressata around the perimeter of the sauce and one in the center.
Slide the pizza onto the bottom stone or steel of the oven and bake until the crust is golden. Check after seven minutes (see more detailed cooking instructions below). Slice the pizza, then drizzle with honey.
Roberta’s pizza dough
What’s in this recipe is just as important as what’s not. We use sourdough as a sourdough instead of active dry yeast or baking yeast. It’s a bit tricky and may take a bit of practice depending on your environment, but in the end, it’s a more natural pizza dough.
Makes four balls for four individual pizzas
- 353 grams of filtered water, at room temperature
- 161 grams of ripe starter
- 12 grams of extra virgin olive oil
- 18 grams of fine sea salt
- 295 grams 00 of flour
- 295 grams unbleached
- all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Put the filtered water in a large bowl. Add the sourdough and dissolve by hand. Add extra virgin olive oil, salt and the two flours. Knead with one hand in the bowl until no more dry flour is visible. Cover the bowl and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. This makes the dough softer during kneading and subsequent shaping.
After resting, knead the dough until it is just smooth. Divide the dough into four equal sized portions and on a clean, lightly floured surface, shape each portion into a round ball that is mostly smooth on the bottom and very smooth on the top. It should be done slowly; stop before the surface of the dough begins to show tiny tears. Flour the top of the dough balls and cover with plastic. Leave the dough balls at room temperature for six to eight hours. If you are preparing to use the next day, you can leave this paste at room temperature for up to 30 hours with nice sparkling results. The ambient temperature is ideally 75 ° F.
If you’re making longer in advance, transfer the dough balls to a lightly floured baking sheet or plate, cover tightly, and place in the fridge to chill for two to seven days before they harden.
The dough balls are stiff when first taken out of the fridge, so pull the dough out for at least 30 minutes before planning to stretch it.
Let your dough come to room temperature (20 minutes to three hours). While still keeping a circle, place your dough on a lightly floured surface. Remember to keep track of which side is the top as this one will bubble better than the bottom.
With lightly floured hands, press down firmly on the middle to remove air from your mantle and core while leaving a one-inch crust intact. This is called docking. Rotate the dough as needed to anchor completely and evenly. Once you’ve removed most of the air from the middle, you should have what looks like a small pizza in front of you. Pick up the dough and gently pass it from hand to hand. The dough should advance in a circle as your hands pass it back and forth. Handle the dough from above, and let gravity and a little centrifugal force do the work. You should especially touch where the mantle meets the crust. The core will stretch on its own, so if you stretch too close to the middle you might end up with a fine spot. It can be as quick as 6 passes with a well-tempered batter and skillful hands. Cold dough will take much longer. Once you’ve reached 10 to 12 inches, lay the dough on a clean, dry surface and flour the underside. The bottom will be a bit rougher than the top, like the dark side of the moon. Rub the flour over the bottom, making sure to sprinkle all the way to the edge but without pressing down on the crust you worked so hard to keep airy and plump. It’s good to be fairly liberal with the flour here. Turn the dough over onto a new surface without stretching it beyond 10 to 12 inches. Unless you slip a thin film of metal under a fully lined pie, this surface will be the one that carries the pizza into the oven, so choose it carefully. For home cooks, we recommend a wooden skin.
The nicest pasta will be perfect 12 inch circles with puffy crusts, no thin spots, almost no flour on top, and as little as possible on the bottom. Make sure you have all your ingredients ready because as soon as you lay your fully stretched and floured dough, it will start to stick to the surface you put it on. Give yourself no more than five minutes to top the pizza. If you need to check if it’s stuck, give it a shimmy or shake it. It’s almost pizza time!
Household oven instructions
Not all of us can have a backyard wood-fired oven, but that’s no reason you can’t get the crispy bottom of your dreams.
Place two baking steels in the middle of your oven about 4 inches apart. You’ll end up cooking on the bottom one. Preheat as hot as your oven will go for a full hour. If it’s 500 ° F, set your timer for seven minutes when baking a pizza. If you can get up to 550 ° F, check your pie at four minutes. Most of our recipes assume you are using a gas oven that goes up to 500 ° F.
Once your uncooked pizza is covered and ready to bake in the oven, slide it onto the lower baking steel. Hot air in your oven can escape, but hot, torn baking steels will radiate much of the heat needed to give your crust a nice oven spring.
Pelati is Italian for canned (or jarred) peeled tomatoes, which we use in this versatile combination. It is the basis of many of our sauces and pizzas. We find whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes or plum tomatoes to be the best.
- 2 15 oz. cans of whole San Marzano tomatoes or peeled plums
- 10 grams of sea salt
- 34 grams. extra virgin extra virgin olive oil
Drain one of the tomato cans from all of its “water cans”, about a third of its volume. Combine the drained tomatoes and the undrained can in a bowl with salt and oil. Using an immersion blender or vegetable mill, blend until very smooth. Using a food processor will incorporate a lot of air into the sauce, making it appear pink. Store up to a week in the refrigerator.
Using metric weights, it’s easy to increase or decrease this recipe.
- 100g. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 kg. mixed oil
- 250g. extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
Put the chili flakes and the mixed oil in a saucepan off the heat. Cook over medium-low heat until the oil is bright orange, about eight to 10 minutes. Make sure you don’t burn the flakes as the whole batch will be bitter.
Cool the oil for 30 minutes. Sometimes we taste the oil at this point to make sure the right amount of soaking has occurred. It must be quite spicy. You can also delegate this task to an enemy or a green line cook. Pass over a bowl and discard the flakes. Stir in extra virgin olive oil, adding more than indicated if a less spicy oil is desired. Ultimately, your chili oil needs to be balanced, not just painful in the bottle.
The above recipes are taken from the new cookbook Roberta’s: Still cooking, published by Rizzoli.