Much interest abounds in the almost limitless options that exist for topping a pizza. Sauces, meats, fish, vegetables, fruits and savouries blend with cheese, tomatoes and other traditional ingredients to create recipes restricted only by the confines of one’s imagination. Whether you are holidaying in Sicily or resident amongst the large Italian community in the hectic, fast-moving major cities of the USA, there is something somewhere to satisfy every taste.
But it is not only the toppings that are available in a range of different varieties. The base itself is an important and integral part of the overall pizza experience and how the taste is brought out can often depend upon the consistency, texture and density of that that lies beneath.
The traditional Italian pizza is baked on a flat, round bread. However in Sicily the crust is usually thicker, and the American variant is square in shape.
Thicker still is the pan or deep pan pizza that has become popular in the United Kingdom. Some restaurants have travelled beyond this concept in recent years and actually stuff the outer rim of the crust with cheese.
For some however a thinner crust is preferred as a means of bringing out and emphasising the flavour of the topping. The thin crust option is popular in New York, where the slices tend to be rolled out in a way that leaves them not only flat but also wide. This option is usually made with high gluten flour and the slices are sometimes folded over before eating.
In Greek cuisine the emphasis is on producing a based that is enriched with herbs, complimenting well the natural flavours of the topping.
Pizza can also be produced on French bread, and this option is often used by bakeries and delicatessens which sell the product by the slice as a snack rather than as a complete meal.
One way of creating a special and unique flavour is to cook the base in a wood-fired brick oven. Brick oven pizzas are usually fairly small in diameter and have the advantage of cooking relatively quickly, always helpful when a high turnover is required.
At the popular Eco Restaurant in Clapham Common much attention is paid to the base of the pizza, ensuring that a healthy product is always delivered that has the effect both of emphasising the flavour of the delicious toppings and of producing a nutritiously balanced meal. It is an attractive option for those who wish to protect the waistline whilst at the same time satisfying a discerning palette and a hefty appetite.