Friday, August 28, 2009

Heirloom Tomato Pizza Sauce Recipe

We grew Brandywine tomatoes this year - they are large and luscious with a sweet, old fashioned tomato flavor. You can use any type of fresh tomatoes that you have on hand and adjust the cooking time and seasoning to suit the variety that you use. Roma tomatoes will make a thicker, meatier sauce and are perfect for pizza sauce and other Italian sauces.

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs. fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped (approximately 4 large)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano

To Taste: Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes

Optional: Chopped Parsley, Chopped Basil

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute, stirring frequently so that it doesn't stick. Add tomatoes and sugar, plus the amounts of salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to suit your personal taste.

(Hint: proceed slowly when adding the red pepper flakes so that you get the right amount of heat! You can always add more if you'd like the sauce a little spicier, but it's hard to tone down the heat.)

Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until the sauce is very thick. Stir frequently! When the sauce is almost done, stir in the chopped oregano, along with parsley and basil, if desired.
Serve on the prepared pizza crust of your choice.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Danny's Pizza - Whitehall

Route 51
Whitehall, PA

The pizza we ordered from Danny's was a work of art.

The aroma of fresh baked pizza lured us in; the scent wafted in through our open car windows on the sweet summer breeze. The pizza itself was a masterpiece; the sauce welled up through the cheese, as artfully arranged as a Jackson Pollock abstract. The taste was magnificent.

Danny's sauce is made fresh daily. It is rich and full bodied, thick and fragrant with Italian herbs and spices. It tastes like it cooked for hours.

The pizza dough is also made fresh daily, individually wrapped and refrigerated, and expertly hand tossed to order. The crust has just the right amount of chewiness with a wonderful fresh bread flavor.

We ordered a traditional hand tossed round pizza, with extra sauce and light cheese and the proportions were perfect for our taste. Danny's also offers a white pizza, and four specialty pizzas - Deluxe, Piasano Style (pepperoni, ham, capicolla, salami, sausage, bacon), Veggie, and Southern Steak (shredded sirloin steak, onions, mushroom's and hot peppers). Also on the menu are six varieties of oven-baked hoagies, four chicken breast hoagies, four fresh gardens salads and "old time favorites" like hamburgers, wings, Sicilian pizza bread and pizza bagels.

Calzones are new to Danny's menu and they offer four varieties - Sicilian, Garden, Italian Hot Sausage and Meatball. Calzones are available in two sizes - small for $7.99 or large for $9.99. I am also excited to see that Danny's has available "Big Super Slices" of New York Style Pizza for $1.75 per slice. Slices are available all day and are topped with their new tomato fillet pizza sauce. We'll definitely stop in soon to try a slice or two!

Danny's has a larger sister restaurant in on Route 88 in Bethel Park that has a more extensive menu than the small Whitehall shop, which includes some additional sides and a square pan pizza.

We have many pizzas to taste, but I know this - we'll go back to Danny's. Again and again.

Danny's Parkview Pizza on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rosa Pizza - South Side

2767 East Carson Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Don't let the construction on East Carson Street discourage you from trying Rosa Pizza - it is well worth the visit!

Rosa Pizza is a Neapolitan style round pizza with a thin crust - crisp, yet foldable. The dough is made fresh every evening and allowed to rest overnight to be freshly hand tossed to order. It has the wonderful flavor of fresh bread.

When we called to order our typical medium pizza, we were happy to be told of that day's special - an extra large with one topping for $9.95 - less expensive than the medium would have been. We took advantage of the special and ordered the extra large with extra sauce and light cheese, with a topping of sliced banana peppers.

The pizza was just the way we like it, with the perfect amount of sauce and cheese for our personal taste. The sauce is made daily, and it is a light and fresh tasting tomato sauce, with delicate flavoring and flecks of oregano. The sauce was mildly sweet and not at all salty. The sliced banana peppers added a nice piquant touch and were a good topping choice.

In addition to the traditional Neapolitan pizza, Rosa Pizza offers white pizza, Sicilian pizza and a Chicago-style deep dish pizza. They make ten varieties of gourmet pizza, including a Brooklyn Pizza (roasted peppers, hot sausage and mozzarella), the 4 Seasons Pizza (prosciutto, artichokes, mushrooms, tomatoes and mozzarella) and the Rosa Supreme (pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, black olives, onions and green peppers).

Also on the menu are salads,wings, calzones, strombolis, hot subs and cold subs. The Pollo Balsamico sounds especially good to me - it's filled with grilled chicken, pesto, bruschetta, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Rosa offers six sides - french fries, cheese fries, mozzarella sticks, garlic bread, cheese bread, and fried dough with sugar. They make eight types of pasta dishes, including Spaghetti Bolognese, Eggplant Parmesan, and Chicken Marsala.

Rosa Pizza also has an extensive catering menu with some tantalizing menu options that are available with 24 hour notice.

Rosa Pizza on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Italian Oven Cafe Pizzeria - Brentwood

Italian Oven Cafe
4090 Brownsville Road
Brentwood Towne Square
Brentwood, PA

12/26/09 Update:  The Brentwood location of Italian Oven appears to be closed.  I know they were planning to move to a location in Caste Village.  My hope is that the Caste Village location will open soon - I hope that they are not closed permanently!  If anyone knows what has happened to them, please let us know - I have been having an Italian Oven craving.

I am a long time fan of Italian Oven - I was sorry when the once large chain of restaurants ran into problems, but delighted when the Italian Oven reemerged in the Brentwood Towne Square in 2004.

The Italian Oven Cafe is a fast/casual restaurant, where you place your order at a counter (or by fax or phone). You can watch your food being prepared if you like, or relax at tables or in a comfortable chair while you wait.

The Italian Oven offers two basic types of "pizza al forno" - Rosa (red) or Fancy White pizza - both of which are prepared in a wood fired oven.

On our latest visit, we ordered a Pizza Rosa - a classic pizza with red sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese. We ordered the 12" and asked for extra sauce and light cheese. The cheese was delicious but, as you can see from the photo, definitely not "light"! The crust was outstanding - thin and crispy, with a nice chewiness and a light dusting of cornmeal on the bottom. The sauce was rich, sweet and mildly spicy, with some small chunks of tomato.

We didn't order any topping for our pizza, but the Italian Oven offers pepperoni, Italian sausage, onion, mushrooms, Kalamata olives, homemade meatballs, peppers, bacon or Cappacola. In addition to the 12" size that we ordered, the pizzas also are sold by the slice, or in 14" or 18" sizes.

On past visits, I've also tried the white pizza and am particularly fond of the Grilled Chicken and Spinach version that also is topped with bacon, onions and Roma tomatoes. Other white pizzas offered are a classic Bianca, Margherita, BBQ Chicken and Vegetariana versions. Slices of pizza are also offered in combination with a tossed salad or cup of soup - we like their Wedding Soup.

Another Italian Oven favorite of mine is the Grilled Tuscan Chicken Panini, which comes with "fresh mozzarella cheese, Roma tomatoes, crispy onions, mixed greens and artichoke lemon pesto." Other Panini include Parmesan Crusted Chicken, Italian Sausage, Classic Italian, Grilled Portabella Mushroom, a wonderful Italian Meatball and Cheese, Grilled Sirloin Steak and Chicken BLT. All panini are oven baked on ciabatta bread and are served with a bag of chips.

In addition to the pizza and panini, Italian Oven serves wonderful salads, stromboli and pasta dishes. I've never tried the stromboli, but have had the Chicken Parmesan with linguine and liked it very much.

In the evening (after 6 p.m.) Italian Oven offers a complimentary pitcher of beer with a qualifying dine-in purchase. They also serve breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays, and also have a reasonably priced Kids' Menu.

And here's a tip ... if you like Fried Zucchini, as I do, you will love their Famous Italian Oven (r) Cafe Fried Zucchini!!!!! Wow!

Italian Oven Cafe Pizzeria on Urbanspoon