Pizza for Professionals: Books on the Art of Pizza Creation
Feb 20, 2023
Pizza is one of the most beloved and universally enjoyed foods. It's considered a simple dish, made up of just a few basic ingredients—yet it can be crafted in countless unique and delicious ways.
Whether you're a seasoned professional chef or a passionate home cook, learning about the art and science of pizza-making can be both enjoyable and rewarding. Here we'll explore a few great books about pizza available that delve into the history, techniques, and traditions of pizza-making. From comprehensive guides and the history of pizza to detailed manuals on dough-making and sauce preparation, these books offer valuable insight and inspiration for anyone looking to master the art of pizza creation.
A Brief History of Pizza
Pizza has a rich and storied history that dates back thousands of years. Its origins can be traced back to ancient civilizations in Greece, Egypt, and Persia, where similar flatbreads were consumed. Pizza as we know it today, however, was developed in Italy and became popular in the 18th century.
Pizza styles are not solely defined by crust, but the crust can be a key characteristic for some. Other factors that can differentiate pizza styles include toppings, sauce, cooking methods, and regional or cultural influence. Let’s explore some of the best-loved pizza types.
Naples is widely considered the birthplace of modern pizza. Neapolitan pizza is made with a thin, soft crust that often has charred spots. The crust is typically topped with simple, fresh ingredients such as delicate pieces of mozzarella cheese and fresh basil dotted on top of tomato sauce.
The pizza is then baked in a wood-fired oven at a high temperature for a short time, usually no more than 90 seconds. This creates a tender, flavorful crust and gooey, melted cheese.
Neapolitan pizza is governed by strict regulations set by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN), which ensures that all Neapolitan pizzas are made using only the highest quality ingredients and traditional techniques. VPN-certified Neapolitan pizzas must be made with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese made from the milk of water buffalo, and dough made using only flour, water, yeast, and salt.
New York-Style Pizza
Italian immigrants introduced New York-style pizza to the city in the early 1900s. The crust is hand-tossed and foldable, thin and crispy, but not as thin as other Italian pizza types, with a chewy texture that is slightly crunchy on the outside. The pizza is topped with a simple tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese for uniform coverage and is often garnished with toppings such as pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, or onions.
The pizza is typically sold by the slice and is often served reheated and consumed on the go, making it a convenient and satisfying meal for busy New Yorkers.
The history of Detroit pizzas has a strong link to the area’s industrial heritage. The original pans used to make Detroit pizza were the same ones used in auto-assembly to hold parts on the assembly line. This style of pizza is characterized by its square or rectangular shape and its crispy, chewy crust, which is made using a blend of both pizza and bread dough.
The crust is then topped with a layer of Wisconsin brick cheese, which caramelizes and creates a crunchy texture. The cheese is followed by a layer of toppings, such as pepperoni, sausage, or vegetables, and then a simple tomato sauce is added on top after baking.
Detroit pizza is possibly the only style permissible to eat using a knife and fork.
Chicago pizza is known for its deep-dish, hearty crust, which is more like a pie crust. The pizza is made using a high-sided, round pan filled with a layer of dough, cheese, and an abundance of toppings and then finished with a simple tomato sauce.
Sometimes known as California-style pizza, this style emphasizes fresh and high-quality ingredients, creative toppings, and a crispy and thin crust. It is often made using unique and seasonal ingredients, such as farmers' market produce, artisan cheeses, and cured meats, rather than traditional Italian toppings. It is typically hand-tossed and baked in a wood-fired oven.
Need more inspiration? Browse our carefully selected collection of books on professional baking and pastry.
Of course, it’s not just in Italy and the US that pizza is popular; there are pizza cultures all around the world, especially in those with Italian immigrant communities. In Buenos Aires, Argentina, pizza is often topped with an abundance of cheese, which typically covers the entire surface of the pizza and melts into a gooey and creamy layer.
Mozzarella cheese is the most common, but other types, such as provolone, parmesan, and gouda, are sometimes used.
Despite the porteños love for cheesy slices, there is also a very popular cheeseless pizza in Buenos Aires called canchera, topped just with tomato sauce, and a style called fugazza is piled high with caramelized onions.
In San Paulo, Brazil, pizza is much less a street food and is more likely to be served in a nice restaurant with tablecloths. It usually has a thin crust and is light on tomato sauce but heavy on toppings.
Great Books on Traditional Pizza-Making
Traditional pizza-making involves using simple, high-quality ingredients and relying on time-honored methods to create delicious and authentic pizzas. We highly recommend these books for any professional pizza chef or connoisseur who wants to learn about traditional Neapolitan and New York-style pizza-making methods and ingredients.
Flour Water Yeast Salt Passion: Vera Pizza Napoletana
Flour Water Yeast Salt Passion: Vera Pizza Napoletana was written by the Associazione Verace Pizza (VPN).The VPN was formed by a group of Neapolitan pizza makers' families.
It discusses the traditional Neapolitan pizza-making techniques and philosophy of the VPN, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the authentic Neapolitan pizza-making tradition.
The book provides a comprehensive guide to the ingredients, equipment, and techniques used to make Neapolitan pizza, as well as its history and cultural significance. It includes step-by-step instructions, photos, and illustrations to help readers understand and recreate the VPN method. It also contains 65 pizza recipes for time-honored varieties—including the guild-approved classic Neapolitan dough recipe—taken from the bakers of its native city.
The Joy of Pizza: Everything You Need to Know, by Dan Richer with Katie Parla
The Joy of Pizza: Everything You Need to Know is written for professional chefs who want to get a little obsessive about pizza-making. Its beautiful and practical photography supports writing that lets you know the author geeks out more than a little about the quality of his pies.
Dan Richer, renowned for his exceptional pizzas at Razza, has garnered both critical and public recognition. The Joy of Pizza showcases his meticulous approach, focusing on every aspect of pizza-making, from dough and sauce preparation to the selection and timing of adding cheese.
It also includes over 100 recipes for classic and modern pizzas, including Neapolitan, Roman, and New York-style pizzas. There are even photo sequences of pizza bottoms to help you learn to judge an ideally cooked crust and instructions on rotating pizzas in a wood-fired oven because that’s how obsessive Dan Richer is.
Great Books on Artisan Pizza Creation
Artisan pizzas are made using a slower, more hands-on approach that prioritizes taste, texture, and appearance over speed and convenience. These books are some of the best in our collection—they are must-have resources for any professional baker or pizza chef interested in the art and practice of pizza-making.
Mastering Pizza: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pizza, Focaccia, and Calzone, by Mark Vetri & David Joachim
Mastering Pizza: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pizza, Focaccia, and Calzone is a serious and detailed introduction to artisan pizza-making by one of Philadelphia's most important Italian chefs, Marc Vetri, and cookbook author David Joachim.
The book offers in-depth information on everything from the history of pizza to the science behind dough mixing. It provides clear, step-by-step instructions for making various pizza styles, from wood-fire to Neapolitan and Sicilian. It also provides a wealth of information on making calzone, rotoli, focaccia, and even dessert pizza.
In addition to covering the basics of pizza creation, the book delves into advanced techniques and ingredient combinations, allowing readers to experiment and devise their own unique pizzas.
The Elements of Pizza: Unlocking the Secrets to World-Class Pies at Home, by Ken Forkish
The Elements of Pizza: Unlocking the Secrets to World-Class Pies at Home offers a slightly West Coast take on artisan pizza written by Ken Forkish, who first made his name as a bread baker. He's got a lot to say about crust, but he does not stint when it comes to any other aspect of the pizza. The book provides readers with an in-depth look at the science and technique behind making pizza, focusing on achieving the perfect crust, sauce, and toppings.
The author covers all the elements of pizza-making, ranging from its history and the different styles of pizza from around the world to the science behind dough making, baking, and using different ovens.
What sets The Elements of Pizza apart is that Forkish keeps his focus on achieving the hallmarks of the best professionally prepared pizzas, even for those who are not using high-grade, dedicated pizza ovens. The author provides a wealth of tips and tricks and a range of pizza recipes, from classic Neapolitan style to new and innovative creations.
Roberta's Cookbook, by Carlo Mirarchi, Brandon Hoy & Chris Parachini
Roberta's Cookbook offers the food of the restaurant that helped define a new generation of New York pizza and make Bushwick a cool part of Brooklyn. The book was written by Carlo Mirarchi, founder and head chef, along with Brandon Hoy and Chris Parachini.
Roberta's Cookbook covers all aspects of the restaurant's cuisine, from its signature Neapolitan-style pizzas and hand-made pasta dishes to its innovative salads, sandwiches, and baked goods. The book provides readers with a behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant, including its history, philosophy, and approach to cooking and dining.
In addition to its comprehensive information and practical tips, Roberta's Cookbook also features over 100 recipes, including crowd-pleasers like the restaurant's famous Bee Sting pizza and Margherita pizza, as well as lesser-known dishes like its squid ink fettuccine and roasted carrots with green harissa.
Great Books on the Science Behind Making the Perfect Pizza
The science of pizza creation is the study of the ingredients and techniques used to make pizza, with an emphasis on understanding the chemical and physical reactions that occur during the baking process.
These books in our collection are some of the most detailed and informative books a professional chef could keep in their library.
Neapolitan Pizza, The: A Scientific Guide About the Artisanal Process, by Paolo Masi, Annalisa Romano, and Enzo Coccia
Neapolitan Pizza, The: A Scientific Guide About the Artisanal Process, is published in Naples and imported by us directly from Italy. It is a technical manual with enormous detail. Because it assumes you already understand the basics, it should not be the only book you own about pizza-making, but it will make every other book you have much more useful.
Where most books about pizza creation focus on history and tradition, the authors of this book cover various aspects of pizza-making, including the evaluation and classification of wheat flour in Italy, the behavior of flour components, and the role of water, yeast, and salt.
It provides a comprehensive analysis of the production process, from mixing to garnishing and baking, and includes a visual guide to common issues such as flaccid dough and uneven cooking.
Modernist Pizza, by Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya
Last on our list, but certainly not least, is Modernist Pizza. Spanning three volumes plus a recipe manual, it is much more than a cookbook: it’s an indispensable resource for anyone who wants to take full control of the pizza-making process but is also interested in the science, stories, cultures, and history behind it.
Encased in a red stainless-steel slipcase, it is the deepest dive we have ever seen into pizza. Each chapter is beautifully illustrated, from its rich history and must-visit pizza destinations to recipes, dough, sauce, cheese, toppings, equipment, and more. With over 1,000 classic and innovative pizza recipes from around the world, this book is designed for professional pizza makers with some helpful assists to the most determined home bakers.
Modernist Pizza challenges much-accepted wisdom about pizza making, using rigorous scientifically-baked investigation into all aspects of the process. It is the result of years of research and obvious passion but written in such a way that you do not need a degree in chemistry or physics to apply its findings.
So, if you are a well-versed pizza lover, seasoned pizzaiolo, or just starting out in the world of professional pizza-making, these cookbooks offer in-depth insights into the dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings, along with methods of cooking and troubleshooting guides. Whether you want to create traditional pies or experiment with avant-garde pizza recipes, we are sure you’ll find something to inspire and guide you.
We have thousands of titles in stock for professional chefs that will inspire and delight you. If you can’t see what you’re looking for on the website, contact us at email@example.com, and one of our expert team will find the perfect book for you.