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Taking pizza to the grill is already a certifiably genius idea, universally credited to Al Forno, the pioneering restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island. (Just look in Genius Recipes: The Book, p. 153—bona fide!)
But grilled pizza in the traditional sense requires a fair amount of hand-eye-zen coordination, as you stretch and drop the dough, flip it, layer on toppings over live embers, cover to melt, then slide out your pizza to waiting hands and mouths, all without setting aflame or dropping the thing.
A baby step is to just do the first two parts of that (drop on grill, flip), and relocate all the topping action to a lower stakes—and lower temperature—zone.
The signature pizza at Speedy Romeo, a spunky restaurant in Brooklyn (and now the Lower East Side of Manhattan, too), does just that, layering marinated greenmarket tomatoes on top of extra creamy ricotta on top of a bubbly, charred puff of grilled dough. And unlike some signature restaurant dishes (looking at you, Husk Meringue with Corn Mousse), it's really easy to take this practice home.
Beyond the brilliant, summer-perfect concept, Speedy Romeo’s chef/owner Justin Bazdarich delivers on all the details, too: This is technically a four-part recipe if you go for it all, though none of those parts is complicated, and you’re allowed to streamline.
There’s the DIY ricotta that you’ll make without any fancy equipment and with only milk, lemon, and salt, plus an extra nudge of cream. There are the ripe tomatoes marinated briefly in red wine vinegar, torn basil, and smashed garlic. (Some of this tomatoey vinegar gets sloshed onto the pie as you top it, intentionally.)
There’s the rosemary- and thyme-twinged oil that gets painted on the charring dough, and the thoughtful layering of extra garnishes at the end: more basil, olive oil, and salt, plus chile flakes and lemon.
It might sound like a lot, but it’s not. And it’s dang delicious—especially for hot, hot summer and early fall, while we want to be cooking outside and minimally chopping—not cranking our ovens as high as they’ll go—and when the tomatoes growing out the ground near us are probably at their best. (Sorry, Southern Hemisphere—bookmark this one for winter!)
And for when maybe we're in the mood for eating more milky-cool ricotta and sparkling tomatoes on our pizza, and less pepperoni and mouthfuls of melty cheese. Or fine, sure, you can have it both ways—for now. In a couple months, you won’t have tomatoes like this.
For the Ricotta, Marinated Tomatoes & Herb Oil
- 2 quarts farm-fresh whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 6 small heirloom tomatoes, chopped into large pieces, core removed
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed whole
- 15 basil leaves, torn roughly
- 3 rosemary sprigs
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 1 cup olive oil
For the Pizza
- Hot grill with the flame off set to one side—wood-burning preferred
- Two 8-ounce pieces of your favorite pizza dough, stretched to 12 inches
- Herb Oil (from above)
- Ricotta (from above)
- Marinated Tomatoes (from above)
- Basil leaves for garnish
- Lemon juice for garnish
- Olive oil for garnish
- Ground chile flakes for garnish
- Flaky sea salt for garnish
Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thank you to our own Assistant Buyer and Facebook Live star Jackson Fust for this one.
Photos by Mark Weinberg