This Genius Pizza Turns the Entire Concept of Pizza on Its Head

August 24, 2016

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.

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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.

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

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Courtney C
    Courtney C
  • Linda collins
    Linda collins
  • Lisa
  • witloof
  • Emily
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Courtney C. December 28, 2016
This sounds so good - can't wait to try it!
Linda C. September 5, 2016
I take genius personal. when I try something new to me that works or simplifies a process I feel like a genius. As a culinary professional I can always stand to learn something new. In fact my motto is "learn something new everyday". I also think we need to spread the knowledge to others that have less experience so they gain cooking confidence. Thank you Food52 for all that you do to contribute to getting us back in the kitchen.
Lisa August 30, 2016
Great recipe, maybe even genius. I've been looking for a good grilled pizza for a long time. As Al Forno is one of my all-time favorite restaurants, this is a real treat. I love the Genius column, I look forward to it, and I love the cookbook. Can't wait for more.
witloof August 30, 2016
Here's a suggestion for all of the people who took the time to write all of the passionately nasty comments. Why don't you take that passion and put it to some actual use, like volunteering for a cause you believe in, and quit savaging Kristen, whose column is often quite thought provoking and useful?
Smaug August 30, 2016
Savaging? You should really spend a while reading message boards on, say or The woman's a professional journalist- I believe these articles are reprinted in newspapers nationwide, they are in the SF Chronicle- and should be able to take some mild criticism of a word choice.
Bob G. August 30, 2016
Now there's an idea. How about some Savage Recipes for us non genius fire tending kind of guys? I could use some recipes for my new Lodge cast iron grill I was recently gifted. I too find Kristen to be a swell writer and apologize for all the ruckus my objection to the use that other word I promise never to mention again caused. Thanks, Your friend in savage cooking. Bob
witloof September 5, 2016
Smaug, my point is that your nastiness towards Kristin is very much out of keeping with the culture of this website, which strives to maintain a kind, civilized discourse. You seem to forget that there are human beings behind the articles that are published here. Perhaps you'd be happier at one of those other places you mention where you can spray testosterone and say ugly things to your heart's content. I would venture that most of the people who frequent this website regularly prize kindness and politeness and are disturbed by disrespectful and snarky commentary.
Smaug September 5, 2016
I have no idea what you're talking about. Using the word genius to describe these recipes is pretentious, inaccurate and ungrammatical. It ignores any number of better word choices- why not ingenious, for God's sake? it's actually an adjective. It is disrespectful of the millions of cooks that have toiled in obscurity over the centuries coming up with these ideas. For these reasons, I feel that it's use was a poor editorial choice, such as even the best editors make. I made no comments about the author other than that she's a professional.
Smaug September 6, 2016
ps; witl.... I'm not sure why you chose a series of unprovoked personal attacks as a method of making your point but, while contrary to all rules of internet etiquette, it does have the benefit of originality. Whether it constitutes genius must await the verdict of history.
Emily August 29, 2016
Ignored all the naysayers and actually tried this one, and it was awesome! While I've been grilling pizza for years, I loved the fresh twist of topping it off the grill...perfect use for our just-picked cherry tomatoes.
Nancy J. August 29, 2016
I read food blogs, Food Network recipes, etc. If I see something I am not interested in, or thing is "something awful" I do not make negative comments! I simply ignore!! I look for different ideas, if not there, I ignore! I have learned a lot of new ideas from "genius"! My husband, who loves to try and cook has learned many things from "genius". My granddaughter started cooking at 4 yrs old, she learned from genius! I have lived in many countries, learned many types of recipes, and I think I can still learn from others. If I don't need the information I don't make nasty comments!
piggledy August 28, 2016
Geez, who knew the radars of this post would be such a bunch of cranky pants?? PAY ATTENTION!! The twist in this recipe is that the crust is grilled, then the toppings are added - no need to worry about losing toppings as the pizza is removed from the grill. It is a clever idea, indeed, and if you are regular food52 readers, you know the genius recipes are a collection of recipes which are exceptional or different, and in general, they ARE clever renditions of recipes we know and love, often created by some of today's true culinary treasures. Take a deep breath, folks, and don't be so ready to knee-jerk a reaction when you clearly haven't even read the recipe, or what a "genius" recipe is.
Smaug August 28, 2016
Perhaps they're objecting to the notion that cooking bread and then putting toppings on it is somehow original; I couldn't say. Personally, I just object to calling it pizza; it sounds pretty good. I also object to the devaluation of the word "genius", but that ship has, I fear, sailed.
Handsomish August 28, 2016
Hey "genius"! What many of us are objecting to is the claim that this is something original. That it was created out of thin air by some ingenious chef. If the reporter had done any research, they would have found that it is not the truth. Hyperbole from the chef, and even more from the writer. Your rabid defense of this article could only lead one to believe that you wrote it, or are in fact the mother of the writer. Clever recipe, it is not, and neither is the integrity of the piece. Is the food good? Most likely.
Hllywd August 28, 2016
Grilled pizza is great, been making it just like the article describes flavored oil and all for years. If that makes me a genius, the bar is set pretty low. I'll likely try ricotta, and marinated tomatoes when I make it some time, I might even make my own cheese. It's not something remotely new or innovative.
piggledy August 29, 2016
"Rabid"? I think this may be a worse mis-use than "genius" - and no, I am nobody's mother, nor am I the author of the article - I can only wonder if each time a new "genius" recipe is introduced, the author, who is simply adding a new recipe to a collection, will be subjected to similar ridicule. I would say the snide remarks about the use of the term "genius" deserve the term "rabid" more than my simple defense does.
Handsomish August 29, 2016
Ok mom. Your child possesses boundless creativity, and you've allowed them the license to reinterpret what words mean. We get it. You are both so special. But those of us who are bound to see and use things properly understand that this isn't new or original. Maybe to the author, and if that is so, then maybe they shouldn't be writing about a subject they know little about.
Kristen M. August 29, 2016
To those of you who are new here, this website is a whole lot more useful and fun for everyone involved when the tone in comments is respectful and constructive. This is the Genius Recipes column, which has been running weekly on Food52 for 5+ years and led to the Genius Recipes cookbook, which you can see explained at the bottom of the article. The subtitle of the book defines best how we see genius recipes: recipes that will change the way you cook. Even if you've seen grilled pizza topped with fresh, not heated, ingredients before, many people haven't. We will remove any comments that make this a space where others don't feel comfortable to share, ask questions, and learn more about cooking, per our mission and our Terms of Service.
Bob G. August 29, 2016
Ok I take it all back. Please enjoy your pizza however you care to and hopefully with loved ones no matter their IQ. Yours truly, Mr Cranky Pants
Smaug August 30, 2016
And it's been annoying for 5 years. Einstein fundamentally changed EVERYTHING about our understanding of the universe's structure by seeing things in ways no one else had. Shakespeare, 500 years after his death, is still the most influential writer in the English- probably in any- language. These people were geniuses, their works consistently acts of genius- a different word is needed for someone who first published the idea of putting guava jelly on scrambled eggs.
sheilabeth August 28, 2016
Ok so it might be a little too much excitement in the title for what the reipe really is but really people can't you just be polite and enjoy the recipe? Who cares? The lead in is only that. It will be tasty, I'll be making it tonight.
Handsomish August 28, 2016
I've been making pizza on the grill for over 40 years, on nearly every camping trip I've been on. And I'm not foolish enough to believe I invented the process. To many of these food writers need to get out of their little world, and experience reality.
HapppyBee August 28, 2016
Kristen, I for one, really appreciate all your recipes and articles on this site. Keep 'em coming!
Nancy J. August 28, 2016
I am 77 yrs old, and have been cooking since I was a teen. I have seen recipe that were wonderful, have been terrible and in the 50s and 60s recipes we now know were the worst things we could have been eating. I have been in other countries and used the recipes. I love to try new recipes. Some are fabulous, some are weird. I do not make negative comments about any one's recipes. Though I might occasional make a suggestion. If you don't like or think it is an old recipe, forget it. It
may be new to new readers!
Kristen M. August 29, 2016
Thank you both for your comments! Appreciate your positive attitudes.
FRANK August 28, 2016
At the moment can't get the recipe host error. But instead of grilling why not bake it
Hllywd August 28, 2016
Because everything is better grilled!
gucci August 28, 2016
They were grilling pizza in Italy before I was a twinkle in my daddy eye.At grilled pizza in my mom home town in Italy when visited once when I was 22 years old I am 61 now go figure.There are no new ideas just revamped and narrowed from the past.:-)
Pomme D. August 28, 2016
Fun switch on the grilled pizza we've been going - and yes, less juggling after the flip ;)
Michelle S. August 28, 2016
I really see nothing GENIUS about this recipe---charred bread with raw cheese and vegetables. PLEASE stop using the word genius--it is as overused, trite and misconstrued as AWESOME!
Bob G. August 28, 2016
Thank you Michelle. I don't mean to be crabby but FOOD52 is a nice blog and using hackneyed misused terms such as "genius" takes away from what they are trying to share with readers. A recipe is neither genius nor jaw-dropping and don't get me started on food writers who use the term "mouth-watering" aka "drooling". (p.s. apologies for my type on foid vs food in a previous post :-)
Kristen M. August 29, 2016
Michelle, please see my response to Bob below explaining why we use the word genius for this weekly Genius Recipes column on Food52.
Bob G. August 28, 2016
Is "genius" the newest replacement for "awesome".'? I enjoy the foid and cooking "ideas" on your blog so thanks for sharing what you find! Just don't make it "jaw-dropping" either :-)
Kristen M. August 29, 2016
Bob, here's why we use the word genius once a week around here! This is a weekly column called Genius Recipes, which has been running on Food52 for 5+ years and led to the Genius Recipes cookbook, which is featured at the bottom of the article. The subtitle of the book explains our thinking best: Genius Recipes are the ones that change the way we cook.
Hllywd August 28, 2016
I've been grilling pizza for years... Nice try though.
Deepali P. August 28, 2016
I am confused what part of this is turning pizza on its head? The grilling part? That definitely sounds delicious. But what's new about the rest? Where I live ricotta is a fairly standard offering on pizza...

Anyway, if I had a grill, I would definitely be making this...!
Susan W. August 28, 2016
I'm lucky enough to have visited this restaurant many times over the years. My best friend lives in Providence. I choose best friends wisely. This is my favorite of their pizzas. This will be awesome to try at home.
Smaug August 24, 2016
Well, it's not perhaps the greatest for marketing, but "grilled open face sandwich" would work. Or you could just call it Ishmael.
Jackson F. August 24, 2016
Truly love this restaurant, and this is my favorite pizza they offer! So glad to have the recipe—now to find a way to use a grill in an apartment with no outdoor space!