The pizza scene in Rome owes a lot to the new master of pizza baking - Gabriele Bonci. Not all may agree with his philosophies, but we have to give the man some credit. He started out small, even though he is a big guy, in his small shop/pizza counter Pizzarium near the Vatican.
The idea was to offer a denser and more focaccia like base and layered with various toppings. The base is made with sourdough and from the best flours from Molino Marino.
Today he has taken Rome by storm and has several shops and bakeries around town including a stand in the new Mercato Centrale at Termini station. By the way - the perfect pit stop before you board the train to stock up on goodies for the trip.
The next thing is the "pizza al Contrario" - the upside-down pizza, where you bake the stuffing beneath the dough - giving a whole new sensation to the bread. As the pizza topping is baking its adding aromas and flavours to the dough, as well as steaming it lightly adding a new texture to the bake. The pizza is then inverted onto a cutting board before serving.
You can use any type of pizza dough and long-leavened bread dough - we always use our house sourdough, leavened for about 24 hours and with 3 turns. But is doesn't need to be this complicated, just make use to let the dough cold rise for at least 12 hours, adding even more flavour to the bread and a lighter texture.
We like to use onions for topping with tons of fresh herbs - this is not the place to be cheap. But fragrant veggie and herb will do the trick.
We like to serve this with some fresh crumbly goat's cheese and/or some sweet prosciutto - not too salty. Di Parma or San Daniele are good choices.
We use a heavy iron pizza tray - 27x34 cm.
300-400 g bread or pizza dough made with sourdough
4 white onions, sliced
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + extra fro greasing the tray
1 handful fresh sage, leaves only
1 handful fresh rosemary, leaves only
1 handful fresh thyme, leaves only
pinch of dried chili, optional
sea salt and black pepper
Preheat your oven to 220c degrees.
Have your bread dough ready, it''s a good idea to place it on your work surface dusted heavily with semolina both underneath and on top.
Add onions and oil to a pan and place on the stove. Cook on low heat for about 20-25 minutes until onions are sweet and fragrant. But look out for them, you don't want them to colour or break down into a pulp. Halfway through cooking add the herbs and chili. Season with salt and pepper.
Once cooked add onions to the greased pizza tray and distribute evenly in the tray. Using your fingertips, carefully push and stretch the dough into the shape of your tray, taking care not to tear it.. Transfer the dough on top of the onions, gently stretching it a bit more id necessary to cover them. Let the dough rise at room temperature for about 25 minutes.
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and crisp. Remove from oven and invert onto a cutting board.
Place the whole thing on the table with a big knife, and let your guests help themselves.
This makes also a great aperitivo snack.