Ever since the Netflix show, “Chef’s Table: Pizza” came out in the summer of 2022, everybody’s been wanting to make the pizzas seen in the different episodes, including me. It’s nice to change it up every once in awhile. You can’t just eat pepperoni and Margherita pizzas all the time. (My girlfriend Lori could though.)
Actually, Franco Pepe’s pizza named “Margherita Sbagliata” actually means “Margherita done wrong”. It’s inspired by the Margherita pizza by having tomato, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil, but it is built completely different with the ingredients in a different form, and artfully designed.
The traditional Margherita uses fresh mozzarella, which is very wet, so it is used sparingly.
For this pizza we are using Whole-Milk, Low-Moisture Mozzarella. Do not use part skim, or pre-shredded. You will not get the desired result. (Look for it at the deli counter rather than the cheese section in the store. I use Boar’s Head, and just tell them to cut me a big block.)
Whole milk mozzarella is richer in taste, melts better and provides the stretch consumers associate with pizza. Part-skim mozzarella browns evenly at a faster pace than whole-milk mozzarella. – IPAP.com
Pre-shredded cheese has potato starch added to it to prevent it from sticking together. That adds too much moisture to your pizza. Leave your cheese in the refrigerator, and shred it right before you are going to use it so it doesn’t stick together.
To save time, and make less work, I used Hunt’s® Tomato Purée instead of making my own and just added a little salt and sugar to it, and I substituted Barilla Pesto instead of making basil purée.
Episode 1, Season 4 of Chef’s Table opens with Franco pouring flour into a large wooden vessel, and we watch him add the ingredients and work the dough solely by hand. This is hardly ever done in commercial pizzerias anymore.
Franco says, “If we left everything to technology, we would all have identical pizzas. But, when we create the dough, there’s no machine behind it. There are only the arms and the person.”
Franco’s pizza uses a Neapolitan dough and is made in a wood-fired commercial pizza oven. I use a NY-style dough recipe, and bake it in a regular home oven. Trust me. It comes out great. I do it all by hand, just like Franco.
As I said, I baked this in a conventional home oven. I have a pizza stone on the bottom rack, and a pizza steel on the top rack. The oven gets preheated to 525º F, and then holds for one hour before baking the pizza. (If your oven will go to 550º, do that, and if you have convection, do that too.)
I went for 6 minutes on the stone on the bottom, and then switched to high broil, and moved the pizza to the steel on the top rack for 1.5 minutes. (Keep an eye on it though. It may need more or less time on broil.)
If you only have a stone, just keep it on the bottom rack the whole time. If you only have a steel, keep it on the top rack, and just switch to broil at the end.
The prep time does not include making and fermenting the dough, which is linked in a separate recipe. You can substitute a store-bought dough if you want, but making your own and fermenting it isn’t hard, and yields phenomenal results.
Franco Pepe's Margherita Sbagliata Pizza
- 1 Pizza Peel (Wooden)
- 1 Pizza Stone or Pizza Steel (I use both on the same cook, switching from stone to steel at the end.)
- 1 Chef's Squeeze Bottle for the tomato purée placement / design on top of the pizza.
- 14 oz Pizza Dough for 14" pie (See dough recipe link in instructions below.) (12 oz for 12" pie)
- 1 cup Whole-Milk, Low-Moisture Mozzarella Freshly Shredded (See notes)
- ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ½ cup Tomato Puree
- 2-3 oz Pesto (I subbed pesto for the basil purée.)
Preheat Conventional Home Oven
- I baked this in a conventional home oven. I have a pizza stone on the bottom rack, and a pizza steel on the top rack. The oven gets preheated to 525º F, and then holds for one hour before baking the pizza. (If your oven will go to 550º, do that.)
Pizza Dough Base
- See my Pizza Dough Recipe: https://pizzaismylife.com/pizza-dough-recipes/easy-ny-style-pizza-dough-recipe/
- See my How-To on Shaping the Dough: https://pizzaismylife.com/pizza-dough-recipes/how-to-form-the-pizza-round/
Pre-Bake Topping the Pizza
- Evenly distribute shredded mozzarella, leaving about a one inch edge uncovered.
- Drizzle all over with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Baking the Pizza
- Bake at 525° F 7-8 minutes for 14", or 6-7 minutes for a 12" pizza
Post-Bake Topping the Pizza
- Here's where it gets a little artsy. There is a distinct pattern for placing the tomato purée on top of the pizza using the squeeze bottle. Use the photo as a go-by for the placement. To draw the tomato purée dashes as thick as they are, you will need to go back and forth with the thin lines touching each other to create the thicker dashes.
- Once the tomato purée dashes are complete, then randomly dollop the basil pesto around the pizza. Slice and eat right away. This one tastes best hot.