Well, I for one won’t stand for it because I know the truth about these salty little guys. Please allow me to convert you.
It never even crossed my mind to eat an anchovy until I went to Rome, where a traditional pie includes tomato, mozzarella, anchovies, oregano, and oil. Since I wholeheartedly subscribe to the “When in Rome” philosophy, it didn’t take long for me to try this combo and fall in love.
Once I got home, I started insisting on anchovies every time I went out for pizza—they do it really well at Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock and, of course, at Pizzeria Mozza. Soon, my anchovy fever became so intense that I began to wonder what they could do for our weekly homemade pizza. The answer: a lot!
Here are the goods on my “Don’t-Hold-the-Anchovies Pizza”:
Crust: You can make your own dough if you like, but I’m too lazy. I like the Almost Whole Wheat Pizza Dough from Trader Joe’s. I like to spread it out on a cookie sheet for a thin, slightly crispy crust.
Sauce: When I have time, I go to Claro’s Italian Market in San Gabriel and pick up a can of Carmelina San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes, which creates a thick, chunky sauce after just a few seconds in the food processor. When I don’t, the Trader Joe’s Marinara in the green can is a pretty good substitute. I like to spread the sauce out to the ends of the crust, but that’s just me. I usually sprinkle on dried oregano and basil before adding the cheese.
Cheese: I like fresh mozzarella, but usually I only have a bag of shredded cheddar-jack blend on hand, and that works too. Just don’t tell the Italians. Note: If you have some fresh parmesan cheese, you can grate it over the pizza before you bake for extra deliciousness.
Mushrooms: We’re obsessed with the shiitakes from the Alhambra Farmer’s Market. The spongy texture and subtle taste of a shiitake is perfect for offsetting the intensity of anchovies. Sometimes, I’ll add a little sherry to the sautéing mushrooms, which gives them a nice tangy kick.
Anchovies: After trying a few brands, we’ve landed on Agostino Recca Fillet of Anchovies “Stella del Mare”. They’re really delicious, and the added bonus is that they come in a glass jar, so you don’t have to eat them all at once—one jar is good for two pizzas. They’re also great for salads, so don’t be afraid to experiment. And don’t be afraid to pour on some of that sardine oil before you bake the pizza.
Arugula: I love arugula on pizza. It adds a nice temperature contrast and a little spice. Plus, right now you can find it with the little flower blooms, which are totally fun to eat.
The key to my “Don’t-Hold-the-Anchovies Pizza” is distribution. It’s important to spread them around so that, once it’s cut, each piece has one of two anchovies on it. Anything more will be overpowering. It’s a real balancing act, but if you get it right, it’s so worth it.
Long live the anchovy!