Margherita Pizza

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A classic restaurant-style pie featuring tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, courtesy of Intero’s Chef Ian Thurwatcher.

By Ian Thurwachter
Jun 28, 2022
10 Hours
4 Servings

There is no purer expression of pizza than the margherita. Tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves on top of pillowy dough makes for one of the best pies you’ll ever have, especially in the summer. This recipe from Chef Ian Thurwatcher of Intero in Austin proves that sometimes, simple is best. When making your dough from scratch, we suggest using pizza flour rather than all-purpose, because it yields a better texture. Coupled with our perforated Pizza Steel, you’ll have a crust that’s both chewy and crisp.

Margherita Pizza

A classic restaurant-style pie featuring tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, courtesy of Intero’s Chef Ian Thurwatcher.

Ian Thurwachter

10 Hours
4 Servings
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped basil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • For the Pizza Dough:
  • 400 grams (about 1 ¾ cups) lukewarm water (105–115F)
  • 1 ¼ ounce envelope active dry yeast (about 2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • 16 grams (about 2 tablespoons) kosher salt
  • 30 grams extra-virgin olive oil (about 2 tablespoons plus 1 ½ teaspoons), plus more
  • 620 grams pizza flour (about 5 cups plus 3 tablespoons), plus more
  • For Assembly:
  • Neutral vegetable oil, for cooking
  • 10 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into ½” cubes, divided
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn

    For the sauce, place tomatoes in a large bowl and crush by hand until tomatoes are in small pieces (alternatively, you can use a food processor or blender for this step). Using a Chef Knife, thinly slice garlic.


    Add olive oil and garlic to 5-QT Saucier and heat over medium-high. Season with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until aromatic and light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Add tomatoes and cook until the mixture just starts to simmer, about 2 minutes.


    Transfer to a bowl and taste and adjust seasoning. Allow to cool to room temperature before using to make pizza. Sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.


    For the pizza dough, add water to a large bowl, then add the yeast. Stir and let stand 10 minutes until dissolved. Add salt, olive oil, and flour to bowl. Mix gently by hand in the bowl until well-combined. The dough will be quite shaggy.


    Knead the dough by lifting and stretching 1 side of the dough up and folding it over itself towards you. Turn the bowl 90° and repeat, kneading a total of 100 times. The dough will be sticky at first and then become more elastic. Transfer to a large oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rest 5 minutes.


    Check on the dough; the surface should be smooth. Cover with towel and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 4—12 hours.


    Divide dough into 4 portions. Fold each portion over itself into thirds (like an envelope), then repeat. Gently tuck in the edges to create a ball shape. Place seam side down on a Sheet Pan to proof again, covered, until doubled in size, 1–2 hours.


    Arrange rack in upper third of oven, place a seasoned Pizza Steel on rack, and preheat oven to 500F for at least 30 minutes.


    If you have a broiler, turn on and preheat Pizza Steel 5 minutes more. Meanwhile, flour a pizza peel or an inverted Sheet Pan and place a cooling rack on countertop. Dip a piece of paper towel in a little vegetable oil. Press 1 portion of pizza dough into a circular shape, and use fingers to create a defined 1”-thick rim around pizza. Using knuckles, gently stretch and turn pizza dough until the diameter is about 12”. Place on floured peel.


    To assemble and bake pizza, working quickly, ladle 1 ½–2 oz. sauce onto center of pizza and spread evenly. Dot the top with 2 ½-oz. of cheese. Brush the outer rim of the crust with olive oil. Shake peel slightly to make sure pizza is not sticking.


    Carefully remove preheated Pizza Steel from the oven and place on cooling rack. Carefully wipe Pizza Steel with oiled paper towel. Shake and slide the pizza from the peel onto the Pizza Steel. Return Pizza Steel to oven and broil 2 minutes. Check pizza—the cheese should be melted and bubbling with dark brown spots on the crust. If not quite done, rotate and bake an additional 2 minutes, for up to 8 minutes total. Transfer Pizza Steel to cooling rack and allow pizza to rest 2 minutes.


    Transfer to a cutting board and top with fresh basil. Cut into 6 pieces and serve. Repeat with remaining dough portions, preheating Pizza Steel at least 2 minutes in between each pizza.


    If you don’t plan on using all the dough right away, store the portioned dough (before the second proof) in the fridge for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Allow to come to room temperature before using.