There's a remarkable little pizza joint near my house. They have a big wood-fired oven crammed into a restaurant the size of a walk-in closet. There are three tables pushed against the wall, and a few seats at the bar, pressed up beside that blazing oven. Oh, and you enter through a convenience store, sidling past Diet Coke and bubblegum into this dimly-lit, miniature pizza parlor. But its size is in opposite proportion to its imagination and personality: this place turns out amazingly good pizza, including one that had me do a double-take, then fall promptly in love.
Maybe you have a place like this in your town? Pizza geeks firing up a big oven, and turning out pizzas without an ounce of pretension. Bono Pizza is the name of our spot, a cash-only, buy-your-soda-at-the-convenience-store kind of place.
The first time I went there I went with high expectations and I was not disappointed. They had the classics all under control: Margherita, Bianco, and other staples. But they also had some intriguing new combos, like the "Barry White" (only white ingredients like parm, mozz, onions, and more) and the Barcelona, a cheeseless pizza piled sky-high with vegetables.
But the one that immediately caught my eye was the Berliner. Tomato sauce, kielbasa, sauerkraut, fresh mozzarella. Bono's menu admits: "It sounds awful, but actually tastes good."
Indeed it did! We ordered it and that pizza came out of the oven ever so slightly charred, with a crisp crust and piquant sauce, slices of kielbasa with blackened edges and soft, sour sauerkraut. It was pretty incredible — something about the way the tanginess of the sauce and fermented cabbage played off the richness of fresh mozzarella and sausage.
So here it is for you now — a very simple pizza, really, but one that you may have to talk yourself into at first. Don't think too hard about it — just dive in. If you have even the slightest fondness for sauerkraut (and even, perhaps, if you don't) I think you'll find this very good indeed.
Sausage & Sauerkraut Pizzamakes 2 pizzas
1/3 recipe (2 individual dough balls) of The Best Pizza Dough Ever, risen overnight in the refrigerator
1/2 cup tomato sauce, such as the one in this recipe
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, drained
1/4 pound smoked kielbasa, cut into thin rounds
2/3 cup sauerkraut, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
An hour beforehand, bring the pizza dough out of the fridge to warm and relax.
Heat the oven as hot as it will go, ideally at least 500°F and put a pizza stone, pizza steel, or upside-down baking sheet in the oven.
Lay out two squares of parchment and stretch out the pizza dough, one on each parchment square. Divide the sauce between pizza dough, spreading it smooth with the back of a spoon.
Tear the mozzarella into small chunks and distribute it evenly over the pizzas, then top with the sliced kielbasa and the sauerkraut. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Bake the pizzas one at a time, sliding the parchment carefully into the hot oven. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the crust is beginning to brown at the edges.
Remove and sprinkle lightly with shaved Parmesan. Let rest for 3 to 5 minutes before cutting.
(Images: Faith Durand)