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Stracciatella and Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula and Tomato Sauce

An homage to CO. and DiPalo Dairy Store in Little Italy

           It’s great to live in a city where you can still shop in a traditional Italian cheese and dairy store that’s 99 years old and just expanded into the space next door. That’s quite an accomplishment given that New York’s Little Italy is fast contracting and is now cheek to cheek with an ever-enlarging Chinatown. But Louis DiPalo continues his family’s almost century-long run at DiPalo Dairy at 200 Grand Street, (212-226-1033).
            Now I won’t say this place actually reminded me of my old haunts in Rome which were more Salumerias than Dairy outposts. But it is exclusively Italian down to the Illy coffee that was being sampled along with rounds of Gran Padano, that cousin of Parmigiano that’s grainier and less well known. DiPalo continues that wonderful Italian tradition of letting you sample virtually everything you buy.
             We were treated to paper thin slices of prosciutto that literally melted in our mouths and we got to taste our cheeses. The cheese selection at DiPalo is fantastic and I think, well priced. I got Pecorino Romano for $12.00 a pound and Gran Padano was on offer at 11.99. Then there was, at 7.99 for 500 grams or 1.1 lbs., the all-important Stracciatella, yet another cousin, this time of mozzarella, that’s the basis for my homage to Co., the new pizza place at 230 Ninth Avenue and 24th Street (212-243-1105).
             And there’s also a little nod (in the use of the prosciutto) to the spectacular “Parma” pizza at World Pie, 2402 Main Street in Bridgehampton (631 537 7999), which is one of our all-time favorites.
We are in full pizza mode in New York at this point. It’s one of the most frequent of foody discussions and pizza practitioners have amped up their offerings and, more often than not, thinned out their crusts to a point where one wag described them as communion-wafer thin.

             It makes a lot of sense that pizza would take off in this economy. It is an inexpensive luxury although I am not sure a 12 inch pie like the ones at CO. (pronounced Company, by the way) coming in at $17.00 can be considered that inexpensive. But you can certainly get in, have a couple of glasses of screw-top wine and get out for about $35.00 a piece.
            Co. already has a huge following and doesn’t take reservations but at lunch, it’s a snap to get a table and, jammed as the place was when we went for a weeknight dinner, we got seated immediately.
              Now I have tried to make pizza prior to this outing. But my recent encounters with restaurant pizza made it clear I wasn’t doing it right. So I scoured recent ramblings on the subject and found the following advice. To make pizza in a conventional oven, you have to make adjustments.
              You must use a pizza stone, parchment paper and a dough that uses all-purpose rather than bread flour. This is because bread flour has a higher protein content and retains less moisture.
               In a restaurant pizza oven, the 800 degree temperature zapa everything so that the crust browns and the toppings melt before the dough dries out. In a home oven where you might get a temperature of 500 degrees, a bread flour crust will dry out.
               I got both pizza stone ($19.99) and parchment paper ($4.99) at Bed Bath and Beyond. You can even order them online. Here’s the Link: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/search/search.aspx/pizza-stones/?order_num=-1&sstr=pizza+stones&dim=1&nty=1&, although I couldn’t find the parchment paper on-line on their site, it’s now in virtually every grocery store.


4 thoughts on “Stracciatella and Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula and Tomato Sauce”

  • Another useful tip – sprinkle corn meal (which act like ball bearings) on the paddle and the dough slides off more easily. The corn meal also gives another complementary texture.

  • This recipe looks delicious. I love a fresh green on top, and Arugala adds a nice bitterness. Will try this Sunday night!

    BTW…After cracking my pizza stone, I found what's now my preferred way to cook the pizza: the grill. Charcoal is preferable, but gas certainly works. You want to get the grill very hot and then just slide the pizza on (with the aid of some cornmeal – as the poster above noted).

    It's not the two minutes at 800 degrees that Neapolitan acolytes live by, but just six minutes or so on a very high temp gives the crust a very nice crispy texture and allows the toppings to cook just right as well. Just check once or twice to make sure you're not scorching the bottom.

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