How to Make is a new HungryGoWhere series spotlighting popular foods in Singapore and the work that goes into making them.
Pizza is probably one of the most universally beloved dishes in the world, easily found in most countries and can be prepared in a melange of distinct styles.
But even with options such as the iconic New York-slice or saucy Chicago deep dish, there’s probably no pizza iteration that can top the sumptuousness and rich heritage of authentic Italian pizza — more specifically, the Neapolitan pizza.
Italian cuisine is markedly regional and pizza is no exception, with its styles varying by locales.
However, the Neapolitan version — originating from Naples in southern Italy — is most commonly regarded as the original version of the modern pizza we know today.
Think: An airy, puff crust studded with sexy leopard spots, simple homely toppings and a lavish heaping of bright, crimson tomato sauce — all hallmarks of a tasty slice of authentic Neapolitan pizza.
Such pizzas are not hard to find in Singapore but these authentic Italian options can be rather expensive.
Pizza-making is an art, after all.
Here’s a compromise — it’s actually possible to make these Neapolitan pizzas at home. There are nuances to crafting the perfect dough, but the ingredients are actually extremely easy to get.
Best of all? We’ve got a pizza-making master — from a reputable, world-renowned restaurant, no less — to explain how to make pizza step by step, the proper Italian way.
How Antonio Miscellaneo became a pizzaiolo
More than just a pizza-maker, Antonio Miscellaneo is a virtuoso who has poured his heart and soul into researching how to make pizza even better.
The native Italian had originally moved to Singapore to work in the tech sector, but soon found himself wanting to move away from his intended path.
F&B wasn’t a deliberate choice but rather by serendipitous chance. One of his seminal exploits outside of tech was a private dining concept in 2018 named Casa Nostra. It was created just to let his friends enjoy his cooking.
Inadvertently, Singapore’s passionate foodies discovered his amazing pizzas and raved about them on social media, which led to his home-dining experience exploding in popularity.
All of that culminated in the opening of his Italian restaurant at Joo Chiat in 2021, La Bottega Enoteca, and his ready-to-heat pizza brand Casa Vostra in 2023, which is currently having a pop-up at Ann Siang Hill.
Beyond glowing reviews from diners, La Bottega has also been recognised as one of the world’s exemplars on how to make pizza, achieving a remarkable ranking of 57th in 2023’s Top 100 Pizza awards.
It wasn’t just about pizza though, since his home dining experience featured many other Italian classics.
Says Antonio: “I had always enjoyed working with dough to make sourdough. I’ve been making pizza for about 10 to 15 years as a hobby. But I’m just as passionate about making gelato, pasta, cold cuts and more.”
Despite having roots in northern Italy, Antonio was obsessed with Neapolitan-style pizza after first discovering it. “I only discovered it later in life and I went, ‘This is it!’ and never had northern pizza ever again.” he says.
Therein began his devotion to Neapolitan pizza. However, rather than just perfecting his skills of how to make pizza the authentic Italian way, Antonio goes a step further.
On how his dough is different from other restaurants, Antonio had this to say: “My style is a ‘contemporary Neapolitan’ style, which is an evolution that’s more modern and requires more technique. It gives a crust that’s more aerated, lighter and nice to the bite.”
It’s only with all his meticulous, secret modifications that Antonio can make the plushest, most immaculate dough to use as the base of his patented “Newpolitan” pizzas — and it clearly shows, in comparison with other Italian restaurants.
The dough is paramount.
“For a pizza to be good, the dough must be good and done right. Or else you can eat the toppings with some bread,” says Antonio.
Of course, it might sound daunting for those just starting out and aren’t familiar with even the basics of pizza-making.
But fret not. With Antonio’s expertise, we’ve come up with some simple steps on making a classic but tasty Neapolitan-style pizza that you can make right at home.
Just in case you needed some reassurance from the maestro himself, Antonio says, “Pizza is a very good example of a dish that most people can make at home. It’s fun, the steps are simple and it only uses a few basic ingredients.”
How to make pizza at home
Step 1: Prepare the ingredients
There are two sets of ingredients to prepare for your pizza. The first set is the ingredients for the dough:
- Italian flour — with 12 to 13.5% protein content
- Instant yeast
- Semolina flour
The second set is the toppings for the pizza of choice (For this instance, chef Antonio is making a margherita pizza):
- Parmigiano Reggiano
- Tomato sauce — uncooked and salted with dosage around 1% of total tomato volume
- Basil leaves
- Olive oil
Step 2: Combine ingredients in mixer
Want to know how to make pizza dough? Antonio’s recipe combines 1kg of flour, 25g of salt with between 650g and 800g of water, depending on your preference for airiness. This amount of ingredients will yield about six pizzas.
A wetter dough might be more unwieldy for less-experienced homecooks, so 650g is best for first-timers.
Similarly, the yeast content can vary depending on how much time you can set aside to raise the dough — Antonio recommends 4g to 6g for beginners.
You can opt to use your hands or to mix by machine, but if it’s your first time making a pizza from scratch, we recommend using a mixer for efficiency.
First, mix the 1kg of flour with 500g of water until you get a dough with a smooth consistency before stirring in the remainder of the water.
Once all the water is incorporated, add in the salt and mix it till the dough has a smooth texture, and make a big ball out of the finished dough. It should have a smooth texture with nice little air bubbles.
Step 3: Make little pizza dough balls
Place the finished dough ball into a box and let it rest for an hour, during which it will rise to one and a half or twice its original volume.
Properly proofing the dough is an important aspect in how to make pizza — it ensures the pizza’s base will have the most-desirable texture.
Once it reaches the desired size, take the dough out and divide it into six sections of around 250g to 280g each. Fold each dough piece by stretching and tucking it into the bottom until it becomes a smooth ball with no cracks.
Put each dough ball into a container or bowl between one and two hours, let it rest until it grows into one and a half to twice its original volume, just like before.
Step 4: Heat up your oven
Prepare your oven to make the pizza — it should be blistering hot to ensure the pizza is cooked well. Hence, set the temperature of the oven all the way to its maximum temperature and set its mode to “grill”.
Position a pizza stone or baking steel at the topmost level of the oven. Pizza stones and baking steels are slabs of conductive material commonly used in baking to achieve better browning due to their ability to hold more heat.
By positioning it as such, it reduces the gap between the baking surface and the top of the oven, which guarantees maximum heat for the pizza.
Step 5: Shape the dough
Set up a bed of semolina flour and put a set-aside dough ball onto it, dusting it liberally with the flour.
Press the dough ball down in the middle, slowly push your fingers out to the exterior, making a little “crater” with a border of about 1cm to 1.5cm.
Turn the dough upside down and repeat the steps in all directions, until it forms the general shape of a pizza — one with a uniform border all around.
Step 5: Shape the dough
Transfer the finished pizza dough onto a clean surface without any flour and top it with a ladle (and a half, if you prefer) of tomato sauce.
The rest of the ingredients will depend on your envisioned end-product, but Antonio is going with a classic Neapolitan margherita pizza for this piece.
For that, cover it with some shredded Parmigiano Reggiano (freshly grated if possible), and 80g of torn-up Mozzarella. Finish it off with a drizzle of olive oil.
You can opt to add basil can be added now or after the bake — Antonio enjoys it both ways.
Step 7: Place pizza in oven
Once all the ingredients are on the dough, it is ready for the final step of how to make a pizza — baking the dough.
Carefully drag the topped pizza dough onto the baking peel to transfer it over to the oven. The baking peel is a paddle-like tool that’s commonly used by bakers to transfer bakes in and out of ovens.
Bring the pizza over to the oven and slide it onto the top of the pizza stone or baking steel.
Close the oven and let the pizza bake — it’ll take around four to five minutes for most ovens.
You’ll know the pizza is ready when the crust becomes golden brown.
Step 8: Finish with olive oil
Take the pizza out of the oven and top it with even more olive oil and it’s ready for indulging.
It’s a lot of steps, but do it a couple of times, and everything will come naturally enough eventually. Now that wasn’t too difficult to make the authentic Italian way, wasn’t it?
For more ideas on what to eat, read our stories on the quirky aesthetics of the viral zi char Hey Kee and the cafes you should check out when you’re in Tanjong Pagar.
Do explore the new GrabFood Dine-in service for awesome deals.
Casa Vostra is on the GrabMart delivery service and offers free delivery (up to S$3 off) with GrabUnlimited.
You can also book a ride to La Bottega or Casa Vostra to try Antonio’s pizzas as reference points on some of the best Neapolitan pizzas around.