Margherita pizza is the ultimate celebration of everything that makes pizza so great — crisp and airy dough, rich tomato sauce, and amazing mozzarella
The classic pizza Margherita may be my all time fave, and I am not alone. It is so simply elegant: Just dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and fresh green basil. Legend has it that it was first made by a local baker named Esposito in 1889 to commemorate the visit of Italy’s Queen Margherita to Naples. He decorated it with the red, green, and white colors of the Italian flag.
Perfectly crisp and full of deep smoky flavor, our recipe for grilled Margherita pizza comes closer to brick oven pizza like you get in Italy or France than anything you can do indoors. This one depends heavily on fresh basil and it just cannot be made properly with dried basil, so don’t try. Before you start grilling, I recommend you read my article The Science of Grilled Pizza (Pizza alla Griglia)Free Barbecue News magazine every month to members of our Pitmaster Club. Click here for a free 30 day trial. No credit card needed. No spam. Click here to Be Amazing!
- Pizza stone
- Mix the dough. Make the dough a day in advance and store, wrapped in a container with room for it to expand in the fridge. About an hour before you're ready to bake the pizza, take the dough out of the fridge. You should have two 8-ounce dough balls, one for each pizza.
- Fire up. Preheat the grill with direct heat on all burners, put in a pizza stone, and let it heat up to about 600°F on the top surface. You may need to do a test run to determine the ideal stone and air temp. I discuss this in more detail in my article on the Science of Pizza here.
- Prep the toppings. Stem, seed, and chop the tomatoes.
- Form the crust. Throw some flour on the counter and press out each dough ball to a 8" diameter. Start by making the rim, pressing your fingers all around the dough about 1/2" from the edge. Then press your fingers and palms from the center outward, gradually stretching the dough to am 8" circle. See more details in the dough recipe here. Place the crust on a pizza peel or back of a sheet pan to transfer it to the pizza stone.
- Add the toppings. Pour the oil on the dough and with a brush, spread it to the edges. This helps seal the dough from the water in the fresh tomatoes. Lay the tomatoes on the oil, then the fresh whole basil leaves, then the cheese, then the salt. In the picture above I used tomato sauce rather than fresh tomatoes because it was winter. A good technique is to chiffonade the basil. This means that you gather the leaves and stack them neatly on top of each other. Then roll them like a cigar. Cut them in 1/8" slices making ribbons. Sprinkle the ribbons on before the cheese so the cheese will cover some of them and they won't cook as much. You'll then have a mix of well cooked and rare basil.
- Cook. Slide the pizza from the peel to the hot stone and bake until the cheese bubbles and the bottom is golden brown brown.
- Serve. Slice the pizza and serve immediately.