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(post, Luke Hull)
What makes the perfect custom pizza is a debate that has been going on for as long as pizza has existed. Some pizza fans argue it is a golden brown and flaky crust that makes pizza perfect. Others, like those from Chicago, say it is a thick crust with many layers that make the pie. Then there are those that would point not to the crust but to a perfectly blended tomato sauce, perhaps one with hints of garlic and basil. Still more would argue the perfect custom pizza is defined by the myriad toppings that are added, cheeses and pepperoni and sausage. Portland and West Linn readers have some great local venues that allow custom orders. Consider these tips when making a great custom West Linn pizza. Crust Not surprisingly, it all starts with the crust — the base from which the rest of the pizza is built. The debate over the perfect crust has become, at least in the United States of America, quite regional. Someone who lives in Brooklyn would surely say that nearly paper thin, foldable crust is the only answer. Chicago natives have their infamous deep dish variety. But custom pizza today is all about that flaky, chewy artisan crust that can only be made in a wood-fire brick oven built specially to cook pizza. Pizza fans won’t find these crusts at national chain pizza restaurants, but plenty of smaller places specialize in this artisan style. Sauces The first pizza sauce was not tomato sauce but rather simple olive oil. However, most modern pizza uses a tomato-based sauce as a starting off point for tasty custom pizza. Many restaurants also offer a pesto sauce variety, while different sauces such as barbecue and peanut sauce have become more popular. Some custom pizza joints even offer a spicy buffalo wing sauce that kicks up the heat several notches. The bottom line with sauces is that if it can be spread, it will probably be used by someone. Cheeses and toppings It just isn’t pizza without the right kind of cheese topping everything off. For good reason, there are three kinds of cheese that are most commonly used. Mozzarella is probably the most popular variety. It melts in a satisfyingly gooey way that helps hold the entire pie together. Parmesan cheese is also quite common and gives pizza a certain zing and saltiness that goes well with meat toppings. Another salty cheese that also melts quite well is provolone. When choosing what to put on top of all that cheese, keep it simple to avoid a soggy crust that isn’t fully cooked. Custom pizza doesn’t have to mean overloaded. Pick two or three favorite toppings and go from there.