Pizza With Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil, and Mozzarella Recipe

A fast-cooking pizza that highlights summer's best cherry tomatoes.

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J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Why It Works

  • The Neopolitan dough gets a crisp outside, but is soft and cloud-like inside.
  • Cherry tomatoes get a brief cook on the pizza, allowing them to soften and their flavor to intensify.
  • Fresh basil leaves wilt and release a classic aroma while cooking.

I baked this pizza not more than a mile away from Una Pizza Napoletana, Anthony Mangieri's San Francisco pizzeria. Fitting, as the original New York East Village location of the restaurant was the first place I'd tried this particular combination of ingredients. Known on his limited menu as the filetti, it consists of split cherry tomatoes added raw along with mozzarella, basil, sliced garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil.

The cherry tomatoes intensify in flavor and sweetness during their brief stay in a hot oven, softening ever-so-slightly to let their juices spread across the melted cheese, while the basil singes, its aroma filling the air as you eat.

A close up of a slice of cooked Neopolitan-style pizza with melted cheese and ripe cherry tomatoes.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

The only differences in my own version are the inclusion of a thin layer of un-cooked San Marzano tomatoes under the cheese (I missed the way the tomato sauce moistens the crust as it cooks), and a sprinkling of Parmesan, which it frankly doesn't need, but I added because I'm an unabashed Parm fan.

If you can't tell from the beautifully photogenic table in my friend's backyard, this pie was cooked during the same testing session as this sausage and radicchio pizza.

October 2013

Recipe Facts

Active: 45 mins
Total: 3 hrs
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

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Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Neapolitan pizza dough, or 2 pounds store-bought pizza dough

  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, torn into rough chunks and drained

  • 8 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, split in half

  • 4 to 6 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

  • 24 fresh basil leaves

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Divide dough into 4 even parts and place each in a covered quart-sized deli container or in a zipper-lock freezer bag. Allow to rest at room temperature for at least 2 hours before baking. Transfer tomatoes to a medium bowl and roughly crush by hand. Season to taste with salt and set aside.

  2. Adjust oven rack to 6 inches under broiler and place stone or steel on rack. Preheat oven to highest possible temperature (500 or 550°F/260 or 290°C) for at least 45 minutes.

  3. When ready to bake, turn single dough ball out onto lightly floured surface. Gently press out dough into a rough 8-inch circle, leaving outer 1-inch higher than the rest. Gently stretch dough into a 10 to 12-inch circle about 1/4-inch thick by draping over knuckles and gently stretching. Transfer to floured wooden pizza peel.

  4. Preheat broiler to high. Spread thin layer of sauce over pizza, followed by 1/4 of mozzarella. Spread 1/4 of garlic slices, 1/4 of cherry tomatoes, and 1/4 of Parmesan evenly over pizza. Sprinkle lightly with salt, add 6 basil leaves, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil.

  5. Transfer pizza to hot stone or steel and broil until edges are puffed and lightly charred and bottom is crisp, rotating regularly for even cooking, 3 to 6 minutes total. Retrieve pizza with a metal peel and transfer to a cutting board. Slice and serve immediately. Meanwhile, switch oven back to 550°F to reheat stone for remaining pizzas.

  6. Repeat steps 4 through 6 for remaining pizzas.

Special Equipment

Pizza peels, pizza stone or steel

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
760 Calories
35g Fat
80g Carbs
30g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 760
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 35g 45%
Saturated Fat 13g 64%
Cholesterol 65mg 22%
Sodium 1382mg 60%
Total Carbohydrate 80g 29%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 30g
Vitamin C 24mg 121%
Calcium 514mg 40%
Iron 5mg 28%
Potassium 600mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)