Modernist Pizza Review and Giveaway

We are pleased to offer a US giveaway to win Modernist Pizza by Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya.

Over the last decade, the stellar team at Modernist Cuisine led by Nathan Myhrvold has published Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, Modernist Cuisine at Home, The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, Modernist Bread: The Art and Science and most recently Modernist Pizza,

For their latest labor of love and dedication to food science, authors Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya, along with the Modernist Cuisine team, conducted extensive research and tested long-held pizza-making beliefs over four years, tasting over 2,000 pizzas. The Modernist Pizza (“MP”) team covered 300 pizzerias in the US, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Korea, and most of the countries in Europe for a total of about ten countries.

This set will help you master a wide range of styles from around the world, including al taglio, Argentinean, bar/tavern, Brazilian thin-crust, deep-dish, Detroit, grandma/New York Square/Sicilian, Neapolitan, New York, New Haven, Old Forge, pizza fritta, and pizza gourmet.

The recipes were developed so that you can make the best pizza possible, whether you’re using professional equipment or honing your craft at home. There are over 550 step-by-step photos plus photographs that capture pizza from new perspectives in all its delicious glory.

This work consists of 3 hardcover volumes and one kitchen recipe manual. The plastic covered kitchen manual is easily portable (as the volumes are quite heavy) so that you can bring it into your kitchen to refer to the recipes without having to bring the gorgeous volumes along.

There are a total of 1,708 pages, 1,016 recipes and 3,700 images. Impressive does not adequately describe the work the Modernist Cuisine team puts forth in their past publications and in this current effort.

Our takes you inside this collection of everything you will ever need to know about pizza. There are three partial recipes in the preview for:

This set of books has been indexed by individual volume number:

See the note in the Library record or add the individual volumes (above) to your bookshelf for a full index.

Martha Stewart and Nathan hosted an event that I was able to attend via zoom. What follows is a breakdown of some of the interesting details I obtained during this event.

When asked where some of the best pizza was eaten at: surprisingly that answer was Razza’s in New Jersey. Note: Razza’s Dan Richer has his first book published on Nov 9th, The Joy of Pizza: Everything You Need to Know.

Other top pizzas were eaten at Lovely’s Fifty Fifty in Portland, Oregon; Pepe in Grani in Caiazzo, Italy; and Enzo Coccia’s Pizzeria in Naples, Italy. Martha followed up and asked the best pizzas in NYC. Nathan replied again Razza – although it is Jersey City NJ and he mentioned the following pizzerias: Costa’s and Uno Pizza Napoletana in NYC and in Brooklyn he ranks Ops and L’industrie as great pizza makers.

When asked what is the quintessential pizza and what is his favorite? Nathan replied that, of course, some combination of cheese and tomato. He stated it was hard to pick a favorite. He compared great pizza to the star runners in the Olympics where running times might be a hundredth of a second in difference. But, if you restricted judgment to one type of pizza, say margharita, the margin of comparison shrinks.

The MP team tasted about 2,000 pizzas. Entering pizzerias the team would tell them to make three pizzas and they would almost always send out five. They would say “mangia you eat“. When asked if there were any pizzas that were surprising, the marinara pizza in Tokyo came up where half of the pizza is topped with oil.

Further to the topic of surprising pizzas, Franco Pepe from Pepe in Grani in Caiazzo, Italy made a shocking pizza. After creating amazing sounding and delicious pizzas, he came back with a pizza using canned tuna, celery and sheep’s milk cheese which had been fermented for six months. To quote Nathan, it “stank more than any other cheese, but the pizza was fantastic. The celery made the dish.” He was floored.

There is no limit to creativity in what you can put on a pizza. Pizza famously is the type of food where the makers have secrets. But Nathan stated that all the best pizzerias would share recipes and ingredients. They would let the MP team watch them make the pizza and allow Nathan to create as well in their kitchens.

Martha asked about doughs, where there any unusual flours? Nathan replied that “Some people go the complicated dough route. There is a pizzeria in Northern Italy that has 50 different doughs – on a rotation. The majority of pizzerias view the dough as the canvas or the marble for a sculpture.” Pizza dough needs a strong flour like bread flour. The most important thing is that you let the dough rest overnight. If the dough is too strong and hasn’t been rested it will stretch back after you stretch it.

There are many schools of thought on stretching dough. In Naples they slap the dough back and forth mainly to get the excess flour off as that excess flour can burn. But the most common is the hand over hand method (rotating the pizza like a wheel. ) Discussion ensued about “to rim or not to rim”. Nathan talked about a new style in Naples – called canotto (Italian for inflatable boat) which is super puffy and really good and tasty.

There are 50 dough recipes in the book. A master recipe for a particular type of dough is set forth and then variations included in that total. There are flavored doughs where adding saffron or turmeric for color and taste is used. There is also a black pizza utilizing squid ink, a black sauce and black mozzarella cheese.

Sauce is an important component of pizza – the simplest sauce is not even really a sauce but pizza makers open a can of tomatoes and they mush it around. Typical NYC pizza is a cooked sauce with maybe oregano, basil and sometimes pepper flakes. Modernist Pizza has a whole section on how to adapt pasta sauces for pizza as well.

How did the team guarantee that these recipes would work in an American home kitchen? They had a team of recipe testers – but also COVID struck and the entire team were testing recipes at home.

Home ovens work fine for thicker crust pizzas but ideally thin crust pizzas need a higher temperature. When asked about an electric pizza oven – Breville was one that both Martha and Nathan liked. An outdoor pizza oven is great but gas is the recommended heating source. Nathan mentioned that there is all the rage about wood fired ovens in backyards but he stated that temperatures in those ovens are hard to remain constant unless you are an expert.

Modernist Pizza is for those who are passionate about pizza – the hows and whys of why things are done the way they are. There are instructions on how to scale a recipe, proofing times and temperature recommendations.

Modernist Pizza, Volume 1: History and Fundamentals is a deep dive into the history of pizza and the basics. It details their culinary journey of four years, 200,000 MP team hours and the making of roughly 12,000 pizzas. This volume lays out the foundation of what is to come. It extensively covers ingredients such as which flour is best for which type of pizza style and explores all components of a pizza crust – water, yeast, fats, sugar and dough improvers.

Modernist Pizza, Volume 2: Techniques and Ingredients covers proven techniques and ingredients including tools needed. Naming the parts of a pizza, quality characteristics, planning to make pizza, mixing, bulk fermentation, dividing and shaping and final proofing.

Modernist Pizza, Volume 3: Recipes: Volumes 2 and 3 cover the lion’s share of the recipes with detailed information about the techniques for making pizza dough, sauces and cheese and how to prepare toppings. Serving and storage is also covered.

Modernist Pizza, Volume 4: Kitchen Manual: All the recipes made portable in a spiral bound volume with a plastic protective covering so that you may easily wipe tomato sauce away.

Special thanks to Modernist Cuisine for generously providing me with Modernist Pizza to review and enjoy as well as for offering Modernist Pizza to one US member in our giveaway below.

Modernist Cuisine is providing Modernist Pizza to one US member. Entry options include answering the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

What is one aspect of pizza making you would like to perfect?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won’t be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Once you log in and enter your member name you will be directed to the next entry option – the blog comment. After that, there are additional options that you can complete for more entries. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on December 12th, 2021.

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102 Comments

  • DavidinAustin  on  November 1, 2021

    So excited about this book and contest. Thank you for all the great information!

    David

  • DavidinAustin  on  November 1, 2021

    I am very excited to learn how to perfect my dough forming/throwing to make a perfect Neopolitan-style pie, and gain greater understanding of the ratios to make it perfect!

  • metacritic  on  November 1, 2021

    I would like to perfect my crust. I can’t seem to conquer it: I’ve seen the dough stick to the peel, come out undercooked, come out of the oven with one side nearly doughy and the other scorched. I am a pretty capable cook and have taken on any range of cuisines and techniques. But pizza, for some unknown reason, has resisted my best efforts no matter how many specialty cookbooks I buy. It is the Battle of Hydaspes to my Alexander;

  • wcassity  on  November 1, 2021

    I am hoping for tips to get the most out of my new outdoor pizza oven.

  • sarahawker  on  November 1, 2021

    I have such inconsistent results with dough, I’d love to be sure of what I am getting every time.

  • LauraAbenes  on  November 1, 2021

    I would like to perfect a very thin crust.

  • LauraAbenes  on  November 1, 2021

    Besides a very thin crust, I would like to be able to use my fairly new and good home oven to it’s best ability for baking the pizza.

  • marcsch  on  November 1, 2021

    I’m so excited about this book. I’m dying to up my pizza game overall,many especially learning the correct ratios with different flours/ingredients!

  • giuliagoldston  on  November 1, 2021

    Personally, I think a good sauce goes a long way and has incredible versatility. I’d love to be able to make a perfect pizza sauce.

  • Dannausc  on  November 1, 2021

    Dough/crust

  • Potterhill  on  November 1, 2021

    I would love to win this set! It’s the dough I need to master. Once you have great dough, the sky’s the limit for toppings!

  • poyares  on  November 1, 2021

    Nice set.

  • matag  on  November 1, 2021

    Dough!

  • SheilaS  on  November 1, 2021

    Just got an outdoor pizza oven and want to work on the crust.

  • AdamTheAmateur  on  November 1, 2021

    I would like to perfect topping doneness in my Ooni. How long to pre-cook eggplant, how thin to shave zucchini, etc. The high heat makes it difficult!

  • AlexHH  on  November 1, 2021

    I would love to perfect my technique for cooking/baking pizza in a small wood-fired I’ve, like an Ooni tabletop oven. Also interested in using sourdough starter for pizza dough.

  • annmartina  on  November 1, 2021

    Crust. Sometimes I get it right and I think I’ve got it, and then the next time it doesn’t turn out as good. And I’d like to become comfortable with my Ooni pizza oven.

  • FireRunner2379  on  November 1, 2021

    I would like to perfect making my own pizza dough.

  • hillsboroks  on  November 1, 2021

    I really want to learn how to make the perfect thin crust.

  • gilmonster  on  November 1, 2021

    Dough for sure

  • GreenhouseCheryl  on  November 1, 2021

    I’d like to have different options for dough! Also, different tomato sauces would be a bonus.

  • ltsuk  on  November 1, 2021

    best dough for my kitchen

  • jluvs2bake  on  November 1, 2021

    I was raised in a town that prides itself on its pizza, and while I am happy with my Chicago deep dish, I can’t get my hometown crust perfect. Thick but not deep dish, crispy outer, chewy inner. I think the crispy outer is really where I am missing the mark.

  • SenseiHeidi  on  November 1, 2021

    Shaping the dough! I have a great slow rise dough but can’t make a round pizza!

  • SenseiHeidi  on  November 2, 2021

    Shaping the dough. I have a delicious slow-rise dough but cannot seem to make a round disk out of it.

  • EMichels  on  November 2, 2021

    Stretching the crust

  • lean1  on  November 2, 2021

    Dough is always the most important part of a pizza.
    Bonci dough is the best!

  • jonboy2.0  on  November 2, 2021

    I would love to make thin crispy crust that will hold up whether cooking indoors or outside in the fireplace.

  • LSanders  on  November 2, 2021

    Forming the perfect base

  • hbakke  on  November 2, 2021

    I would like to learn how to make a better crust.

  • dadekian  on  November 2, 2021

    Stretching is one weakness I want some solid tips on.

  • DFarnham  on  November 2, 2021

    As an owner of an outdoor pizza oven, I feel every time we make pizza, there is a different outcome. Would love to know how to dough can be consistently good. Is outdoor weather is a factor? I live in Seattle, so I wonder about rain playing a factor in my success.

    I’m dying to try a black pizza!

  • banba1  on  November 2, 2021

    It’s all about the crust, right? I’d like to perfect thin, crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, with great flavor crust.

  • sayeater  on  November 2, 2021

    Getting a better handle on dough hydration and the “feel”.

  • susankay  on  November 2, 2021

    I’d like to know how to make the doughs for specific pizzas.

  • demomcook  on  November 2, 2021

    A crust with a crisp bottom, but soft top that holds lots of toppings.

  • Seanrtimberlake  on  November 2, 2021

    Im very interested in learning more about working with high hydration dough in our Ooni oven

  • kimfiona  on  November 2, 2021

    I would love to learn how to make so much from these books but the caramelized Vegetable sauce would be my first choice.

  • Elveenah  on  November 2, 2021

    The crust!!! I would love to win this! I attended a virtual lecture via the Book Larder w. Chef Migoya and it was so informative. Who would have known the history of pizza was sooooooooooo deep?

  • nvernon  on  November 3, 2021

    Shaping/stretching the dough

  • veragusta  on  November 3, 2021

    I love everything about pizza please let me perfect it

  • veragusta  on  November 3, 2021

    I love pizza please teach me how to perfect it

  • jeffk24  on  November 3, 2021

    Stretching and shaping the pizza just prior to baking.

  • pzoller  on  November 3, 2021

    Looks like a great book!

  • hrk  on  November 3, 2021

    the cheese

  • chefmichael  on  November 3, 2021

    I would like to perfect my dough stretching technique! I listened to a recent podcast with Nathan M. and it was fascinating. Can’t wait to preview and hopefully win this set! 🙂

  • Rinshin  on  November 4, 2021

    Slapping, forming, rounding out quickly and and moving on to peel in one swoop.

  • Siegal  on  November 4, 2021

    I would like to perfect my sauce making!

  • Shelmar  on  November 4, 2021

    I would like my crust to have more depth of flavor.

  • riley  on  November 5, 2021

    I would like to perfect a thin pizza dough.

  • CarbonToe  on  November 5, 2021

    Definitely the dough. It’s a hard nut to crack

  • roxlet  on  November 5, 2021

    I bought my husband an Ooni for his birthday. This would be unbelievable to get for him!

  • Mannls6  on  November 5, 2021

    I would love to learn a better technique for stretching out the dough. Mine is always thin in the center but too thick around the edges.

  • Glutengirl  on  November 5, 2021

    My greatest difficulty is stretching the dough out, even after autolyse overnight. I get holes and thick spots unless I use a rolling pin. I have tried so many methods and fail at all of them.

  • Lafauvette  on  November 5, 2021

    thin crust

  • suesand26  on  November 5, 2021

    a more robust favorable sauce

  • kmn4  on  November 5, 2021

    Getting the crust right – not burnt, not raw/soggy.

  • hellmanmd  on  November 5, 2021

    My grail is perfect crust for a pizza cooked in our Ooni oven.

  • Bohrnsen  on  November 5, 2021

    A perfect crust for wood fire. Thick enough in the center to not tear and hold up to ingredients, but light and airy. So challenging

  • BenMini  on  November 5, 2021

    I would love to perfect the dough.

  • LeMinou  on  November 5, 2021

    Crust

  • dtremit  on  November 5, 2021

    I’d love to figure out how to cook crusts more evenly; I always struggle with that!

  • bmtri  on  November 5, 2021

    What is one aspect of pizza making you would like to perfect?

    While everyone talks of crust, or olive oil base versus tomato sauce base, no one talks about the perfect matrix of ingredients. A wise man once told me that you need to balance every meat with a vegetable…but is that all there is to it? I recently ate a cotechino sausage and squash pizza with an olive oil base at Serious Pie in Seattle, and I haven’t eaten something that good in a long time – so what makes a good ingredient combo? Forget wine pairings – we could devote a whole book to the perfect flow chart/matrix of what ingredients go with what on a pizza.

  • AndieG52  on  November 5, 2021

    I am interested in both perfecting and adding to my reperatoire of dough/crust and toppings.

  • fawaffle  on  November 5, 2021

    Looking to perfect my crust — the flavor, ease of handling, crispness and chew. Can’t wait to make it better!

  • sarahteertzah  on  November 5, 2021

    Would love to be good at throwing the dough!

  • ChazBrenchley  on  November 5, 2021

    I would really love to be better at stretching the dough into a circle. I don’t care about spinning it on a finger, I’d just like to be able to produce a reasonably round pizza reliably every time.

  • Shelley.b  on  November 5, 2021

    Making the perfect crust

  • Ren23  on  November 6, 2021

    the dough.

  • sus1ecooks  on  November 6, 2021

    Dough, I have tried many and just not there yet.

  • sus1ecooks  on  November 6, 2021

    And how to make whole wheat crust!

  • venettia  on  November 7, 2021

    Getting the crust right

  • LaurenE  on  November 7, 2021

    I would like to perfect a very thin crust

  • tarae1204  on  November 7, 2021

    I always have trouble stretching the dough and also getting the best quality baking effects from my home oven.

  • elsid22  on  November 8, 2021

    I would love to perfect the process of proofing the dough!

  • dbielick  on  November 8, 2021

    Forming the crust

  • youngsvnnhrs  on  November 9, 2021

    Crust

  • orchidlady01  on  November 9, 2021

    Making the dough

  • Teruska  on  November 9, 2021

    I would love to figure out a perfect dough for my family. Consistent delicious results.

  • ravensfan  on  November 9, 2021

    Grilling pizza

  • marsmomma  on  November 9, 2021

    I would like to learn how to make a perfect pizza dough

  • HelenB  on  November 9, 2021

    Margharita pizza

  • monasli  on  November 11, 2021

    I’d like to learn how to make thin crust pizza.

  • redcurrant  on  November 11, 2021

    Getting the perfect crust, with a couple of those whimsical bubbles that also char a bit. I’d also like to figure out how to make a deep dish /pan pizza that’s as good a restaurants.

  • Nazila  on  November 12, 2021

    Making properly hydrated Napolitano pizza dough! I just came back from living in Napoli for 4 years 🙂

  • teamkies  on  November 12, 2021

    Making Neapolitan style pizza

  • rchesser  on  November 13, 2021

    The crispy thin crust.

  • MarciK  on  November 14, 2021

    I need to perfect getting my dough at the right thickness to make sure it’s cooked enough ans supports the toppings.

  • RSW  on  November 15, 2021

    I would like to perfect my crust. So excited about this collection!

  • JenjiD  on  November 15, 2021

    Crusts!!

  • mph993  on  November 17, 2021

    repeatable crust – understand and control the variables!

  • ChicagoJen  on  November 18, 2021

    I just can’t get the crispness / chewiness of the crust consistent. I am not sure what I am doing differently but sometimes my pizza is amazing, next level and sometimes it is just fine.

  • kmwyman  on  November 19, 2021

    perfect crust of course!

  • oduong930  on  November 20, 2021

    creating a good crust

  • MakeMyHay  on  November 21, 2021

    Consistency – how to get great results every time

  • katherine3  on  November 22, 2021

    Stretching the dough is the hardest part for me!

  • topdawg11  on  November 22, 2021

    A great pizza is one where all components come together in harmony, so I would like to learn everything to make great pizza.

  • infotrop  on  November 22, 2021

    the secret to a really crispy crust

  • JB6580  on  November 23, 2021

    I’d love to perfect my sauce

  • FrenchCreekBaker  on  November 27, 2021

    I want to master the perfect Detroit Pizza.

  • lauriesk  on  November 28, 2021

    I would like to perfect making home made pizza dough and cooking pizza on my outdoor grill.

  • CookingPerson  on  November 30, 2021

    I can never make the dough spread out properly, need to work on that!

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