Fried pizza. Just think about those words for a second. They sound like what might happen if you order Papa John’s to your frathouse at 2 in the morning and drunkenly decide to play with the industrial sized deep fryer in the kitchen (work with me on this, I’m sure you don’t have that kind of equipment in your kitchen). But no, according to Chef Giulio Adriani of SRO Pizza Speakeasy in New York, fried pizza is the forgotten child of Naples. “A long time ago in the families the old grandmothers were making fried pizza at home – simply frying dough and then adding the tomato and some parmesan.” How could we possibly forget something like that, and why isn’t Pizza Hut on this? Now that we know, it’s time to bring fried pizza to your kitchen repertoire.
“Frying dough gives a different flavor profile to the pizza,” says Adriani. “We can say that the taste of the crust will resemble the one of the zeppole at the street fairs, so we have a sweet taste contrasting the salty and milky flavor of the toppings.” Luckily, you don’t need much to fry pizza at home, just a basic dough recipe, a wide, deep pan, and a lot of oil heated to 350 degrees. But with that dough, be sure to let it rest. Adriani says most home cooks rush into their doughs, when letting them sit brings out tons of flavor. “The secret of digestibility of a pizza is in the fermentation, so when you guys want to make pizza, simply make the dough the day before.”
After you’ve stretched out the dough wide enough to fit your pan, poke a few holes in it with your fingers so it doesn’t puff up while it’s frying, then slide it into the oil and fry until it’s golden and crispy all over. From there, you can place on the toppings and throw it in the oven until they’re just melted. The oven baking will also “evaporate the oil residue from the crust to create a final product that is not greasy at all.”
For those toppings, there’s nothing wrong with doing it like the grandmas in Naples and serving the dough with some fresh tomatoes and parmesan. Pretty much anything you’ve seen on a pizza works, from fresh mozzarella to herbs to powdered sugar and nutella, if you want to bring out more of that zeppole flavor. “As a professional chef, I love to twist the old classics, but at home just be creative, experiment and find balance between the ingredients,” says Adriani. Though he does say, whatever you do, don’t put garlic in your margherita sauce. We promise we won’t tell if you don’t tell. And don’t worry, if you mess it up, you still have a pile of fried dough to eat. It’s not really a problem.