Unless you're gluten intolerant, there's a good chance that pizza and beer both sit pretty high atop your list of favorite things. Corey Gargiulo has a pretty simple answer as to why this is: "They're both very communal in nature, they lend themselves well to sitting around a communal space, sharing food, drink and good company." And if anybody would know, it's Gargiulo, who runs the Beer Program at Danny Meyer's Marta. He spends his days figuring out what brews compliment which pies. A dream job, no doubt, but it's one he takes very seriously. "An essential detail when pairing beer with pizza is being able to enjoy the two as a combination as much as I might enjoy them separately," he says. "While there are certainly 'rules' that dictate which beers might pair well with which pizza, I prefer to follow those loosely, allowing myself the freedom to try different combinations. When you combine the countless variations on pizza — the crust, the cheese, the toppings — and the equally countless options that exist in the world of beer, there’s a lot of room to have some fun testing what you like best."
So what's his process? Surely you've popped open a bottle of beer and guzzled it while eating a slice. How intricate can it be? "Generally speaking," he says, "If the pizza is going to be big in flavor, I’ll look for a beer that can stand up to it. India Pale Ales — known for their bold hop flavors, bitterness and rich caramel malt profiles — can stand up to intense and meaty toppings while cutting through the fat and cheese and matching the crispy crust. If the pizza and its toppings are more delicate — a classic Margherita pizza with mozzarella, tomato and basil, for instance — I’ll look for a lighter more elegant beer that won’t overwhelm the flavors or ingredients."
Want to try it yourself? Maybe make Marta's Funghi pizza at home and try one of Gargiulo's suggestions. "For the bold flavor of the mushrooms on my Funghi pizza, I’d choose to complement them with a Saison — a zesty, earthy and dry Belgian farmhouse ale. The earthiness of the beer works well with the mushrooms while it’s dry enough to cut through the cheese."
Chef Nick Anderer of Marta's Funghi Pizza
(Note: In the restaurant we use a live mother yeast instead of an instant dry yeast. This recipe represents a way to replicate our recipe without this mother yeast with the use of a “preferment”)
For the Dough
- 3.5 c. Bread Flour
- 1/8 c. Whole Wheat flour
- 1.75 c room temp water
- 1 package instant dry yeast
- 1.5 T. Sea Salt
- To make the “preferment” add a small pinch of instant yeast to the room temperature water, add 1 cup bread flour and all the whole wheat flour and mix till homogenous. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15-18 hours.
- Using the dough hook of a stand mixer, mix the preferment, remaining flour, and remaining yeast till shaggy but hydrated (no clumps of dry flour).
- Cover the bowl of your stand mixer and allow dough to rest for 20-30 minutes at room temperature.
- Add the sea salt and mix till smooth, with full gluten development.?
- Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place into a lightly greased bowl, cover with a
damp towel or plastic wrap.
- After 1 hour, divide dough into 5-6 equal piece and gently round the cut pieces. Alternately, the dough can also be stored overnight in the refrigerator. Always cover the dough to keep it from drying out.
- Place a baking steel (the best) or a pizza stone (okay) on the top rack of your oven. Preheat to 550 degrees (or to max temp).
- Using a light dusting of flour, gently roll out your dough balls to the desired width (10-12 inches or until very thin), top with ingredients, and bake till crispy and delicious.
For the Funghi Pizza Topping
- 3 large bunches of hen-of-the-woods (maitake) mushrooms
- 1 pint of chanterelle mushrooms
- 1 red onion (thinly sliced)
- 1 tablespoon picked thyme
- 3 cups grated fontina
- 1 cup low moisture mozzarella cut into small cubes
- fresh squeezed lemon to taste
- olive oil to taste?
- salt and pepper to taste
- Break the hen-of-the-woods into small pieces and clean the chanterelles by scraping the stems and cutting them into bite size pieces.
- Sautée over high heat with olive oil, salt and pepper until the mushrooms are barely wilted
- Cool the mushrooms, and once they are fully cooled, spread across pie in one thin layer
- Sprinkle the grated fontina to barely cover the mushrooms
- Sprinkle the picked thyme, cubed mozzarella, and red onions throughout (just enough to get some in each bite)
- Transfer to oven and once fully cooked, remove, and hit it with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice before serving.