Easy as Pie
If you think you need a wood-burning oven to make restaurant-quality pizza at home, then Mark Bello has something to teach you. Through his company, Pizza a Casa, Bello shows aspiring pizzaiolos how to cook perfect pies in even the shoddiest of apartment ovens.
Bello offers a few key tips for getting the most out of your oven: One, use a thick baking stone (he suggests the Old Stone Oven brand), which will ensure a crisp-bottomed crust. Two, if you have a gas oven, crank up the bottom broiler to get the inside as hot as possible.
Finally, you need great ingredients. Before leading his classes or private events, Bello sets out from his Chinatown apartment on a "Pizza Walk" to stock up. Here's his route:
Alleva Dairy for fresh mozzarella and La Bella San Marzano tomatoes—Bello's favorite.
Essex Street Market for farmstead cheese from Saxelby Cheesemongers and meaty toppings from Jeffrey's Meats.
Catherine Street Meat Market, where he buys a 2:1 lean-to-fat grind of pork for his homemade salsiccia.
Hai Thanh Seafood for the tender, sweet clams that go on top of his signature vongole pie.
Bari Pizza Supply for pizza pans and his favorite pizza cutter, the Dexter and Russel model #P177A.
Mark Bello's upcoming pizza classes will take place at Whole Foods' Bowery store on December 14 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and at the Astor Center on January 31 from noon to 4 p.m.; each class costs $175 per person. For more information, visit pizzaacasa.com
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