Lifter: You said "Better yet, write up what makes a good pizza". I can't say what makes a great pizza for anybody but me. We have to remember that everyone's tastes are different. When I was a kid, Chef Boyardee was a great pizza, especially loaded with extra sliced papperoni, onions, and saute'd mushrooms.
My first experience with anything than the thin crust pizzas (that were very good by the way before we had any chain pizza places in town)) was a deep dish pizza made by Square Pan Pizza, out of San Diego. I'd never had a pizza with so much sauce, and that thick, soft crust, I thought I'd gone to heaven.
Today, I like a thick soft, yeasty, but not sweet crust, with a hint of smokey fllavor (try cooking your next pizza over charcoal, yum
). I like plenty of sauce, with the primary flavor of Oregano, but with a hint of sweet basil and tarragon, very light on the taragon. I like good Italian Sausage, and high quality pepperoni (hard to find anymore), Saute'd mushrooms, thin onion rings, diced bell pepper, sliced black olives, and of all things, topped with muenster cheese. It has more flavor than does mozzarela or provolone, but blends well with the other flavors and is so gooey-strechy.
Ironicaly, I learned the hard way that pizza is a grand blend, where no flavor is supreme. All flavors much work together to ballance each other and excite the pallate. I made this pizza that I thought was going to be incredible. I put extra thick everything on it. What it turned out to be was simply a mess. The flavors were too strong and overpowered the crust, and each other. It was like eating pizza sauce stew on top of undercooked pizza dough. I found out that the pizza, like all good foods, is all about ballancing the ingredients.
Making a good pizza now is almost second nature for me. I practiced. The dough has almost no sugar of any kind in it and is mildly yeasty and just slightly salty. It is almost bland, and very soft. The sauce is slightly sweetend with Splenda and contains Oregano as the prime flavor ingredient (besides the tomato that is). Toppings are applied to cover, but not smother. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to see sauce and crust through the toppings. Again, Muenster is my favorite cheese topping, but it is closely followed by a good Mozzarella. Though I love Cheddar, it does not go on my pizza.
Feta cheese would be great also, I think. But I haven't tried it yet.
I played with whole grain crusts, but the flavor wasn't right for pizza, at least not one with tomato based sauce and pepperoni. I can think of many toppings that would work though.
My wife doesn't like sauce on hers, but has to have ham and mushrooms. And my kids love pineapple on theirs., and any meat that's placed on top. I stick to the pepperoni and Italian Sausage.
Sot there you have it, my idea of great pizza. Some of you will agree with me, while others will think I'm crazy. I still love Square Pan Pizza, at least the twenty eight year old memory I have of it.
Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North