Shortly after wrapping up Modernist Bread, we announced that the focus of our next single-subject book was going to be pizza—it was a secret that we didn’t want to sit on for long. Now we’re thrilled to share that Modernist Pizza will land on bookshelves October 5, 2021 and that you can preorder your copy now.
Beginning today, preorders for Modernist Pizza are available directly through the new Modernist Cuisine Shop, online retailers including Amazon.com, Phaidon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, Bol.com, and Booktopia.com, and participating independent cookbook stores across the country. The set, which is housed in a red stainless-steel case, will retail for USD$425. It includes three hardcover volumes and a portable, spiral-bound recipe manual that contains all the recipes and reference tables in the book.
We’re excited to release this book at a time when pizza has never been more popular or more important. Modernist Pizza is the culmination of exhaustive research, travel, and experiments to collect and advance the world’s knowledge of pizza. Topping out at 35.5 pounds and over 1,700 pages, it’s safe to say that this is a pizza cookbook supreme. We’ve performed hundreds of experiments, traveled more than 100,000 miles to visit over 250 of the world’s top pizzerias, and consumed countless calories. There are deep dives into pizza’s history, evolution, and many global styles as well as its fundamentals: dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings. And it wouldn’t be a Modernist Cuisine book without plenty of scientific insights, gear guides, innovative techniques, surprising discoveries, and incredible recipes—1,016 to be exact. Here’s a preview of, what we hope will become, an indispensable resource for anyone who loves pizza.
A Taste of What You’ll Find in Modernist Pizza
We’ve loved making this book. First and foremost because pizza is undeniably delicious. Pizza was a compelling topic for us for a number of reasons. It’s multicultural, found in virtually every country around the world, and yet wherever pizza goes, it mutates and evolves into something local. Pizza is simultaneously the evolution of a 19th-century dish from Naples and a window into the culinary creativity of the people who modified the original pizzas into the many local styles we enjoy today.
Pizza may seem simple, but it’s highly technological and scientific. Making pizza is extremely technique-driven, where even the smallest variations in the method can affect the outcome. A tremendous amount of skill is involved, to the point that pizza making can be daunting to both beginners and professionals. On top of that, pizza has historically been a poorly documented cuisine, which is thanks, in part, to its humble origins on the streets of Naples.
As with our other books, we scoured the world to research the key aspects of pizza that we found relevant and interesting, studied until we understood all the techniques, and subjected everything to tests, including the flour brands that pizzaioli prized, the types of water they used (it turns out that this ingredient doesn’t make much of a difference), the brand of tomatoes that were prevalent and how they were grown, as well as the processes by which common pizza ingredients are made.
Our experiments also opened the door to many discoveries that affected how we made the components of pizza, from dough to the sauce and cheese. We were able to develop mixing and proofing techniques that dramatically reduce the time it typically takes to make Neapolitan and high-hydration al taglio pizza dough without compromising the quality. We list recommendations that will allow you to make multiple pizza styles from one dough. No matter how experienced a pizzaiolo is, there likely isn’t a single person who won’t be surprised by some of our findings.
We distilled our findings into three volumes. In the first volume, we share the history of pizza, the world of pizza at large, plus fundamentals to making pizza such as the ingredients that go into the dough and the role of heat in the pizza-making process. The chapters in volume 2 provide a comprehensive look at all the components of pizza—dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings—and present foundational recipes upon which the majority of our pizzas are built. The third and final volume is dedicated to both classic and innovative recipes for every pizza style we cover, 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. Volume 3 is also where you’ll find inventive flavor and topping combinations to help inspire your own pizza exploration.
Guides to Top Pizza Destinations
We’ve included something new in Modernist Pizza that we’ve never done before in any of our other books: we devoted an entire chapter to our pizza travels and created a global travel guide. We wanted to illustrate pizza’s wonderful diversity and show the many ways in which it’s enjoyed across the world. That is why pizza required us to travel even more than our other books did—our team visited over 250 pizzerias to learn local styles from some of the world’s best pizzaioli. The chapter was created to serve as a travelogue of sorts and to help give the full picture of pizza.
When we started visiting pizzerias, we wondered whether the pizzaioli would actually talk to us. It turned out they were incredibly helpful, especially in Italy. They were very candid about sharing their knowledge and techniques and even helped us review parts of the book. We spoke to visionaries such as Tony Gemignani, Enzo Coccia, Franco Pepe, Chris Bianco, Laura Meyer, Carlo Sammarco, Dan Richer, Sarah Minnick, and many more covered in this book, who are tossing pizza into the modern era.
We couldn’t go to every well-reviewed pizzeria everywhere, so think of our guide as a curated selection. It consists of the best pizzerias across Italy and the United States, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Tokyo. After Naples, which was a must-see since it’s where pizza was invented, we looked to important first-generation pizza cities like New York. Following that, we checked out travel spots known for a particular style like Chicago or Detroit. We also included other areas like Rome and Portland, to paint a picture of the pizza scenes there.
Countless times during our research, we were asked where the best pizza can be found. (We aren’t shy about suggesting there are several pizzerias in Naples that would immediately deserve one, two, and even three Michelin stars.) Ultimately, we hope that our travel chapter will be a good starting point for mapping out your own pizza journey to help answer that question for yourself.
More Pizza on the Horizon
One of our goals for this book was to make it accessible to many types of pizza makers, from professionals, including chefs and bakers, to beginners at home. That’s why we tested all our recipes in several different ovens and included recommendations in each recipe for which oven will work best. Our chefs developed loads of tips and tricks for making great pizza in a home oven. There really is something in Modernist Pizza for everyone—actually, there is a lot for everyone.
What makes pizza great isn’t any single ingredient. What makes it great is using good ingredients
consistently, plus lots of skill and attention. If you’re a pizza fan, even if you have no intention of making pizza, this book will describe your favorite food in an incredible way. If you hanker to make pizza at home or are even slightly intrigued, we encourage you to take the plunge.
As the on-sale date for the book nears, we’ll be sharing more blog posts and details about what you can expect to find in each of the volumes. If you haven’t already, join our mailing list, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more updates.