top of page
  • Writer's pictureScott Rotella

Hosting a Pizza Party? Here is the recipe for success!!!


The Fennelini pizza cooked in a home oven
The Fennelini pizza cooked in a home oven

We host dinner parties often, but we really host pizza parties the most.  There are a few reasons for that.  First and foremost, we invested in a fairly large setup in our back yard with a wood-fired oven, a prep area, a couple of refrigerators and bar seating around the oven. This is next to our grilling area. You bet we are going to use it.  Secondly, I just love making pizza and hosting these events. It brings me great joy and happiness to provide this to my family, friends and other associates. Admittedly, it is certainly an ego boost to receive the accolades from: “wow, this is so good” to “this is the best pizza I ever had” to “I can never have pizza elsewhere again” to “this is better than any restaurant experience.” They are, after all, family and friends… but I do believe folks truly and thoroughly enjoy the experience.  


For many, a pizza party is pizza and drinks.  I treat every pizza party like a full meal, which includes:


Cocktails and beverages:  

We have a fairly full bar, beer, wine and various mixers. However, I sometimes will do a signature batch cocktail for the day, such as our popular margarita.  Or I will even have sparkling wine with various add-ins, such as Chambord, limoncello or berries.  


Appetizers: 

Depending on the number of participants, we serve two to three appetizers.  I have a list of different appetizers we serve. Popular options include:


  • Feta Platter - Marinated feta with spices and olives served with crackers

  • Antipasto Skewers - Skewers with mozzarella balls, salami, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red bell pepper and olives

  • Spiced Cheezy Popcorn - Popcorn coated with a spicy, savory cheese dust

  • Whipped Feta - A whipped feta dip made with cream cheese and topped with a mix of chopped olives and served with pita. I will also sometimes offer different toppings. Olives are my favorite, but sun dried tomato pesto is a fantastic alternate topping. 

  • Flaming Halloumi - Grilled halloumi cheese flambeed with ouzo and extinguished with a pistachio vinaigrette and served with crackers.

  • Hummus and Vegetable Platter - House made hummus served with mixed vegetables and pita for dipping. 

  • Jim’s Famous Poppers - Halved jalapenos cleaned and stuffed with a filling made of cream cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon and various spices.  Topped with seasoned panko. 

  • Mini Tacos - Sheet pan mini tacos with corn tortillas and various fillings. 

  • Barbecue Meatballs - House made meatballs in our special sweet barbecue sauce.


I always include some small bowls of the nacho cheese popcorn (everyone loves it) and some mixed nuts scattered around.


Salad: 

Similar to the appetizers, I have a list of favorite salads that I serve at these events. That includes:


  • Spinach Salad - Baby spinach, strawberries, almonds, goat cheese, red onion and a poppy seed vinaigrette.

  • Scott’s Chopped Salad - Romaine lettuce, carrots, celery, garbanzo beans, salami, picante provolone, and red bell pepper server with our Very Oregano dressing

  • Grilled Caesar - Baby romaine lettuce that is lightly oiled and grilled to a slight char.  Topped with house made Caesar dressing and seasoned panko bread crumbs.

  • Special Mista - Mixed spring lettuces with carrots, red onion, blue cheese crumbles, slivered almonds and dried cranberries. Served with a Pat’s red wine dressing.

  • Layered Cauliflower Salad - Romaine lettuce, cauliflower florets, carrots, celery, grated hard cheese, frozen baby peas and tossed with a creamy special dressing.


Pizza:


I have a large list of pizza combinations.  It is constantly evolving, which is mostly the result of a thought or a flavor experience. I call my pizza style  “Contemporary California“ as it is quite unique and does not neatly fit into the box of other styles I have experienced (Bar/Tavern, New York, Neapolitan, New Haven, Kansas, Grandma, Sicilian, Roman, Deep Dish, etc.).  


There are some individuals that have a very narrow view of pizza and within that community, there are folks that have such a defined view that they would scoff at my pizza as I use non-traditional ingredients and techniques. As an example, the controversy around pineapple on pizza….I do not make a pizza with pineapple, but why not?  


I have no problems with pineapple on pizza. However, some act as if that is heresy and folks should be burned at the stake for even thinking about putting pineapple on pizza.  My view is that pizza offers the perfect vehicle for complimentary flavors…. Whatever that means to you. Let your creative juices flow.  


However, sweet and salty is one of my favorite combinations on a pizza. One of the most popular pizzas on my list is called Sweet Meat. It is a meat pizza, but when out of the oven, I drizzle on wildflower honey that has a touch of curry powder added.  It truly elevates the pizza…again sweet and salty! 


When planning for the party, I always plan for 2 pizzas per 3 attendees.  My pizzas are about 13 inches.  Given the appetizers and salad, I also always have leftovers.  


Here is my current list of Pizzas.  


  • Popeye Special - Wilted spinach and caramelized onions on a bed of ricotta garlic cream.  Topped with smoked Mozzarella, seasoned chickpeas and finished with a garlic parm drizzle sauce.

  • Pesto Perfecto - Basil Pesto with a layer of Mozzarella, sliced Roma tomatoes and a sprinkling of Parmigiano.

  • The Queen Margherita - Fresh tomato sauce with mozzarella and fresh basil.  

  • The Meaty Margherita - Fresh tomato sauce with mozzarella, prosciutto and fresh basil.  

  • The Deconstructed Margherita - Fresh mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil, topped with a tomato sauce reduction and a basil oil.  

  • Sweet Meat  - Classic red sauce with house-made fennel sausage, pepperoni, prosciutto, red onion and mozzarella.  Topped with a curry honey drizzle. 

  • The Beast - Classic red sauce with red onion, pepperoni, house-made Italian sausage, Chorizo,  bacon and genoa salami.

  • Shroom and Sausage - House-made fennel sausage and caramelized forest mushrooms served on a ricotta cream base.  Topped with mozzarella and shaved scallions.  Finished with a dusting of fennel pollen.

  • Spicy Special - Red Onion slices, Kalamata Olives, thinly sliced Calabrian chilis and Mozzarella served on classic red sauce and topped with fresh basil.

  • Funky Chicken - Smoked Chicken, caramelized onions and mushrooms with gorgonzola, pickled red onion and mozzarella cheese served on a ricotta cream  base and topped with arugula and a balsamic glaze.

  • The BBQ Chicken - Smoked Chicken, red onion, bacon and mozzarella cheese served on barbeque sauce. Served with a scattering of cilantro. 

  • The Roasted Veg - Various roasted vegetables and sun dried tomato with fresh mozzarella and basil on ricotta cream. Finished with a balsamic drizzle.

  • Pep in your Step - Pepperoni and mozzarella on classic red sauce

  • Curry Up - Garlic olive oil, mozzarella, caramelized onions and mushrooms, bacon, ricotta, asiago cheese and finished with a curry honey drizzle & fresh parsley flakes.

  • Cheese Please - A classic four cheese pizza (mozzarella, parmigiano, gorgonzola, asiago) on garlic oil with a scattering of Italian parsley.

  • The T: Bacon Cheeseburger - Special burger sauce topped with crumbled smash burgers, melty cheddar, cherry tomatoes, bacon, and red onion.   Finished with arugula and a balsamic glaze drizzle

  • Pulled Pork - House made BBQ sauce, topped with pulled pork, red onion, bacon, along with both cheddar and mozzarella.  Finished with a sprinkle of cilantro and scallions.  

  • Fennelini - Olive oil and parmigiano base topped with thinly sliced garlic, house made fennel sausage, broccolini and fresh mozzarella. 

  • The Lillee Pad - Classic red sauce base topped with pepperoni, bacon, red onion and mozzarella.    Dusted with cilantro and fennel pollen when out of the oven. 

  • Veggie Fennelini - Roasted Broccolini and caramelized forest mushrooms served on a ricotta garlic cream base.  Topped with mozzarella and shaved scallions.  Finished with a drizzle of white truffle oil and a dusting of fennel pollen

  • BBQ Pork - House made BBQ sauce, topped with carnitas, red onion, bacon, along with both cheddar and mozzarella.  Finished with a sprinkle of cilantro and scallions

  • Cacio e Pepe Plus - Ricotta garlic cream base with pecorino romano and fresh cracked pepper.  Topped with mozzarella, red onion and rosemary. Finished with a sprinkle of crushed pistachios.

  • Bruschetta - Olive oil and parmigiano base with mozzarella, bruschetta, arugula and topped with a drizzle of both balsamic reduction and basil oil

  • The Mediterranean –  Ricotta garlic cream base with feta cheese, mozzarella, roasted cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, red onion and roasted red peppers and rosemary. Finished with a sprinkle of crushed pistachios.

  • Jim’s Fave - Classic red sauce with house-made fennel sausage, pepperoni, red onion, fire roasted red peppers, mozzarella and feta.  Finished with a curry honey drizzle

  • Pear, Prosciutto and Gorgonzola - A white pizza topped with olive oil, fresh thyme, mozzarella, gorgonzola, prosciutto and thinly sliced pear.  Finished with a sprinkle of crushed pistachios. 

  • BLT - A white pizza topped with olive oil and  parmesan as a base and then burst cherry tomatoes, bacon, and mozzarella.  Finished with a sprinkle of arugula and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. 


I think my dough is special. I started with a Neapolitan style dough. That means it begins with imported 00 Pizzeria Flour, using a basic Neapolitan recipe. I create a prefermentation with all of the flour that is called a biga. Biga is a preferment like a sourdough starter is a preferment. I like to ferment all of the flour for 30-40 hours. During that time, a transformation occurs. Not only does it develop flavor and strength, it also transforms many of the carbohydrates into simple sugars and then sugar alcohol. That alcohol along with the high lever of water used, helps create the rise and airy pockets (crumb) in the dough. As I progressed, I have made additional changes to develop a more interesting flavor and texture. That includes adding things like a little rye flour, some molasses and diastatic malt powder. Things used in bread baking, but not necessarily pizza dough. I am always striving to make the best dough and am forever tinkering with the recipe.


What pizza would you like to try?


Dessert:

By the time we get to dessert, I think folks have probably had their fill of flour and food. So I try to present desserts that are not too filling and not filled with flour products.  Frankly, my favorite is fruit sorbets. They are fresh tasting, light, lower in calories and sugar and delicious. You can refer to my Ice cream and sorbet post if you would like to make your own. 


Other Considerations - Menus


I always produce a menu for the event.  Included on side one are the appetizers, salad, pizzas and dessert. I usually plan for three different pizzas. We make them and serve them by the piece.  We do not make individual pizzas to ensure folks can try the many variations.  On the second side of the menu, I include a list of all of the available ingredients used to make the three selected pizzas. This gives the opportunity for others to design a pizza of their liking. After making the three, I will invite folks to tell me what they want on their pizza. In most instances, people just ask for their favorite of the three provided. But sometimes, folks get adventurous. Some of the pizza’s on the list above were created by guests. As an example, The Lillee Pad was developed by my niece Lillee when she was 9. What is brilliant about it is that she named it using a cute play on her name AND the cilantro looked like lily pads…but it was also really good!!! For me, that is really special.


Below is an example of the menu’s I typically pull together.  This is from a recent event. 



Page one of a pizza party menu
Page one of a pizza party menu

Page two of a pizza party menu
Page two of a pizza party menu

It may seem a bit EXTRA, but I want to put love into every gathering!


Notes:

  • If you see anything described above where you would like more details, drop a note in the comments.  I have a ton of yet to be published recipes and will certainly provide them to you. 

  • Some of the links on this page and other posts may be affiliate links where we get a small commission for any resulting purchases. I use this to offset the costs of creating and running this website and appreciate your support.

16 views0 comments

Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page