Neapolitan Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita

By Cat, July 2008, updated Jan 2012 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

The Neapolitan Pizza Margherita is the most basic of pizzas, made with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. To this basic pizza, other toppings can be added. Tomato-less pizzas are also possible and delicious.

The French  version of pizza is called Pissaladiére. Generally, this version uses more vegetables and herbs, as well as olives and/or capers. It does not typically include tomato sauce, and may or may not include cheese.  The crust can be a traditional yeast dough (or sourdough), pate brisée (French pie crust), or phyllo (filo) dough. Salade au Lardons Pissaladiere from Fine Cooking (2) is a great example.

Neapolitan Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita is a meatless, but very flavorful pizza.  The main ingredients are ripe tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella made from the milk of water buffalo.  You can use the same method to make pizza with different toppings, such as those listed below under Topping Combinations.

You can use either an uncooked crushed tomato sauce, or chopped tomatoes.

The recipe is written for a home-oven use.  However, if you have a wood-fired brick oven so much the better.  In this case, the temperature should be 800°F, and the cooking time is only 2 – 3 minutes.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Pizza Dough, for two 13″ pizzas (I like my Pizza Dough Version II)
  • ¼ – ⅓ cup Crushed Tomato Sauce, or peeled & chopped ripe roma tomatoes
  • 16 large fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 8 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 1 pound fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced thinly
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Unrefined sea salt (optional)
  • chopped fresh basil
  • Equipment:
  • flour for dusting
  • wooden pizza peel
  • baking stone
  • metal pizza peel (or large spatula)


The following instructions are for using a home oven, but notes are provided the method differs for a pizza oven.

  1. Place baking stone on a lower rack in your oven.  Preheat to 5000 F, or as hot as it will go.  it will take about 45 minutes for the stone to get hot. [NOTE:  if using a baking sheet instead of a baking stone, set oven rack to lowest position, but do not place baking sheet in oven until after the pizza has been arranged on the sheet.]
  2. Shape pizza crust into a round, and lay it on a floured pizza peel.  Avoid over-handling the dough.  it’s best if you can do the toss-and-stretch-in-the-air method; I can’t quite master that. [NOTE:  If you use a regular baking sheet, be sure to oil the sheet before spreading out the dough.]
  3. If using tomato sauce:  Spread sauce thinly over the dough to within an inch of the edge.  You should be able to see the dough through the sauce.  Lay sliced mozzarella over the sauce in a decorative pattern, then decorate with a few tomato slices and basil leaves brushed lightly with olive oil. Drizzle on the olive oil in a circular pattern; sprinkle with a little salt and oregano, if desired.
  4. If using chopped tomatoes: Lightly oil the crust, arrange the mozzarella over, then chopped tomatoes and basil leaves brushed lightly with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Test to ensure your pizza is not stuck on the peel by using short jerks to move the peel forward and backward — the pizza should easily slide around. If it sticks, lift it up on one side with your fingers and throw a little flour underneath.  Slide peel back and forth to loosen the pizza.
  6. To place pizza on hot stone, push peel toward the stone, then stop it just short of the back edge, allowing the pizza to slide off the peel while pulling backward.
  7. Bake in preheated 5000 F oven for about 15 minutes (if using a baking sheet placed on lowest rack of oven, it may take longer to bake).  Do not exceed 20 minutes, or the crust will simply dry out. [If using an 8000 F pizza oven, cook only about 2 – 3 minutes].
  8. Pizza is done when it is bubbling on top, and the cheese is completely melted (and possibly lightly browned). The outer crust should be lightly brown; the bottom should be dark brown (charred), but not burnt.
  9. Remove pizza from stone with metal peel or large spatula.
  10. Sprinkle chopped fresh basil over all.  Cut pizza into 8 pieces with a knife or pizza wheel, and serve with dried hot red pepper flakes and grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Other Pizza Topping Combinations:

Moved to Pizza Topping Combinations. See also Food & Wine online, March 2007 (2) for more ideas.


  1. A Passion for Vegetables, by Vera Gewanter (see Beloved Cookbooks for more about this book);
  2. Food & Wine online (

About Cat

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