I lived in Providence, Rhode Island during my college and medical school years, and I have fond memories of the grilled pizza, made famous by Al Forno’s. Al Forno’s is a legendary restaurant in Providence – it was always busy, didn’t take reservations, and being $$$$ – was a big treat for a student. It is where I had my graduation from medical school dinner. My favorite things to eat there are the grilled pizza, the baked pasta, and the fruit tart. Although we now live on the opposite coast, I’ve been able to satisfy my cravings by recreating these recipes at home. Today, I’m excited to share the recipe and technique for the grilled pizza!
This recipe was based off of the detailed instructions for “The Grilled Pizza Margarita At Al Forno in Providence” by Eater. If you’re looking for more specific amounts of certain ingredients, you can also check out this recipe on the Cooking Channel submitted by Emeril Lagasse. One day, we will try to follow those Eater/ Al Forno’s instructions exactly – from making our own pizza dough from scratch, using “light” instead of extra virgin olive oil, and using their recommended specific ratio/blend of 50% Fontina, 20% Parmigiano Reggiano and 30% Romano cheeses. But for now, we’re going to share our version with few shortcuts which has made this into a quick and easy delicious family favorite method of making grilled pizza!
We’ve made grilled pizza 3 weekends in a row, and can say with confidence that this technique is solid. We may never go back to the pizza stone/ oven – that’s how much we are loving the crispy light texture that comes with grilling the pizza!
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- Pizza Dough – 2 balls (We use store bought pizza dough from Trader Joe’s, or from our local bakeshop Rye Goods, but you can make your own)
- One 28 oz can of San Marzano Italian tomatoes
- Store bought bag of “Italian” cheese mix (we like Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio, but have used simple shredded mozzarella, and that came out delicious too)
- Fresh herbs: mix of Basil and Parsley (thyme, rosemary – if you feel fancy)
- Additional toppings: ie. Canned sweet corn (we’ve also used the roast corn you can find in the Trader Joe’s freezer section) , sliced salami, sliced mushrooms
- Scallions for garnish (option, can use some sliced basil instead)
- Preheat your grill – try to have one side be high heat, the other on low/medium heat
- Prepare the sauce: Drain the can of San Marzano Italian tomatoes of excess liquid (I save it for another tomato sauce based recipe). Use your hands (washed!) to crush the tomatoes into big chunks. You will use all of this drained crushed tomatoes between the two pizzas.
- Take the dough ball and soak it in olive oil (“light” is recommended, but we’ve used extra virgin olive oil in our pantry and it’s worked fine on our home gas grill). Soaking = coating it with oil. This ensures a crisp crust.
- Recommended: Turn the dough into an upturned cookie sheet, and press it out by hand until it’s the desired size and thickness. The oil will prevent the dough from sticking. Reality: I’ve just been stretching it out by hand until it’s big and ovalish, then it stretches out a bit when I’m trying to get it onto the grill. Try not to stretch the dough so thin that small holes appear. But if they do, don’t worry and carry on.
Grilling the Pizza: After the dough is stretched, it’s placed onto the hot grill. Use your fingertips to lift the dough gently by the two corners closest to you, and drape it onto the grill. The loose edge should fall onto the grill first and then you can guide the remaining dough into place. Within a minute or few, the dough will slightly puff and the bottom will stiffen with some light brown grill marks. After the bottom side cooks, flip it over with tongs or a pizza peel, and move it to the cooler side of the grill. Quickly brush the grilled surface with some olive oil. Add a liberal amount of cheese (handfuls) to cover the top of the pizza . Then, use a large tablespoon to add 10-12 “dollops” of sauce onto the pie (don’t spread it!). Add a sprinkle of chopped parsley and basil. Then swirl some extra virgin olive oil.* *Here when you can add more toppings. We like to add corn to the Margherita as they do at Al Forno’s during the summer. We also have had success adding salami and sliced mushrooms (our boys’ favorite)
To finish it off, the pizza is topped with sliced raw scallions, or if you prefer chiffonade (aka sliced strips) of basil . The Eater article notes “the entire process takes only two to three minutes.” but we found on our regular gas grill, it took about 4-5 minutes per side.
Enjoy!!! We hope you love this method of grilling pizza as much as we do!!!