I was recently in San Francisco for a few days, with my better half and I have to admit that I’m still on vacation mode. It’s so hard for me to return from any sort of trip, whether it’s a week long or just a day, and get back into the right mindset to work. Does that happen to you guys as well? Please tell me it does, that way I don’t feel totally guilty for feeling this way. This laziness to be an adult is hard to shake off, especially after a great getaway.
San Francisco is one of those places where I can actually see myself living in (if it wasn’t so darn expensive). The best thing it has going for itself—aside from the calmness and laid back people—is the amazing weather. Can we talk about how it always seems to be just the right amount of sun and warmth mixed in with the perfect amount of fog and coolness? Los Angeles has too much sun for my taste. I can say that, I was born and raised here. Too much sun and too much heat, at times. Do we even have any cool bridges here? Incidentally, one day we overheard a tourist confuse the Bay Bridge for the Golden Gate Bridge, telling anyone who would listen, to snap a picture in front of the famous Golden Gate Bridge, but that’s okay because SF does have a lot of bridges. I don’t blame you, tourist. I do blame our hotel room view for making me want to do nothing but stay in bed all day long and just peer out into the beautiful city, adding to my laziness.
I wasn’t really allowed to lay around on the trip though, because we had a lot scheduled in such a little amount of time. We took a twenty plus mile bike ride—through the Golden Gate Bridge (the real one) and up north to some Old Mill town—that was insanely beautiful but at the same time, it was insanely tiring. We got way too much sun (one of us more than the other) and saw some killer red woods which sort of made it all worth it. The beers at the end of the bike ride though, that’s what got me through the end. I did almost get blown away by some gusty winds on the bridge, but that’s a story for another time.
The most important part of the trip was the food, of course. We pretty much ate our way through the city and I don’t regret a thing. There are an unbelievable amount of restaurants throughout SF, it’s kind of insane. Everywhere you turn there’s something delicious calling out your name. We devoured an entire tray of fresh oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. and some mussels and fries and one too many baskets of bread. But who’s counting? Certainly not me. Julian took me to a tiki bar one night, called the Tonga Room which I swear I can live in for the rest of my life. Did I mention there’s indoor rain and tiki huts with little lights involved? Well there is, and it’s awesome.
I gulped down so many watermelon beers at 21st Amendment Brewery, that I lost count. (Sorry mom!) It’s my new favorite beer, that’s all you need to know. My favorite fruit mixed into beer? Yes please. A million times yes.
The most memorable meal we had, however, was actually on our first night, at a restaurant in Russian Hill called Gioia Pizzeria. We gorged on a simple arugula salad, a spring pesto pasta dish, and the best pizza I’ve ever had. Said pizza was just the right amount of thin crusty dough, sprinkled with house made sausage and pickled jalapeños. We both sort of looked at each other after that first bite and telepathically communicated to one another just how amazing it was. We came back home rather depressed that we had to leave, but I knew that I needed to recreate that meal anyway I could. So here I am now, going on and on, talking your ears off about my trip. Reminiscing about the delicious food and fun times. This super long intro was basically to say I fell in love with this pizza and that’s why I made it for you guys.
Before we begin on this pizza adventure together, I wanted to start off by saying that I’m not showing the whole pizza dough making process here because A) I’m still on vacation mode, remember? (So that means the less work for me, the better), and B) Because I’ve shown how to make pizza dough before in multiple other posts.
**Tip: If you’re just coming back from vacation yourself or are always on vacation mode (I’m not judging) you can also just use store bought pizza dough. Most grocery stores have a nice selection of pizza dough now-a-days. But you can also go to your local pizzeria and get dough from there. Look at all these options I’m giving you! You’re welcome.**
So now, let’s start. The first thing we’re going to do is make up a quick tomato sauce to go on our pizza.
Sauté some onions and garlic in a small sauce pot, with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
Once the onions and garlic have cooked down a bit and are translucent, you can add the can of crushed or diced tomatoes and allow to cook for a few minutes.
Add the chopped oregano and sliced basil, a bit more salt and pepper (to taste), give it a big stir, reduce to low and cook down for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool down.
**Tip: The sauce needs to be completely cool (or at least slightly warm) before adding it to the pizza, so you can definitely plan ahead and make this in advance. It keeps well in the fridge so you can store it for a few days until you’re ready to whip up this pizza later in the week!**
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, removed from the casings, and brown. Cook until the sausage is completely cooked and somewhat brown.
**Note: I used a Sicilian chicken sausage but feel free to use whatever kind of sausage you prefer! You can use an Italian hot or sweet beef or pork, or just a regular chicken sausage. It’s up to you!**
Once the sausage is cooked, transfer it to a bowl or plate and allow to cool down. Again, it needs to be really cool or at least warm before topping the pizza with it.
Once all the components are ready, we can go ahead and assemble the pizza. Roll out the dough into a large circle, or if you’re like me, a large semi-circle.
Place the dough on a pizza pan or a baking sheet.
**Tip: A good tip to get really crust pizza crust at the bottom and the edges, is to use the baking sheet on the bottom side. So turn it over, line with foil, and place the crust on the bottom of the sheet. I feel like the pizza cooks and browns evenly because the sides wont get in the way.**
Drizzle the crust with a bit of olive oil and spread some of that sauce we made earlier. Use as much or as little as you’d like. I prefer my pizzas on the lighter side when it comes to the sauce.
And now let it rain down cheese. Just make it pour with shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
**Tip: For something like this, I highly recommend shredding the cheese yourself. It just ensures freshness. I’m totally okay with pre-shredded cheese for small stuff like sprinkling on tacos and what not.**
Now we get to sprinkle on the main stars of the show, our crumbled sausage and pickled jalapeños.
**Note: These days you can totally find pickled jalapeños in almost every grocery store. Just look in the pickled aisle or maybe the international aisle by the Latin section.**
You can give the pizza a grinding of fresh black pepper on top, right before baking. I like that added kick from the black pepper, mainly because Julian and I are addicted to black pepper, but also because it goes well with the sausage.
I like to bake my pizza in a REALLY HOT oven. Like extremely hot. Like you’re afraid you’ll burn down the house hot. I baked this pizza in a preheated 500ºF oven. I love a good wood fired pizza, and of course I don’t have a wood fire pizza pit, so I like to mimic that heat the best I can.
**Note: If this scares you, or if your oven doesn’t go that high for some reason, or you’re just worried that you’ll burn your pizza, you can reduce it down and bake it in a 475ºF oven.**
Whatever you do, just keep an eye on it. It’ll cook faster than normal because it’s such a high temperature.
Look at that goodness. Even though it’s not exactly the same as in SF (can it ever really be?), I do feel like it’s pretty darn close. Maybe it was even better because we were on vacation and it was just about the atmosphere of the restaurant as well. Either way, the pizza was fantastic and I think this pizza is just as fantastic.
Serve it with a couple of beers and have a bit of parmesan and crushed red chili flakes on the side for sprinkling. I also served this pizza with a simple side salad, but happens to be almost exactly the same salad we had in SF with that magical pizza.
**Note: It’s not really worth making a whole post for it, but if you really want to make the salad it’s just: Arugula, sunflower seeds, shaved parmesan, salt and pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. That’s it. Toss it all together. I just eyeballed all the ingredients, so don’t ask me how much!**
I’m all for going to new restaurants and trying new dishes and then coming back home and recreating them. I think it speaks so highly of the restaurant, if you leave feeling so satisfied with the meal in general, but also with a dish in particular, that you want to make it yourself. It’s the biggest compliment you can possibly give.
What are some of your favorite restaurant dishes you make at home? But more importantly what are some of your favorite vacations that you’ve taken? It doesn’t have to be super fancy or extravagant like visiting Europe or anything…any vacation where you relaxed and just had the best time ever. Leave a comment down below and let me know! I’d love to hear about it!
- 1 pre-made pizza dough, (recipe found on site, or store bought)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 smal onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- handful fresh basil leaves, sliced
- 2 Sicilian sausage links (or 1 pound ground Sicilian sausage)
- 1½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
- ¼ cup pickled jalapeños, drained
- Preheat oven to 500°F (or 475°F will do). Line the bottom of a baking sheet with foil paper. Or you can just use a pizza pan, without foil. Set aside.
- Heat a small sauce pot over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until translucent. Add the diced tomatoes, with their juice, and cook for a few minutes more. Add in the fresh oregano and basil, stir and reduce the heat to low. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the sausage (removed from the casings). Crumble with a wooden spoon and cook for about 10 minutes or until brown and crispy. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Roll out the pizza dough into a large thin circle. Place on the prepared baking sheet or pizza pan. Drizzle the top with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Spread with the pizza sauce you made earlier, adding as much or as little as you'd like. Sprinkle with both cheeses. Top with crumbled sausage and pickled jalapeños. Grind some black pepper if you wish. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy at the edges, and the cheese is bubbly and brown.
- Cut into eight slices and enjoy! The sauce and browning the sausage can be done in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to make and eat!
- yield: 8 slices