Pizza Party Slideshow: How to Make Homemade Pies That Rule

Photo Slideshow: A Peek into Pizza A Casa. (Be sure to view the captions for the slideshow, or else you won’t know what’s going on!) Photos by Rachel Wharton.

Those of you who read Thrillist may have seen their write-up today on our friend Mark Bello, the master pizzaiolo and Chinatown resident we profiled last year for his penchant for Thanksgiving turkeys done Peking duck style. (He’s also our favorite guide to delicious dim sum.) For the past year or so, Bello’s been at work on creating a real retail space for his pizza school and “self-sufficiency center” called Pizza A Casa, which opens on the 15th.

Bello’s focus is on teaching home pizza-making and selling the goods to make them at home. Until now, he basically taught the classes in his teeny Chinatown kitchen, whose kitschy clutter, 1970s pizza parlor style and day-glow fetish have been remarkably recreated at the shop.

We’ve been lucky enough to watch him go over the basics enough times–most recently at a Saturday afternoon pre-grand opening class hosted in honor of Mark’s birthday, as captured in the slideshow above–that we’ve been suitably impressed with his attention to detail: How to proof your yeast, how to weigh out your flour, how to touch the dough as you start to knead, how to loosely top your cheese with sauce to protect its flavor, how to pull your pie out of the oven with a wooden peel, how to cut basil into chiffonade. (The best part: How to eat Bello’s own amazing pies with abandon while you learn the ropes.)

We’re gonna stop before we say too much, because we really think you should take one of his classes–there are also walking tours where you shop the Lower East Side and Little Italy for goods before making pies–after which your life will inevitably change for the pizza-eating better.

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Rachel Wharton is the former deputy editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She won a 2010 James Beard food journalism award, holds a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University, and has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and reporter. A North Carolina native and a former features food reporter for the New York Daily News, she edited the Edible Brooklyn cookbook and was the co-author of both Handheld Pies and DiPalo's Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy. Her work also appears in publications such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Saveur.