Counter Intelligence

Last post for Pizza Weekend: Dave’s Three Cheese Pizza and Franny’s Clam Pie

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on December 10, 2006

My friend Dave’s pizzas are the best I’ve ever had– better than Lombardi’s, Otto, Pete and Elda’s, 2 Amys, you name it.  While I’m becoming a better pizza maker, I have a long way to go, so I find myself consulting him often.

He says he played with the crust for hundreds of versions– riffing on img_1303_edited.jpgCooks’ Illustrated recipes and many he found online.  While he doesn’t have a coal burning or brick oven for that matter, they’re still so good.  Although he’s only a 35 year old, half-Italian computer guy from New Jersey, he’s 70 year old Italian pizzeria owner from Brooklyn at heart.

The dough recipe is his from last year; the clam pie recipe is from the New York Times’ article on Andrew Feinberg, the guy who owns Franny’s.  If you’re in New York, Franny’s is worth the trip.  And, it’s refreshingly local, as local as Manhattan transplants who live in Park Slope can get.

Before you begin, you may want to take Dave’s advice and throw a head of garlic in the oven with the top cut off, doused with a tablespoon of olive oil and sea salt at 500 degrees. After 35 minutes or so, you can take it out of the oven to cool and to use in the red and the clam sauces.


1 1/4 c warm water–2 tb yeast–2tb honey–2 c King Arthur’s flour–1/2 tsp sea salt

Three Cheeses and Red sauce.

 1  28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained–red pepper flakes–salt–pepper–bay leaf–chopped fresh oregano–thinly sliced fontina, parmesan, and mozzarella cheese–chiffonaded basil

Clam Reduction.

 12-18 clams–1 Spanish onion, diced–bay leaf–1 1/4c white wine–salt–pepper–1 c Half and Half–chiffonaded basil or chopped parsley

The Rest.

Combine water, honey, and yeast.  Stir gently and let sit for five or so minutes, until yeast begins to froth.  In the meantime, combine flour and salt in the Cuisinart.  When yeast concoction is ready, add gradually to flour mixture, until dough forms a ball around the blade.

Once it’s done, flour a working surface and knead dough with the heel of your hand for ten to fifteen minutes or longer.

Pour a tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of two mixing bowls.  After you’re finished kneading, cut the dough in two and transfer each to a bowl.  Roll in olive oil and cover with a clean dish towel.  Set aside for about an hour.

img_1306_edited.jpgIn the meantime, take out the roasted garlic, and prepare your pizza toppings. 

In a sauce pan, add tomatoes, red pepper, oregano, salt, pepper, and three mashed cloves of garlic.  Let simmer on low for 30 minutes.  Lay cheeses in mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil.

In a new pan, saute diced onion and garlic until limp, about five minutes.  Add garlic, bay leaf, and pinch of red pepper.  Saute for seven minutes.  Add wine, bring to a simmer.  Add clams, cover pot and cook until they open, about ten minutes.  When they’re open, remove from pan, and let them cool. 

Simmer liquid in pan until it’s reduces to a thick glaze– about 20 minutes.  Add Half and Half and continue simmering until it’s reduced by a quarter, about 30 minutes. 

In the meantime, remove clams from shells and chop by hand or in food processor.  Though many restaurants serve clam pie in the shells, I don’t like it because it’s more work for the person eating it, and it doesn’t taste as good to know that you only have four or five clams on your pie, as opposed to a clam in every bite.  Once they’re chopped, add them to the simmering glaze.  img_1319_edited.jpg

Remove dough from mixing bowl and press from center into a larger circle.  People who are good at this can widen the disk with their fingertips, but I just end up weakening the center of the pie.  I’m generally bad at this part, as you can see by my non-circular pies.  At some point I take out the rolling-pin crutch to ensure the pizza will be as thin and crispy as possible, though I’m resigned to the fact that it will not blister since I don’t have a coal oven in my 1000 square foot apartment.  When I make it, it’s crisp like a cracker at the edges yet pliant enough so that when I do the foldover, it doesn’t crack.  Any tips on blistering for the home cook?  I’d love to hear it.

Once your dough is ready, transfer it to a pizza paddle that’s dusted in corn meal.  Paint tomato sauce onto crust, layer with cheese, and drizzle any remaining olive oil from the mixing bowls onto pie and slip it in the oven.


Since I only have one pizza paddle, I usually wait until the three cheese pizza is done before I set up the clam pie.  Once it’s finished — when the edges char and the cheese is melted, about ten minutes– I roll out the second dough, transfer it to the paddle, and paint the clam concoction onto it.  Then I layer a few slices of parmesan and mozzarella on top and bake for 1o minutes. Here’s the result. 

The next one shows ideally, how thin I’d like a slice. So when I hear people go crazy over spongy Vace slices, though I’m all for the indie Italian store in Cleveland Park, I don’t share any enthusiasm for the pie.  It’s just not quite right. 

If you have any suggestions or comments as to how I can make better pizza, I’d love to hear from you.  In the meantime, if you have some time during the holidays, grab yourself a slice.  img_1325_edited.jpg




2 Responses

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  1. Weekend Update « Counter Intelligence said, on September 16, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    […] Rocks pizza second to Comet, above Two Amy’s, Paradiso, and Bebo.  As a fellow pizza lover, I’d vouch that on a good day, it’s terrific. No Comments so far Leave a comment […]

  2. stiliano said, on May 19, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Very nice!!

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