Friday, February 18, 2011

Pizza Tonight is Pizzalicious!

I recently stopped over at the South-er of the James Farmers Market to check out the goods of local pizzaiola Victoria Aracri Deroche’s new biz Pizza Tonight.

Pizza Tonight is purveyor of artisan pizza kits, dough, sauces, antipasti and magic sprinkles. Deroche is the brain behind the exclusive and mysterious local Pizza Club. Finally she has brought her expertise to the masses by crafting dough and sauce and boxing them up with creative toppings and directions making DIY pizza easier than ever.

I dropped by the Pizza Tonight booth and picked up a beautifully boxed and labeled sausage pizza kit . The kit was $15 and contained:
     -Two Neapolitan artisan doughs
     -8oz of  homemade marinara sauce
     -Magic sprinkles (spices)
     -Della Nonna sausage from Sausage Craft

    Sausage Craft is also a locavore favorite from the kitchen of Chef Chris Mattera and cheese expert Brad Hemp. They make their products from free-range, humanely-raised meat without added hormones, antibiotics, steroids, preservatives or synthetic casings. Deroche met Mattera and Hemp at Belmont Butchery and fell in love with their Della Nonna sausage at the grand opening event. for Sausage Craft. She singled it out for her sausage pizza kit.

    The Della Nonna sausage is coarse-ground pork with white wine, pecorino cheese and Italian flat-leaf parsley—a recipe from Mattera’s grandmother. Hence the name. It is a rich, flavorful, buttery sausage and an excellent addition to the kit. It was really something special.

    This sausage is an interesting part of the kit because it contains a little  cheese. You may be shocked to learn that none of the kits from Pizza Tonight contain cheese. Deroche says that cheese is such a personal and individual part of pizza and deliberately leaving cheese out of the kit encourages customers to open up and get creative with their own addition of toppings.

    GOOD IDEA Victoria! Especially since her booth at the farmer’s market is surrounded by lot of yummy company. I recommend checking out the spinach and arugula from Root Force Collective Farm and just about any cheese from Sullivan's Pond Farm's Bonnyclabber Cheese Co.

    The Pizza:
    If you are a seasoned DIY pizza maker you probably have your own tried and true method of making a successful pizza and you should probably do that. If you are not, Pizza Tonight has got you covered with tips and tricks listed right there in the kit. Read those! They will help you with forming and stretching the dough using a version of Paulie Gee’s Egyptian Method. This is also my personal preference for stretching dough. Deroche gets it right. Don’t be afraid of the dough, don’t knead it, don’t roll it, and you won't mess it up. She also includes a video of herself working with the dough on the PT website if you need a little extra help.

    The dough in the PT kit is sticky and a little loose which, in my opinion, is how good dough should feel. Depending on how soon you make your pies after purchase the dough may have risen and fermented longer. So don’t wait too long, freeze your kit or use it within one week of purchase.

    I stretched the dough according to the PT instructions and topped it with sauce, sausage and magic sprinkles (and no cheese. Read below).  Pizza Tonight instructs customers who are sans pizza peel and stone to bake on parchment paper on the top rack for 5-10 minutes in a oven preheated to 500F, so I did that. It smelled so good. The sausage especially smelled great. Pizza baking in the oven is one of those smells that you just can’t breath in deeply enough to fully appreciate. It even brought my brother out of his video game cave to come check it out.

    The Review:
    The Pizza Tonight kit is practically fool proof and tons of fun. The ingredients are top quality. The beautiful orange marinara sauce is bright, fresh and just the right kind of spicy and salty with just a little bite. I don't reckon I care for sweet pizza sauce so this was perfect. The Della Nonna sausage was something really special and delectable. It is definitely the star of this particular kit. The dough was easy to work with. When baked the crust was crisp on the outside and tender and just a little chewy inside. The price is awesome. $15 is so incredible for two homemade pizzas and lots of fun. Getting one of these kits would make a great date.

    The Beef:
    I would have appreciated a little cheese in the kit partly because that would make the kit even easier but also because I am curious to know what kinds of fantastic additions Deroche would put in there. Some of the Sullivan Pond Farm’s Bonnyclabber Cheese Co. Chesapeake Blue cheese on the Fig and Pig sounds divine! (Though, I think most regular Pizzalicious readers are well aware of deep affinity for a good prosciutto, blue cheese and fig pizza).  

    I was reluctant to add cheese to the pie because I wasn’t sure how much cheese was in the Della Nonna sausage already and I’m not a big fan of overly cheesed pizza.  My mistake, I should have added more cheese to the pie. The sausage was escaping from the baked pie left and right. We nailed it on the second pie with lots of shredded mozzarella, per my brother’s request.

    My mom and my brother wondered if par-cooking and draining the sausage was recommended in the instructions and if it would result in a less greasy pizza. I suppose if you are watching your figure then perhaps it would make a difference. That is just a matter of personal taste. If you put some kale on this pie (a’ la Roberta's Good Girl) and let the sausage melt over it then it would be phenomenal.

    Over all I wouldn’t hesitate to give Pizza Tonight the Pizzalicious seal of approval with extra points for good design/green packaging and fun times.

    Get Some:
    Deroche is in Colorado at a brick oven bakers convention even as I write this and is coming back armed with a brand new 4300 lb portable brick oven from Forno Bravo/The Fire Within and hopes to debut her pies at First Friday's Art Walk. I can't wait.

    Pizza Tonight:
    3105 Grove Ave
    Richmond, VA, 23221



    RVAfoodie said...

    This post deserves some comments. It's the most thorough and logically structured analysis of a Pizza Tonight kit that I've seen yet. And I might have (over)written the first one there was. I couldn't agree more about the foolproofness. And I'm glad to see you used the parchment, but it's not under your dough in the pictures. What's up with that? People need to try that out, and you know a lot of folks just look at the pictures on blogs.

    I'm glad she doesn't include cheese. If you're not vegan, you should already have some (maybe shredded) white cheese in the fridge - at all times. Just sayin. And you should spike it with some real parm or something sharp.

    Lastly, I don't think you gave the dough its due. Have you had better? What would you compare it to? For me it's all about the dough with Pizza Tonight. Virtually any sauce or topping will go down easy with that dough underneath. That's how I feel, anyhow.

    Lauren Vincelli said...

    Great comments! I did use parchment but I guess in the cheese less pie pics It was before I transferred on to the parchment or after I had moved it off. You can see it in the last pic though.

    The crust was great. Definitely the right texture both wet and baked, but not totally unlike my own crust so... For me what really made this pie was the sausage and the sauce. The sauce wasn't too spicy or sweet and it was nice and bright. Good tomatoes for sure.
    The sausage stood out because it was something really special with out being too complicated or pretentious- just good simple ingredients mixed well.

    Anonymous said...

    Great post, Lauren! We're so glad you dig it! It means a lot coming from someone so pizzalicious! xo

    RVAfoodie said...

    If you're crust is ANYTHING like the Pizza Tonight crust, I want the recipe.