Stealing from the Restaurant: Anthony's Meatball and Ricotta Pizza

I'm a sucker for Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza's meatball and ricotta pie. The combination of the thin, crisp, slightly charred, and bubbled crust with a simple tomato sauce, a little mozzarella, tiny meatballs, and blobs of rich ricotta is hard to resist when the urge for takeout pizza strikes. 

But sometimes I just don't feel like getting in the car and making the trek to Anthony's; the closest one to my house is in Boynton Beach, which usually means a rush-hour crawl on I-95 and a cruise into a town that's a notorious speed trap. So I figured I should pick up the challenge and see if I could replicate my favorite pie at home -- without spending most of the day
doing it.   

Besides ingredients, the only other thing you need is a pizza stone, either one of those fancy stones like they have at Macy's or Williams-Sonoma or a more durable and much cheaper unglazed quarry tile that you can get at most home improvement stores. Add a little time and a hot oven and you're good to go. 

Anthony's Homage Meatball and Ricotta Pizza
1 bag pre-made pizza dough (available at Publix)
1 package Bruce Aidells chicken-turkey-mozzarella meatballs, sliced in half
1 container whole milk ricotta
Flour and cornmeal
½ C. mozzarella, coarsely grated
2 T. olive oil
1 can whole plum tomatoes (San Marzano if possible)
½ small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ t. dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: grated Parmesan and fresh basil, cut in julienne

To prepare dough: Remove dough from refrigerator at least one hour before assembly and empty it into large bowl. Then punch it down. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the pizza. 

Preheat your oven with the pizza stone inside to 500 degrees (or your oven's highest setting) for at least 30 minutes. 

For sauce: Heat olive oil in skillet, sauté onions until translucent (about 10 minutes), add garlic, and saute two minutes more. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hand, plus their sauce, then add thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes to let flavors meld. Remove from heat and let cool. 

Remove the dough from refrigerator and punch it down again. Working with your hands, stretch the dough into 12 or 13-inch rounds. (Or flour a pizza peel or cutting board and roll it out with a rolling pin.) Add one-third to one-half of the sauce (depending on how much you like; the rest freezes well for next time). Scatter with mozzarella, and add halved meatballs and small spoonfuls of ricotta. 

Scatter the pizza stone with cornmeal to keep the dough from sticking. Slide the pizza onto the stone, close oven, and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until crust is brown around the edges and tomato sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven, scatter Parmesan and basil over top (if desired), and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice and serve.
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