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206 – The Pizza Peel & Tomato Pie Recipe

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A pizza peel is a giant spatula intended to deliver a raw pizza to the oven as well as pull the cooked pizza out. Professional versions feature long handles that allow the cook to reach the very back of the oven. A version for the average home can be much more compact.

The pizza peel I designed can be made from any wood you like and certainly doesn’t need to be made from expensive woods like bubinga and figured maple. And before you give me crap about it, these were scraps from previous projects that would have sat in the lumber pile for years if I didn’t incorporate them into something useful.

History

Ever since I left New Jersey, I have been on a quest to find good pizza. In Trenton, we had numerous typical pizza parlors but there were also a bunch of places that specialized in what is known as tomato pie. While there are many variants in the Northeast, the key to a good tomato pie is the focus on the sauce, not the cheese. The Trenton version features an incredibly thin crust and the taste is very clean, not too oily, and absolutely NOTHING like the crap Pizza Hut passes off as “pizza.” Sorry Pizza Hut, your pizza-cake is gross.

The Project

All stock should be milled to 1/2″ thick.
Middle Piece: 2 1/2″ Wide x 26″ Long
Inner Pieces: 3 1/4″ wide x 17 1/2″ Long
Outer Pieces: 3 1/2″ Wide x 17 1/2″ Long
Handle Piece: 2 1/2″ Wide x 10″ Long

Keep in mind that the measurements above were primarily driven by the stock I had on hand and the dimensions of my pizza stone. If you are making your peel from on species of wood, you certainly don’t need to use as many pieces to create the primarily platform of the peel.

There are a lot of ways you can tackle a simple project like this. But when it comes to small kitchen items, it’s always best to prepare for making multiples. So instead of gluing the boards together and cutting them to shape directly, I recommend making a template. This way you can make multiples now or in the future. As long as you have a flush trim bit for your router, you’re good to go.

The Tomato Pie Recipe

Disclaimer: We are not professional chefs and I’m sure there are many ways to improve this recipe and our methods. The goal here was only to have some fun and show you how we made some delicious pizza in the Spagnuolo house.

Category: Projects

Comments

  1. Kris Smith July 12, 2013

    You can send me your scrap pieces… I can certainly use those small pieces. :)

    •  

      So can I. I have pizza peels to make! ;)

      • craig behnke June 25, 2014

        if you’re a Trenton born and raised guy and love you some tomato pie, you gotta love the pie’s from De Lorenzo’s. I grew up across the bridge in Yardley and we loved going into Trenton to pick up De Lorenzo pie’s. Best there is.

  2. runningwood July 12, 2013

    How about a secondary microbevel on the front edge ?

  3. Dan Roper July 12, 2013

    Another great video, Marc. Enjoyed the build and the tomato pie :-)

  4. Dennis Hammer July 12, 2013

    You may have just created the next end grain cutting board craze. Nice project would make awesome gifts.

  5. Mark Maslonkowski July 12, 2013

    Marc, really enjoyed the return to a basic project video using minimalistic material (I love scrap projects) and tools. Keep up the good work.

  6. Khaled July 12, 2013

    I was curious to know what the heck is a tomato pie. Thanks for the explanation.

  7. Bill Akins July 12, 2013

    Yummy. I’ll have a slice. Oh yeah, Marc, nice board thingy too. Great video guys.

  8. My instinct would have been to make that bevel a lot shallower so it’s good to know it would work just fine like that. You could use a low angle bevel router bit instead of the rasp if you didn’t feel like spending so much time with the hand tools.

  9. Tyler July 12, 2013

    Once again great video. You did another great job making a utilitarian piece that’s “too nice to use”, as my mother-in-law would say.

    Of all things, the garlic bit got me. We use the same kind, and every time we need it, my wife can’t get the lid off. I swear, it’s as if a gremlin gets into the refrigerator every night and cranks the lid down on that little jar.

    Keep up the good work!

  10. Marc- finally, both my passions – woodworking and cooking (oh, and eating!)…from Jersey, I would suggest that sometime you try a mix of fontina cheese and parmesan, grated about 4 to 1 (f to p)…used it for pizza on the grill last Friday night….mmmmmm

  11. Lane Steinsultz July 12, 2013

    Thanks for the showing the use of hand tools like the rasps used to round over the edge of the peel. Is there a good way to clean or sharpen those (rasps) when they get dull? Next can we make real pizza like Chicago style deep dish? Here’s where the confusion comes in…http://www.comedycentral.com/v.....plit-a-pie .

  12. Chaz July 12, 2013

    Thx Marc! West Coast by way of South Jersey; still looking for that Trenton style out here. Mac n Mancos and some others put some chedder in with the moz. Give it a shot

  13. William Lane July 12, 2013

    That was a great podcast Marc and family. no. 206

  14. François Girard July 12, 2013

    What, you use a french mixer, hahahaha, very nice clip!!!

  15. jim_ny July 12, 2013

    nice peel I cant wait to make one …we make our own pizza at least once every other week. We use our kitchen aid mixer for the dough and pizza yeast. I dont know if it matters to you but I tried yellow corn meal and it didnt work so well so we use white corn meal which works great. Gotta love ny nj pizza. Great job

  16. Any reason you chose the finish you did? The schedule is kind of a turn off for me as I like these to be “quick” projects. Would a general mineral oil/wax “finish” not hold up as well?

    •  

      Just about any traditional kitchen finish will work. I’m experimenting a bit with Tried & True. But in theory, I think the T&T will be better in the long run. It’s a drying oil that can be built up for deep and longer lasting protection. Mineral oil never really dries so it’s not my favorite way to treat kitchen items. Again, still experimenting here. But if you have a different finish that you prefer, no reason you can’t use it.

      • Mike July 15, 2013

        I use mineral oil with the understanding that (1) I need to reapply frequently and (2) the item will end up looking used and abused very quickly. But I don’t mind resanding every once in a while (it gives me an excuse to be in the shop and makes my wife happy all at the same time :)

  17. Brian Glendenning July 12, 2013

    What’s the tube/nozzle thingie on your bandsaw?

  18. Marc… have you tried Grimaldi’s? There is one at Northern and the 101. They are famous for their sauce. It’s a thin crust with real mozzarella. From one east coast dego to another… you will not be disappointed.

    •  

      We have tried there pie and found it a little heavy on the herbs. As you can see from ours, there’s really no herbs at all. Maybe the chef that day had a heavy hand. :)

    • Mike July 15, 2013

      I lived right by the Brooklyn Bridge Grimaldi’s from 2006-2009. Not the new one (which is the old owner), but the old one (which was the new owner). There was always a line halfway down the block but if you were a regular you could call ahead and skip the line. But you might have to call 10 or 15 times before they picked up. Cash only (of course), no slices. I always got a kick out of walking past the poor silly touriststs and eating my pie right in front of them. They are heavy on the basil but I guess I liked it that way. I’d get a pepperoni and fresh garlic and the wife would ask me to sleep on the couch!

  19. Ken F July 12, 2013

    Thank you for another recipe,

    Pizza
    And
    Crunchy French toast (we always go back to the captain)

    Can you think of something for lunch?

  20. Jersey Jeff July 12, 2013

    Marc,
    This video brought back found memories of the tomato pies my staff and I use to get from De Lorenzo’s in the Chambersburg section of Trenton (they’ve since moved to Robbinsville). In the late ’80s I used to work at The Trentonian newspaper and we loved that place! I did some web searches hoping I could find their recipe online to send to you, but alais it wasn’t to be found. I did however find several “Jersey Tomato Pie” recipes which referenced De Lorenzo’s and it seems Nicole nailed it perfectly.

    It’s a shame that I don’t cook, because this seems like a great use for all the scrap wood I’ve hoarded in my shop. Perhaps instead of making a pizza peel with my scrap, I’ll use it to create a wooden pizza!

    •  

      We used to eat at the various DeLorenzo’s locations in the Burg. But my grandparents would take use to Joe’s on C. Clinton Ave. every Saturday. Very different pie from the rest but just as good. NEVER found anyone that makes a pie like that since then. I also enjoy Palermo’s on 206 in Bordentown. Man, I need to get back to Jersey for some pizza!

  21. John Fitz July 13, 2013

    “pizza-cake”- haha, true dat! And yes, “thin” really is the best.

    Funny we’ve always used one and I never knew it was called a pizza peel. nice project!

  22. Jerry July 13, 2013

    Hey Marc,
    I’ve seen you use rasps in several of your videos. Which rasps do you use/recommend. Time I added these to my shop.

  23. Nice project and good humor. My wife makes our pizza on a stone she bought from “Pampered Chef” It is a good option to consider. And no we don’t sell Pampered Chef . Thanks for sharing the project…You guys are great.

  24. J. Goforth July 13, 2013

    Thanks for the video and the recipe. Down here in the south (North Carolina) we have a tomato pie that is more like a savory pie-shaped dish and not at all like a pizza which is excellent. But just wanted to say thanks for the video and the recipe. I really appreciate the free woodworking videos with your signature humor added. Keep up the good work.

  25. Freddie Ellis July 13, 2013

    I’m from New York and we got the best pizza :) Another great video Marc, enjoyed the pizza antics.

  26. NiteWalker July 14, 2013

    Amazing job Marc!
    On the peel and the recipe. :-)
    I love all the subtle details you put into the peel. Things like that are what makes a craftsman a craftsman.

  27. K k massey July 14, 2013

    I love the show. I Watched all of your videos

  28. Johnny July 15, 2013

    Marc…thanks so much for more making fun, teachable moments here on TWW. You keep me excited in the possibilities of making this just more than a hobby. If you ever are South of Tucson, near Tubac, you have to give The Italian Peasant a try. Not sure it will ever give you your memories of Jersey back, but the owner Dominique (Dom) is from the east coast and his pizzas are great. Favorite is called The Tubac!

  29. Jack Guerrazzi July 16, 2013

    Marc
    In exchange for the pizza peel project, a recipe, from across the river from where you grew up, from a famous pizza “joint”.

    Pizza Dough
    .1/4 cup light red or white wine, Fiano di Avellino recommended
    3/4 cup warm water
    11/2 ounces fresh yeast
    1 tablespoon honey
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 tablespoon olive oil for bowl
    3 1/2 cups flour

    Place wine, water and yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the honey, salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil and mix well to combine. Add 1 cup of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until it becomes a loose batter. Add 2 more cups of the flour and stir for 2 to 3 minutes, incorporating as much flour as you can with the wooden spoon.
    Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured board or marble surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until dough is smooth and firm. Place in a clean, lightly-oiled bowl, using remaining tablespoon of oil and cover with a towel. Let rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes.
    For individual pizzas or calzones, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and knead into rounds. For one large pizza, knead into 1 large round. For either, let rest for 15 minutes before rolling out.

    NY PIZZA SAUCE
    1 (28 ounce) can crushed Tomatoes
    2 tablespoons Olive Oil
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1small Onion minced
    1/2 tablespoon Salt
    1/4 teaspoon Pepper
    1 teaspoon dried Oregano
    1 teaspoon dried Basil (or 2 teaspoons Basil Pesto)
    Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the onion, garlic, and saute for 1 minute, until fragrant and golden. Add the salt, pepper, oregano, and basil and allow to cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring for one minute. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for at least 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings to taste. Let the sauce cool before using.

    RICOTTA AND HAM CALZONE

    1 recipe basic pizza dough
    1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
    1/3 lb sliced prosciutto or ham coarsely chopped
    1/2 pound mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
    2 eggs
    Sea salt and black pepper
    1/4 cup grated pecorino romano
    Extra-virgin olive oil, for the crust
    Pizza paddle
    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
    Prepare the pizza dough. After the dough has risen, punch down and cut the dough into 2 pieces.
    In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, prosciutto, mozzareiia, 1 egg, and pecorino romano cheese. Using a wooden spoon, stir the filling until well combined. Set aside.
    Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into 2 rounds.
    Coat the pizza paddle lightly with the sea salt. Place 1 dough round on the paddle spread with coarse sea salt.
    Spoon the filling onto the center of the dough round laid out on the pizza paddle. Using your fingers, dab a little extra-virgin olive oil all around the edge of the dough. Fold each round over itself to make a half-moon shape. Using your fingers or the tines of a fork, crimp the edges, sealing the calzone.
    In a small bowl, use a fork to beat the remaining 1 egg. Using a brush or your fingers, lightly coat the top of the calzone with the egg mixture, which will help the top turn a beautiful golden brown.
    Place in the oven on a pizza stone or cookie sheet and cook until the dough is cooked through and golden brown on both sides, about 25 minutes.

  30. I LOVE THE SHOW

  31. Thanks guys, very fun and informative. I so much enjoy watching!.

  32. Scott July 16, 2013

    Thanks to the both of you, I can’t wait to give both the peel and the pizza a try.
    Thanks!!

  33. Marie July 17, 2013

    That was a great video, it’s the humor that brings me back over and over again. Like old times with Nicole in the scene. Do it again!!!!!!

  34. Hey Marc,
    Just a comment about the handplane.
    You mention that you use higher bevel angle which i agree would probably be better with figured wood. But then you skew the plane which effect is to reduce the effective cutting angle.
    Why bother using higher bevel angle then if you skew the plane ?

  35. Jamie Lennox July 17, 2013

    Excellent! Manga!

  36. Ben Daigle July 18, 2013

    another awesome video from marc!

  37. ANTHONY DISABATINO July 18, 2013

    No pizza like East Coast pizza!!! You can’t find it anywhere else, just another reason to visit NJ/NY/Pa! Trenton makes, the world takes!

    Mark, your projects and website are super!

  38. Charlie July 19, 2013

    Marc, great video – I’m a fan. You guys keep up the good work. For a great pizza dough get Jim Lahey’s Pizza book or check on line for his recipe. It’s no kneed and and a long ferment time really brings out the flavor.

  39. Patrick July 19, 2013

    Hey Marc,

    I was surprised to hear that you’re from the Trenton area; I moved to Ewing a few years back and discovered this “pizza pie” sensation. I’m curious if you ever ventured into Lawrenceville to visit Willard Brothers for lumber. I feel very lucky to have them so close as their selection of hardwoods is fantastic and the staff are very helpful. Just curious if they were around when you were back here on the right coast. Enjoy the pie!

    •  

      Hey Patrick. They might have been around but I wasn’t woodworking at the time. I left the area when I was about 22 years old, right after college. But, I’m quite familiar with the area. I went to Notre Dame for HS and Rider for college. :)

      • Patrick July 20, 2013

        So when you’re famous enough to come back and give the Commencement Speech at Rider, check them out on your way to DeLorenzos!

  40. Chris July 20, 2013

    Just thought I’d add a pun or two:
    I always fiqured you guys made a lot of dough;
    Name change for the website; the food whisperer
    Our hardware dealer/salesman is Irish married to an Italian wife. How about if you’d do a food special featuring haggis and zesty tomato sauce. The only other cultural combo I could think of was cement shoes at the bottom of Loch Ness.
    Enjoyed this very much Marc and its nice to see the busy mom but I the videos.

  41. Josh Clemence July 23, 2013

    Long time visitor, first time poster. I watched this video yesterday, never heard of Tomato Pie. I am Philadelphia this week for work, as a huge fan of pizza, figured I would try the Tomato Pie if I had the chance.

    Well, I just ordered one from a local place recommended by the hotel. I hope it is good.

    This project looks like fun and very functional. I think I might need to make one.

  42. Mike Mullen July 24, 2013

    Great video and nice project. I’d love it if you could post a follow-up impression of the tried and true varnish oil. I’m intrigued by it… I’m lazy and don’t much care for reapplying mineral oil. It would be great to hear your thoughts on: odor (both during application and after – does it linger?), durability, cure time (based on month and your location your experience may not be generalizable but a lot of people knock it for this).

  43. Jack Lloyd July 25, 2013

    Marc,
    As a former NJ resident it’s great seeing a little respect to the garden state. The peel is awesome and your method is a lot easier than some of the other methods I’ve seen. As the recipient of a new bandsaw this seems like a great inaugural project for the tool. Thank you and Nicole for your continued work on this inspiring website.

  44. John July 26, 2013

    Eating, wood working, I’ll never leave the shop! My wife would be pretty mad at me for that, especially since she’d like a new snazzy pizza board in the kitchen.

  45. Sly August 1, 2013

    Grilled peppers and anchovies, red onion and olives. Yeah man, get some down ya.

  46. Plane Truth August 14, 2013

    Marc:

    What is your opinion of “Good Stuff” as an alternative to “Tried & True”?

  47. Acrileu August 14, 2013

    As you pizzaiolo is an excellent carpenter…

  48. William B August 18, 2013

    Hi Marc,
    Do you have a link to a printable version of the tomato pie? Thanks!

  49. simon August 26, 2013

    Hi Marc,

    after a few months I have now watched all your videos you have posted so far and I just wanted to take the time to thank you for all those awesome tutorials and reviews and stuff that you provide for us for free! That is awesome!
    I really like the attention you pay to details and that you are never trying to sell something for something that it isn’t.
    thank you and I’m already looking forward to your next video.

    simon

  50. TennesseeYankee August 28, 2013

    Good work and Good eats.

  51. tom dalik May 16, 2014

    Bravo! I once lived in the east and I am on the same quest. Your analogy of franchise pizza is spot on ” pizza cake “. Living west of the Mississippi the last 40 years, I have found descent pizza maybe a small handful of times and usually from east coast transplants. Best pie I ever had was in Mt. Ivy N.Y. from a one man operation in a 20′ x 20′ building, no longer in business. Unfortunately Mr. P—-e has passed on. Who came up with those conveyor ovens where pizza is cooked in pans?

  52. Marco May 25, 2014

    Marc, you teach me woodworking
    I teach you how to make real pizza.
    Come to visit me in Italy, you will have free “how to pizza” sessions plus an extra content like real northern style polenta or best pasta cooking.
    Wait for your visit.

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