Do you want to host a pizza party? I love a pizza party. And I love throwing pizza parties. Admittedly, throwing a pizza party, at least for me, means creating an epic mess in the kitchen. And when I say epic, I mean, perhaps you should hire out for clean-up the next day. To a HAZ-MAT team. Just a suggestion.
I have thrown pizza parties THREE different ways:
- As a competition entitled the “Pizz-OFF!” in which teams competed against each other Iron Chef style.
- As the main chef in which I make pizzas in the oven or on the grill for a small crowd.
- As the main chef with assistants making pizzas for a large crowd in a wood-fired oven loaded into a truck.
I’m going to explain to you how to host a successful pizza party either as a competition or as the chef. I’m going to leave out the wood-fired oven option, but if you own one, feel free to shoot me a private note, and we can chat.
Before I get into it, one of the drawbacks to making pizza for a crowd is that you usually have to make one pizza at a time. In your home oven, it’s hard to get a nice bake with two pizzas in the oven at once. Even if you have DOUBLE ovens, you can only make 2 at a time. Timing is everything.
The Pizz-OFF – A Friendly Pizza Competition and Dinner Party:
- Disable your smoke detectors
- Funny adhesive mustaches can help set the mood
- Have 4-5 pizza-making teams of 2 people
- Also have judges/pizza eaters that don’t make any pizzas. They just eat them and vote on them — what a hard life!
- Use two categories: Classic and Creative
- Classic pies MUST have red sauce. They can have a cheese or a meat or both, and herbs.
- Creative Pizzas have the sky as the limit. Bechemel with Prosciutto and Shrimp? If you please.
- Teams should arrive early to the party to prep their ingredients
- Teams will announce the pizza they are making and make enough for all the judges to try
- It’s important to have snacks for your guests because pizza making could take some time
- Cheese and meat boards are a great idea, as are hummus and fruit and various dips. Try not to go crazy on appetizer carbs, as you’ll be eating a lot of pizza carbs.
- Use score cards for grading pizzas
- Give point on a scale of 1 through 5 (5 being the best) for things like: dough taste, dough crispiness, dough toughness, flavor combination of toppings, uniform bake, overall appearance/presentation, creativity, and leave room for notes (these will be funny).
- If possible, station a bunch of hightop tables around your kitchen/party area so guests can be mobile. This isn’t the sit-down kind of party.
A few notes:
- Please know as the night goes on and your guests drink more, the pizzas become exponentially more delicious.
- You will have random cooks in your kitchen who you can’t control. Try and control them. Then go have a glass of wine instead.
The Main Chef Pizza Party
- You are the main chef
- I recommend a smaller group—10 people max
- Preparedness is key. Create yourself some space in the kitchen and resign yourself to everyone wanting to be in there with you, where all the action and pizza is happening
- Make sure your dough is at the right temperature (ahem, NOT frozen)
- Portion out all your ingredients into small bowls, and place some bench flour near your workstation
- Get your oven and pizza stone hot
- Assign one sorry soul to be your assistant. This person will slice freshly cooked pizzas on a cutting board away from your work station. He/she will also encourage eaters away from grazing into your bowls of toppings and toward the finished product. You should reward this person with a bottle of wine.
- Put the drinks in another room. That way, at least people will have to leave for a refill
- Again, it’s best to have snacks for your guests because pizza making could take some time
- Cheese and meat boards are a great idea, as are hummus and fruit and various dips. Try not to go crazy on appetizer carbs, as you’ll be eating a lot of pizza carbs
A few notes:
- Don’t feel like you need to churn out pizzas like a robot. Stop. Have a sip of wine. Enjoy your guests. Have a slice. Come back to it in 10 minutes. No one is going to starve.
- Leave clean up for tomorrow.
What Types of Pizzas to Serve?
When you are the one serving all your guests, it’s best to take a few things off your plate. To aid the pizza party along, I recommend making pan pizzas. That way you don’t have to worry about peels and stones, and transferring to a cutting board. AND, this may be sacrilege, but in a conventional home oven, I do not believe the pizza stone creates a better pizza. There. I said it.
- A 9″x 13″ rimmed baking sheet works very well
- DO make sure to oil your pizza pan well.
- Even better: Line the baking sheet with parchment paper drizzled in olive oil. It makes it SO easy to remove the pizza from the pan!
But What RECIPES Should I Serve?
A classic Margherita is always a hit. Trust me, people love it.
This Pear and Pecorino Pizza is so delicious and simple, it will make you cry from joy.
Finally, this Marinated Kale Pizza can be made with or without sausage and is equally delicious either way.
I do have sources for expert pizza that are NOT my own. Particularly, I like:
- Bon Appetit, especially their Cast Iron Skillet Pizza
- Food and Wine is an excellent resource
- Serious Eats’ Slice is a go-to for all things pizza: advice, recipes and reviews
Finally, why not serve a dessert pizza to cap it all off? Try this Fig, Peach and Ricotta Pizza.