What's your favorite unconventional pizza?
December 10, 2013 8:21 AM   Subscribe

So! We have a Baking Steel*, and a great crust recipe, and have pretty much mastered the basic process of making pizza. We're throwing a pizza party for some friends on the 21st, and now I need some interesting pizza topping ideas that go beyond the usual mozzarella, sausage, pepperoni, mushroom variety.

A recent favorite is this Broccoli Rabe, Potato and Rosemary Pizza from Food 52, which, with a bit of truffle oil sprinkled on right before eating, is HOLY FUCKING CHRIST SO GOOD. This will definitely be one of the offerings on the 21st, but I'm also looking for other ideas as well. We won't be doing pizza on demand; basically, I'm thinking of having four or five different offerings and letting folks just eat it buffet-style as it comes out of the oven. This is all going to be very casual and fun.

MeFites! Beyond the usual standard pizza toppings, what are your favorites / favorite combinations? We are adventurous eaters with no food allergies or sensitivities. Red sauce, white sauce, other sauce, or no sauce at all are all perfectly acceptable.

* I'm not usually big on single-use kitchen gadgets, but the baking steel is worth every penny. Beautiful, blistered, crispy crust, a billion times better than any baking stone I've ever owned.
posted by shiu mai baby to Food & Drink (68 answers total) 69 users marked this as a favorite
Red sauce, gorgonzola, and caramelized leeks.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:25 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Everybody's all "I like peppers la la la" but bell peppers are actually gross and boring. What you really want is thinly sliced banana peppers. Not terribly hot (usually) and way more awesome.

I hope you have a mandoline--it makes everything way easier.

Goat cheese on pizza is the bomb.
posted by phunniemee at 8:26 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

We once made a pizza sauce based around pre-made butternut squash soup, simmered and thickened, and it was AMAZING. We used mozzarella for cheese, and topped it with sage and maaaaybe ham? But it's the butternut squash + sage combination that sticks out in my memory. So tasty.
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:27 AM on December 10, 2013 [6 favorites]

shiitake, portabella, crimini, & button with apricots & fresh basil

There's a local place that does an astounding combination: chicken, bacon, ranch (red sauce, chicken, diced bacon, mozzarella, and a thin spiral of ranch dressing on top)
posted by plinth at 8:27 AM on December 10, 2013

Beets and Blue Cheese.
posted by lobstah at 8:28 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

My favourite pizza toppings are caramelised onions and thin sliced fresh tomatoes.
posted by quaking fajita at 8:28 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

There is a Pizzeria near me that I've gone to a few times that has a few non-traditional pizzas. Check out their menu and see if anything speaks to you.

You could probably find some similar places and check out their menus for ideas.

I also really like BBQ sauce as the sauce, grilled chicken, onion, tomato, and bacon with a mix of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses.

Canadian bacon and pineapple is kind of common as a non-traditional topping combo but I still love it.
posted by VTX at 8:28 AM on December 10, 2013

The boyfriend and I love baked potato pizza: we load up mashed potatoes on the pizza crust in place of sauce (the garlicky-er the potatoes the better), then top with anything you'd put on a baked potato that we happen to have handy - bacon (THE BEST), ham, chives, onion, red pepper, whatever cheese we feel like (aged sharp cheddar is delicious, as is about anything else you can dream up). Bake and eat and feel grateful we live in such an amazing world.
posted by warble at 8:28 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Shaved zucchini slices, roasted garlic, Parmesan.
posted by Kitteh at 8:29 AM on December 10, 2013

I get a pizza from my local pizza joint that is called "The Provence": tomato sauce, roasted garlic sauce, mozzarella, fresh tomato, chopped basil, capers, and artichoke hearts. The capers and the artichoke hearts give the pizza a wonderful tart/brininess. It's delicious.
posted by ATX Peanut at 8:29 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

On the rare occasions that I can be bothered to make gluten free pizza, chicken and pesto is a favoured topping. Also, spinach and ricotta or roast butternut squash and blue cheese.
posted by halcyonday at 8:30 AM on December 10, 2013

Best answer: Caramelized onions, bacon, and a white sauce made of equal portions crème fraiche and fromage blanc.
posted by punchtothehead at 8:31 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: potatoes, gorgonzola, shallots, rosemary. Crack an egg on top before baking if you're crazy.

pork belly or unsmoked bacon, gorgonzola, red onions cooked down in balsamic vinegar.

wilted chard and goat cheese.

sausage, spicy red sauce, fresh mozz, lightly dressed arugula thrown on top of the hot pizza.
posted by peachfuzz at 8:31 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

This one might be kind of odd, but: pepperoni, red onions, red peppers, corn, and thinly sliced sweet potatoes. You should cook the sweet potatoes a little bit beforehand, because they won't cook enough while the pizza is cooking. Then grate some parmesan cheese over the top just before baking.

Another thing we've done for pizza parties that is totally great is this: we tell the guests that we'll provide pizza crust, basic sauce, mozzarella, and a few basic toppings, and ask everybody to bring a topping or two of their choice!
posted by number9dream at 8:31 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Roasted, puréed butternut squash as the sauce (similar to what Sokka shot first) describes above, plus goat cheese, dried cranberries, and caramelized onions.
posted by rebekah at 8:31 AM on December 10, 2013

This one isn't that far out there, but it's one of my favorites. The place that made it where I used to live called it the Nutcracker.

It's pesto sauce, mozzarella cheese, red peppers, and pistachios. The pistachios soften in the oven into something delicious. Add little bits of prosciutto if you want some meat in there.
posted by cirrostratus at 8:33 AM on December 10, 2013

I just had a delicious pizza at Bertucci's the other night that was topped with butternut squash, blue cheese, gorgonzola and candied walnuts.

One of my family's favorite pizza recipes is borrowed from a pizza place in Providence, RI: spinach, shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, pecans, and dried cranberries. When it comes out of the oven, crumble up feta and sprinkle it on top. We like this one on a whole wheat crust.

(No sauce on either of the above two.)

I love egg as a pizza topping. Just crack a fresh one over it before it goes into the oven, and you will receive delicious yolk to dip your pizza in.
posted by capricorn at 8:35 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just made a pizza with pear, gouda, cheddar, bacon, and light olive oil sauce. It was great!
posted by unreasonable at 8:38 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My favorite non-traditional combo is pear, pancetta, Gorgonzola, and arugula. I too live by a great pizzeria with adventurous toppings, so here are some more ideas from their menu.
posted by lovableiago at 8:38 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

They have a terrible name, but these pizzas topped with uncooked greens were really good!
posted by amarynth at 8:40 AM on December 10, 2013

smoked oysters
posted by bruce at 8:42 AM on December 10, 2013

Japanese style: crab, bacon, corn & mayonnaise. So good.
posted by jamaro at 8:44 AM on December 10, 2013

Tomato sauce, bananas, tiny shrimp, cheese and curry powder. Discovered thst one in Sweden but I've made it many times since.
posted by carolr at 8:45 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

My two current faves:

Carmelized onions, wood-oven roasted potatoes, sliced apples, walnuts, mozzarella & blue cheese, drizzled with honey, tomato sauce as base.

Broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, smoked chicken, mozzerella and goat cheese and sweet chili thai sauce as base.
posted by saucysault at 8:46 AM on December 10, 2013

Blue cheese, carmalized onions and slices of roast beef (pan-fried) and arugula.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:49 AM on December 10, 2013

prosciutto or bresaola and arugula, with optional caramelized onions and/or an egg cracked on top before it goes in the oven.
posted by Sara C. at 8:50 AM on December 10, 2013

Thin sliced avocado is incredible on pizza.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:51 AM on December 10, 2013

chicken, mozzarella, bacon, spinach, tomato and mushroom with alfredo sauce base. AKA paradise pie from hideaway pizza.
posted by domino at 8:54 AM on December 10, 2013

I've done ricotta/pear/apple/honey as a dessert pizza. Better cheeses adds a lot. Chicken, fig and caramelized onion is great. Tandoori-style chicken with mango chutney plus a mild cheese and nice veggies.

Dumping a pile of fresh arugula on top of pizza (after it's been cooked) is great.
posted by jeather at 8:55 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

My favorite pizza I can't buy is a thick eggplant marinara topped with good quality feta cheese. I've tried adding other ingredients, but everything I've tried (mushrooms, kalamata olives, even just fresh basil) seems to take away from it.

For the marinara, you just dice up an eggplant in about quarter inch pieces, sautee them with some garlic and some Italian herbs (I premix this so I don't have to get everything out every time--any decent Italian blend should do), then add pureed tomatoes and tomato paste, a little anchovy paste, and salt and pepper. Simmer it for a while, until you have a thick, chunky sauce, then ladle it very generously onto a honey wheat crust, top it with chunks of feta, drizzle a little olive oil on top, and bake.

I also like variations on Swedish pizzas sometimes. Regular pizza sauce, then topped with tuna, bananas, thin sliced apples and onions, banana peppers, cheese, and sprinkled with curry powder. The Swedish lady I learned it from said that she and her friends would have pizza parties where everyone would make their own pizza from a selection of really weird toppings. Those are just the ones I remember and use myself, but if you're looking for really weird stuff to try, Sweden has some ideas.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:56 AM on December 10, 2013

I'm glad to see all the love for blue cheese on pizzas. I just had one with blue cheese, mozzarella, mint, bacon, and pear.

At the same place I had one with pulled pork. Very nice but after a slice or two it was too rich and decadent,
posted by Che boludo! at 9:04 AM on December 10, 2013

I lived near one of New York's "Two Boots" pizza places for years. They come up with all sorts of funky pizza formulas - their influences are both Italian and Cajun.

Some of the funkier things on their menu include:

LUISAIDA - Chorizo, garlic & pickled peppers

THE NEWMAN - sopressata & sweet italian sausage on a white pie

EARTH MOTHER - five vegetables. Available with or without cheese.

THE DUDE - our cajun bacon cheeseburger pie: tasso, ground beef, cheddar, & mozzarella

THE BIRD - spicy buffalo wings, blue cheese dressing, scallions & jalapenos, on a white pie

TONY CLIFTON - wild mushrooms, sweet red pepper pesto, vidalia onions, & mozzarella

MR. PINK - marinated chicken, plum tomatoes, fresh garlic & mozzarella

NIGHT TRIPPER - sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic & jalapeno pesto on a white pie with a whole wheat crust

LARRY TATE - spinach, plum tomatoes, & fresh garlic on a white pie

BAYOU BEAST - bbq shrimp, crawfish, andouille, jalapenos, & mozzarella
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:06 AM on December 10, 2013

When we do homemade, we do chopped clams, garlic, a bit of the clam juice, olive oil, fresh mozz, and good parm. I thought I hate clams until I had that!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 9:06 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Thin slices of potato, any goat cheese, rosemary, olive oil.
posted by mumimor at 9:06 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Clam pizza is so good, and this version with a cream sauce made with the clam liquor is great, if a bit time consuming.

There's also the "Indian pizza" approach taken by a handful of San Francisco restaurants where the sauce is basically saag and then it's topped with tandoori chicken and mozzarella.

Oh, and endorsing punchtothehead's suggestion, which is basically tarte flambee/flammkuchen.
posted by yarrow at 9:07 AM on December 10, 2013

Response by poster: Not answering my own question, but if y'all are ever in Philly, head over to Barbuzzo on 13th and get the Uovo pizza: brussel sprout leaves, guanciale, secret white sauce, parmesan, fior di latte, and truffled farm egg. Bliss.

Also: these are all fantastic suggestions, thank you. And I am now really, really, really hungry.
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:08 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Potatoes, bacon, and spinach. Usually with jalapenos as well.

Or, a BBQ chicken pizza: BBQ sauce, chunks of marinated, cooked chicken, red pepper flakes mixed in with the cheese, red onions, cilantro on top.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 9:11 AM on December 10, 2013

Best answer: pancetta, brussels sprout leaves (they'll turn crisp and awesome), 50/50 mix of good parmagiano and a more melty cheese (applied sparingly), drizzle of good olive oil, red pepper flakes.

bonus points for caramelized onion or roasted garlic.

such good. wow.
posted by weaponsgradecarp at 9:22 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

There's a restaurant near us called Za that has a rotating list of specialty pizzas that are tasty. I had a smoked salmon pizza there that was pretty magical. They also make a macaroni and cheese pizza that I've never tried, but I guess it's a thing.

I have to nth goat cheese, caramelized onions, and roasted garlic as always-good ingredients, and I'd add roasted red peppers to that list. Great, now I'm hungry.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:27 AM on December 10, 2013

Pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and crumbled feta cheese.
$79 for a small sheet of steel? Yikes!
posted by Thorzdad at 9:29 AM on December 10, 2013

Response by poster: Thorzdad: I was skeptical too, at first, but oh man, is it worth it. So, so, so worth it. The steel is about half an inch thick, and the sucker weighs like 15 pounds. I have tried all manner of pans and stones and grills and cast-iron skillets, but nothing comes remotely close to giving a flawlessly crispy-yet-tender crust with lovely blisters on the outside.
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:44 AM on December 10, 2013

I'm going to recommend this book, by a small London pizzeria called Franco Manca that is hands down the best I've had (including in the UK and in New York) outside Italy. It's mainly about the (sourdough) crust but their toppings are a mixture of classically interesting and simply delicious, e.g.

- Girolle mushrooms and mozzarella;
- Wild broccoli, mozzarella and rare breed pork sausage;
- Chorizo, mozzarella and basil

Basically, they don't muck about too much with things. So any easy way to think about it is:

- pizza crust +tomato + mozzarella

+ one meat/fish/mushroom (sausage, spicy sausage, salami, pork, pancetta, anchovy, mushroom)

+ one cheese (either more mozzarella, blue cheese, goats cheese, goat's curd, feta, pecorino etc)

+ one vegetable (olives, garlic, broccoli, asparagus, rocket, caramelized onions, pepper)

Then think about salt and sweet, bitter, sour and umami.

You don't really want too much sour in pizza nor much bitter - which will come from greens. The cheese will give you some umami.

It's basically the balance between salt and sweet. Your tomato sauce gives you some sweetness and your cheese gives you some saltiness. If you have a saltier ingredient like pecorino, feta, oilves or pancetta then you balance it out.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:50 AM on December 10, 2013

My favorite is something they have at my local airport that I look forward to eating every time I fly: Spicy chicken pizza with roasted red and yellow peppers, chili oil, mozzarella, tomato, leeks, crushed chiles, and cilantro.
posted by ostro at 10:25 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love Pizza Pasta. It's carb overload, but I love it.
If you've never seen it, it's just pizza with short noodles on it.

Oh, and in Japan, at Shakey's they sell sweet pizza with marshmallows on it, but that wasn't to my liking very much.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 10:26 AM on December 10, 2013

In a similar vein to some of the fruit/cheese suggestions above, a local chain (Seattle) does pear, gorgonzola, walnut, mushroom and red onion. Olive oil base with mozzarella and fontina. It's amazing.
posted by O9scar at 10:28 AM on December 10, 2013

jeather: "Dumping a pile of fresh arugula on top of pizza (after it's been cooked) is great."

Once we went to a fancy pizzeria that did that and ever since it's something that we seem to do on every pizza now, even frozen/Dominos taste better.
posted by wcfields at 10:39 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Chicken + cream cheese, a São Paulo classic
posted by Tom-B at 10:50 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

In any pizza where you'd normally use fresh tomatoes, try using fresh grapes instead (either cut in half or just crushed). They roast nicely, and are especially delicious with caramelized onions and sausage.
posted by twoporedomain at 10:52 AM on December 10, 2013

I'm jealous that you have a baking steel - they look awesome!

One of my favorite pizzas is clam made with the following ingredients: a mild marinara sauce, clams (lots and chopped), garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes, and grated Parmesan. Heaven.
posted by quince at 11:12 AM on December 10, 2013

Favorite things I've had on a pizza:

Truffle oil drizzled on top of a white pizza with arugula.
Poached / easy-over egg on top of a white pizza with arugula.
Tiny spicy lamb meatballs on pizza with red sauce with mint leaves.
Slices of potatoes with caramelized onions and baked(?) apple slices. Probably on a non-red sauce pizza.
Bacon. Bacon can always be added to any other toppings.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 11:21 AM on December 10, 2013

A bit of a lazy answer from me, but some of the pizzas on the menu at Fire and Stone (based in Covent Garden, London) might give you some inspiration.
posted by jonnyploy at 11:27 AM on December 10, 2013

We make what we call "White Pizza", which is an enormous amount of sauteed garlic (like 3 heads per pizza) in a generous amount of olive oil, spread over a par-baked crust, topped with Mozz or Fontina, if we're feeling fancy. Baked, then topped with sprinklings of Louisiana Hot sauce and Parmesan.

Carmelized onion, fontina and thyme is another fave.
posted by sarajane at 12:01 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had an Octoberfest-themed pizza that had bratwurst, caramelized onions, and... something else that I can't recall on it, that was really good.

Piece in Chicago does a dessert pizza that uses Nutella for the 'sauce' and mascarpone cheese, and it is delicious.

I just had a frozen Greek pizza from California Pizza Kitchen last night that had tzatziki sauce on it, which was unexpectedly good.
posted by Fig at 12:29 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I remember a tasty Domino's (yes) pizza in Germany. Bratwurst, onions, and Curry Ketchup.
They also had a tuna, olive and onion. I didn't try that one...

In Panama a friend swore by Oyster and Clam with Goat Cheese. I didn't try that one either.
posted by Leenie at 12:33 PM on December 10, 2013

So here's the thing. It's a pizza PIE, right? You could make a pizza using a nice, buttery, flaky pie crust. Even just a standard red sauce plus cheese pizza. Yum.
posted by aniola at 12:37 PM on December 10, 2013

Favorite from youth was canadian bacon and sauerkraut.
The trick is you build a conventional pizza, crust, sauce, cheese and canadian bacon. Then you add the sauerkraut on top like a second layer of cheese. The moisture in the kraut keeps it from burning, but it still gets browned nicely.
posted by Eddie Mars at 12:53 PM on December 10, 2013

Roasted butternut pumpkin/squash, pine nuts and caramelized onion, spread a bit of olive oil on the dough first. With either goat cheese or creme cheese blobbed on top, after it's cooked, depending on if you like goat cheese.
posted by wwax at 1:34 PM on December 10, 2013

A weird one I made up when I needed to use up too many jars of jam I had made over the summer - apricot jam, a teensy bit of minced fresh rosemary, blobs of mascarpone. A lightly dressed arugula salad piled on top while it's still hot. Mmmmm.
posted by hungrybruno at 1:38 PM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

One that went over really well recently when I made it (along with some others) was goat cheese, pine nuts, sage, caramelized onions, and pear.
posted by moira at 2:53 PM on December 10, 2013

posted by kathryn at 5:09 PM on December 10, 2013

Pumpkin and blue cheese
Artichoke hearts, rocket, and raw eggs cracked throughout
Grilled eggplant, lots of sumac, oregano and olives (LOTS) of sumac)
Goats cheese, thinly sliced granny smith apples, thyme, salt and pepper
Almond meal mixed with egg, icing suger, and studded with red grapes.
posted by smoke at 6:38 PM on December 10, 2013

posted by monospace at 6:43 PM on December 10, 2013

I used to get a smoked scamorza cheese and radicchio pizza that was wonderful at a restaurant in Denver. It doesn't sound amazing but it was...sadly the restaurant quit serving it and most of their really interesting offerings.
posted by BoscosMom at 7:06 PM on December 10, 2013

Mapo Tofu as the sauce. Top with some cheese.
posted by Gotanda at 7:54 PM on December 10, 2013

Zucchini and chèvre! After applying the sauce, lightly cover the surface with crumbled goat cheese, then top with rounds of thinly-sliced zucchini; brush slices lightly with olive oil (to reduce scorching), then bake.

(The first — and only — time I made this for him, my New York-by-birth-and-upbringing husband said "Oh my god, you really are a Californian, aren't you?" followed by muttering something about "abomination against the pizza gods"…)
posted by Lexica at 7:58 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Next to the Seventh day Adventist college near me there is a pizza place. Since they dont eat meat, they get creative.

Thats where I discovered black olive and cashew pizza. LOVE it!
posted by beccaj at 8:52 PM on December 10, 2013

speck, taleggio, porcini. no tomato sauce. it's beyond.
posted by soi-disant at 6:26 AM on December 11, 2013

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