A detailed guide on recreating an ultimate South Shore Style Bar Pizza from home, wood paneling not necessary.
Boston Bahh Pizza
Everybody should be able to make an authentic New England style bar pizza no matter their location. I’ve heard the horror stories of what’s out there for pizza outside of the Northeast and its not good. As a result most of the bar pizza joints around here have caught on and began selling frozen pizzas. But they just aren’t the same. Now, with everyone being stuck in their houses during the COVID-19 Pandemic, I’ve decided to create an entire website dedicated to making the ultimate homemade bar pizza from the comfort of your own sweatpants. It’s a work in progress but I’ll update as time fits.
I am a pizza fanatic. Bar pizza has run through my blood since my father first introduced me to ground linguica pizza at Cape Cod Cafe. As a hobby I’ve always enjoyed making pizza and had always wanted to figure out how I could replicate my favorite pizzas in my own kitchen. There are hundreds of dough recipe’s online and I’ve tried most of them. They where either too chewy, too cardboardy or unable to even stretch out in the pan. The dough recipe below is unlike any other I’ve found online and is the result of a lot of trial and error. It is easily stretched along the pan, tastes great, and is as close you will ever get to recreating a classic south shore bar pizza inside your own home kitchen.
World Famous Bar Pizza
Cape Cod Cafe, Lynwood Cafe, Town Spa, and Venus are just a few of the greats near me and they all have a slightly different flavor profile, crust texture and cheese mix. There is always plenty of debate over who is best. I love them all. They’re all good and they’re all slightly different. I think a lot of it comes down to nostalgia and consistency when people choose a favorite. These places have been making the exact same pizzas for over 40 years now.
What makes a bar pizza a bar pizza?
For starters, these pizzas are cooked in a well seasoned 10″ pan. A flaky buttery crust sits beneath a crushed tomato sauce. Topped with cheddar cheese and just about anything else you’d like to throw on top (like french fries, pickles or mozzarella sticks) you are in for a world of deliciousness. Pairs perfectly with an ice cold beer. The bars these pizzas come from usually have some sort of wood paneling on the inside, most haven’t updated since the 70’s and their take-out pizzas come in a brown bag with thick paper plates. It’s hard to find anything even remotely close to this style of pizza anywhere outside of the South Shore or Massachusetts.
The trick to achieving that buttery crispy crust is adding Corn oil and melted butter, along with minimal kneading. Most recipes leave that out. Nothing ever compared to what I’d get at a local bar pizza joint until I tried this. For butter I prefer KerryGold Salted Butter
Also, most of the local pizza shops coat their pans with Cottonseed Oil, though it can sometimes be hard to find. I have coated my pans with corn, canola and olive oil all with good results but I prefer corn oil for the added flavor. At high temps the oil in the pan actually fries the dough while cooking.
For a crisp, buttery, cracker like crust like The Lynwood I use All Purpose flour. For a slightly softer, chewier crust you can use bread flour. It’s a subtle difference and I encourage you to try both. This recipe is super easy and you can interchange All Purpose/Bread flour without changing any measurements.
Don’t worry about what type of yeast you have on hand. You can interchange Active Dry for Instant Bread Machine yeast without changing any measurements. This is the yeast I have been using with great results. If you use the Instant bread machine yeast, just mix it right in with the dry ingredients. Then add the wet ingredients. The only difference between the active dry yeast and the instant yeast is the size. Instant yeast is much finer and will dissolve well mixed right into the dry ingredients.
If you’re going to be serious about creating authentic bar pizzas from your kitchen you are going to need a few important tools.
The Pan – The only pan I can recommend for making bar pizza at home are these 1×10 pre seasoned straight sided Lloyd Pans , they are great! These pans are best for home cooks because they are dark and heavy, helping spread heat evently. If you are using shiny pans you may have to adjust temperature and need a stone.
Once I started using Lloyd pans I no longer had to place the pizza back onto the stone or baking steel to crisp up the bottom. These work great on there own, no stone needed. Lloyd pans are a bit pricey but well worth it if you are serious about making amazing pizza at home.
**Just wipe them out with a paper towel when done cooking, do not wash with soap and water!
Pan Grippers – Work great for easily removing your pans from the oven. Also saves cabinet space compared to using a pizza peel.
Pizza Cutter – I prefer to use these blade style cutters but you can use a wheel cutter too, just be careful because sometimes the wheels tend to push the cheese off. If you’re going all in, check out this sweet Pizza Knife
Cheese Grater – You 100% NEED to grate your own cheese if you want to make a great bar pizza. Store bought pre-shredded cheese is coated in cellulose, this prevents clumping. It can burn up and have a funny taste at high temps. I use a rotary cheese grater like this and it saves me a lot of time, I love it! If you have a KitchenAid Stand Mixer this Slicer Attachment is awesome too.
Takeout boxes or Fiber Molded Plates – this may seem crazy, but if you’re going to save any of your pizza for a later time, it is based stored on a paper plate or takeout box. The paper actually absorbs some of the moisture preventing your pizza from becoming soggy. This is why all the greats still serve takeout on thick paper plates in brown paper bags! If you store your leftover slices in a plastic container you will get some condensation. This will result in excess moisture on your crust!
Kitchen Scale – I use this to make sure each piece of dough is 6.5oz. Also a more accurate way to measure your flour.
Cooking thermometer – This will help you make sure the water is at 110 degrees. If you don’t have one don’t panic, run the water over your hand, you want it about as warm as you, if you no longer feel the water it is about your body temperature and that will work.
Fine Mesh Colander – To strain the extra water out of your crushed tomatoes.
Thin Spatula – this helps to peel the pizza out of the pan and not mess up the laced crust. This is just a good metal icing spatula. There are also “blender” and “jar” spatulas out there that work well.
Dough Cutter – these are nice for dividing up your dough, much better than using a knife which will rip and tear your dough
Dough Docker – this pokes even holes in your dough, yes you can also just use a fork but these are fun.
Storage Containers for dough – to store your dough
Oven Gloves – Makes it much easier to hold the pan while popping the cooked pizza out. When I used traditional oven mitts my thumbs would smoosh the pizza, nobody likes that..
Bluetooth Speaker – For playing Dream Theater, Van Halen or Italian Cooking Playlists on Spotify. This speaker is my favorite.
The sauce is incredibly simple. Pickup any good quality can of crushed tomatoes at the grocery store and some fine sea salt. Strain the majority of water out using a fine mesh colander. I use one like this. Place sauce in a bowl or container and stir in some sea salt to taste. That is all you need. You don’t even have to cook this sauce, it cooks on the pizza! My personal favorites are Pastene Ground Peeled Kitchen Ready Tomatoes (not chunky if you can find it) and Pastene California Pizza Sauce . After you’ve spread your sauce out on the dough, sprinkle on some dried oregano to taste. Don’t use cheap oregano it doesn’t taste good. As with everything else, use the best ingredients you can find.
**While fresh picked tomatoes may sound like a great idea, they are way too watery for a bar pizza.
You are going to have to grate your own blocks of cheese. To achieve a quality bar pizza, pre-shredded cheese just isn’t going to cut it. Pre-shredded cheese is coated in cellulose which burns quicker and can start to taste funny when cooked at high temps. I shred down a block of good quality white cheddar and a block of low moisture mozzarela. Some of the classic bar pizza restaurants blend a sharp white and a mild white cheddar. Others like Lynwood will blend cheddar with mozzarella. White cheddar is the preferred choice here, not orange.
FAQ Troubleshooting guide:
Dough is snapping back and not spreading – This is usually because you’ve handled the dough a little too much. Let it rest in the pan for 15 minutes and try again. Start spreading the dough in the pan and let it rest periodicaly while the oven is pre-heating.
Burnt Bottom – move up one rack in your oven, also may have put too much oil in pan
Dough is too sticky – dough can be tricky because there are so many factors that can affect it like humidity, room temp, water temp etc.. If your dough is super sticky just add some more flour to it. It should be a slightly wet but not sticky ball of dough.
Big bubbles forming while cooking – you need to poke holes in the dough with a fork or Dough Docker before you sauce it
Dough not cooking on bottom – this is usually from using a light colored pan and not a dark pan, dark pans hold more heat and cook more evenly. Bright pans work great in high heat commercial ovens but can be difficult at home. Try using a Stone or Baking Steel if you are using bright pans
1 Serving Equals 1 Pizza for Recipe Below. Try the calculator to adjust recipe size. Recommended to use multiples of 4 (4,8,12 pizzas etc..)
South Shore Bar Pizza Recipe
Homemade South Shore Bar Pizza
Preparing the Dough
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in a separate bowl with the warm water and let sit until nice and foamy (couple minutes). The perfect temperature for the yeast is 110 degrees, don't go too hot or you risk killing the yeast. **Note - If you are using instant bread machine yeast. Just add it in with your dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients and mix
Pour the flour into stand mixer (If you don't have a mixer just mix in a large bowl)
Pour the foamy yeast mixture in with the flour, start mixing on #2 with a bread hook, then add the corn oil, melted butter and salt. Mix with a bread hook until a ball forms. About 2 minutes Do not over knead this dough!
Set aside in an oiled airtight bowl, leave out at room temperature for at least 6 hours. When ready you should have a very light and fluffy dough that you can easily push to the sides of your 10" pan . Cut the dough into even pieces, you want about 6.5oz piece of dough for each (about the size of a baseball). Refrigerate whatever you will not be using for up to 48hrs. *Leave out of refrigerator at least 2 hours at room temp before reusing
Preheat oven at 500 for at least 20 minutes before cooking
Strain a can of high quality crushed tomatoes in mesh colander and add sea salt to taste. (I recommend Pastene California Pizza Sauce or Pastene Ground Peeled Tomatoes ) If you like a smoother texture you can throw it in a blender for a second. Some crushed tomatoes can come very chunky.
Assembling your pizza
Evenly coat your pan with some corn oil, make sure to coat the sides too
Begin to push your 6.5oz dough ball all the way to the edges of your pan. You may need to take a break to let dough rest, then continue spreading. If you want burnt/laced edges, keep the dough night and flat all the way to edge, you do not need to pinch a crust against the edges.
Poke a few holes in the dough with a fork, this prevents giant bubbles and its important! I have forgotten to do this, which resulted in one giant bubble sliding the cheese and sauce over the edge of pan and setting off smoke alarms...!
Spread sauce all the way to the edges to get those laced edges.
Dust sauce with some dried oregano, couple pinches should do.
Spread your shredded cheese all the way to the edges of the pan.
Add any toppings you like
**Preheat oven at 500 for at least 20 minutes before cooking. Place pizza in oven (Middle Rack) for about 12 minutes, add a few more minutes if you have a lot of toppings Every oven is a little different so you'll need to start watching the pizza around 12 min to see how it looks!
Eat pizza and save your leftovers for breakfast if needed. **Wipe your pans out with a paper towel and put them away, do not wash them!
For an even crispier crust, double the oil.
450 grams is about 3.75 cups
If dough seems dry and not forming ball in mixer add another tablespoon or two of water
Remember, every pizza can be a personal pizza if you try hard and believe in yourself!