How to Prepare Pizza Party (#OoniDay)
Last Updated on September 26, 2021 by Stefano
This year I decided to participate to #OoniDay on September 18th 2021. What was it about? In few words Ooni.com encourages a Pizza Party to celebrate the joy of having a Pizza with Family and Friends while contributing to a Charity Initiative. Before going in more details the result of the party is this blog post on How To prepare a Pizza Party. At least how I do it.
As you probably know, Ooni is one of the biggest manufacturer of outdoor Pizza Ovens. They have several models, all perfect for home made Pizza. They are especially good for Neapolitan Style Pizza, because they can reach without issues 500 °C (~930 °F). When I bought my Ooni Koda 16 I was reviewing several models and brands. But I found the one produced by Ooni as the best for the price. In a coming blog post I will talk about how to buy a oven for your pizza. But for now I prefer to introduce you to a different topic.
As I was writing before I participated to #OoniDay. All I had to do was to share my Pizza on Social Media and register it with Ooni contributing to charity with 1$/1€/1£ for each pizza. I ended up registering six.
After all I thought that I did want to do even more. And here we go with this blog post. Today’s goal is to share what I think is the best way to prepare a Pizza Party. Therefore we will cover the following topics:
- Pizza Party Pack: what is my setup
- Hosting a Pizza Party: essential kitchen utensils and accessories
- Pizza Party size: how many pizza for your party
- #OoniDay: my Pizza Party Menu
Pizza party Pack: What is my Setup
Let’s start with my Setup. Maybe it is not the best. Out on the Internet is full of people with an almost professional Pizza Party toolkit. However I used it several times already and it simply works! All guests leaving my apartment were happy and I am sure they would come again 🙂
But let’s go in order.
If you want to have a decent setup you want to start considering how many guests you want to serve. Don’t underestimate such number. It makes a huge difference to prepare Pizza for 5, 10 or 20 people. The more guests you want the more you want to invest in your kitchen equipment and accessories (more on this topic later).
I am ready to have up to 6 people to enjoy Pizza. But I am already at my limits. Even one more person would be complicated to manage.
That said, I can finally share my setup, covering:
In following sections I will add much more about the right Pizza Party Setup, however let’s start with the most important component.
But before we move ahead I would like you to consider to subscribe to my newsletter. It’s free, you will get a Recipe Notebook to download and you will never lose my new tips & tricks around the world of Italian Pizza. I hate spam too, so no worries, subscribe with confidence:
It’s all about the Pizza Oven
To host a good Pizza Party you want the best possible Pizza Oven for home. Especially if you are doing Neapolitan Pizza Party. You already know that I own a Ooni Koda 16.
I found the Koda16 to be pretty consistent in its results. Probably you need to learn how to manage the temperatures as first thing. What happens indeed is that the stone temperature drops significantly after you cook a Pizza. So you want to calculate how much time it takes between Pizzas to get temperatures back to what you need.
I know of several people changing the Pizza Oven Stone. By default the Koda oven stone releases the temperature pretty aggressively. So it can happen that you burn the crust. The alternative would be to buy a Pizza Oven Stone which is called “Biscotto” in italian. It is actually not stone. Material is different and is the same used in professional or more expensive ovens. To be honest I don’t think it is worth: all you need is to learn how to manage temperatures according to the Dough you prepare.
Ooni Koda Accessories: do they improve your Pizza?
This question requires most probably an entire blog post. However let me try to go straight to the answer: yes and no.
I already talked about the option to change the stone. Believe me when I say that this is unnecessary expense. The Koda has been designed as a gas pizza oven 500 degrees. So you better learn how to manage it instead of searching for a workaround to fix your skills weaknesses.
However, I can strongly recommend some other oven accessories. They are the Koda16 oven Door and the Flame Guard. I bought them from an Italian shop (MProduction). They are able to ship all over Europe, in other parts of the globe I am sure there are other producers.
Especially the door is absolutely a must-have! I don’t know how I could do it without before. It helps to reach the needed temperature much much faster. I am now ready to cook my Pizza after just 15/18 minutes after starting the oven, while before I had to wait 25/30 minutes at least. But most important: you can move between temperatures incredibly fast. Let me give you an example. You want to have a break of 20 minutes between one pizza and another. You normally keep the oven turned on with low flame. But this way the temperature goes really low and you need more time and gas to restore it where you want. With the door you can go even lower with flame and be incredibly fast to go back to the desired temperature. Don’t miss it!
The Flame Guard, from my point of view, is less critical. But I noticed that it helps to have a less strong heat on the sides of the Pizza. I honestly like it and would buy it again.
Pizza Peels: the unbeatable Pizza Oven Tools
When it comes to Pizza oven for home you need to know that it will never come alone. I mean that the oven only is not enough. How do you put, remove, turn pizza in a 500 degrees pizza oven? Well, you need Peels!
Here is my experience with Pizza Peels and explanation of what I have and why.
I have three Pizza Peels. One wooden, two aluminum. Why so many? Because every peel has its role in making pizza.
The wooden Pizza Peel is only used to serve Pizza. I never used it in different way. The one I have is too heavy and I see no other usage of it. To be honest I love it. It looks very cool when you serve Pizza on it to your guests. Only problem is that after a while it gets consumed and you have treat the wood with dedicated oil.
The first aluminum Pizza Peel is the one that I use to put pizza in oven. Is high quality one. On the expensive side of the game. When it comes to such accessories you want quality and you want to spend the right amount of money. At the end of the day they will last probably your entire life. Mine is super light and it’s perforated so that it facilitates the Flour to drop from the stretched dough ball before Pizza goes to oven (strongly recommended). If you are curious I have Essenza Peel.
The second Aluminum Pizza Peel is actually a turning Pizza Peel. Same brand as the other one. Small, super light, with detachable handle. I am very happy about this peel too.
Hosting a Pizza Party: essential kitchen utensils and accessories
There cannot be a proper “How to” Prepare Pizza Party without talking about Kitchen Utensils and Accessories. Preamble here: I don’t really like plastic in kitchen. Therefore I try to reduce its usage as much as I can! I substitute plastic accessories with glass, especially for containers to store ingredients.
I am going to share a few utensils and accessories that will help not only for your Pizza Party but in general when you are making Pizza, especially Neapolitan Style. Following are the major topics taken in consideration to cover the preparation of Pizza dough till the Pizza cooking and eating:
- Best Pizza Proofing Box
- How to store Pizza Ingredients before the Party
- Essentials for pizza topping
- Stretching Pizza accessories
- Serve Pizza: cutter, peels, plates
Best Pizza Proofing Box
When you make Pizza you need to wait for it to proof. In my recipe I have to wait at least 7/8 at room temperature before I can stretch my dough balls. Therefore is super important to have a proper proofing box.
Here you can follow two different paths. On one side you can buy small containers where you put a single dough ball. This is not my favorite option. Even though I have to mention that it can be confortable if you need to put the dough in fridge in case you run late with your party.
The other option is to buy a plastic proofing box with hermetic lid that is made exactly for this scope… and mainly for Pizza. There are of many sizes. Some of them are more for professional people, like for Pizzeria. But there are some smaller size hat are perfect for home made Pizza. They are 30×40 cm and they have height of about 10 cm. You can store there up to 6 dough balls. If you plan to prepare more than 6 Pizza you can buy also a second one, like I did. They are also not too big to go in the fridge in case you need to do so.
How to Store Pizza Ingredients before the Party
To store ingredients I use glass boxes with hermetic lids. I have of different sizes: from 0.3 to 1 liter. I prepare ingredients well ahead my guests arrive and put them in fridge. Especially tomato sauce, basil and Pecorino (typical cheese for neapolitan Pizza).
Generally I also use the small ones if I want to make other ingredients available in a more pleasant way for the guests eyes. For example, I cut garlic in pieces and keep it in a small container. Same goes with anchovies in oil: I move them form their original container. Only one reason: to be more professional, even if I am at home 🙂
For Mozzarella I am sharing a secret: I prepare Mozzarella in slices at least 3 hours before the party. I then put in a colander that sits on top of a bowl. In this way the Mozzarella dries from the water in excess and it’s perfect when you cook it on pizza because it will not create a lake of water in it 😉
Essentials for Pizza Topping
When you add ingredients on Pizza you mainly use your hands. Consequently you need to clean very often your hands not to contaminate the various containers and ingredients. In fact it is possible that you will have some leftovers that you want to store again in fridge and it’s not a good idea to have, for example, Pecorino cheese polluted with anchovies oil. Therefore keep handy some kitchen towels. I have cotton ones but also paper. The latter are especially good to clean and dry your wooden peel when you use it to serve pizza.
Other than that you want to have a Spoon for the sauce. Don’t be too picky here. Just use a normal steel spoon you normally use and already have in your kitchen.
Last but not least: get a proper oil dispenser! You have different options here. It depends if you want to go for the cheaper option or for the coolest. Let’s start with the cheaper but very effective one: Plastic Squeeze Condiment Bottle. You can easily find them in many sizes and they are excellent because you can dose the oil effectively. Just one tip here: don’t store extra virgin olive oil for long time there. Oil needs darkness and anyway plastic is not good for oil
Alternatively you can go for a more expensive Pizza oil dispenser, like the one you can find in a real Italian Pizzeria. If you are not a super passionate avoid to spend probably hundred Euro/Dollar/Pound for it. Instead go for a glass bottle with dispenser, for example. I have a ceramic dispenser my wife bought and I simply love it!
Stretching Pizza Accessories
This is very short and easy. The only accessory you will ever need for Neapolitan Style Pizza stretching is a container to put Semolina or Rice Flour. This way you will move the dough balls one at a time from your proofing box to the container with Semolina just before starting to stretch.
I personally use a baking pan for this scope. It helps to contain flour and avoid to spread it everywhere at home while your party is running and you are cooking Pizza.
Serve Pizza: cutter, peels, plates
Once you cooked your Pizza you have to serve it, of course 🙂 If you have an oven that allows you to cook one pizza at a time then you have not so many options on how to manage the “service”. I generally prepare one Pizza, put it on a wooden peel, cut it and serve it. Once done I go ahead with the next pizza,. Finally I repeat this actions again and again until no more Pizza Dough is available.
Now, the first kitchen utensil you want for your Pizza is either a nice wooden Pizza peel or a nice plate. They both have to be large enough for your Pizza. If you can afford, buy two or even three of them. It will be much easier to use them one after the other before cleaning them for the next Pizza. Speaking about that, make sure you have enough paper towels to clean – especially the pizza peel – from the ingredients of the previous Pizza you served.
The second utensil you want is a Pizza cutter. The market offers a lot of them: are they all the same? More or less yes. Just make sure you buy a big one possibly with specification from vendor that is made to cut Pizza indeed!
I hope that you are finding this reading interesting. Therefore I would like you to consider again to subscribe to my newsletter. It’s free, you will get a Recipe Notebook to download and you will never lose my new tips & tricks around the world of Italian Pizza. I hate spam too, so no worries, subscribe with confidence:
Pizza Party Size: How many Pizza for your Party
This is one of the most critical questions to answer. There are many variables to consider when you are thinking about how many Pizza you need for a Pizza Party. I can tell you what is my standard way of calculating the number of dough balls to prepare.
First of all I normally prepare dough balls of 250 gr. They are not too big and I think they are ideal if you want cut pizza in four or six slices. I don’t like bigger dough balls because they are less easy to cook. I know about a lot of people using even smaller dough balls. In fact if you have a less powerful oven you need to reduce the size of your pizza.
I normally prepare a Starter that my guests can enjoy before we start making Pizza. Is never something too complicated. Generally I serve Olives, some Cheese, eventually Guacamole. Often everything goes with a glass of high quality Italian Prosecco.
To close the meal I like to offer a Dessert. There is not a rule for it but sometimes I end up with making one more Pizza with Nutella and nuts or Pistacchio or Banana Slices. If you have never tried it I suggest to do so.
So, after all the preamble, how many Pizza do I prepare? Here is the answer: I always consider one Pizza and half per person. If I need to make it round I always add one more. The truth is that for a Pizza Party you don’t really serve all pizzas all together to all guests. On the contrary you give the opportunity to taste different Pizza flavors bringing on the table one or two pizza at a time. This gives a completely different feeling of satiety and believe me when I say that often you will end up with some dough leftover.
Remember though: better to have some leftover that you can cook again the day after than having your guests not satisfied.
#OoniDay: my Pizza Party Menu
Finally let me share what was my Pizza Party Menu during the #Ooniday 2021. I will keep it simple and let some Pictures talking.
As a starter we only had some Green Olives and a glass of Prosecco.
The we continued with following Pizza:
- Crudo (Mozzarella, Pecorino, Prosciutto Crudo, Basil)
- Mimosa (Cream, Mozzarella, Prosciutto Cotto, Mais, Pecorino Cheese, Basil)
- Salsiccia and Friarielli (Sausage, Friarielli Cream, Mozzarella, Pecorino Cheese, Basil)
- Mortadella (Mortadella, Mozzarella, Pecorino cheese, Fresh Ricotta Cheese, Basil)
- Margherita a filetto with Pesto (Mozzarella, Cherry Tomato, Basil, Basil Pesto)
- Marinara (tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- Margherita (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, Pecorino cheese, Basil)
And I will now let some pictures to talk 🙂
Let me ask you one more time to consider to subscribe to my newsletter. It’s free, you will get a Recipe Notebook to download and you will never lose my new tips & tricks around the world of Italian Pizza. I hate spam too, so no worries, subscribe with confidence: