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A hand removing a slice of meatball-topped pizza from a pie, with a pizza wheel nearby

The very best meatball pizza. [Pictures: J. Kenji López-Alt] Growing up in New York, I never ate a meatball pizza. Strike that: Until I was an adult, I ‘d never ever even heard of a meatball pizza. Really, let’s go one action even more: It had never once entered my mind that a meatball pizza was even within the world of possibility. To me, pizza was the thing you got by the slice after school, and meatballs were what you ‘d consume at home on a weekend night if you were really fortunate. Pizza was for eating in restaurants; meatballs were home cooking.It wasn’t till I tasted the meatball pizza at Motorino, and after that at Best Pizza in Williamsburg, that I discovered how terrific the idea is. It’s two Italian-American favorites, all rolled into one marvelously reassuring dish. However, just like all mashups, there’s a little bit of skill to getting it right. Here’s how I make mine.Getting Sauced As much as I like my all-day Italian-American red sauce, it’s a sauce that tastes predominantly of tomatoes. The sauce you get with meatballs, on the other hand, should taste like meat.

One method to do it is to simmer the meatballs in the sauce all day. This works– if you’re okay with eating tough meatballs, really late in the day.My quick-and-dirty technique? I conserve a few of the meatball mix, and instead of forming it into a ball, I brown it in a bit of olive oil.

Browning meatball mixture in olive oil in a saucier

From there, I add my

A pot of canned tomatoes and basil sprigs cooking on the stovetop, with a wooden spoon in the sauce

standard sauce ingredients: minced garlic, oregano, a pinch of pepper flakes, and some entire San Marzano tomatoes that I crush by hand. < img src =https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2014/12/20150111-meatball-pizza-recipe-04.jpg width= 1500 height =1125 alt ="A pot of canned tomatoes and basil sprigs cooking on the stovetop, with a wood spoon in the sauce" data-srcset ="https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2014/12/20150111-meatball-pizza-recipe-04.jpg 1500w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2014/12/20150111-meatball-pizza-recipe-04-300x225.jpg 300w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2014/12/20150111-meatball-pizza-recipe-04-750x563.jpg 750w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2014/12/20150111-meatball-pizza-recipe-04-625x469.jpg 625w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2014/12/20150111-meatball-pizza-recipe-04-200x150.jpg 200w "data-pin-no-hover= true >

Meatball-laced tomato sauce spread over an unbaked pizza crust

With a sprig of basil tossed in, the sauce cooks down at a simmer in practically half an hour. Does it taste like it was prepared all day? No, because it wasn’t. It sure does taste meaty and comforting, and that’s all I ask of my sauce at this phase. It’s particularly great for pizza, as it includes littles meat that can be spread over the whole surface area of the dough, making every bite taste hearty, instead of just the bites where you occur to get a meatball.Speaking of which, it’s time to deal with another question: When it comes to balls, is larger constantly better?Size Matters Still, I figured it was worth experimenting with a couple of different sizes and techniques of ball application to see which tasted finest. I made up a batch of meatballs in 2 various sizes: two inches(a little larger than a golf ball)and three-quarters of an inch. I prepared both batches of meatballs by simmering them in a pot of my sauce on the stovetop. Although I generally like to brown my meatballs in oil before simmering them in sauce, with the pizza it made less of a difference– there are

A hand picking up one of several very small uncooked meatballs

lots of browned tastes going on in a prepared pizza even without the additional step of browning the balls. I tried using the big meatballs in 2 ways: quartered and scattered, and sliced into quarter-inch-thick slices after simmering.

A small pizza topped with quartered large meatballs, on a wooden surface

Of those two methods, people liked the quarters more. However folks overwhelmingly chosen whole, small balls in location of big, split balls.< img src= https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2014/12/20150111-meatball-pizza-recipe-11.jpg width =1500 height=1125 alt=" A little pizza topped with quartered big meatballs, on a wood surface area"data-srcset="https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2014/12/20150111-meatball-pizza-recipe-11.jpg 1500w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2014/12/20150111-meatball-pizza-recipe-11-750x563.jpg 750w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2014/12/20150111-meatball-pizza-recipe-11-300x225.jpg 300w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2014/12/20150111-meatball-pizza-recipe-11-625x469.jpg 625w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2014/12/20150111-meatball-pizza-recipe-11-200x150.jpg 200w"data-pin-no-hover =true > I was afraid that little balls might wind up drying, or taste excessive like sausage pieces. While it’s real that the big balls did offer more of the conventional tender interior that you get with a plain meatball, the little

balls were still surprisingly wet and tender, even after simmering in sauce and baking on pizza.Constructing a

Unbaked pizza dough spread out on a wooden pizza peel

Meatball Pizza There’s actually not much more to say. When you have actually made your sauce and simmered your balls, stretch out a ball of dough– I used my New York– Style Pizza Dough, though even store-bought will work great– and leading it with a layer of sauce.

Spooning small meatballs over a tomato sauce– and cheese-topped unbaked pizza

< img src= https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2015/01/20150109-meatball-pizza-small-balls-3.jpg width =1500 height=1125 alt=" Spooning small meatballs over a tomato sauce-- and cheese-topped unbaked pizza"data-srcset=" https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2015/01/20150109-meatball-pizza-small-balls-3.jpg 1500w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2015/01/20150109-meatball-pizza-small-balls-3-300x225.jpg 300w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2015/01/20150109-meatball-pizza-small-balls-3-750x563.jpg 750w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2015/01/20150109-meatball-pizza-small-balls-3-625x469.jpg 625w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2015/01/20150109-meatball-pizza-small-balls-3-200x150.jpg 200w" data-pin-no-hover=real > I like to go a little heavier on the sauce than with a normal pizza, due to the fact that to me those Sunday meatballs are absolutely nothing without their sauce. A layer of shredded mozzarella goes on top of the sauce, then onA fully topped meatball pizza with scattered basil leaves, on a wooden pizza peel

go the little meatballs, scattered equally around.< img src=https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2015/01/20150109-meatball-pizza-small-balls-4.jpg width =1500 height= 1125 alt="A totally topped meatball pizza with scattered basil leaves, on a wood pizza peel"data-srcset ="https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2015/01/20150109-meatball-pizza-small-balls-4.jpg 1500w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2015/01/20150109-meatball-pizza-small-balls-4-750x563.jpg 750w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2015/01/20150109-meatball-pizza-small-balls-4-300x225.jpg 300w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2015/01/20150109-meatball-pizza-small-balls-4-625x469.jpg 625w, https://www.seriouseats.com/images/2015/01/20150109-meatball-pizza-small-balls-4-200x150.jpg 200w"data-pin-no-hover=

Sprinkling grated Pecorino Romano on a cooked meatball pizza

real > The pizza cooks in a matter of minutes, the balls sinking somewhat into the layer of sauce and cheese as the edges puff and the underbelly gets charred. Similar to plain meatballs, I like to give the entire pie a spray of cheese as it comes out of the oven. Either a sharp Pecorino Romano (which is what I utilized) or a great aged Parmesan will work. And there you go– pizza that consumes by the slice

, however tastes like it came out of your grandma’s cooking area. If your grandma occurs to be an Italian-American immigrant from Jersey. Mine isn’t, but a kid can dream.