Calabrese Grilled Pizza Recipe: Inspired by Domenica Restaurant

A couple of weeks ago on a stiflingly warm Sunday afternoon, my friend Katherine and I grilled pizzas. We had a pretty marvelous time doing it, but boy, was it hot! I guess that’s summertime in New Orleans for you. But a few good things came out of that time spent in the sweltering heat. The most relevant to you is that I now have this wonderful grilled pizza recipe to share with you.

"Calabrese Grilled Pizza" Recipe | inspired by Domenica Restaurant in New Orleans

In case you don’t know her already, let me introduce you to my friend Katherine. She runs the blog Katherine Swims where she covers a wide range of lifestyle topics from paleo eating to weight lifting to recipes to general life happenings. While Katherine isn’t a “food blogger” (neither am I, technically), she loves cooking and being in the kitchen. Therefore, she occasionally shares some of her favorite recipes on her blog. When we grilled pizzas, we did two different types and decided we’d each publish one. We each basically took our favorite recipe from the day.

Which brings me to today’s recipe at hand. While this recipe is for grilled pizza, I haven’t included a pizza crust recipe here. This is because the time Katherine and I spent together wasn’t centered around preparing pizza dough – it was focused on successfully grilling a prepared dough and turning it into delicious pizza. We actually used a gluten free pizza crust mix that Katherine found at Whole Foods. Read about our adventures with it here on Katherine’s blog. Use whatever pizza crust recipe you’d like when preparing this recipe. It can be filled with as much gluten as you’d like! Or not… Up to you, as always.

"Calabrese Grilled Pizza" Recipe | inspired by Domenica Restaurant in New Orleans

Katherine and I used the same pizza sauce on both of our pizzas. We wanted it to be quick and easy so we decided to go with a fresh, raw pizza sauce. We essentially parboiled the tomatoes so the skins would come off easier, peeled the tomatoes, removed the seeds and excess tomato water, and then we finely diced them and allowed them to marinate with olive oil, kosher salt and garlic for about 30 minutes.

"Calabrese Grilled Pizza" Recipe | inspired by Domenica Restaurant in New Orleans

Since all of the other ingredients on both of our pizzas didn’t require any cooking, we figured why cook a tomato sauce?

"Calabrese Grilled Pizza" Recipe | inspired by Domenica Restaurant in New Orleans

Below you can see the key ingredients that are included on the Calabrese pizza. As indicated in the post title, this recipe is inspired by a favorite pizza of ours called the “Calabrese” that’s served at Domenica Restaurant (and Pizza Domenica) here in New Orleans. We’re both huge fans of their pizzas and thus, their pizza is part of what inspired this grilled pizza day.

"Calabrese Grilled Pizza" Recipe | inspired by Domenica Restaurant in New Orleans

Ancora Restaurant (also here in New Orleans) has a pizza called the “Maria” that served as the inspiration for Katherine’s pizza. Her version is topped with the raw tomato sauce, prosciutto, mascarpone, and arugula. It’s such a fantastic tasting pizza as well. You can find it here or by clicking on the photo below. She’s also got some great tips for grilling pizza dough in that post as well along with some good instructions of her own for dealing with gluten free pizza crust.

The Maria | Inspired by Ancora Restaurant in New Orleans

One we had all of our ingredients prepped up, it was time to hit the grill. Honestly, this was the first time I have ever personally grilled anything. I know, right???? How this happened was actually quite simple – being raised in a culture where the men do the grilling coupled with living in spaces over the last 17 years that didn’t foster owning a grill have served as the culprits. Neither is much of a valid excuse but that’s what I got.

Anyway – back to the task at hand. One of the reasons we decided to grill the pizzas was precisely because I hadn’t grilled before. Katherine is a whiz on the grill and offered to teach the ways of the charcoal. Also, it’s so hot during the summer in New Orleans that even with air conditioning, using the oven is not advised. I refrain from using the oven because our house is old and inefficient. The oven heats the whole house and makes it unpleasant. Hence, grilling pizzas it was.

"Calabrese Grilled Pizza" Recipe | inspired by Domenica Restaurant in New Orleans

Since we were hosting the grilling session (borrowing our landlord’s grill), Jeremy and I decided to use real hardwood charcoal instead of briquettes because we find that the flavor imparted by hardwood charcoal is more pleasant than the flavor one gets from briquettes. Some people may disagree – this is just how we prefer to do things around here. (Jeremy’s had some experience with grilling before.)

"Calabrese Grilled Pizza" Recipe | inspired by Domenica Restaurant in New Orleans

The main thing you want to concern yourself with in grilling pizza crust is that the grill is hot enough so that it doesn’t just melt the raw dough onto the coals. This is especially a concern when using a gluten free pizza crusts because they don’t have the elasticity and structure that gluten-based pizza crusts do. We used the method listed on the grilled gluten free pizza recipe from The Art of Gluten Free Baking. She’s got some great pointers on that site for grilling gluten free pizza dough.

"Calabrese Grilled Pizza" Recipe | inspired by Domenica Restaurant in New Orleans

On the other hand, you don’t want the coals too hot because the pizza crust will burn before cooking through. Basically, it’s advised to have a “hot” and “cool” side of your grill so that you can have more latitude on temperature control. If you’re planning to do multiple crusts, handling it in this way is a necessity. Otherwise, as time passes, your crust will be more likely to burn as you wait for the cheese to melt.

"Calabrese Grilled Pizza" Recipe | inspired by Domenica Restaurant in New Orleans

In the end, if you know how to properly handle a grill, grilling pizza is quite easy. Now that I know I can do it and that it’s so simple to do, I’ll be grilling like this more often. The hardest part of it all is getting the temperature of the coals right. Once that’s done, it’s smooth sailing!

"Calabrese Grilled Pizza" Recipe | inspired by Domenica Restaurant in New Orleans

What about you? Have you grilled pizza before? How’d it turn out? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Yield: 1 pizza (with leftover sauce)

"Calabrese" Grilled Pizza Recipe

This delicious grilled pizza recipe is inspired by the Calabrese pizza from Domenica Restaurant in New Orleans.


Noteworthy Non-Food Prep Items:

  • 1 large pot of salted water
  • 1 mixing bowl full of icy water (aka an ice bath)
  • Charcoal grill
  • Hardwood charcoal
  • Optional: lighter fluid
  • Grilling utensils

Raw Tomato Sauce:

  • 4 large or 6 medium-sized fresh tomatoes
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

For the Calabrese Grilled Pizza:

  • Your favorite pizza dough recipe, ready to cook
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup raw tomato sauce
  • 6 fresh mozzarella slices
  • 1 cup spicy salami, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced mixed olives (green & kalamata)
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano


To Start: 

  1. PLEASE read this recipe all the way through before starting. That’s always something you should do when cooking, but it’s critically important here due to the nature of the project.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (for par boiling the tomatoes).
  3. While you’re waiting for the water to come to a boil, prepare the toppings (slice the mozzarella, spicy salami and olives; measure the capers and oregano).
  4. Next, prepare a large bowl of ice water, called an ice bath. This will be used once the tomatoes are removed from the boiling water.
  5. Proceed to making the Raw Tomato Sauce.

Raw Tomato Sauce:

  1. Start by scoring the bottom of each tomato with a large “X” - this will make the tomato easier to peel.
  2. Once the salted water reaches a boil, carefully drop in the tomatoes into the water and parboil for two minutes. Stir often to make sure they’re evenly exposed to the heat.
  3. With a pair of tongs, remove each tomato and plunge them into the ice bath.
  4. Remove them one at a time and peel each tomato.
  5. Once the tomatoes are peeled, proceed to cut off the top of each one and squeeze out the seeds and water into a separate bowl. Remove as much liquid as possible. Set aside each tomato on a dry surface lined with paper towels to catch any excess water.
  6. Finely chop the peeled and deseeded tomatoes and place into a large mixing bowl. Next add the garlic, kosher salt and olive oil. Stir well to combine.
  7. Allow the sauce to sit for at least 30 minutes for flavors to marry. Do not refrigerate.
  8. Proceed to prepping the grill for cooking.

Preparing for Grilling:

  1. NOTE - If you’re not experienced with a grill, get someone to help you. These directions below are by no means exhaustive. Do not attempt to do something by yourself that’s beyond your skill level.
  2. Prepare your grill by getting the coals lit and to the point where they’re glowing embers. You may need to use lighter fluid if your charcoal is giving you trouble lighting.
  3. Remember to set up a hot and cool side - this means having the coals stacked more to one side than the other.

For the Calabrese Grilled Pizza:

  1. Once the coals are ready and all the ingredients are prepared, carefully brush the grill with a little oil too prevent sticking.
  2. Make sure the pizza crust is rolled out to the desired size and shape. Brush each side with a little olive oil.
  3. Place the crust on the grill and allow it to cook for a few minutes (this will vary based on the actual temperature of your grill). Check after the first minute to gauge progress. Once it’s grilled to your liking, carefully flip the crust.
  4. Once the crust is flipped, add the ingredients to the cooked side. Start with the sauce - scatter and spread it how you’d like. I included a range of volume (1/2 cup to a cup) because how much you’ll use will vary depending on your crust size and your taste preferences.
  5. Next top with the mozzarella slices. Finish with the salami, olives, capers and oregano.
  6. Allow the pizza to sit on the grill for another few minutes until cheese is softened and looks a bit melted. Be diligent and check to make sure crust isn’t burning while the cheese is melting. How long this will take will depend on your grill’s temperature.
  7. Remove the pizza from the grill by using a large spatula to lift it and slide the pizza onto a flat sheet pan or a large cutting board.
  8. Cut, serve and enjoy!

Total:Variable depending on pizza crust used

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