Jimmy Fallon recently watched Stanley Tucci’s new show, Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy (which I haven’t seen yet but hear good things about), and inspired by Tucci’s trip to Naples, decided to make uh, a pizza, at home. Thanks Today for alerting us all to this attempt at pizza.
Give yourselves a few minutes to watch the video as I gather my thoughts, because I have... a few. I have a somewhat unique perspective on this because I made Neapolitan-style pizza for many years, and basically my advice to you is, do not do what Jimmy Fallon does in this video, otherwise, you will end up disappointed.
The ingredients are perfectly good, including store-bought dough, nice tomatoes, fresh cheese, oil, and basil. Fallon’s technique is where things get a little dicey. I am going to preface this by saying, stretching pizza dough by hand is not easy if you’re not used to the motions, but unless you want a very flat pizza with no puffy crust (ideal for tavern-style, however), try and avoid the rolling pin, as it’ll squeeze out all the bubbles in your dough, which is exactly what happened to Fallon’s, because he mangled that poor thing.
He ended up with a baby pizza, which he did an admittedly good job topping (most people tend to overtop their pizza), and then he slid it into a pizzamaking device, the Breville Crispy Crust Pizza Maker, which only goes up to 572 degrees Fahrenheit. That is way too low for a Neapolitan-style pizza; for that style, you want a roaring 900-1000 degrees. Can you still cook a great pizza at a lower temperature? Absolutely. Just leave it in longer than the paltry three minutes he gave it.
The result ended up being a floppy undercooked pizza, probably raw in the middle. I would not recommend eating it at that stage. But, hey, he tried. He proudly exclaims, “Look at this. Look at that. Are you kidding me? Are you joking?” He cuts it and shows the bottom, which is as pale as it was before it was cooked, and hams it up for the camera saying it’s the “best ever.” I do not believe you, Jimmy Fallon. I would not admit to making that pizza and proclaim it was the best, especially on social media. I would have deleted that video altogether.
As late-night TV is a small circle jerk, the other Jimmy, Jimmy Kimmel, stepped in with some big boy pants and whooped the shit out of Fallon’s pizza by making one that looked much, much, better.
He poked fun at Fallon’s decision to use a rolling pin and hand stretched the dough (his technique was to gently use his knuckles while draping the dough over his fists, which is okay, just a bit on the slow side), and whipped out what are widely considered the best tomatoes you can get in the US, Bianco DiNapoli. Do you have to hand crush them like Kimmel does? Not really, but you do get generous chunks of tomatoes that way, and that way you can brag they’re “hand-crushed” to your friends and family.
This isn’t level playing ground, though, because Kimmel has an actual woodfired pizza oven, something that is extraordinarily out of reach for normal people. But he knew what he was doing: the bake turned out well, the bottom ended up with small black spots (the oven could have been cranked up at least 50-100 degrees higher, but this is nitpicking), and the outer edge had some nice charring to it.
In the end, Kimmel used the shit-talking pizza video to help donate to No Kid Hungry, an organization feeding children in need, so all’s well that ends well. The moral of the story is that if Jimmy Fallon ever invites you over for a pizza party, make sure he’s just buying the pizza and not making it.