Pizza has a fond place for many on the list of comfort foods. The standard ingredients of favorite pizzas are most often predictable, commonly found in the pantries of home cooks, and, they’re, well…standard. Revolutionary Pizza: bold pies that will change your life…and dinner, by Dimitri Syrkin-Nikolau, founder of Dimo’s Pizza, and maker of some of Chicago’s most creative pies, is a compilation of unique recipes for pizzas that are anything but standard. Humor on every page, mouthwatering photos of most recipes, and easy-to-understand instructions work together to create a very user-friendly cookbook.
Dimo writes, “Making ridiculously crazy pizza is both delicious and entertaining when shared with others. You never know what reactions you’ll get when you turn, say, a Reuben sandwich into a pizza (in that case, it was very close to a teary-eyed gasp from a large bearded man).”
Who Needs this Book
Revolutionary Pizza begins with a dedication to “all those who have slaved away in a kitchen preparing food, selflessly and without praise so that others may enjoy it.” Anyone who feels as if he or she has conquered the basic pizza and wants to explore ‘an alternative pizzaverse’ should get a copy of this book.
The introduction to Revolutionary Pizza states, “We’d rather you not call this a cookbook. To be honest, these recipes are far from complex in the realm of culinary knowledge or cooking techniques. Instead of recipes, consider these pages inspiration for your next party, ammunition to shock your in-laws at the annual holiday gathering, and really good excuses to keep the utensils and plates in the cabinet.”
Contents of the book
The 60-plus recipes are organized into sections:
-The Basics: Making ‘za Magic
-Main Course Meals
We make pizza for staff and guests every Thursday at our Latigo Guest Ranch, but I’ve never in my life tossed pizza dough in the air. We roll the crusts out on baking sheets because we need to feed upwards of 60 people within an hour. We must maximize oven space, so our pizzas are never round. To test the effectiveness of the crust recipe and the well-photographed instructions, I brought my two sous chefs into the kitchen (my adult children), and read the directions aloud while they followed them. It was a very successful venture, so we’re a testament to the accuracy of the Basics chapter. Once you’ve mastered their dough recipe, the instructions for creating one of their unique inventions are thorough and easy to follow.
To illustrate the claim that this is not an ordinary cookbook on pizza making, I’ll select a pizza from each chapter and include the introductory paragraph to show you how the author sprinkles humor generously throughout the book.
Pizzatizers: “Jalapeno Pop ‘N’ Lock” Some pies are so tasty they lead to an obligatory happy dance. This is one of those pies. Actually we know some people who would do just about anything to get a piece of this pie. One of our all-time most popular pizzas, it has a dance to go with it. Just how does one do the jalapeno pop ‘n’ lock? You’ll have to make the pizza to find out.”
Deconstructed Diner: “Skyline Chili” Cincinnati’s skyline may not be able to compete with Chicago’s skyline (okay, so we’re a little biased), but we have to give ‘em the gold medal when it comes to their Skyline Chili. This recipe sticks to the authentic flavors of the Buckeye State classic, topped with melted cheddar and sour cream for a real pizza party in your mouth.”
Comfort Cravings: “The Stoner Kid” All clichés aside, we are a pizza joint, and we’ve employed our fair share of stoner kids. Grateful Dead and Phish playlists aplenty, we’ve also gotten some pretty good fully “baked” ideas as a result. This pie is one of them. It sounds strange, but even fully sober we think you’ll enjoy this unsuspecting mashup of flavors.” (ingredients list includes French fries, jalapenos, cheddar, honey)
Main Course Meals: “Brazilian Shrimp Soup” Okay, so this is more of a stew than a soup, but it is going on a pizza so no need to get pizza technical about it. This pie features the mellow sweetness of coconut milk melding with okra, shrimp, and a slight heat of red pepper flakes for the kicker.”
Chicago Staples: “The Argyle” In Chicago, the Argyle red line stop on the CTA “L” train system is a go-to spot for authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Inspired by flavors from this ‘hood, the Argyle pizza brings in a fusion of Asian flavors, including spicy Sriracha sauce, peanut satay, tofu, and traditional toppers such as bean sprouts and cilantro. It also just happens to be vegan.”
Comida Caliente: “Unholy Mole!” We created this pizza in collaboration with our friends from ManBQue, a Chicago-based grilling, music, and beer lifestyle organization. It all started with a launch party for the Unholy Mole Stout, a chipotle flavored stout that ManBQue brewed with the Chicago-based Lake Effect Brewing Company. The distinctive heat of this beer required an equally distinctive pizza.
A Slice to Go
With only one of the sixty pizza recipes in the book containing pepperoni, Revolutionary Pizza does indeed give the reader plenty of ammunition for creating show-stopping ‘pies’ that are destined to be the talk of any party. My family loved the Burnhard, a barbeque sauce base topped with thinly sliced steak, jalapenos, and a drizzle of Sriracha, so when I’m next feeling a bit more radical, I’ve got another page marked: Blueberry Chipotle Fig pizza. This is what Dimo writes about it, “We have to admit that it wasn’t until more recently we learned figs existed in other forms outside of the Newton. This pizza plays the age-old sweet-against-spicy balancing act with the fiery zing of chipotle peppers mellowed out by the sweet blueberries and figs. Plus, it’s way less healthy than a Fig Newton. Point for us!”
So, if you’re interested in pizza that’s fun and a little different, Revolutionary Pizza: bold pies that will change your life…and dinner should be on your playlist. – Lisa George, RFT Book Editor and Ranch Chef, Latigo Guest Ranch, Kremmling, Colorado