Buona Lisa Pizza

It’s so easy to fall victim to hyperbole when blogging about food, so I want to be careful to say this accurately:  I think this may have been the best pizza I’ve ever made.


There, I think that says it about right.  It was the best, and that from a guy who has made some pretty darned good pizza along the way.  If I do say so myself. 

I wasn’t sure when I first saw the recipe.  I mean, I like everything on it.  Maybe it was the mood I was in, or the way the day had gone.  Or something.  Whatever, when we took the first bite we were blown away by the flavor of roasted garlic.  In the second bite the hot pulp of the cherry tomatoes literally exploded in the mouth.  On the next we found the smoky sweetness of the yellow peppers that I had roasted on the grill earlier that day.  And then, a personal favorite, toasted pine nuts.  Throughout, the creamy goat cheese provided an incredible backdrop.  And then it all began again, bite after bite, flavor after flavor.  Sublime.

We paired this pizza with a Tuscan Sangiovese from Antinori, and the combination was intense and wonderful.  We knew it would be, and we weren’t disappointed.  There are days when you get it right, and this meal was right.

We found the recipe in the October 2009 issue of Food Network Magazine, and it originates from a restaurant in Long Beach, CA called Buono’s.  I’ve never been there,  but if this is a staple, I’m happy to recommend it to you.  If anyone is lucky enough to go there, please stop back and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear all about it.


  • 1/2 cup thin strips roasted yellow or red peppers
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup sliced fresh basil
  • 3 cloves garlic; 1 minced, 2 sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • Cornmeal, for dusting
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 ounces provolone cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled


Place a pizza stone or an inverted rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees.

Toss the roasted peppers, tomatoes, basil and minced garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Cook the sliced garlic in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until golden, about 1 minute. Cool slightly.

Stretch or roll out the pizza dough into a 12-to-14-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Generously dust a pizza peel or another inverted baking sheet with cornmeal and place the dough on top. Drizzle with a little of the garlic oil and season with salt. Top with the mozzarella, provolone and tomato-pepper mixture, then sprinkle with the pine nuts and sliced garlic.

Slip the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone or baking sheet and cook until the crust is golden and crisp and the cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes. Top with goat cheese before slicing.



3 Responses to Buona Lisa Pizza

  1. cathy solberg says:

    I’m willing to go to the restaurant and compare yours with theirs. I can’t wait to have this pizza again. You did a superb job!

  2. Peggy says:

    Yeah, I know, this is a very late comment to this post, as I don’t get around to either of your blogs in a timely fashion (I blame it on staring at two monitors for eight hours a day…) but I’m here today and this makes me want to drive to Long Beach to try out this bad boy! No offense, I’d head up north for your version, but it’s too damn cold. Heck, it’s even snowing on your blog page! lol.

    I do love roasted pine nuts and all the ingredients on this pizza so I can just imagine how wonderful it is. Cathy and the girls are lucky to have such a talented pizza maker in the house!

  3. Nate says:

    Peg, if you come up this way for a visit I’ll definitely make this pizza for you. It’s too cold for me as well, but I promise this recipe will make you forget about anything that’s happening outside. I wasn’t kidding when I said it’s my favorite ever, it’s that good. The roasted garlic is amazing, and the contrast of the cherry tomatoes and pine nuts will put you over the edge. Come on over, we’ll set you up with a slice of the good stuff!

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