It was about 4 years ago that my friend Louise and I decided to go to a wine tasting in Tampa. As we scoped the tables out, we ended up sitting with Frank De Lucia, his wife Sally, and their daughter. Frank is what I would affectionately call a Paisan. An Italian who loves his family, food and wine. And easily makes friends with anyone near him. It didn’t surprise me to find out he worked for The Abilities Foundation; a non-profit organization that helps out individuals with disabilities.
At one point in the evening, the waiters had accidently started using a soured rag to dry the wine glasses and we were all commenting on how the wine had really gone from great to WTF? I remember Frank saying, “this smells like a 1970 Converse sneaker.” The night was filled with tons of laughter and Frank told us that every Friday he and his wife make “Ah-Beetz.” Which I later found out was pizza, a-la goom-ba slang! As he described it, Lou and I basically invited ourselves over to try it out. We all exchanged phone numbers at the end of the evening. I remember Frank saying, “you’ll never call.” Little did he know what he was about to get himself into!!
Two weeks later, on a Friday, Lou I crashed Ah-Beetz night. The appetizers and wine were outstanding, but nothing really prepares you for a perfected ah-beetz. And we weren’t talking just one, there must have been 6-8 different types of pizza made that night. Sally had learned his mother’s sauce, which took the pizza’s to another level. I can say to this day, I have never had pizza that wonderful.
And as all Italian men should do, hang onto their grandmother’s 20″ sewing shears to cut up the pizza. With two snips here and two snips there, Frank had cut up those pizzas in seconds. That was a night that I will never forgot. Frank and Sally’s generosity made us feel like old friends in their home breaking bread at the table.
So as I went to the Italian market here, I saw pizza dough and thought, “Ah-beetz.” I caramelized some onions, roasted some eggplant, chopped up sun-dried tomatoes, olives, red pepper, and mushrooms. Then defrosted some marinara sauce and tried my hand at a home-made pizza.
Now, it was good and enjoyed every bit of it, but this was no De Lucia ah-beetz!! Home-mades pizzas are fun, healthy, and numerous in the toppings, just use your imaginations and go wild!
Be sure to get your oven really hot- 500 degrees. I put the pizza dough on a cookie sheet (jut like Frank!) and baked it for about 15-20 minutes.