I remember, clearly, the last time my kids and I ate at Rocky Rococo’s Pizza. My wife was on a business trip and I was the solo parent trying to tackle the challenge of managing the three kids during a busy work week. I’m the dude who cooks the dinner, every night, for the for the family. Yes, every day, and night. But when it came to the week of my wife being away, I asked the questions to my kids, “what do you guys want to do for dinner tonight?”. As they were stunned that I was not cooking, they rattled out “McDonald’s” (no thanks), “Buffalo Wild Wings” (been there, done that), “Rocky Rococo”. Rocky Rococo? OK, I thought, I have not been to a Rocky Rococo since high school, heck, maybe even middle school. Rocky Rococo it was.
Shortly after the kids ran madly from the school bus, returning home from school, they rushed into the house with excitement knowing that they were going to Rocky Rococo. Rocky Rococo, I think, is a midwestern pizza joint, where in the past, they served up some fairly descent pizza. It was not thin crust, or deep dish, but it was a pizza unlike no other. It was, in my opinion a Sicilian style pizza. I remember it being good.
When we arrived, three people were in the very large restaurant (not a good sign on a Thursday night at 6pm), and we ordered from the somewhat, hectic manager. My eyes looked upward at their menu, and as my kids rattled off what they wanted (cheese, cheese and pepperoni x2), I decided I would go with the classic cheese and sausage. That cheese and sausage is what I remembered the last time I had Rocky Rococo’s.
The fierce intensity of making these pizzas was beginning to annoy me. I like to watch people in the kitchen cooking my food, so don’t get me wrong. What was so stressful about making four pizzas that arrive in rectangular boxes, a box design that was totally out of style? These are not enormous, single serving slices. No clue, but about twenty minutes later, our pizzas arrived. By the way, no one else had arrived to order since that time.
My first bite. Gnarly, and not in a good way. 20 minutes? Stress upon taking my order, and panic on knowing how to cook a classic? Not impressed. But as I talked about the day with my kids (the best part of the meal), they were not phased about how unpleasant I was, and furthermore, my oldest asked if he could have another ‘square’. My time is precious with my kids, so as the good father that I am, I went back to the stressed out manager and asked for another slice of cheese and pepperoni slice, or rectangle,or whatever shape, only hoping that I was not going to have to wait another 20 minutes for a slice of pizza!
With that experience, I decided that I will never go back to that Rocky Rococo. I’m sorry to say that, as after all it is an establishment that I would like to support in my neighborhood. A classic joint with some history, but I’m sorry, your pizza did not cut it. Hence why I decided to make my own, and I will not call it Rocky Rococo style pizza, but instead a Sicilian style pizza.
Let’s get started.
Ingredients: [Print this Recipe]
- My pizza dough, or about 2 lbs of pre-made pizza dough
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp dried oregano, pinched with your fingers
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 15 oz can of tomato sauce
- 3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Pepperoni slices to cover, leaving 1 inch gaps
- Fresh Italian sausage, pinched, casings removed (optional)
- Sardines, flaked (optional)
- 1/2 cup red onion (diced), optional
- Black olives, sliced, optional
- Grated parmesan cheese, optional
- Your favorite pizza ingredients, optional
My kids are still, believe it or not, in the basic pizza eating style. They like either cheese, cheese and sausage, or cheese and pepperoni. I will focus on a 50/50 cheese and sausage/cheese and pepperoni, but as the man that I am, I recommend the red onion, sardines, and olives. You know what you like, so go for it. Just stick with the dough and process, and you should be good to go.
Begin by making the dough. Let it rise. It takes a few hours, so take that into consideration, or make the dough the night before, let it get to a good warmth and let the yeast do its thing. Take in the smells. Nothing better than a kitchen that smells like yeasty dough!
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, fahrenheit.
So you have the dough. Lightly flour it, very lightly. Take a large sheet tray, or at least 18×13, if not larger. Add the olive oil to the the sheet tray, and make sure the base is coated. Take your risen dough and place into the center of the tray. Begin massaging the dough, attempting to stretch the dough, without tearing it, to the edges of the sheet tray. Do your best.
Once you think you’ve done your best without tearing, shower it with the salt, pepper, and oregano. Cover the sheet tray and let it rise another hour, or so.
Once the dough rises a bit more, add the sauce, and gently spread all over the dough, lightly, not too heavy.
Add the mozzarella cheese, coating the sauce, then add your favorite ingredients. I was down for simple pepperoni, and sausage.
Place in a preheated oven for about 35 minutes. What you are looking for is golden, crispy edges, a nice melted and golden cheese crust in the center, and well, something better than Rocky Rococo’s.
Once cooked, take the sheet pan out of the oven and let it rest for about ten minutes for slicing into it.
Cut into long rectangular shapes and enjoy.
I’ve made this about four different times, and every time it delivers a crunch exterior with a fluffy interior, only to be enjoyed with your favorite toppings. Not only that, but you make a whole sheet of pizza for dirt cheap! I think I walked out of Rocky Rococo’s paying something like thirty dollars. Mine, about eleven dollars, and a much better experience. Enjoy.
By the way, my kids are just excited when they see the sheet pan of pizza, I think, more than they saw the stressed out manager, and the solo boxes of pizza.