The Dish: Homemade sourdough pizza from Pizzata Pizzeria

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Thursday, March 28, 2024
The Dish: Homemade sourdough pizza from Pizzata Pizzeria in Philadelphia
The owners of Pizzata Pizzeria brought us into their kitchen for some tips and tricks that will make your pizza taste like it just came out of the oven in Italy.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- We are making one of the world's favorite foods: pizza.

Many home cooks haven't quite been able to perfect it, so we turned to some award-winning dough and pizza makers here in Philly.

The owners of Pizzata Pizzeria brought us into their kitchen for some tips and tricks that will make your pizza taste like it just came out of the oven in Italy.

"He's the dough master," says Pizzata Pizzeria co-owner Ciro Lubrano about his partner Vinny Gallagher. "I'm the pizzaiolo."

Lubrano was born into a pizza family in Naples, Italy.

The Dish: Homemade sourdough pizza from Pizzata Pizzeria

"I was nine years old when my dad had me make my first pizza," he recalls. "My father has a restaurant and pizzeria in Naples. This is how we grew up our whole life."

Gallagher, the "dough master," is from South Jersey.

"I did a lot of self-taught stuff," Gallagher says. "I gave myself a PhD in making dough."

Together, they own Pizzata Pizzeria, along with Ciro's brother Davide. They now have two locations in Philadelphia, and one in Naples, Florida.

"Pizzata means pizza party," Gallagher says.

"When you get together for a pizza party you say. 'Let's have a pizzata tonight!'," says Lubrano.

Gallagher's sourdough is far from the crust of Lubrano's homeland.

"They were horrified that it's sourdough," Gallagher says. "But they trusted me."

In fact, their tagline is: "Crust the Process."

"When you think of sourdough, some people think tang and really intense flavor," Gallagher says. "I've always wanted to do sourdough without the sour."

He uses just five ingredients: water, a sourdough starter, high protein flour, salt and extra virgin olive oil, which he adds very slowly at the end. Besides his basic recipe, he also added a few extra tips and tricks for the rest of us using a home oven.

Gallagher says parchment paper can double as a pizza peel. You crumple it, place it on top of an upside down cookie sheet and then slide it right into the oven onto your pizza stone.

Also, preheat the oven for an hour, set to maximum heat. Ten minutes before the pie goes in, pre-heat the broiler.

"That way you kind of replicate that Neapolitan woodfired oven, where it gives you that pop," Gallagher says.

One more thing: DO NOT flip on the convection.

"Forced air, blowing real hot, dries out your dough," Gallagher says.

Once your pie comes out, cool it on a wire rack, so it doesn't get soggy.

How Pizzata Pizzeria came to be

The story of how Gallagher and the Lubranos met unfolded at the International Pizza Expo in Atlantic City.

"I have my dough out and I'm shaking,'" Gallagher says. "I'm so nervous and Ciro is walking by right in front of my table and he's looking at it. He looks at my dough and starts poking it. He says, 'This is beautiful'."

Gallagher ended up winning the Caputo Cup for his dough.

"I was like, 'Yo, your dough is a different ballgame!' Respect to everybody else,'" Lubrano says.

In 2020 during the heart of the pandemic, they opened Pizzata Pizzeria in Rittenhouse. They just opened Pizzata Pizzeria & Birreria on East Passyunk.

"Birreria is a beer bar, a beer place," Lubrano says. "We have over 40 different beers between drafts and crafts. The two of them just mesh perfectly together."

This location also has an expanded food menu.

"We have homemade pastas, we have homemade panini, we make our salad dressings from scratch, we make our mozzarella from scratch," Lubrano says.

"It's such a great neighborhood," Gallagher adds. "We're so blessed to be in this area."

Sourdough Pizza recipe from Pizzata Pizzeria


  • 700g flour
  • 450g water
  • 150g sourdough starter
  • 15g salt
  • 15g olive oil


1. Add all ingredients into a large bowl and mix for 15-17 minutes on medium speed

2. Let mixture ferment for 3 to 5 hours

3. Divide your dough into 3 equal parts and cover with a linen towel for 15 minutes

4. Tuck the edges of the dough into the center until a snug ball forms

5. Flour a cookie sheet and equally space out the dough balls

6. Dust the tops of the balls with flour

7. Preheat the oven to maximum temperature with a baking/pizza stone or sheet pan inside for 60 minutes

8. Ten minutes before adding the pizza, preheat the broiler

9. Stretch the dough, add sauce and toppings of your choice

10. Bake for 10-15 minutes and remove from oven

11. Allow to cool on a wire rack to keep crispy

** Note: After dusting the dough balls with flour, they can be covered with plastic wrap and stored in the fridge for 1-2 days or used within 6-8 hours.